God and You: Part I
Your view of God: Relationships Matter
This three-part series: God and you: Relationships and Truth Matter highlight the necessity of a proper view of God, self, and others. What is your view of God? Your view of God determines to a great degree how you function in His world especially in relation to others. The Bible teaches that life (God’s Providence as He is involved in and controls daily lives) are to be understood from God’s perspective in order to properly love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40 and 1 John 4:7-12, 19. These passages are foundational for understanding: : God and you: Relationships and Truth matter!
Love of God and love of neighbor are linked. By God’s creational design every person is in relationship to God and to others. Thus the phrase: God and You: Relationships and Truth Matter emphasize and unpack that statement. The word love refers to loyalty, allegiance, and devotion. The believer was as an unbeliever for self, to self, and by self. The believer is to God, for God, by God affects his response to others. The person’s vertical reference and his view of God are interrelated. His view of God is a reflection of and determines his view of self and others. So the question: how are you doing in God’s world, is a fundamental question for everyone to answer and answer correctly.
All the above presupposes that God is. He exists. God is the Creator and Controller Who created all things. Yet He did not create Himself – He has always been. He is eternal. And in answer to the question: where was God before He created everything? – The answer is: He was not anywhere but everywhere. He created all the wheres. The picture is one of a big God – awesome and majestic (theologians speak of this characteristic as God’s transcendence) – a one of a kind God – but Who is personal (theologians speak of this characteristic of God as His immanence – God with His people). He is the God of the universe and He is the believer’s God.
Can God do all things? It depends what you mean. God is free as is any other being but He is limited by His nature (as is man). God is limited by His God-ness. He can’t lie, change, or sin. He is true to His own nature. He does what pleases Him (Ps 115:3; 135:6). What pleases Him is to glorify Himself (Exodus 20:4-6). The Triune God has chosen to glorify Himself by saving a people for Himself. He did not save so-called “good people.” He saved rebels who were at enmity with Him and He was with them (Romans 5:6-10). He saved them in spite of themselves and with an agenda for them to change! The triune God provided the Holy Spirit who invaded the hearts of the person and supernaturally brought about a great change (John 3:3-8).
One aspect of God’s activity is His providential control. The term life is so often misused even among Christians. When we use the term life it is often divorced from God’s control. We speak of life as if it is “something” that has its own power, direction, and destiny. Biblically, God is the Author of all of life (Acts 17:24-28). The term life reflects God’s ordering and activity in His world among His creatures. Therefore, life is not the problem. How you respond to life is determined by your view of God, self, and life – situations and circumstances brought about by God’s control. Such passages as Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:17, and Acts 17:24-31 teach that all existence is the result of God’s continued governing, directing, and preserving all of His creatures and their actions.
You may be thinking or saying under your breath – “So what?” You may ask: Is the phase: God and You: Relationships and Truth Matter really true or factual? The answer is simple and yet profound: God is – He exists and we exist because He creates. He exists in relationship to Himself as the Triune God and to His people as Creator and Savior. These facts about God and man undergird the statement: God and You: Relationships and Truth matter. In fact, it is non-negotiable truth. God is our environment (Psalm 139) and the Being who is to be reckoned. Everyone is vertically referenced and therefore a theologian. Everyone has a belief about and view of God and has a relationship with Him whether denied or not.
As a believer you love God and grow in that love only because He loved you first – He is the initiator of love because He is love (1 John 4:7-12, 19). His creative power includes the creation of the world and His work of regeneration and its results (the believer is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17 as a result of the Holy Spirit’s activity – John 3:3-8). As a result the believer loves God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). Paul picks up this theme in Romans 13:8-10. There he teaches that the believer is forever indebted as a lover – first to God and then to his neighbor. The love will not cease even in heaven!
1. Knowledge of God leads to knowledge of self: write out your view of God.
2. What is your view of God and how that view has affected your response to Him in both good and hard times?
3. How has your view of God influenced your view of self (write out) and your view of others (write out)?
God’s View of Himself: Relationships Matter: Part II
We continue the series: God and you; relationships and truth matter. Since sin’s entrance into the world, man remains a thinking and emotive being but one who does not think God’s thoughts or desire what He desires. Such are the facts of the case. Therefore mankind relies on non-biblical reasoning in order to interpret facts and draw conclusions. The believer has a change in his interpretative grid so that he has the capacity to think God’s thoughts and desire God’s desires. He can correctly interpret who God is, who he is, and how to live in God’s world. These creational and re-creational facts (salvation) form the basis for the phrase: God and You: Relationships and Truth matter.
However, many people would demur or deny the existence of God. If God is out of the equation then the person becomes his own guide. He can and will live by I wants and I must-haves. He is still n relationship to God and others but relationships exist for him. No question, the question: Who is God – is truly one for all ages. It is one pillar in the phrase: God and You: Relationships and Truth matter. It is quite amazing how mankind uses his God-given capacity to think and to desire to attack God in a variety of ways such as the so-called sexual revolution, the use of the term Mother Nature, and evolution.
Nevertheless the issue remains: does God exist? If He does exist, what kind of God is He? What does His existence man for every person? These are fundamental questions that demand appropriate answers in order to rightly live in God’s world. The last statement is a propositional statement. I have begun from the standpoint that this is God’s world – He is Creator and Controller. And since it is, you and I can’t live in it any way we choose. There are consequences for choices.
A fundamental non-negotiable truth about God is: He is, and He is awesome, wise, good, purposeful, and powerful. Moreover, He is the Promise-maker and Promise-keeper. Christ’s first coming and resurrection proclaims these facts. The statement regarding God’s Being is simple and clear; yet it is immensely profound. The functional validity of this truth about God is tested daily. How so you ask. The question is quite good and very practical! If God is, and He is, what significance does that fact have?
There is another truth that is a must for living in God’s world His way and flows from the fact that God is. It centers on the creational fact (God is Creator) that man is an image bearer of God. Everyone, believer and unbeliever, are interpreters and concluders. When faced with God’s providence – people call this life – they conclude something about God, self, and others. As a result they respond in and to the event which is a response to God. For the believer, troubles and pressures (God’s providence) are the context for the practice of functional atheism or growth in Christ by grace. Since man is an inside-outside person, his thoughts, desires, and actions arise in and are housed in his heart. They give rise to his response both in the heart and in the body: self-pleasing or God-pleasing. By God’s creational design, man’s motivational center is his heart. He is to guard it – what is in it and what comes out (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23). However, bringing the whole person under the Lordship of Christ includes focusing on retaining the body – the whole person – to think, desire and act according to truth as a God-pleaser.
The Bible is the only source of truth because it is God’s personal, powerful, perfect, self-revelation. This is another propositional, objective, absolute truth. Paul wrote that everyone knows God but not as he ought (Romans 1:18-23). The unbeliever does not know God except that He is, He is Creator, and He is as Judge. But the unbeliever denies the validity of these facts. He does not know God as God is and he does not know man as he is. Knowledge of God and himself are linked. He knows facts about God. He might even say that God is big, but not too big. He knows God as powerful – He is the Creator of the world…. but he would say not too powerful. In fact, fallen man denies the facts that God is who the Bible says He is, that the Bible is true, as that he, the creature, needs God. Piling up truth on truth emphasizes the validity of the premise: God and You: Relationships and Truth matter.
By God’s creational design, everyone is a knower of God – He exists and He is big in the sense of majesty and awesomeness – glory, power and majesty. Yet the unbeliever, and often the believer, suppresses and attempts to hold down that truth. Both deny the truth of Who God in their thoughts, desires, and actions. The believer begins to change and as a result he changes his view of God and himself. Functionally the unbeliever, and often, too, the believer, acts as if the world is and can function any way he desires, including self-pleasing (Judges 17:6; 21:25; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 3:1-5).
Another fundamental non-negotiable truth is man’s religious nature. Man was born a religious being – a worshipper. The key is who will he worship and how. The Christian God deserves full allegiance and devotion, and He demands it. In Acts 17:22-31, Paul applied this truth to the philosophers in Athens. He recognized that the men of Athens “where in every way” very religious. He based this statement on the number of places of worship – temples with their idols – present in the city. These men had conjured up a god as they knew him. Paul seized this opportunity to present to them the true God in the context of the cross and the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). They knew God but not as He is and they ought. They balked at the gospel message of resurrection. They did not fit their thinking.
Every person has knowledge of God. The unbeliever rebelliously misuses this knowledge. He attempts to hide God from himself and himself from God. This is a foolish and futile activity and originates in the Garden (Genesis 3:8-14). The believer functions in this manner as well as a result of previous membership in Satan’s family and kingdom with its darkness, debasement, and deadness.
With regeneration, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and gives him new light – light to understand and apply a whole different set of principles to himself, others, and circumstances. The work of the Holy Spirit is captured in Ephesians 1:15-19 and 3:17-19. The Holy Spirit opens blind eyes and hearts to the things of God. As a result, the believer thinks differently. He changes his thoughts about God and himself. Moreover his desires change: he seeks to please God rather than himself. And his actions change: he puts off duty simply for the sake of law- keeping and earning something from God. In its place, he puts on obedience as privilege and blessing.
1. What is your view of God and why?
2. What is your view of self and why?
3. Read Psalm 92:1-6 and compare and contrast your views of God and yourself with the psalmist and make the appropriate adjustments.
God and you: God’s View of Himself: Truth Matters: Part III
We conclude the series: God and you; relationships and truth matter. There are non-negotiable truths in regards to relationships. These have been the subject of the preceding blogs. The fact of non-negotiable truths in God’s world is what you would expect. The Triune God is truth and gives truth – He is the only source of truth (Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 45:19; 65:16; John 1:17; 14:6; 15:26; 16:13). We encountered primary nonnegotiable truths in the two sentences and previous blogs. It is God’s world: He created it (Genesis1:1-2) and sustains it (Ephesians1:11). Unfortunately many people deny these truths. To ignore or reject them has consequences.
One issue is that of control. Psalm 46:10 spells this truth out when the psalmist writes that we are to be still (cease striving) and know that God is in control. The verse highlights knowledge and the application of that knowledge. It captures a common, daily choice for every person: coming down on God’s side or their side. It is not a matter of “letting God be God.” Who are you to think that you know and can do better than God? Rather it is a matter of knowing Who God is and who you are AND thinking, desiring, and acting accordingly. Otherwise you will compete with God – and lose, every time. God does not bless those who compete with Him (Isaiah 42:8; 48:8-11).
Two other nonnegotiable truths that follow and are juxtaposed to the truth that God is truth are: the truth sets one free and God is life and light (John 8:31-32; 14:6; John 8:12; 9:5; 1 John 1:5). Therefore truth is linked to life and light. Neither of them stands alone. Moreover, neither of them is relative. Truth is personal and absolute as God is. The Triune God has staked His good name and Person on the fact that He is truth. As a result He is trustworthy – He can, should be, and must be trusted. He does give life and gives it abundantly via a relationship with and work of His Son by the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Son and in the believer (John 10:10-11).
Even when the believer’s feelings, experience, and human reasoning unaided by biblical truth seem to indicate otherwise, the Triune God is truth and He is trustworthy. Relationships matter. He can be trusted to keep His promises one of which is to take care of His people His way for His glory and their good.
A child may recite the truth that He is to obey his parents in the Lord. When asked why he should, he may say it is in the Bible. That is a start! My next question to the child, to the parent, and to you is: so what? Most people, adult and child, are stymied. The point of the question: God speaks and He speaks in His Word. To ignore His Word is to ignore God. Why would anyone ignore God? It can only be that the person does not know Who God is, who he is, and or does not care about Who God is. Those are serious theological issues with consequences. Relationships matter! .
God is a self- revealing God and is another nonnegotiable truth to consider. The Triune God communicates first to himself in eternity past and now throughout the ages and all eternity. His revelation is clear and purposeful. He has made His creatures revelation receivers – they have the capacity to hear God and respond accordingly. Man is a revelation receiver, interpreter, and implementer. God expects to be heard and to be heard accurately. He is God and He deserves to be heard, and heard well, by His people for their good and His glory. The two are linked. God and You: Relationships and Truth matter!
Consider this nonnegotiable truth: as I mentioned earlier God is big (awesome and majestic) and in His majesty and glory, He is good, wise, and purposeful. This set of truths comes under fire when feelings, experience, and reason, unaided by Scripture says “no way.” Relationships do matter. The interpretative grid of feelings, experience, and reason divorced from biblical truth rears its head when the person is in the throes of unpleasantness. The trio focuses the person’s attention on self and control rather than on God’s control and purpose for it. Life is considered as if “it just is” and has its own existence. In that way, God, His presence, wisdom, goodness, and grace are excluded or minimized. The person senses himself as “on his own” often drowning is a sea of bad feelings! Rather, life is not life in itself. Rather, situations (life) are God’s providence and the context by which hearts are exposed and the importance that the person attributes to his God’s relationship at that moment. The believer’s response in them and to them is a response to God. Relationships matter.
1. Make your list of nonnegotiable truths – I started it for you.
2. Reflect on your relationship with God and God with you.
3. Build on your relationship with God daily and refer to it regularly.
4. Apply at least one of those truths every day and record the results.