Mystery and Revelation

There is a place for mystery in theology. God is bigger than us by such a magnitude that we cannot expect to understand everything about Him. He is beyond our comprehension.

But information does not have to come from reason, it can also come from education. Much of what you know was taught to you, in addition to what you figured out. When it comes to God, He wants us to know Him, and therefore He reveals Himself to us.

When it comes to understanding God, we can be too intrigued by mystery. It becomes a romantic concept. It also makes a great excuse for not studying deeper or working harder to understand God. But I think this love affair with mystery is a mistake. God delights in revealing Himself to us, and a wisdom is found by the one who delights in studying to know more.

Furthermore, being intrigued by mystery can be dangerous. From Gnosticism forward to the latest person claiming to be the second coming of Christ, the devil has used the idea of mysteries known only to a select few, to seduce humanity away from the true knowledge of God. Anytime you hear someone speaking of a secret of the ages that God has revealed only to them, beware.

So while mysteries do exist, our love affair with mysteries should be made to submit to a love for the things of God. Study God’s word and find the answers to His mysteries there.

 

Advertisements

God’s Will

If you are a faithful follower of Jesus Christ then one of your goals should be to find and to do God’s will in your life. So an important question is, how do you find God’s will? This question probably seems pretty obvious, and it is on certain levels.

For example, if you are deciding what to do about a struggling business, your list of possibilities might include murdering your competitors, or stealing their merchandise. By being familiar with the Ten Commandments you can eliminate these two options and therefore you have come closer to finding God’s will by eliminating some possibilities. Other possibilities on the list might be eliminated because they don’t pass the test of basic morality.

In other words the simplest way to seek God’s will is to eliminate those things that are immoral or opposed to Scripture. But then how do you go further; how do you discern the issues about your personal life that are not scripturally grounded or morally based? For example, who to marry, where to live, what job to take in the church and in life—these decisions also need to be under God’s direction.

So in the details of life, how do you find God’s will? I am going to suggest three ways people approach these decisions. These are ranked from the worst to the best, in my opinion. If you disagree, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

  1. Don’t bother seeking God’s will on the ordinary matters of daily life. Instead assume God does not care about these things, and therefore those are the decisions that are up to you.
  2. Put the matter before the Lord in a prayer by giving Him a choice of a sign to speak through. A Biblical example of this is Gideon putting down the fleece. For you it might be anything from what the weather will be like on a certain day to whether a light stays green as you approach it.
  3. Allow God to speak to you in relationship. This means being active in prayer but instead of seeking God’s answer in an external sign, listen for an internal, still, small voice.

I believe the Christian life is a relationship and it’s in that relationship you will find God’s will. The first possibility above is not accurate because it assumes a disinterest on God’s part, or partial lordship. The second can have some application, but is so easily abused I would prefer people shy away from it. It quickly becomes the equivalent of putting God in a box, making Him do what we want instead of vice versa.

Doctrine of Dollars

Today my mind is on money. This is because later today I need to meet with the budget committee for next year and as of yet I have not had time to prepare.

Money trips up a lot of people and Christians especially have a wide range of opinions about it. Some think it is evil, and that any person who has money must have made some kind of ‘deal with the devil.’ On the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, some people believe that God wants every faithful Christian to be rich. The majority of us are somewhere in between.

So let’s see if we can come up with a theological stance on money. Pardon me if this comes across a little bit like bullet points.

Money, like everything else on this earth, ultimately belongs to God. He allows people to have stewardship over it, but we should always view it as taking care of something for God and therefore should use it in a manner He would approve of.

Christians should consider tithing, which is giving the first 10% of their money to the church they are a member of, as a sacred responsibility. The tithe is God’s method of funding the local church, but it also serves as a reminder to the believer that he’s merely a steward of God’s money, not the boss of it.

Money itself is neither good nor evil, but like all other inanimate objects, it can be used for either good or evil purposes. It is not evil in and of itself. Yes there is a verse in Timothy which indicates ‘the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.’  But notice in this passage it doesn’t say money is evil, it says the love of money is the source of many evils.

Believers should trust God to determine how much money they have. However, as is true with other things, this works best with our cooperation. Things like working for a living, budgeting, wise investing, tithing, and wise spending are all ways we cooperate financially with God.

The Unexpected Strain of Spiritual Growth

We have some strong misconceptions about what it means to grow spiritually. We expect it to be an intellectual experience, like memorizing Scripture. Or maybe we expect it be a mystical experience, like feeling God’s touch at a critical moment. We almost certainly expect it to be coupled with an emotional experience, specifically a positive emotional experience.

Unfortunately, these expectations will largely be unmet because spiritual growth is not just about what you know, or about our supernatural connection with God. Spiritual growth is mostly about character.

So what does God do to shape our character?

He puts us under pressure. He sends us into conflicts. He allows us to experience stress. He might even allow us to find some temptation.

Moving through these things will allow us to grow. Better be prepared for some pain along the way though. Sometimes it’s the kind of pain we feel when we are chastised. Other times it’s the pain of being betrayed by friends. It could also be the pain of knowing you failed someone you cared about.

I tell you all of this to give you this advice. Don’t despise the process of spiritual growth by avoiding pain. Don’t pray them away. Don’t switch to a church with less issues. Don’t write off people who challenge you. All of these things are likely to be a part of God’s plan to grow you.

Friendships

CoverOn Wednesday’s I promote my book, The Storeroom of the Heart. If we learn and practice the principle, the heart is like a storeroom, everything we put in there will shape and control our future, then we will have a great tool for our spiritual growth.

 

Below is an excerpt from the book. I hope you will be blessed by it. It is available from any source that sells books, such as amazon, your local Christian bookstores can order it for you, or you can get it from the publisher at this link. The Storeroom of the Heart

 

Another important area of change would be social habits. Where we go for our down time and our social gatherings might need to change in order to bust the patterns in our life. For some people it may be important to change their existing circle of friends. Don’t assume this is extreme. Many people in our society have their friendships centered on un-Christian activities such as drinking, drugs, or promiscuity. These friendships may be genuine, but since we cannot be around them without being around the pattern we are trying to escape, we need to change our friends. Be willing to go for overkill to escape the life patterns trying to kill us. I was recently in a class taught by a drug abuse counselor. He stated a user who refuses to change his patterns of who, what, and where will never stop being a user. It is true for other sins as well. If we’re having problems busting our patterns, it may be caused by stubbornly hanging on to things around the pattern that are not actually wrong. But, these side issues empower the negative habits we want to leave behind.