Walk’n Thoughts

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God All-Loving

It is very popular in our modern society to call God all-loving. But is this true? Is God all-loving? And if he is all-loving, what exactly does that mean?

The Error

God, of course, is all-loving. 1 John 4:8 says “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” And to say “God is love” is to say that everything God is is God’s love. All his eternity, all his justice, all his goodness, all his acts – all are God’s love. God is God’s love.

Few would disagree with this statement, but many would misunderstand its true meaning.

Our modern society believes to call God all-loving must therefore mean that he loves all. This is precisely incorrect. To call God all-loving means that all of God is love, not that the objects of his love includes everyone.

The incorrect view that states God loves everyone has dire consequences. If the world believes God loves everyone, this leads to two damnable conclusions:

1. God loves everyone, therefore everyone can live however they want to live. In the end, it doesn’t matter.

2. God loves everyone, therefore God does not exist.

The first error takes the premise that God loves everyone and immediately jumps to its most practical conclusion. Since God loves everyone, God must love me no matter how I act, behave, or live my life. In the end, my sin does not matter because God is love, and if God is love he must accept me for who I am.

This first error often leads to universalism. All paths lead to God. He isn’t angry with injustices, and everything is going to work out in the end. I can live however I want, and I can tolerate everything. Some will go so far as to say that in the end, even Satan will be welcomed into heaven.

The second error takes the premise that God loves everyone and immediately jumps to its most rational conclusion. Given the assertion that God loves everyone, we must conclude the world would be a peaceful, safe, and an everlasting utopia without any suffering. Since the world is filled with misery, death, mayhem and suffering, an all-loving God cannot exist. God cannot exist since God is said to be the all-loving, and clearly he does not love all.

This second error is the error of the skeptic. Sometimes you may encounter a variation on this theme. The skeptic may conclude that if God exists, he is not loving.

Both of these errors will harden the unbeliever in sin and faithlessness. The truth is the only cure.

The Truth

When we say God is all-loving, we do not mean that he loves all. God does not love all. He hates many people.

I know this is a shocking statement. It certainly offends our modern senses. It stands against everything we have been raised to believe. It sounds unkind and it is not seeker-friendly at all. However, it is the clear teaching of the Bible.

Let me cite some examples to persuade you that God really does hate many people:

Psalm 5:4ff “You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”

Psalm 11:5ff “The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves injustice. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”

Romans 1:18ff “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to their impurity… Therefore God gave them up to dishonorable passions… Therefore God gave them up to a debased mind.”

Be aware, however, that God’s hate is not malicious. God’s hatred is not like our hatred. Our hatred comes out of our unjust and selfish dislike of others and leads to murderous attitudes (and sometimes murderous deeds). God’s hatred comes from his sense of righteous justice.

So What Is Love?

Love is an act whereby one gives himself for the objects of his love. In other words, love means to give oneself for others. God does not give himself for, or to, the wicked – they are not the objects of his love. He gives them up to their own sin. But God does give himself for those he chooses to love. He saves them from their sin.

God does love Christ. He has given everything to his Son (John 5:26). And if he loves Christ, then he loves those who are united to Christ, for they are one body with him (1 Cor 12:12-13).

God All-Loving

To say God is all-loving, therefore, does not mean he loves all. It does, however, mean that God loves the objects of his love with his whole being. Everything that God is, is God’s love. His eternal goodness, his creation, his judgment on sinners worthy of death, and his grace in Christ, forgiveness of sin – all are acts of his love. But they are not acts of love toward the condemned. They are acts of love toward the objects of his love – Christ and those united to Christ by faith.

Loose Ends

Having made clear the truth about God’s love, it raises many important concerns. Let me address them in order.

1. If God hates the wicked, does that give me freedom to hate? No.

God commands us to love our enemies because we were once enemies of God, but he loved us in Christ.

2. If God will judge the wicked, does that give me freedom to judge them as well? No.

A day of judgment is coming, but it has not come yet, so God commands us to withhold vengeance on those who hate us. Instead, we should be patient, hopeful that we may yet have the opportunity to love them in Christ.

3. Doesn’t God love the sinner and hate the sin?

You have heard it said “God loves the sinner and hates the sin” but I say to you “God hates the sinner absolutely, but he loves Christ and those in Christ for Christ’s sake”. All who forsake sin to be united to Christ by faith, God loves them as he loves Christ.

4. Doesn’t this idea of God’s hate discourage God’s people and turn people away from the kingdom? No.

If you already believe in Christ, know this: all that God is – all his power, knowledge, wisdom, goodness, truth, acts, and justice – are working in your favor for your eternal happiness with the hope of an everlasting sinless existence.

If you do not believe in Christ, know this: you are a sinner worthy of death. God’s wrath is hanging over your head. The only way to escape God’s hate, is to flee to Christ. By faith, and in time, you will then know what the Bible means when it says “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he first loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.”

Not all receive propitiation for sins because God does not love all.

5. Aren’t hate and love incompatible with one another? How can God love and hate?

God does not love all, because the nature of love is its exclusivity. God’s love is exclusive to the objects of love. Therefore, God does not love all precisely because his love is true love.

In addition to this, God does not love all because he intends to make all fully aware that he both loves and hates, and that his hate is just and glorious while his love includes all that he is in all his glory.

Finale

This truth is extremely difficult to come to terms with. For the one who continues to rebel against the truth of God’s hate, and refuses to come to terms with it, their destiny is eternal destruction at the hands of an angry God. For the one who lays down their enmity against God, and by God’s power come to terms with the truth of his love, their destiny is eternal life through Christ Jesus, the hope for glory (Col 1:27).

 

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Walk’n Thoughts

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Modesty: Part III

What does the Bible teach about modesty? So what does Christ teach us about how we are to dress?

We can answer this question by looking at what Paul and Peter say about the topic. Remember, Paul and Peter are appointed apostles of Jesus Christ, so when they wrote, they were writing on behalf of Christ. Paul’s word is Christ’s word. Peter’s word is Christ’s word.

We looked at Paul’s word last in part 2. What does Peter have to say?

Peter’s Word

In 1 Peter 3 Peter is writing to Christians who are suffering for Christ’s sake. One way Christians suffer for Christ’s sake is when they submit and obey men God has put over them. So in this case, Peter first addresses citizens who obey the governing authorities, then slaves who obey masters, then wives who obey husbands who are not believers. In each case, the Christian is put in a situation where the one who has authority is not a believer and may be oppressive in his leadership. Peter is especially interested in pointing the Christian to look to Christ, “who when he was reviled did not revile in return, when he suffered he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (2:23).

So wives, especially before unbelieving husbands (but this does not exclude women in general), are to be careful about how they dress. Again, just like with Paul in 1 Timothy 2, we should notice that Peter is not arbitrarily discussing modesty as a stand-alone topic. But he is addressing it in context of the church, especially in the context of a woman’s relationship to her husband, and in this case, more especially in context of a woman who is suffering under a man who does not obey Christ in how he treats his wife. Modesty is a very important means God has chosen to help cope with difficult domestic relationships!

What does Peter teach?

A woman’s adorning should not be external. This agrees with Paul. A woman should be spending her time thinking about beauty. But it is not the beauty of the externals, but the beauty of the internals. Peter calls it “the hidden person of the heart”. A woman best loves her husband when he can find her not obsessing in front of the mirror or in the closet, but when he can find her obsessing in front of her Lord about the most beautiful ways she can show others (especially her brutish husband) gentleness and a quiet spirit.

As Peter has already stated, a woman does this without reviling and without threatening, but by completely trusting God who will judge her husband. In God’s sight, a woman who takes time beautifying her character – seeking ways to be gentle and quiet – is very precious. God esteems it very highly and considers it be beautiful. He appreciates it and he values it above all of the beauty of braids or gold or designer jeans or lovely purses or nice shoes.

Peter adds to this verses 5 and 6

“For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”

Modesty means submission to one’s husband, so long as it is trusting submission. Sarah did not simply call Abraham Lord, she trusted God to care for her, even though Abraham had put her in some very scary situations. Yet she did not fear Abraham or his bad decisions (and they were very bad) but trusted God.

For a woman who is not married, these lessons still apply. The wardrobe is to be respectable, but not audacious. More important than the wardrobe is the process you enter into as you choose what to wear. Is it self-controlled? Is it thoughtful, i.e, time spent thinking about how to “put on” good works rather than external clothing? Is it an expression of faith or an expression of self-love?

The lesson is this. A woman serves her husband, and her church, by spending time adorning herself. Her attention should be on beauty. But not the beauty of clothing and hairstyle and makeup, rather the beauty of good works. If she does this, God will find her very lovely, very valuable, and very precious. This will lead to rewards in the life to come as she commits herself to he who judges justly. Therefore, she will not be like the women of the world – who begin to worry and fret and become bitter as they age because they cannot hold onto their youthful good looks. But she will be like the daughters of Christ – who only grow more and more beautiful with each passing week until at last they stand perfectly lovely in the sight of God, shining brightly with many crowns before all his great congregation!

Men, learn to appreciate what God has made!

Introduction

Part 1

Part 2

 

Walk’n Thoughts

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Modesty: Part II

What does the Bible teach about modesty?

Obedience cannot be moralistic – it must be Christo-centric. What I mean is that our desire to learn about modesty must be born from our of faith in Christ’s finished work, not because of we have a guilty conscience or some personal ideal we are trying to live up to. Christian obedience rests on Christ’s love for us. Because he loves us, and has therefore completed everything necessary for our salvation, therefore we want to serve him and obey him in every area of life. Our life is no longer our own – so we no longer try to live up to standards we think are best, even on the issue of modesty, but we try to live according to what Christ teaches. Christ has already done everything necessary so that God accepts us – he has already shed his blood to cleanse our dirty consciences – so we no longer try to live in order to earn God’s favor. No. Not at all. But having his favor already earned for us, we seek to express our gratitude by serving Christ – who served us. One way we can serve him, is in how we choose to dress.

So what does Christ teach us about how we are to dress? What does the Bible teach about modesty? We can answer this question by looking at what Paul and Peter say about the topic. Remember, Paul and Peter are appointed apostles of Jesus Christ, so when they wrote, they were writing on behalf of Christ. Paul’s word is Christ’s word. Peter’s word is Christ’s word.

Paul’s Word

In 1 Timothy Paul is writing to a young man named Timothy about how to lead the local church. It is a book about how to be a pastor. Timothy’s number one priority to is to carefully guard and boldly preach the system of theology found in the Scriptures. His second priority is to order the church according to a few basic principles. The first of these principles is that the church is to be engaged in regular prayer (2:1). The men are to pray “everywhere” with “holy hands”(2:8), they are not to pray with anger toward any man, or any doubt about God’s love, but in faith. Women, likewise, are to be holy, without anger and doubting, but in a slightly different way of expressing it. Whereas men adorn themselves with prayer, women are to adorn themselves in modest apparel.

So it is very important that we first notice that Paul doesn’t simply discuss modesty as if it were a standalone topic. He is specifically talking about how women should behave themselves at church. While men pray, women are to be dressed modestly, learn quietly, and bear children. Modesty is an important part of a woman’s responsibility in the church!

What does Paul teach about modesty?

The apparel should be respectable. That means it should be clean and somewhat dressy. As my wife might put it, they should come to worship dressed nicely, “not frumpy”. The apparel should be respectable – beautiful. Paul elaborates on what he means next.

The apparel should be worn with (1) modesty and (2) self-control. (1) Modesty means the clothing should cover all the right places. (2) Self-control means the clothing should not be audacious. A woman should think carefully about what she is about to wear and not choose to put clothes on just because she feels like it. She should have this question in mind “Will what I wear speak the truth about my circumstances, honor Christ, and edify my brothers and sisters?” It should be a self-controlled decision.

Further, Paul gives some instructions about what immodesty is.

The apparel should not be with braided hair, gold, pearls or costly attire. This simply means that when it is time to worship, Christ does not wish you to show up as if you were before a worldly king. He wishes you to show up in modest apparel. It is common for women to put a lot of thought into what they want to wear at a wedding, or a dinner party, or if they were invited to see the President of the United States or the Queen of England, they might want to put a lot of thought into how to dress appropriately. And this is very natural for women, and it would be right to dress very nicely in those occasions. So it is very natural to understand why a woman might want to dress this way before the King of Kings. But Paul gives different directions. He is very clear, that the King of Kings is not interested in being met this way. At the hour of worship, a woman is to put on good works.

The lesson is this. The same amount of time a beautiful and wealthy woman would put into deciding on her wedding dress, or what to wear at a night out with her husband’s boss, or any other important occasion, is the same amount of time every Christian woman should put into thinking about how she can put on good works before her Lord Christ. If a women dresses modestly but behaves immodestly – or worships with an immodest thought-life – what good will it do her, as she appears before her God who searches the heart? A lady is to put her attention on what will be beautiful to her Savior, and not so much on how it looks outwardly.

Introduction

Part I

Part 3

Walk’n Thoughts

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Modesty: Part I

My wife and I were talking about modesty during lunch. As we talked she realized that most of the material she had read was very shallow. She had been taught modesty was about the length of her skirt, and even worse, that modesty was about taking personal responsibility for how other men might respond to the length of her skirt! These views are very popular among most conservative Christians, but they woefully fail to address the issue Biblically.

What does the Bible teach about modesty? Two verses come to mind: 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4. You are probably already familiar with both passages:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 “Likewise also the women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

Our temptation will be to jump into these verses without any thought at all and come to conclusions like:

– Paul says don’t braid your hair! My hair should be straight and unkept.

– Paul says don’t wear costly attire! No designer jeans for me.

Or, even worse, our temptation will be to bring to these passages all kinds of assumptions and begin blurting out what we think they mean:

– Paul says to wear respectable apparel. And of course, what Paul means by “respectable” must be the same thing I mean.

– Paul says to wear apparel proper for godliness. And of course, Paul knows “proper” means just what I assume it means.

We could make the same mistakes when reading Peter.

Before we answer the question we should be careful that we are asking it well. There are a number of wrong ways to ask this question and I want to deal with them before we even begin to think about the modesty issue.

Wrong way #1: Strife. For many conservative Christians there is a kind of social stigma associated with modesty. If you are asking about modesty in order to create contention with other Christians, then modesty is not your priority problem. Your problem is an ugly, unkept soul indulging in conflict.

Wrong way #2: Fear. Because of this same social stigma, you may be asking this question so as to gain the approval of others. If you are asking about modesty so you can know how to be accepted by other conservatives, then modesty is not your priority problem. Your problem is idolatry.

Wrong way #3: Love. For a few Christians the reason they want to know about modesty is so they can better serve other Christians. This is a commendable goal, but it is not the first priority. The first priority would be “How can I serve Christ?”

The right way to approach this topic is to ask the question “How can I serve Christ and glorify God when I choose what to wear?” That is the question we want to answer. The question is not about the length of one’s skirt or the attention of others, but about Christ’s will. We are seeking to serve him above all other things. Whatever he commands, we must do. In everything else, we have freedom to choose.

Apart from him, we cannot keep his commandments. So if you are asking the question about modesty, and your first concern is the details about how long your skirt should be, or about how you think so-and-so always dresses tacky, or about what others might think, then you need to take a few minutes and center your thinking back on Christ as your Savior-King. Or, more importantly, if your first concern is with a sense of guilt and shame, then you need to take a few minutes to center your mind back on Christ and him alone as the only basis for your acceptance before God.

Our questions of obedience cannot be moralistic – they must be Christo-centric. What I mean is that our desire to learn about modesty must be born from our of faith in Christ’s finished work, not because of we have a guilty conscience or some personal ideal we are trying to live up to. Christian obedience rests on Christ’s love for us. Because he loves us, and has therefore completed everything necessary for our salvation, therefore we want to serve him and obey him in every area of life. Our life is no longer our own – so we no longer try to live up to standards we think are best, even on the issue of modesty, but we try to live according to what Christ teaches. Christ has already done everything necessary so that God accepts us – he has already shed his blood to cleanse our dirty consciences – so we no longer try to live in order to earn God’s favor. No. Not at all. But having his favor already earned for us, we seek to express our gratitude by serving Christ – who served us. One way we can serve him, is in how we choose to dress.

To read the Introduction, Click Here.

Part 2

Part 3

Walk’n Thoughts

1400817_10202390032782085_1747368932_oThere seems to be lot of talk about modesty on Christian blogs these days. My wife and I have also been discussing this issue. She found the thoughts below encouraging. In the weeks to come, we’ll examine the topic more closely.

A woman should be spending her time thinking about beauty. But it is not the beauty of the externals where she should be dwelling, but the beauty of the internals. A woman’s adorning should not be external, but internal. Peter calls it “the hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter 3:3-4). In God’s sight, a woman who takes time beautifying her character – seeking ways to be gentle and quiet – is very precious. God esteems it very highly and considers it be beautiful. He appreciates it and he values it above all of the beauty of braids or jewelry or designer jeans or lovely purses or nice shoes.

Her attention should be on beauty. But not the beauty of clothing and hairstyle and makeup, rather the beauty of good works. If she does this, God will find her very lovely, very valuable, and very precious. This will lead to rewards in the life to come as she commits herself to him who judges justly.

Therefore, she will not be like the women of the world – who begin to worry and fret and become bitter as they age because they cannot hold onto their youthful good looks. But she will be like the daughters of Christ – who only grow more and more beautiful with each passing week until at last they stand perfectly lovely in the sight of God, shining brightly with many crowns before all his great congregation!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Walk’n Thoughts

1400817_10202390032782085_1747368932_oI was reading an article by Peter D. Anders (here is the link). In it he argues that the modern idea of love is defined as opening yourself up to suffering – to make yourself vulnerable to another person emotionally.

This is not the biblical definition of love. Love is an act. It is an act of the will by which you give yourself for another. You lose your life for the sake of the object of your love. It is not an emotion, it is an act of the will. Christ said, “No greater love exists than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Often, this *feels terrible*. It is not pleasant to give oneself for another. Death is not fun, it is not fuzzy, and it is not warm. It is brutally real, cold and difficult. Yet to lay one’s life down is the ultimate expression of true love. To love is to give, not to open oneself up to the possibility of emotional suffering.

I think this is one of the great profundities of the Biblical teaching concerning eternal life. The promise of eternal life is not the promise of endless self-indulgences, but the promise of a never-ending opportunity to give our lives up forever. But this time, not the opportunity to give our life once in suffering and misery as we experience death – but with everlasting life and fullness of life, we will be equipped to mirror Christ’s image to the extreme – by giving and giving and giving again, a never-ending stream of ourselves for one another in reflection of who and what God is for us, pre-eminently seen in the death and resurrection and intercession of Christ. In this way we have communion with God – because we are of one mind with him, and our being, our thoughts, our selves will be taken up with the very thing that he is taken up with – love for those who believe in him trending toward the pure manifestation of the glory and bright majesty of his awesome name.

Therefore the most profound idea ever expressed by human tongues can likely be attributed to these: “God is love”. He is one, simple, pure act of almighty sovereign will whereby he freely chooses to give himself for the objects of his love.

Wow.

Walk’n Thoughts

1400817_10202390032782085_1747368932_oI just wanted to share this short quote from Richard Barcellos:

If the earth was created to be a temple in which God’s special presence was enjoyed by God’s sons who are priest-kings in communion with Him, and if the church is God’s already/not-yet interadvental temple, where God’s sons and priest-kings offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, and if the Lord’s Day has been appointed by the Lord for His interadvental sons and priest-kings to offer up sacrifices as temple servants in anticipation of the eternal state which is described in temple-garden-city language in Rev. 21-22, then I cannot see anything more important on the earth than when the church gathers and functions as the Bible states. It is the closest thing to the eternal state, when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, all His sons and priest-kings will be there, and the tabernacle of God, our glorified Lord Jesus Christ, will be among men. The local church in its function as a worshipping community on the Lord’s Day is a microcosm, a faint replica of what matters most in the Bible – the glory of God manifested in the Son of God as redeemer taking image bearers where Adam failed to take them and, in the mean time, worshipping God together. What we will one day enjoy without interruption in the eschatological state is what the whole Bible tends toward and is what the church at worship points to. What we enjoy today with six-day interruptions is a glimmer of what we will one day enjoy without interruption – sons and priest-kings of God in the New Heavens and New Earth serving our Lord, glorifying and enjoying Him forever. Those are some of the reasons I think interadvental temple services are the most important events on the earth.