Love God for who he is or what he can do for you

There has been quite a lot of gospel centered teachings on loving God for not what he can do for you but rather for who he is. There is a lot of truth in it, but there have to be a combination of who he is and what he does for you. Even God is frequently quoted in OT and some in NT about the deeds of the Lord. Psalm 92 “For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;I sing for joy at what your hands have done.How great are your works, Lord,how profound your thoughts!”

You (God) make me glad by your deeds, Lord. It’s the deeds of the Lord that God has made me glad. This is a clear example with many many others in the Bible. And psalmist says here” I sing for joy at what your hands have done”!! Done!! This is clearly the deeds of God and what God has done has made me sing for joy!!

Psalm 116: “1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;he heard my cry for mercy.2 Because he turned his ear to me,I will call on him as long as I live.” This is another clear language that I love the Lord because he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy. –There is clear evidence we love the Lord because he heard our voice, our cry. Is that wrong? Not so, if you take it in the word value way, and not like binge greedy seeking God’s answering your prayers as a means to get what you want only, and not for God’s will to be done. However, if you take it like I only love the Lord if he answered my prayers, that will be wrong. That will be like an idolatry, and that’s what the gospel centered messages are saying. So, on the bible, we are validated to love the Lord because He has heard me. Legit, and we have to experience oru theology, experience our God, and who God is!

Question is how do I know who God is until I see what he does? Actions speak louder than words. That’s truly a strong and valid legit question. How do the creations know who their creator is without seeing and sensing and feeling what God has done in general and for him or her ! A man or woman’s heart is moved, as God touched him or her. It’s an expression of God’s love towards him or her. Example is the woman with the bleeding problem, after Jesus touched her and healed her bleeding and was later confronted she trembled and gave thanks! Because God has touched her! The leper who was cleansed leapt in joy and screamed!! Not just healings as the manifestation of the glory and deed of God, there are many others in the Bible, like the fire of God descended on Elijah’s sacrifice and licked up every drop of water, or feel the love of God as the Holy Spirit fills a person with joy and peace. These are tangible works or deeds of the Lord and as people receive the healings they see the almighty God and give thanks .

The other common way of showing who God is when he answers our prayers. When we have been praying for an open door, God opened that door, a job, a wife, husband, whatever, when God does answer the prayers we see who he is and our hearts are filled with joy thankfulness awe and worship towards the Lord and our God. All these point to my thesis here that you can’t see or know who God is until he manifests himself like the above described or in intangible way like his presence and peace and joy.


Now there is a third way which is probably the most major and common way of knowing God and hence loving him and serving him. And that’s through the word of God in meditation, a powerful way, or through the word of God preached.


Thesis is you won’t know God until he does something in your life no matter how you read the Bible and understand theology. But I would say by reading and understand theology God will dawn in your heart the revelation of who he is. And with actual answered prayers , it’s a complete revelation of God. I would conclude saying we love God for who He is and what he does for us and the world. You can’t separate the two. There is no dichotomy between the two.

Man’s Perfect Soulmate

When God created everything he said it’s good.

Gen 1: 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

But when it comes to Adam, he said he couldn’t find any creation that will fit Adam. And God actually for the first time said it’s not good. Gen 2: 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Couple things here, the call to pronounce its not good for man to be alone came from God, not man’s idea, but God the creator’s idea. It came from God. Then the solution to that loneliness of Adam, also came from God, for God says I will make him a helper fit for him. That’s huge, as it all points to a sovereign God, nothing of the man’s plan, will etc. All by God.

And God had to create another being that will fit Adam to be his helper. You see God used the word “fit” in Genesis 2, and that’s very significant. Nothing else fits under heaven of all the creations he created. Remember God created everything by simply speaking them into being. But for Adam, the first human, God breathed his breath into a pile of dust and God created the first man in his image. Gen 2: 7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. No other creation of God received the breathe of God, except Adam, and that’s very special as the breathe of God is the Spirit of God.

Another thing is how He created Adam. That’s another significant point here and it’s the words “in our likeness”. Nothing else was created in Gods image except Adam! Special! In someone’s image, it means he looks like God and have Gods special spiritual being. 27 Or So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.


Now God then put Adam to sleep and while he’s asleep, God took a rib out of him and created Eve out of Adams bone. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

            Gen 2:  21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping,     he took one of the man’s ribsand then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made       a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

It’s very significant that the first woman was created from the first man. Eve was not created from dust and God’s breathe like Adam, but rather she’s created from a rib of Adam. This is huge. And in Ephesians Paul mentioned that it was Adam who was created first.

So God created Eve, and God brought her personally to Adam to be his helper. It’s like the father bringing his daughter down the aisle and handed her over to the groom. It actually appears to be the case in parallel. I believe that’s how modern or wedding for centuries are conducted with the bride’s father bringing the bride to the groom. And when God brought Eve to Adam, he uttered the first poem of humanity saying, “ Finally this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. “ Do you hear the words “finally”? Adam is saying I have been waiting and looking around and there is no one that fits. Well at that time looking around everything that moves are animals in garden of Eden. Lol. And he was pumped to see a creation that looks like him but different in sexuality, and it was God who brought her to him! So I believe it’s best to wait upon God to bring the right man to the woman, and also for God to bring the man to the right woman. I know this is rather spiritual but there is a lot of truth in it and I can testify to that how I found my wife.

Lets just expound the word “helper” here for a minute. Helper here doesn’t mean someone just helping the man to achieve something when he could have done it himself, so it’s really helping him out in terms of time etc. But no, Tim Keller expounded this word as per the original Hebrew word as someone helping the man doing something he wouldn’t have been able to do by himself. It’s something that they combined their complementarianism, achieved the impossible. I deeply believe that, basing on my own marriage, there is no way, I could have done or achieved some of the things I have done. Marriage is an enrichment and helping the man out in that sense. There is something that only a wife can bring out in the marriage walk of the man & woman.

Finally, my thesis is no man can be complete without his Eve, except some exceptions like those who are celibate for God and by God, like apostle Paul. But apart from that the fullness of a man is when he is brought a woman to be his helper or soul mate. Man can only be full when he meets a woman of soulmate. That’s why same sex union is just impossible in God’s design and will. No one can change God’s creation design and will. Let God be God.

Two Natures of Jesus & His presence in the Lord’s Supper

This is a great article by Andrew Wilson taking Gavin Ortlund’s excellent new book, Theology Retrieval for Evangelicals, on the subject of Jesus’ dual natures (divine & humanity) especially in view of how he can physically be present in the Lord’s Supper in the so called “Extra Calvinisticum”. I prescribe to the Spiritual Presence Reformed View on the Lord’s Supper, the Spirit of Jesus present with us in taking Communion.

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https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/one_of_the_best_illustrations_ive_heard_in_years

Is the second person of the Trinity omnipresent and incarnate at the same time? Is the Son of God both asleep in a manger, or a boat, or even dead, while he is also filling all things and sustaining the universe? The so-called extra Calvinisticum gives a confident yes—and the Reformed view of the Lord’s Supper depends on it, among other things—but it feels counterintuitive and obscure to us nevertheless. So, here’s a wonderfully helpful illustration from Gavin Ortlund’s excellent new book, Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals. It’s one of the best illustrations I’ve heard in years, and it pretty much sums up what theological teaching ought to be.

Suppose, just as Christ comes into his own creation at the incarnation, Tolkien had written himself into Middle-earth as a character of the story alongside Frodo and Merry and Pippin and the rest. Had Tolkien done so, he would not for that reason cease to exist in Oxford (in fact, his whole existence in Middle-earth depends on his continued writing). Nor has the unity of Tolkien’s person been impaired, for one person can simultaneously be in Middle-earth and Oxford, because they are not two different “places” within one realm but two different realms altogether. In other words, it is one thing to be in Oxford and Cambridge at the same time, but another thing to be in the Shire and Oxford at the same time; and the relation of “heaven” and “earth,” and with it the relation of Christ’s divine and human natures, is more like the relationship between the Shire and Oxford. This is the value of the metaphor of story—the distinction between “author” and “story” is robust enough to retain two natures while fluid enough to retain one person. Middle-earth and Oxford may be two while Tolkien remains one

It is not merely that Tolkien is not confined to the body of his incarnate character in Middle-earth; that is true, but that is just about the least significant thing one can say about him. Supposing the incarnated Tolkien is sitting in Frodo’s home in the Shire for a meal; this does not in the least hinder the Tolkien in Oxford from going to sleep, or traveling to India, or putting the book down for twenty years. His incarnate existence in Middle-earth does not diminish him in the least or even distract him. He is not merely extra but completely and fully extra. In other words, it is not that he reduces himself to an incarnate life but leaves a tiny bit left over that is not exhausted by his incarnation; rather, that which is extra continues without the slightest downgrade or even interruption during the incarnation.

How much does God trust us? Grace of God

We all talk about how much do you trust God? Do you trust God in all circumstances etc? But now how about we flip the question around?

The Great Exodus

I was in my Christianity in the Secular Age by Tim Keller RTS class this year and he was talking about God giving the law to the nation of Israel. It is really interesting on the timing of the giving of the laws by God to Israel in relation to the Exodus, the greatest miracle of all times in humanity when Moses brought 3 million Jews walking through the dry Red Sea by a mighty East wind. The thing is when did God give them the law for them to obey?

Usually, we expect you want to give the laws to your people before the mighty deliverance or exodus. You want to make sure that they all line up. But apparently it is not the case!

When God took Israel out of Egypt, religious thinking will be that God will require them to obey the 10 commandments to be qualified in the exodus out of the slavery of Egypt. But what happened was, the laws was given to them AFTER they walked out to freedom! How?

Exodus14  21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

Exodus 14—God told Moses to stretch forth his hand with his staff towards the Red Sea and a strong east wind blasted the sea and turned it dry!

Exodus 19 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 

God carried them on eagles’ wings. A metaphoric language, God literally carried them , 3 million Jews, on dry ground of Red Sea, to their freedom! WHile all those Egytian army of Pharoah all went drowned as the Red Sea closed upon them. One of the most dramatic real life saga ever recorded in human history. That’s what God did. That’s what God would be doing for us as we believe in him. He would carry out through our difficulties, hardship.

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

In order words, God sets the condition to be God’s treasured possession (which means protection, love, holiness etc), after He took them out from slavery to be a treasured people of God. There was no preliminary selection process. No qualifying match to get in. He brought you in first and then He deals with you. How unlike the world’s way of doing things! WHo does that, selecting you on a blank check with no conditions, and then lay the conditions after the fact?

What a mighty God! You have to love that kind of God. Full of grace.

Is Infant Baptism Biblical & Good?

I have never believed it before coming to RTS, and also now been following Reformed teaching, it has opened my eyes to see the significance and blessing of infant baptism.

Our infant children are also covenant children and should receive the sign of the covenant. Baptism is one of the two sacraments in the protestant faith, Catholic has seven. Sacrament by definition is a sign and seal of the covenant promises of God towards us. Baptism is a dynamic equivalent of circumcision in the Abrahamic covenant with God. The Jewish believers in Jesus do not get circumcision but baptism as a sign of being part of the covenant with God in Christ. Same applied to Gentile believers.

Circumcision was not only given to children of promise of Abraham, Isaac, but also to non-promised child, Ismail.  It was administered to Abraham and his children. Circumcision pointed to belonging, discipleship, covenant obligations, and eventually to the future faith of the child. [1] Water baptism has the same spiritual meaning. Children are to be marked to be part of the covenant of God, just like Abraham’s children, didn’t necessarily believe in Yahweh yet, but they were circumcised. 

Col 2 : 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 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.

Baptism and circumcision carry the same spiritual meaning.

Not only that, God deals with households as a unit and welcomes whole families into the church. Acts 16:13-15, 32-34, 1 Cor 1:16. Household concept is precious and beautiful. Would you like to consider your children outside of the covenant of God growing up in a Christian family and believing parents, you? So, don’t exclude your kids. The whole idea of repentance and believing first before baptism is only found in Peter’s preaching in Acts…repent and be baptized, you & your family shall be saved. Repent and baptism can be independent, nothing here binds one to the other. Its just a sequence.

History of early church been baptizing infants. They have been doing that through big names Augustine, Iraneous, etc. Not until the 16th century, the whole thing is called into question. [2]

Finally-baptism is a sign of inclusion in the covenant community just like circumcision was. Children are holy by believing parents.

1 Cor 7 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

[1] Kevin DeYoung https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/a-brief-defense-of-infant-baptism/

[2] Ibid

Proclaim the Lord as the Most High over all the earth in our prayers of needs

Psalm 83[a]

O God, do not remain silent;
    do not turn a deaf ear,
    do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

 

Many times, David writes psalms in a way facing the attacks of the enemies while we in our modern day and age, do not relate that much to spiritual warfare, but focuses more on the sinfulness of our own lives. Vulnerability of oneself seems to trump the day for some strange reason, I believe it is cultural. The western culture is much more self focused, self ego centric too, but the East and Global south, is much more community based, and supernatural sensitive and connected culturally. Having said that, I would call it a combination of internal sinful life, with the external spiritual warfare against us, God’s people.

This is a powerful psalm. In that when we face enemies in life, they are not only fighting against us, but they actually touching the anointed one of the most high, the Lord our God. Therefore when we pray for solutions and God’s help against all these enemies attacks of darkness in this spiritual warfare, we should take note that this is dealing with our God directly as well, not just us. So they are actually challenging the Lord our God, not just wrecking our lives.

Our prayer about the forces of darkness that attack our families, or opposing the righteousness, holiness of God in our lives, families, and churches, cities, nation should be as follow: For example, we face rebellion, self centered lifestyle, sicknesses, or searching for what’s wrong among our children being influenced by the winds of doctrines that are liberal in campus and the city, instead of us pleading God to protect our children only, which we should, but also embark on Psalm 83 mighty prayer, taking out the hammer, and crush the enemy.

The point to note is that it’s not about just crushing our enemies who invade our vineyard, our folks, our loved ones and even ourselves too,  but really so they will know our God alone is the most high above all the earth. This is just not for them to know, and therefore bow, but in all respect, it is transforming us as we make that kind of prayers, as we see how an attack on God’s people, is really a challenge towards the mighty sovereign God who alone is the highest.

Unless we have it clear in our mind, the Lord our God inhabits the highest in this world, in our lives, we will have missed the point of facing and responding to the attacks of the enemies, forces of darkness. It’s a warfare beyond us human level, ultimately, its God to be glorified alone when the devil wants to take his glory.

See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,

18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Let them know, or make them know the Lord Jesus alone is the Most High over all the earth.

 

God has implanted in all men the knowledge of God

It is fascinating to read about whether deep down the hearts of every man & woman, there is an awareness of the divine God. No matter how much a person denies the divinity, somehow, there is always a crack when he or she will show the fear of God existentially when he or she falls into trouble or danger.

In New York or most city folks, men and women are chasing after careers, money, pleasures, sex and forgetting God. God is a marginal issue. But Calvin argued prolifically that deep down every person heart, there is an awareness of God. Lets see his argument applied to our situation. To prevent anyone from taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance, God himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty.[1] He went on to say that there is no eminent pagan, no people or nation so barbarous, savage, and remote that they have not a deep-seated conviction that there is a God. Interestingly how do you compare that with the urban city folks? They are not remote, not savage, but educated, but extremely worldly. Essentially they love for themselves, and their families or loved ones. That probably rings true for all countries in the world today. Actually, the world that we see today in the big cities especially like New York, the trend is definitely towards what’s written in :

2 Tim But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, abusive, disobedient, slanderous, no self-control, etc.…all the virtues are lost. Why? That’s the prophecy for the end time. So if you balance these two together, there got to be an intentional denial, of the deep conviction that there is a God. That sense is usually ignored or intentionally marginalized. Unless the Spirit of God moves in their hearts, they are essentially gone! The direction of life will be marching towards the bottomless abyss. It is a sense of helplessness and fear as we witness the civilization falling in front of our eyes. Yet, Calvin argues fervently that sense of the knowledge of the divine has not been gone altogether. My article today is what do people do with that tension in their hearts? That’s a really good tension, and I believe the stronger the tension towards the divine God, the stronger the pull by the Holy Spirit, the better chance does a person have in coming into the family of God. Calvin argues that there is no city, no household, since the beginning of the world, which could do without religion; there lies in this a tacit confession of a sense of deity inscribed in the hearts of all.[2] So well written by Calvin! In other words, no civilization through human history throughout the whole world has been able to survive without a religion. That’s true, because I have never seen an atheist civilization that grown massive in history. Look at Rome, the Roman empire calls Caesar god even! In China, the emperor is called king from heaven, same as Japan too. Indeed every idolatry is ample proof of this conception. Talking about idolatry, you can see that everyday in the world we live in today, no matter which year, which country. We all have idols in our hearts. A lot of times, we idolize money, career, sex, women, power, greed or even children. This just shows these idols actually take the place of God in our lives.

History tells us of a Roman emperor after Caesar, Gaius Caligula, who showed unbridled contempt of deity (God) ; yet he trembled miserably when any sign of Gods wrath manifested itself-albeit unwillingly, he shuddered at the God whom he professedly sought to despise. He who is the boldest despiser of God is of all men the most startled at the rustle of a falling leaf. [3](Lev 26:36) 36 And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues.

So question is where does this arise but from the vengeance of divine majesty, which strikes their conscience all the more violently the more they try to flee form it. [4] He is saying that even though men try to run away and hide themselves from the Lord’s presence in some disguise, love of boy or girlfriend, or money, and to efface it again from their minds. But deep down, they are always entrapped. Although sometimes it may seem to vanish for a moment, it returns at once and rushes in with new force. There is no respite.[5] In other words, there is always a sense of emptiness in their hearts, even though in the surface, they seem to be happy and fulfilled, but their hearts are far from being in rest. This is the attitude and result of an impious mind, non-reverence to the mighty God, and this exemplifies the seed of God is alive in all men’s minds.

 

[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol 1, Westminster John Knox Press 2011, p 43

[2] Ibid p44

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid