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Justifying the Unjustifiable God
"And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces;but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust." Mt. 21:4
I have written about this somewhat before, but feel compelled to write about it again.
We all as mortals wrestle over the complete character of God as revealed throughout the scriptures. The totality of that picture is not pretty. It is confusing at best. At worst it hurts us at points in heart and mind, being difficult if not impossible to defend to the natural mind.
Any casual search from Genesis forward will turn up a wide array of overwhelmingly offensive statements, commands and actions on God’s part impossible to justify from our present cultural position. These perceptions lead men to conclude that either the Bible can’t possibly be the Word of God, or that the God revealed in the scriptures, if He truly is God, is not worthy of being served. He is just an Old Testament tyrant more lately dressed up in the garb of New Testament “love” (though even the book of Revelation makes Him out to be a blood thirsty warlord.) This is certainly how the atheists see it.
For our parts as believers, we simply choose to ignore these more “unseemly” revelations to focus on all we find that appears beautiful to us about the Lord. We have made up our minds that whatever we don’t like as found in these other scriptures, we aren’t going to bother dealing with. It’s just too problematic.
Creating an “Acceptable” Faith?
Some “believers” err in trying to re-craft the scriptures more suitably to their senses in order to deal with these humanisticly problematic revelations. This is for example where doctrines such as “Christian Universalism” come from.
Some years ago, a Christian missionary turned Universalist, defending his conversion against the idea that God would consign men to an unending hell, wrote in his opening treatise that he had now concluded “I could never serve such a God.” Similarly, opposing the plainly stated doctrine of God’s sovereign election to salvation, a “Bible-Believing” Fundamentalist pastor opened his argument to me with the words, “I cannot believe that my God would …..”
This is what it ultimately comes down to then. We either ignore these scriptures, or else selectively choose to re-craft them into something agreeable to what we are “willing to believe.” This choice not to believe certain hard things about God and His ways is not because it is contrary to or not in scripture, but because we do not want to believe what scripture has revealed. Our faith is determined by what we want. Faith predicated upon desire rather than submission is the foundation of unbelief, having marked the very first sin.
Truth be told, many things in scripture simply hurt our hearts and minds about God; we don’t want to believe them, and so we have to choose how we will handle this pain. A teaching ministry like this one does all it can to bring healing by reconciling difficult conflicting scriptures into wholeness of perspective. But all is not reconcilable this side of the veil.
Is God Stupid or What?
Had I been God writing from my human perspective, I would not have written the scriptures the way they are written. As scriptures are written now, they do a very poor “PR” job for God among a “civilized” people. Assuming that, as God, I had all those “mean” things to say or command or do that I knew were so publicly offensive that it would just make me look like a lunatic tyrant in their eyes, I would have been smart enough to leave those things out! Or at least justify to all of sensible peace-loving mankind why I had to do them! Why “do Myself in” that way without explanation before generations of “civilized” men to come?
This means that, by inspiring the scriptures to be written the way they were, either 1) God, if He exists at all, is a fool and the scriptures are sheer madness, or else 2) God is a sheer genius above and beyond anything we can possibly comprehend, and it is we who somehow have the false picture of reality despite what we would believe of our own eyes, and it is we who had better start changing our griping tune about how sadistic, how unfair, how bloodthirsty the God of the Old Testament and of Revelation really is, and we who ought to start coming to a revelation of an entirely otherworldly dimension.
From Offensive Faith to Offensive Faith
Why do we believe what we already willingly believe about God and the gospel as revealed through scripture? The only reason we truly believe is because the Holy Spirit brought us to faith in spite of the incomprehensibility of the message of the cross. We didn’t rationalize our way into the faith, and any faith based on such rationalization isn’t faith. “The preaching of the cross is foolishness,” Paul said. This means there is nothing naturally reasonable about our faith from the start, never mind anything else about God’s nature and character in scripture down the road.
What is the challenge then to believers regarding all these other nasty scriptures we just don’t want to accept or deal with? The challenge is that we have to go on and expand first faith in the gospel message out to all the rest revealed to us about God. We have to accept it. And we have to embrace it, whether we “like” it or not. You can’t believe in the message of the cross for salvation, and then later “pick and choose” from which other offensive things about God, His ways and His doctrine you are “willing” to believe.
True faith is alive and ever expanding. This means faith is always encountering the challenge of more and more offensive knowledge. Faith is grown by overcoming such hurdles in our ongoing discovery of God. And that is why God inspired the scriptures to be written as they were. He revealed all the “nasties” on purpose. The scriptures are one complete obstacle course of “skandalons” to the natural mind. Period. True faith requires something past the placating of our sensibilities. (People, I really encourage you to listen to the “Skandalon” series by Ray McCollum posted at the website if you never have.)
The True Author of Civility
Let me comment a moment on this so-called “civilized” humanistic perspective of who God should be like and how life should be as a harmonious, peace-loving society of unconditional brotherly love—this perspective by which we are offended and presume to judge Who God is revealed to be as a bloody mighty warrior, ordering the killing of innocent babies in Canaan, etc. What you have to understand is that the reason for any “civility” at all in society as we esteem it in these late gentile centuries is because of the gracious work of this very “bloodthirsty” God upon our society. The virtues of civility are not due to any innate civility in man, as humanists would like to think.
These virtues of peace and harmony are God’s virtues to begin with, purchased and granted precisely because of the cross and of the ugly things related thereto previously--and we have been graced to receive of them in our society today as a result. Society is not at all “civil” because “man is basically good.” No. Man has no ability to keep the peace. No baby has to be taught to be selfish or bad. Just the opposite. Relative peace and prosperity exist now in spite of the fact that man is who he is--intrinsically evil, though man takes all credit for the civility which he has been allowed to taste and by which his society has been blessed.
All these noble humanistic qualities are due only to the remaining influence of God’s unspeakably gracious, long suffering forbearance and mercy on an otherwise restrained lawless self-centered society. The people of these “civilized” societies have yet to discover how absolutely animalistic they really are without God’s hand of restraint. That covering has been increasingly removed over generations to reveal more and more of the madness--not of God--but of man. Why do you think all these terrorists and murderers are arising in our times? It’s not because good people have gone bad! It’s because bad people are having God’s grace removed from their lives to reveal man for who man really is on the inside. (If man was so “good,” shouldn’t the United Nations have been able by now after 70 years to bring peace to all the world—including the Middle East???)
And if humanistic men keep criticizing what they can’t accept about God based on their misappropriation of God’s own goodness on their lives, and if humanisticly intimidated “believers” keep catering to man’s sensitivities by trying to restructure Who God Is as presented in all of scripture, He will just keep withdrawing His grace until men understand why an intrinsically just and good God had to demonstrate as much bloodshed as He did in prior civilizations on an intrinsically evil mankind, and will again as Revelation tells us.
Get Over the Offense
The takeaway then for us as believers? Get over it! Get over your offense in God’s complete self-revelation. Get over the doctrines you don’t like that you think paint God in a bad light and you don’t want to have to defend. Who are you in your own fickle self-centered flesh to judge God—you who can’t even keep your own New Year’s resolutions?? God is Who He Is, has done what He has done in history, and will do what He will do in history-forward—without apology to our sensitivities and misappropriation of His nature. Yes, it may hurt our emotions in places. But God heals pain and brings reconciled understanding to the humble and contrite.
Let God bring the faith you already have in the gospel over the hurdle of the next offense in His self-revelation. Embrace what He reveals of Himself and says of Himself regardless of whether you “want” to believe it or not. Anything else will lead you astray into false teaching, entrenching your unbelief, and bring you to worship the luciferian adaptation of His goodness that will appear when the man of sin arises.
Which faith will you choose?
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created December 12, 2017