Daily Archives: August 27, 2014

Questions about God: How Can I Believe in the Goodness of God When There Is so Much Evil in the World?

 

The evil in the world did not come from God. If Adam and Eve had only obeyed God, then they may have lived on earth forever, walking with God, tending the garden, working together—what might God’s “Plan A” have been? After they sinned, the created ones were just not on the same page with God anymore. God cannot tolerate sin and has no sin within Himself, so mankind hid from God in guilt and fear. One could perhaps blame Adam and Eve for the evil in the world, as they blamed each other and the serpent; however, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It is safe to say that, had we been in the garden instead of Adam and Eve, we would have sinned in the same way.

God is good in that He has a plan to redeem fallen mankind. The salvation Jesus provides attests to His goodness and love (Romans 5:8). The effect of the Fall is universal, but so also is the offer of divine grace (John 3:16). The Bible clearly indicates the devastating effects of sin upon man and the hopelessness of man in solving his own sin problem. The proper understanding of the doctrine of sin is essential to understanding God’s remedy for it.

God is good in that He has sent His Son “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), which means Satan has been allowed a certain amount of authority over this earth. The blame for the evil in this world should be placed squarely upon Satan. Much is written about the devil—he comes only to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). He is a fierce enemy (1 Peter 5:8). He is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). By contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11). He is the Lamb of God, sacrificed for us (Revelation 5:6). He is the truth and the life (John 14:6). Jesus is the “seed of the woman” to crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Jesus is Goodness incarnate.

God is good in that He is implementing a plan to rid the universe of evil once and for all. He is the God of justice, and He will one day make all things right (Psalm 89:14; Revelation 21:5). Sin and evil will be dealt with in perfect judgment (Revelation 20:13). Because of Christ, we have the promise of Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

God is good in that He provides for His children (Matthew 6:33). He gives life to all and upholds all things by His wisdom and power (Hebrews 1:3). He is patient with sinners, desiring them to come to repentance and find eternal life (2 Peter 3:9). God gives us eternal life and abundant life now, free from the death penalty of sin (Romans 6:23). He is “rich in mercy” because of “His great love for us” (Ephesians 2:4).

Just picture the Sinless One who created everything, willfully hanging on a cross and spilling His blood for the sin of those who put their faith in Him. Who can charge Him with injustice (Romans 9:14)? Jesus proves God’s love. “Love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7–8).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Church: What Does It Mean that There Is Only One Baptism (Ephesians 4:5)?

 

Ephesians 4:4–6 says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Since there are different “baptisms” referred to in the New Testament, it can be a bit confusing when we read about “one baptism.” The word baptize always means “to submerge or immerse.” So, when baptism is discussed, it involves a person being totally submerged into something else. Baptism implies being “all in.” It also implies that a change has taken place. Baptized people are changed people.

Generally speaking, there are two types of baptism: a physical (water) baptism and a spiritual baptism. One is literal, done in water; the other is figurative, accomplished in the Spirit.

Water baptism was commanded by Jesus for all of His followers (Acts 1:8). Colossians 2:12 says, “Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Being baptized with water does not save us; faith in the finished work of Christ saves us (Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 10:9). But water baptism is an outward indication of an inward change. It is a wonderful picture of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Being immersed in water symbolizes the cleansing of our hearts and the washing away of our sin by the blood of Jesus (Acts 2:38). Through water baptism, believers publicly proclaim their testimony that they have been born again by the grace of God.

Romans 6:3 speaks of a spiritual baptism: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” This spiritual baptism “into Christ” is performed by the Holy Spirit the moment a repentant sinner accepts the gift of salvation and is born again (John 3:5; Ephesians 2:18; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 8:12). We respond to the Holy Spirit’s drawing and are born into God’s family (John 6:44; 1 Corinthians 6:19). By this “baptism,” we are identified with the death and resurrection of Jesus; from then on, we consider ourselves “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). We choose to lose ourselves and be immersed in Him (Matthew 16:24), and the Holy Spirit makes that happen.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was promised by John the Baptist, who said that Jesus “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16). No one understood what John meant until after Jesus had ascended back into heaven (Acts 1:9). Jesus had promised the disciples that He would send “the Comforter” (John 14:26; 15:26; Luke 24:49). His followers were to wait in Jerusalem until the “promise from the Father” came (Acts 1:4). That promise came in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, and they were never the same again. They were bold in their witness, empowered to perform miracles, willing to endure persecution, and all but one died a martyr’s death. The church had begun. Throughout the book of Acts, that baptism by the Holy Spirit was repeated as people came to know Jesus, both Jew and Gentile, and served to unify the church as the Jewish believers realized that the Holy Spirit was poured out on their Gentile brothers as well.

There are some differences of opinion among believers concerning the baptism of the Spirit. Some Christians believe Holy Spirit baptism is identical to being baptized into Christ and that it occurs at the moment of salvation, even if the believer is unconscious of it. Other Christians believe Holy Spirit baptism is to be equated with the filling of the Spirit and that often occurs after salvation—years later, perhaps—as the believer opens himself up to the Spirit’s control. Some believe that the baptism of the Spirit is always accompanied by signs (such as speaking in tongues), and others believe that such signs are unnecessary.

When Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers about “one baptism,” he was reminding them that, regardless of their background or nationality, they all served the same Lord, shared the same faith, and had experienced the same baptism. He could be referring to water baptism; i.e., all believers have the same testimony of salvation and have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Or he could be referring to Spirit baptism; i.e., all believers have been placed into the Body of Christ through the Spirit’s power. Either way, the emphasis is on unity among Christians. Verse 3 says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” The Holy Spirit works to unify believers and provides assurance that they are children of God (Romans 8:16; Ephesians 1:13–14). By reminding the church that they all had a similar testimony and that they were all partakers in the same Holy Spirit, Paul encouraged them to work together for the cause of Christ so that the message of redemption would continue to spread throughout the world (Matthew 28:19).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Is Christian Country Music Appropriate?

 

As country music is simply a certain style or genre of music, Christian country music—sometimes called country gospel or inspirational country—is music of that particular genre that expresses beliefs consistent with the Christian faith. Determining whether or not Christian country music is appropriate is ultimately a personal decision, but there are biblical principles we can apply.

Historically, country music has had a spiritual nuance, with many artists incorporating biblical themes into their music. It’s not uncommon for country singers to record some straight gospel songs, or at least songs that talk about God.

Almost all genres of music have some sort of Christian sub-genre. However, simply labeling something as “Christian” doesn’t automatically mean that it is. Jesus taught that we should not make determinations by externals, but by the fruit produced (Matthew 7:15–20). In determining whether or not a Christian country song is appropriate, we need to consider several things, including the song’s effects (“fruit”).

First, what is the message of the song? A country song may mention God, for example, but is He portrayed in a way consistent with the Bible? Also—and this is a subjective test—what feelings, thoughts, and memories does a song evoke? Our thoughts should be focused on things that remind us of God’s goodness and truth (Philippians 4:8). If the music one listens to evokes thoughts or feelings that are contrary to God’s goodness, that’s a good sign it may not be appropriate for that person.

Context is also an important consideration. A Christian country song may inspire you as you’re driving in your car, but that does not necessarily make it an appropriate fit for a Sunday morning worship session.

It’s possible to use any genre of music to create songs with a Christian message. Any type of music can be used to point people toward God and encourage relationship with Him. People enjoy different styles of music. The country style connects with some people; others may prefer a different genre. The Bible does not say anything about styles of music. It’s more the message of the music in question and the effects it has on us as listeners that will determine whether or not it is appropriate.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2 ESV)

Even though genuine Christians are new creations and have been purchased out of the world through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross, as they attempt to live godly lives in the temporal, they will come under tremendous pressure to compromise by reverting back to the fleshly way of dealing with life. This way of reacting to circumstances, both good and bad, has emotions as its catalyst motivated by a form of self-righteousness that is manifested through self-exaltation and self-protection. Here we witness ourselves reacting to the good and bad in…

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COMFORT IN LOOKING FORWARD TO HEAVEN

Samuel at Gilgal

J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Would you know the secret of comfort in looking forward to that heaven whereunto every believer desires to go? I believe there are few children of God who do not sometimes feel anxious, troubled, and cast down, when they think quietly about the eternal habitation towards which they are travelling. The nature of it, the manner of it, the employments of it, their own apparent unfitness and uniqueness for it, will sometimes perplex their minds. These thoughts will sometimes come across the believer’s mind, especially in times of sickness, filling him with heaviness, and making his heart sink. Now I know no remedy against these thoughts to be compared to the recollection of the continual intercession of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ is gone into heaven to be the forerunner of a people who are to follow after Him. He is gone to prepare a…

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