“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Hope

In the past six or so posts we have examined God’s providence in detail, going from a basic definition of His providence to the providential care that He shows, even in the death of His saints. These posts have been difficult for me, as many in our church are going through hard times.

A providential God simply does not compute to those weaned on the American god who is, more or less, simply there for the good times – a god who promises nice cars, big homes, and a lack of suffering – the god of many in our modern world.

But the god advertised by many churches is simply not the God of the Bible – the God who sent His children into exile for their promiscuous love affair with idols; the God who did not allow Moses into the Promised Land because of disobedience; the God who allowed Job to be sifted, yet never snatched out of His hand; the God who has called many to suffer for His name over millennia.

This God is one that many who call themselves Christians would not recognize. Sadly we have become enamored with the comfortable god, the one who would never allow his children to suffer. But, the comfortable god is not the God of the Bible – the God in the Bible is mighty and frightening, He is in control of all things, and He is inscrutable in His ways ofttimes.

So, as I approach the final posts in this series, I wanted to quickly review the last few posts.

In my initial post on this subject, I ruminated on the fact that death, as is defined by most all of us, is an event in time. It is something that happens at a point in time, and can be delineated by a clock. What is one of the basic questions that always gets asked by the lead character in a police drama? What is the “time of death”.

All of us have this view of death, not just the lost – few people live in the mindset of eternity – that death is not an event, but a state in which all men find themselves as they march through life.

However, Paul had this mindset – we find him speaking of all being dead in their trespasses and sins before being made alive in Christ. [Ephesians 2 & Colossians 2]

I proposed a working definition of death a few posts ago. Here it is again - " Death is the state that we find ourselves in due to Adam’s sin. While physical death may occur at some specific date and time, we have all been born into, and live in a body of death until, in Christ, we are redeemed into eternal life."

This definition will really help us as we walk through this world. If we could but keep our minds fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, then we would spend much less time worrying about the many issues and problems that confront us in this life, and much more time in the Word, in treating one another as we should, and in living fearlessly for Christ. We all face the danger, in our fallen nature, of becoming far more consumed with us and far less consumed with Christ.

Most relationship issues that I deal with are overwhelmingly centered around pride, and striving in this world. In marriage for example, men are to serve their families self-sacrificially, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, and women are called to serve under their husbands, yet we all struggle with the pervasive nature of pride and sin.

So, marriages in today’s world end up (up to 50% in the church!) in divorce, because the parties will not die to self, and live in Christ. People do not have a proper understanding of death – they strive under the delusion that our world has served up, loaded with sugar and additives, that our existence on this planet involves us being happy and getting the most stuff while we have the chance, rather than us being dead to self and living for Christ – Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 2:15, 16 that we are ...the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.

And yet, we have so bought into the world’s ideas that we jettison our role as salt and light, and an aroma of Christ, and climb aboard the desire train – living lives of blissful, or desperate, materialism.

As Christians, if we could but grasp the reality that we are dead, and that it is Christ who lives in us, the church would be a vastly different place. Marriages would be healed, broken friendships would be reconciled, and pastors would not be striving for bigger, better, and more more, more. Oh, the message that the church could send to a world not only consumed with, but in slavery to, materialism! It is sad when the world looks into the church and finds not only the same disease that affects them, but the haughtiness and pride of a people who believe that they somehow deserve the better ‘things’ in life.

If we would simply get a handle around the fact that we are not our own, but bought with a price, a price that included our death and rebirth through the power of the Holy Spirit, maybe we would once again be true salt and light to this sad, self-centered and dying world!

Rather than run on in this post, let's leave this here, and pick it up in the next post which will begin to discuss our eschatological hope - a hope that reaches beyond the grave into eternity itself.

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