Archive for the ‘Immutable God’ Category

God Does Not Use our Standard to Judge Us

Thursday, December 9th, 2010
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In reading Isaiah something jumped out at me as I read 11:3.The Holy Spirit through Isaiah is prophesying about the future coming of Messiah, Christ Jesus. In verse 1 of chapter 11, He is called “a shoot” and “a branch” who comes from Jesse, the father of David. Verse 2 reads this way, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” Now the really interesting thing to me is in verses 3 and 4.“ And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.” (NASB)

I am going to take you back to the Reformation for a moment so stay with me as I explain what jumped out. Martin Luther who is credited with getting the Reformation started with his 95 Thesis that he nailed on the door of the church building at Wittenberg. (By the way, a friend made a picture of the  door where they were nailed (not the original door) and gave it to the wife and I in 1964.) Luther had wrestled with Romans 1:17 as a monk as to what it meant to live by faith. (See Hab 2:14 and Gal 2:20) The meaning of “live by faith” played a major role in Luther’s becoming a believer in Christ Jesus. Prior to his conversion he had struggled and struggled to live up to the Roman church’s requirements. The basic belief, and I’m not being critical of the Roman church but just laying the ground work for Luther’s conversion, was that a person had to do certain things to obtain God’s favor. (Now hold on to that thought of man obtaining God’s favor.) When Luther was converted He preached that God’s favor by our actions was not the way we become a child of God but we live by faith alone.

Now think for a moment about trying to get God’s favor by the things we do. It can be frustrating and we have no measuring device to determine when we do the proper things or how much to do in order to get into His Kingdom. Luther did everything possible that he thought would get and keep him saved. The point being is that God would have to use what we do in order to determine (judge) whether He will accept us. Our behavior would determine if we would be His child. This is the way us humans think and function so if we are not careful we will begin to think God functions the same way. After all in courts of law physical evidence connected to the crime is crucial for conviction. What do witnesses see and hear? What did the investigators find? Thus what is presented in a court room is evidence that can be seen or heard by the the jury or judge. Our world exist of data collected by our five senses so that we can live. Based on the way humans function we will make God into our image and think of Him as collecting  the physcial evidence of our behavior which is outside Himself that can be seen or heard to convict or not convict us of being guilty. Our thinking and imagination of God can go like this. “Dewey you’ve been a good boy so your Christmas will be good.” or “John I liked what you did and I think it is enough for Me to adopt you as my son.” As humans we work hard at getting others to like us so we will transfer that belief to God. We will think that God needs us to behave a certain way so He can declare us righteous enough for His child.

How unscriptural this thinking is and in Isaiah 11:2-3 God specifically tells us how the Branch who will have the Spirit of the Lord will judge. The Branch will have the spirit of wisdom, understanding, strength, counsel, knowledge and fear of the Lord. Here’s what caught my eye in verse 3. “. . .He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; . . . .” God is telling us that nothing outside Himself will determine how He will decide regarding us. We cannot influence or persuade His decisions. So He is telling us “don’t try to put on a show for me so that I’ll think you are great because you are not. You are a rotten, corrupt, sinful person. If I do something good for you it is because I get pleasure and it glorifies me. You can’t make me love you. I love because I am love. I am wrathful because I am love and cannot tolerate your rebellion against me. Don’t try to manipulate me so I’ll give you a goody.”

I can only conclude from these verses that God’s sovereignty is absolute over His creation and that He does not dance to the beat of our drum. Our only response to Holy God and Christ Jesus our Lord is to be prostrate before Him in total dependency with gratefulness and worship. I have to remember that God is holy, righteous, love, grace, mercy, judging,and wrathful and I cannot change or influence any of His attributes.

I just need to cry out as the four living creatures of Rev 4:8 did, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” or as Isaiah said when he saw the Lord on His throne and the Seraphim were worshiping Him. Isaiah 6:3 tells us they are around the throne and one calls to another, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” (NASB) Then in verse 5 Isaiah says, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, . . . .” God is Holy and He is Almighty God who is sovereign in every aspect of His providence. And we of His providence are rotten to the core and need His mercy and grace.

Sole Deo Gloria

Dewey Wise
Dec , 2010

Predestination

Saturday, August 14th, 2010
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Predestination

Recently I made a trip with my son-in-law to Birmingham, Alabama, where he was to purchase a car. On the way back, I drove the van which got us to Birmingham. As I do when I’m on the road to various places, I started searching through the radio stations for either some Christian music or good sermons, or I listen to various sermons that I have on an MP3 player. I ran across a message by Adrian Rogers. He died a few years back, but there is still a radio ministry that broadcasts his sermons from the past. The sermon was based on Romans 8:28-29. If I recall—but as old as I am my recall mechanism doesn’t work the way it has in the past—the sermon was entitled “Why Good Things Happen to Bad People.” Now that is a catchy little title, which seems to be a take-off on a very popular book entitled “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.’

Romans 8:28 states, “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.” (NASB) If we continue with verses 29 and 30, we see the word “predestined” in each verse.

Adrian was talking about how good God is to us and that the Christian is predestined by God for good things. He made a statement to his listeners that they probably did not understand predestination and neither did he. Now I found that odd because Adrian was a very learned minister of God. So the wheels in my mind started turning over faster and the questions started coming to me. Why did he not understand predestination? What had kept him for all his years as a pastor in Memphis, Tennessee, from developing some understanding of predestination? I’m sure that you can see why I could not find the answers to those questions. I just cannot know what goes on in the mind or heart of a person. I am not God. However I can learn and come to some understanding of “predestination”. So I believed that I needed to share some things I have learned over the past few years of my life with you, the reader. The first thing we must do is to examine the English word as to its meaning, then how that fits the Greek word and lastly to examine it in Biblical context as to it usage. Hopefully these will help us to some understanding of its meaning and use in God’s Holy Word. However, Adrian was right in some sense when he said we don’t understand. Why? Because we cannot know the mind of God. But we need to come to some understanding as He has revealed Himself through His Word.

In the English word, predestination or predestinate, we have basically two words which makes up the composite word, “predestinate”. Pre is considered a prefix meaning “before”. Destinate means to design or appoint. So what I get from the use ot this word is that something or someone has been designed or appointed in the past to a certain point in a future time line. Something was determined to take place before it was to occur. It was determined minutes, years, or ages in the past prior to its occurrence.

Now to the Greek meaning of the of the word, predistinate. If we look at a Greek dictionary such as Strong’s Greek and Hebrew dictionary we find that “predestination” or “predestined” is made up of two Greek words. The first is pro which means “in front of” “prior to” or “before”. The second is the Greek word horizo which means “to mark off in boundaries” or “determine”. Think of this word as where we get the word, “horizon”. A horizon shows us a boundary. We apply this word to viewing the sky as it is related to earth. We see the boundary between them. When these Greek words, pro and horizo, come together in our mind we get a picture of something in the past, distant or not so distant, as having been predetermined to take place at a future point in time. So in summing up, hopefully we can now know in our mind that predestination means that something in the past has been determined to occur at a future point in time. There is the boundary between the past and the future or present. Let’s now look at Romans 8:28-30 to try to get some understanding of the word “predestined” or “predestination”.

God through Paul says that those who love God have been called according to His purpose in verse 28. Note that their love did not cause His calling. His calling was based on His purpose and nothing the believer does. God’s Love was the cause of the calling. God has done the calling and those whom Paul is writing to love Him because they were predestined. Paul tells us this in Eph 1:3-6: 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.(NASB) Read intently the words, “to the praise of the glory of His grace. . . “ If you read additional verses you’ll see “the paise of His glory” in verses 12 and 14. It is God who saves us. It is God who before we were born chose us and predestined us. It is God who is to get the glory. His gift to us is a most glorious thing.

In verse 29 we see a continuation of God’s thoughts expressed by Paul in that He (God) foreknew them. There we see two words. “Fore” which means before hand and “knew”. Of course “fore” means before a certain point in time and it comes from the Greek prefix, pro. “Knew” comes from a Greek word , “ginoisko”, which means to know completely or intimately. It does not mean to have data floating around in our head just to be regurgitated on cue but to know absolutely—as in an intimate relationship such as “Adam knew Eve.” The word has the thought that someone had a personal relationship by observing and being involved with another. So when we put those Greek words together we get “foreknow” or “foreknew”. We thus have God intimately being involved with those whom He called before they were born. He knew He was going to call them in their future (speaking of human time)earthly life. We get our English word, prognosis, from the Greek word and we know what prognosis means in the medical field.

We then come to the word predestined or predestinate. Based on the meaning of the Greek word, foreknew, then my understanding of “predestined” is that God in the past (before the foundation of the world) knew intimately those whom He had called and had determined that they would be conformed to the image of His Son—that they would be justified and glorified. In this way of thinking, and I believe that is the way to think about these verses with my whole heart, God performs a work in certain people so that they will love Him and glorify Him. In Isaiah 43:7 we read this: “ . . . everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yes, whom I have made.” And if we read the beautiful Psalm 139 we read about how God knows and forms every aspect of our being and that it is impossible to know God’s mind or the reasons that He does what He does. Maybe Adrian was talking about this when he said he did not understand “predestination”. If so I understand where he was coming from but if he was talking about “predestination” as to what it means in the life of a believer, then I don’t understand because it is very clear in the meaning of what God has done and does in the life of a believer. God in His absolute sovereignty, love, grace, and mercy made (created) us and He determined specifically what would take place in those whom He called. This plan was made before He created us. It is by grace that we are saved and not of ourselves. We cannot perform an act (work) to make all that God has for us or make Him do the things He does in each believer. It is Him alone who predestines, calls, justifies and glorifies.

If I try to put my feeble human mind around all of the above, I cannot understand and know the mind of God but will draw human conclusions to God’s reasoning and motivation. However in fact it is none of my business to determine God’s actions or plans or even try to figure them out other than accept them in my life as His child. He is the creator, I am the created. It is by faith that I must live and be wholly dependent on Him for my existence. Paul says in Romans that anything we do that is not done by faith is sin. Therefore I am left to this. I will accept it on faith and trust my Great God for the outcome. Spurgeon said “Look to Jesus.” There is where the answers lie—in Him who created us. See John 1:1-4.

One other thought and I’ll leave you to ponder God’s predestination. Read Romans 9:10-21 and Eph 1:3-12, my dear friends. Also read Acts 2:23 where Peter in his sermon is talking about Jesus being crucified. He uses the term, foreknowledge. It was God’s plan within His counsel that Christ Jesus be killed by the Jews. Can you find a relationship between foreknowledge as it is used in Acts 2 and foreknew as it is used in Romans 8:29?

If you love God, and I hope you do, you are blessed beyond the mind’s wildest dreams or imaginations. The joy of knowing a God we can trust in all aspects of our life is beyond words to express that joy.

Soli Deo Gloria

Dewey Wise

Aug 14, 2010

Who Chooses: Me or God

Monday, April 12th, 2010

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How can I be God’s if I choose Him?

I thought that you, the reader, might want to deal with or think about this question. It is an interesting question that seems to put one into an ownership position.

If I choose something or acquire it by my choice then seems like I own it. I realize that ownership of something can come about through different means. But the question is in reality, “How can God own me if I choose Him?” Now I realize that I might give myself to Him, but even that implies that I might take myself back because within that statement is implied that I always have control over me. Which takes away the idea of ownership. We know people that way, who give but then want something in return. I’ve watched my grandchildren around Christmas time as they give gifts. I’ve seen a couple of times when they indicated they wanted their gift back or one just like it.

So which is it? Do I choose to give myself to God or does He choose me? Can I be a child of God? Can I give up ownership and responsibility for my well being?

Seems I recall a TV and radio commercial from my past that ended something like this. “You decide.” But remember that if you “decide” you might not be deciding.

Have a great day, hopefully in our gracious, loving, righteous, judging, merciful, Holy God.

Soli Deo Gloria

Dewey Wise

April 9, 2010

TWO KINDS OF FEAR

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
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Two Kinds of Fear

There are two kinds of fear depicted in God’s Holy Scripture.

In America, anxiety is at an all time high. More people are on anti’anxiety drugs than ever before and it is not just because the population is greater. A greater percentage of the population is using antianxiety drugs (medication if you will). Anxiety is a form of fear. It is kinda a pervasive form of fear that lingers within the person when there is no apparent danger in one’s environment. Sigmond Freud and his followers have used the term neurosis. Karen Horney talked of it as some internal state that moved a person “away from” others. There is no question that when a person is anxious (frightened) they move away from people or things that they perceive can harm them. In fact some folks become so anxious or neurotic or frightened that they are controlled by it to the extent that they will not leave their house. They will not go into a public place where people are. Within the person’s mind is a belief that they are not safe anywhere or with others. It is as though they have a radar antenna scanning constantly for danger especially when relating to others but the fear can be of life in general. To us (I’ve been there) who have experienced anxiety there is a sense of doom hanging over one’s head. Now why have I said all this?

In God’s Holy Word fear is defined in two basic ways, fear as in fear of things that can physically or psychologically harm us and fear of God. Fear of man and things can be understood easily because this is the fear that all of us carry from birth. It is built in us to protect us from harm. We know it because we live with it. When this kind of fear turns into anxiety that a majority of Americans suffer from and fight constantly then it can immobilize us. We also come equipped to fear God. Some do not want to accept that idea but read history to see how man has always questioned if there is a God. This comes from a fear that there may be a God. It is very difficult to separate these two in our mind because to understand the fear of God we MUST know God and only a minority truly know God. My thoughts thus turn to fear of God. Why? I believe that fear of God is the primary deep unconscious need of all people but we focus on the secondary shallow fear of people in our society and what they can do to us.

At creation God built in us a great need for Him. All mankind has some awareness of this which is evident in the way all peoples throughout history have developed a religion. Over the centuries all people worshiped  something whether outside the person as in plants, trees, carved objects, powers, storms, mountains, automobiles, job, house, spouse, children, heavenly objects (planets, stars, sun), earth (mother earth) or inside the person as in self. This kind of worship is reflected in the pride we have in self or as C. S. Lewis calls it, self-admiration. It also shows in our self exaltation. In our modern day we have become much more sophisticated in our religion. But some claim they don’t believe or worship a god. However all humans will worship something. Therein lies that built in need to fear (worship) God even though most modern day folks claim they don’t.

Fear of God is a worship fear of a Holy, Perfect, Righteous, Just, Loving, Merciful, Gracious God. This fear is sometimes called reverential fear. It comes from an internal state that moves us in AWE toward a Holy God but at the same time a fear that keeps us at a distance from Him because He has the SOVEREIGNTY and POWER to do as He WILLS in human history and our life. As many young people say today “That is awesome.” It is more awesome than the mind can imagine and He REALLY SHOULD be the only thing in our mind that is AWESOME. And we should have a fear of God. A fear that is born from an awareness of a Supreme Mysterious Being that transcends our puny being. That fear should repeal us away from Him but His awesomeness should move us to explore and get acquainted with such an AWESOME GOD.

If we truly have this fear of Almighty God, then the fear of one’s earthly life will be minimal. Why? Because we will know all is well with our souls if we submit our self to Him in worship. Worry for others and concern for personal well being will be given to Him. Read the story of Horatio Spafford. In 1873 he penned the wonderful old hymn, “It is well with my soul”, after four of his daughters perished when the ship on which they were passengers sank in the Atlantic. And that is not all of his tragedy. His son died in the Great Chicago Fire. He later had other children who died. He also went bankrupt after the Chicago fire. Here are some of the words to the hymn.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

How could Spafford say it is well with my soul? He had God’s love through Lord Christ. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(NASB)

How do we come to Jesus? By believing in Him and casting ourself on His mercy and begging Him for mercy and forgiveness because we have rebelled against Him. When we do this in REVERENCE and AWE of Him and loving Him with all our might and mind then He will help us cope with a life filled with anxiety. Our security will rest in Him and not others or things or even self, but Him ALONE. It is not easy to turn loose of self. Society teaches us to have self-esteem but self-esteem does not work. Why? Because deep down inside we know that we don’t have the resources or power to make the world in our imagine so that we will feel no fear. Our only hope is in Him because our life is not based on our efforts to stop worrying . It is not in fear of others and a frightening contentious world that is ready to put us down or punish us if we don’t live up to other’s expectations that we are to live. Our life is to be lived out in His love. In 1 John 4:18 we read these words. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast our fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (NASB) His perfect love becomes our life energy because we cannot love perfectly. The world’s love just won’t be enough. If we turn to Him then He’ll give us the love we need. Only in Him will we find true love. A phoney love is when we love others and things and expect them to love us back.

Love the Lord God only and fear Him. In Gensis 6:13-15 we read these words. “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him, and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, for the Lord God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.” (NASB)

In these verses, God through Moses was telling the people about fearing Him. In these verses we see the fear that contains the two states in the fear of God as pointed out above and expressed in God’s Holy Word. We see the AWE and REVERENCE for our Lord and the fear of harm from Him. Do you only have the fear of harm in your being or do you have the fear that gives you the security of life in the present and life everlasting after death? My heart goes out to all who only have fear of this earthly life and have little peace within. The fear of God can give peace and rest.

In Him alone is Life,

Dewey Wise
Hope Fruit and Berry Farm
September 8, 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

WORDS

Friday, May 29th, 2009

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Words

My wife and I were discussing some things about God’s Word a couple of days ago. The specifics I can’t recall but it had to do with preachers trying to know from Revelation when Christ would return. (That’s a sly way of saying I can’t remember. Us old folks think in global terms not specifics. We leave the specifics to the young folk.) And she commented that she did not want to even get into Revelation or something such as that. So that got me to thinking about words and the meaning of words.

As a child words were important to me because of what they meant. Now you may say “Of course they have meaning.” But I in return would say they do have meaning but the problem I had was “What did they mean in the other person’s mind?” As I grew older it seemed to me that adults spoke in terms which shielded who they were from others. I had an uncle who was always a joker. I seldom knew if he was serious or trying to be funny. I liked him but just did not know where he was coming from with his words. Then when he and my dad got together I really was confused. I enjoyed being around them or with them because I knew that they would go some where or do something that I liked such as hunting or a trip to another town. These were almost like adventures to me. We lived in the back woods of North Alabama and something different and new sure picked me up. But WORDS were a challenge to me.

Over the years of experience and formal education I’ve come to recognize that communication within the human race is based on nothing more than symbols we carry in our head. These symbols can be visual images, auditory images or words. Visual and auditory images and their meaning only exist in the head of the person who has them. We can try to convey the meaning to others but they are a poor means of communication if the actual meaning of what is in the head is to be transferred to another. This is the reason that teaching a child words and their meaning is so crucial to the human race. Poor reading hinders one’s ability to understand others and our world. God made the human mind to function in such a way where we can know and thus carry meaning in our head. We can know the past, the present and think about the future. AND know what all we put into our head means to us over a life time of learning and experience individually. NO OTHER creature on this earth can do that. SO WORDS are crucial to our life, now and in the future. There are concrete words, those that all humans can agree on the specific meaning. Math as a discipline tends to have concrete terms. Latin is called a dead language because it is used no more in social life therefore the meaning of words is frozen in time past but it is used in specific professions so that the meaning can be agreed on. Then there are abstract words that mean something different to each person. These are the words that get us in trouble. BUT and this is the rub, even concrete words don’t always have the exact same meaning. Why? Because the meaning of some word is attached to that word based on the context that we experience.

I taught for over twenty years adults in the Air Force and later in a college setting. What I saw in students was not pleasant regarding their ability to use words (language) and sort out the meaning of their life. To use the term “word” and “meaning of life” may seem like a change in discussion and our perception may say they don’t fit together. However they have an unbreakable chain holding them together. The words and images in our head gives meaning to one’s life, especially the words we carry in our head. Remember I said images cannot be conveyed from one head to another. We can try but we must use words. You might say, “Now wait a minute. What about paintings?” My reply would be, “Where is the meaning in a painting? Does it reproduce exactly what was in the mind of the painter?” Of course not. If we don’t have the vocabulary (words) and have some understanding of their meaning to another person we cannot even convey (communicate) a basic image. I have seen over a period of time a change from a word based mind to an image based mind in our culture. In my history of life the emphasis was on word or language development in my early years. Our society has changed from word based to an image based society. Image symbols have replaced word symbols for interactive purposes. If we look around today at things that present visual images we can see how things have changed. Two examples of the way the mind functions and has changed in younger folks are the following: There are two words used often today and those are “cool” and “awesome”. The word, cool, in my younger years related to a numeric temperature. Today I have no idea what is the meaning behind the word when expressed by someone. The word, awesome, meant in my earlier life that an object was held in awe which was basically a reverential fear. Today I have no idea what it means in the mind of young people because as I have inquired of them, they cannot tell me what it means. The use of words to convey factual and meaningful information to another is crucial but with a people who tend to be emotion based rather than word based we function at the feeling level and not rational level in the mind.

Why this discussion of the use of words and the deterioration of word use in our culture? What meaning in our life can come from an understanding of word symbols in our mind? Glad you ask! The crucial importance of our life is knowing God our Creator and His plan for us. All other is secondary to this for our well-being. You may not believe that and I know that I cannot change the way you think nor will I try to persuade through salesmanship. Only God can do that and I am not Him. So how do we know God? Through His Word! There are no visual or auditory images in His Word, only words. And if we want to know Him then we MUST go to His Word. Ah but you may argue that we can go to church and listen to the preacher preach or a teacher teach. You say that they will tell you about God. And I will agree with you. But will they give you that direct connection to your Creator? As the old expression goes, “Will it come straight from the horses mouth?” Or again you may say “But I had a vision (visual image) of God.” Now I can or cannot agree nor disagree with your statement so I say, “You may have because I cannot know whether you did or didn’t. I did not have the vision. That was your experience.” (Remember what I said about image transmission from one person to another.) What I can agree with you on is that God’s Word can be read by all and we can know God through His Word.

BUT I MUST SAY THIS. READING HIS WORD IS NOT LIKE READING A BOOK, A LETTER OR SOME REPORT. The Holy Spirit must enlighten our minds and connect us to our Great God through His Word in order to KNOW HIM. Paul in his second letter to Timothy says in chapter 3 verses 14 and following abut Timothy’s ministry:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

Oh the joy of knowing our Redeemer as He speaks to us through His Word. Time with Him in His Word is the most important event of each day. This is when I listen to Him as He speaks to me. This is when all earthly voices and sounds are shut out and only He is speaking. Then  His Words are put into my mind.  Nothing else matters except Him. I listen, praise and worship. He and He alone is all that matters. HIS WORD!!

My great desire is that each of you may know Him. And if you do that you will read His Word. Many things we will not understand but the same is true in conversation with people. However when we don’t understand, we ask for help in understanding from them. That is what we do with our Most Holy God, Creator, Redeemer, Savior, Comforter, and King. We ask for understanding from Him by His Spirit.

I thank you for letting me share with you thoughts about words. Please think truth in your reading. That is our search in life and only truth comes from God. The truth that passes all understanding. The truth that will set us free. The truth that exist outside us and is there for all who believe. The truth that gives meaning to our lives for now and throughout eternity. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6; ESV) The greatest reason for learning words is to Glorify God Alone.

Sola Scriptura, was the focus of the Reformers because of the authority of God through His Word.

In Him,

Dewey Wise

PRIDE AND HUMILITY

Monday, May 25th, 2009

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Humility vs. Pride

In a visit with my sister recently we were sharing some of our thoughts about God. (What a joy to share about Him.) But the conversation got around to some very specifics beliefs and I commented on a statement that I had made a few years earlier. If I recall correctly, (that is not easy for an old dude) I had mentioned something to the effect of how a true Christian, not one who calls themselves Christian, could be identified. I said that the mark of a Christian was humility. I had come to that in a flash of brilliance. (Now if you believe that I need to talk to you sometime.) No! I had come to that over a long period of time by observing. After all that was my profession over many years of life. Observing, listening and helping people think about life issues differently.

The question: Is humility really the mark of a Christian? When I say mark I’m really talking about an attitude reflected in one’s behavior or how others see us. A mark is a single something that stands out from and above all other characteristics. It is something that can be seen from a distance. I still hold to that belief and even more so today. If humility is the mark of a true Christian then what is its opposite? PRIDE

I just want to share with you and me a few thoughts about humility and pride. (See I always talk to me when I’m talking to you.) First some thoughts about humility. Maybe you’ve never thought about humility as having two sides. It does and sometimes it is not easy to sort them out. There is false humility and there is real humility. What is the difference? The answer lies in the objective of each. False humility is nothing more than pride wrapped up in the appearance of humility to manipulate others for our advantage. It comes from a powerful need to be accepted and the belief that “I am no good or I can’t do anything right.” THUS “I must be humble before others so they will like me and I will be accepted.” Now if we examine that closely we’ll find pride lurking in the background and it is the force behind that side of humility. Remember that side of humility will look like the real thing at first glance. (I’ll save the other side of humility for later.) In the world of self esteem, (and I’m not a self esteem buff ) that is called low self esteem. So what does our society and education do about this?

They say, “We’ve got to build up that person’s self esteem.” However all that is being said is we’ve got to build up the person’s pride. I recall a conversation I had a few years back with a very true Christian, who had been active in education circles for many years, about pride and humility. When I made some comment about pride as something a Christian did not need he quickly said “But pride is important.” Please think about that if you are a Christian or even if you are not. Is pride important? We believe that it is in our society? Why is pride important? The usual answer is, “Of course it is.” My question is, “Tell me why it is important.” Then I get a response similar to, “Because we need to have pride in what we do and if we don’t then we just won’t ever do anything.”

That brings us to the question, “What is pride?” If you look at a dictionary you will see some words as follows: lofty self esteem; a sense of one’s own worth; dignified bearing, that for which one is proud. So it is basically an attitude of one’s self worth. Now we have another term to deal with. What is self worth? It is nothing more than a comparative term. It is me comparing myself to other folks. We constantly do it all the time. All we have to do to know that is look around us. A fad is nothing more than the comparing of one’s self with other folks. Here comes a new style of dress. What do we do? We start dressing like the other folks. Young people are great at trying to keep up with all the other young people when all they are doing is, “I’ve got to have what so and so has or I’m just not any good. They’ll think I’m different. I just am no good and to be accepted I’ve got to do what they do.” Another question for us to consider is, “How can I evaluate my worth if it is not in relationship to other people’s worth?” Self worth is really determined by “equals” who are “not equal”. Now that is a paradox. Bottom line is pride says “Look at me. I’m great.” “I’m as good as you are.” You may want to argue with me over that but think it through. BUT here is the problem. If each person in society has high self esteem (pride) and if a group of people with individual high self esteem attempt to work together for the good of the group what must occur? Of course pride or self esteem must take a back seat. I have left dangling much thought about pride with the hopes that you will think about pride. Is pride good for society? What about in sports? What about the job? What about so called “competitive” people?” Should pride be a characteristic of a Christian?

Now side two of humility. This is true humility. Here is what Paul has to say to the Philippians in Phil 1:15-18:

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes and I will rejoice.”(ESV)

Noticed that some people were preaching out of envy and rivalry. What is envy and rivalry? Envy of course is wanting something that another person has. But why does a person want what another has? For an example watch children when another child has a toy. What does the child without the toy want? The other child’s toy of course even if at hand are a dozen toys. There we see pride rear its ugly head. The child does not know why they want it but we see envy powered by pride. Now the other thing Paul mentions is “rivalry”. I’m sure you’ve heard of sibling rivalry. Same thing is going on. Rivalry comes from wanting attention. If a person can get attention then they believe they are important. There is the old pride again. Notice the rivalry preaching folks who Paul mentions. What is going on in their mind? They are doing their preaching to get “One up on Paul.” Back in the fourth paragraph, I ask the question if pride was good in competitive folks. That is what the preachers of rivalry are doing, they are competing with Paul. Pride is the energy. Pride is nothing more than wanting to elevate self above someone to look good. I recall asking a teenager one time to suppose that they lived on an island by themselves. And then my question was, “Would it make any difference what your clothes looked like?” No! Pride is nothing more than wanting to be a god in the eyes of others but first one must be a god to themselves. Now see how Paul contrast envy and rivalry with humility. He says the others who have humility do it out of “good will”. There is the key to understanding humility. True humility never sees self as better than, have more than, is looked up to by others, nor want what another has. Paul defines humility for us, actually for the Philippians in chapter 2:3-8. Here’s what he says:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”(ESV)

Others being more significant is the key to humility. And we will only have true humility when our mind rest in Christ Jesus. Why? It is impossible to be a truly humble person who always thinks of others as more significant unless we are dependent on the Christ who gave up all His glory as God the Son for our well being. He showed us what true humility is. As Paul says, do what we do out of good will. The Son of God (The God who gave up His position with the Father to take on human flesh for our good. If we look to Him we see HUMILITY walking. Only when each of us has His humility can we as humans EVER LIVE IN HARMONY. No “feel good” attitudes, no tolerance training, no motivational speeches, no unified governments, and no“self esteem” efforts will ever bring peace on earth. Only Him who humbled Himself for our good and who lives in our hearts can humble us. And what do we do to get His humility? Repent and believe! Cry out to Holy God for forgiveness of PRIDE. Run from PRIDE to Him who is humble. And oh what joy to know that I no longer need to be my only god. I no longer must depend on SELF for me to “feel good.” If we don’t turn to Him then “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek Him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10:4)(ESV)

My hope and desire is that we can be a truly humble people and be concerned with good will of others and not SELF.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

In Him,

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.

The King is Coming

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

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Can We Tolerate a King?

I started watching the TV series called “Peter the Great” this week. Peter the Great was the czar who brought Russia into an organized western culture. He threw off the stagnation of a country that could not cope with the world beyond its borders. I’ve also been reading Isaiah, John and Matthew recently and the words “King” and “Kingdom” occurs many times. So I got to thinking about the idea of king. Oh, by the way, in Russia kings are called czars.

When our forefathers founded this great nation they set up a system of government that was anti-king because they believed a people should be in charge of governing themselves. There should be no absolute ruler or king. Our system of government harks back to the establishment of the Roman government when citizen farmers first set up a system that was to be responsive to the people who banded together to govern themselves. No king or ruler was to rule, but it evolved into a system where one person became the ruler, or as the Romans thought of him, a god. He was called Caesar. The point is that we Americans know little about who a king is or the role of a king. To my knowledge very little is taught in public schools of the history of nations that had a king.

I used my wisdom in the present and my old learning from the past in thinking about the word “King”. Here are questions to consider. Who is a king? What does a king do? How does one become king? Is a king all knowing? Does a king have all authority over his subjects? Does a king deserve our homage? Is a king concerned with equal rights for all his subjects? How does the idea of a king fit our America? Is a king willing to sacrifice for his people? Is a king protective of his status in life? Does a king deserve to be obeyed? There are too many questions to explore in a short writing, but I hope they stimulate some thought about the idea of king. A definition is a starting point.

Webster’s 1913 dictionary defines a king as: “A chief ruler; a sovereign; one invested with supreme authority over a nation, country, or tribe, usually by hereditary succession; a monarch; a prince.” This gives us a general definition. Chief ruler means that there is no other ruler above the king. Sovereign means that the king is not to be controlled by any other outside himself. From Webster’s we can see that a king is the supreme authority and that nothing outside himself determines what he does..

Due to our way of life in what we call a democracy but really it is a representative republic, we cannot conceive of living under a king. In fact we, more than likely, rebel at the thought of others making decisions that affect our life without being asked if we are okay with the decision. The idea of a king being over us is foreign and abhorrent to our sensibilities. A king?—“never”, we would say. But here is a shocker. A King does reign over His creation whether we like it or not! He has all authority over what goes on in this world. Nothing occurs that is a surprise to Him. All that occurs is in His plan. In my travels across Mississippi I’ve met many believers, and we usually get around to discussing God. What I’ve heard many times is that even though we talk as though we believe in a supreme, sovereign God, we don’t always acknowledge that He is. I’ve heard “God is sovereign over many things.” or “Why did God not stop that?” (whatever that was). These kinds of statements indicate that we hold back from believing that God is absolutely sovereign, powerful, and acting in His creation. Why? In America our mind cannot conceive the awesomeness of a king so we want him to function or do things based on what we believe is right and good. But He is KING!!!!

In 1 Timothy, Paul in writing to young Timothy about things he needs to do as a pastor. Paul talks about himself and his condition before God as a sinner before Christ Jesus appeared to him. And at the end of his glorifying God for His mercy and grace, Paul says this in 1 Tim 1:17:

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Isaiah 43:15 we read what God was telling the Israelite people about what He had done for them “I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.”

Jesus at His trial when questioned by Pilate as to Jesus being king did not deny that He was king but adds to what Pilate had said.

John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

I don’t know about you but it is difficult for me to imagine what it would be like to be subject to an earthly king; therefore my mind thinks that I have a role in deciding what my future will be. Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “God has got a vote, Satan has a vote, and I have the deciding vote.” I heard that expression by a preacher over 30 years ago and many times since by believers and church leaders—not exactly in those words, but in concept. In a small sense there is truth in this thought, but the question is, “Does God teach this in His Word?” Not really! We are never in a neutral state of “Let me see now if I want to decide for God or Satan?” We are born being in Satan’s realm. And we will be there until we bow before our Holy King.

Can you see how our democratic society creates within me a mindset that believes I’m in charge of my life? Can you see how my mind cannot deal with the idea of me being under the rule of something else other than me? One other thought. The self esteem movement promoted and still promotes that we are masters of our destiny. How absurd! If we have not submitted to the King, we fall under the realm of Satan. In a world of diversity and tolerance, feelings are more important than life; we have been brain washed into believing that there are many stations where we can fit or exist, and that we need to fit anywhere that the (government) culture determines. BUT there are only two stations of life. One is under the King or the other is under Satan’s domain. I prefer the King’s domain and not Satan’s. How about you?

My desire is that we (notice I said we) submit to a King who rules over His subjects with love. Only a Holy, Righteous, Just, Merciful, Gracious, Wrathful, Sovereign can rule with love. Oh the joy of being ruled by our Great Sovereign!!! Please join me in that joy and may God richly bless you and keep you.

Dewey Wise

18 March 2009

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