Here is Love: All Good – Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Herein lies love: all things work together for good for those who love God. Within our world, one might dare to ask, “What about those who don’t love God? What about my friend or neighbor or co-worker who is basically a good guy or gal? What about them?”

But what is goodness? Is it good/better/best or a quality that is wholesome and pure and without sin or evilness?

While we cannot assume the opposite is true in some cases, we can actually make that statement here: all things do not work together for good for those who do not love God. Or if things do work together for good, then it is for good/better/best and not at all for goodness according to the God.

Paul is saying nothing new. There is a distinction between those who love God and do not love God. We just got done reading at the beginning of Romans 8: “For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on things of the flesh… Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” 1

Perhaps you might think Paul is too harsh. Let’s think through things for just a moment:

There are always talks about harmonizing the Gospels of the New Testament but when you study the teachings of Christ and the writings of Paul, what I think is happening that Paul is simply giving a theological explanation to the words and deeds of Christ.

I dare to say that Paul is not giving anything new outside of what Jesus Christ has already said and done.

So when Paul talks “mind set on the flesh and spirit” or in our case “for those who love God”, how is that different than when Christ spoke of those on his left hand and his right, goats, and sheep, child of hell versus sons of God?

Or here: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. 2

Paul is simply going into a more detailed explanation of what Christ said.

Why is this so important? All the promises of God are both yes and amen, but the promises for you, if you are a child of God, go many more AND deeper, more meaningful, more lovely and beautiful than anything we could have imagined.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 3

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 4

So who loves God? We just read that “And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.5 That God knows the heart and that is such good news that he looks and sees us intimately.

So, what are all things? That circumstances and sin and wickedness do not dictate the statuses and the faiths of the children of God. Abuse does not.  Trauma does not. Being ignored does not. Being betrayed does not. Being tempted does not. Being poor does not.

Let the world take everything–my innocence, my money, my family, my job, my education–everything that I could put all of my identity in and fall into idol worship. But because I have God, I have everything.

How’s that you say? Again, let us use the words of Paul:

Let me live and I will live to Christ.

Kill me and Christ is my gain!

Take my job and force me into poverty and I will be content.

Throw me in prison and I will preach the gospel and see that the guard’s and their households are saved.

Let all things come my way and try to destroy me.

But God, let me see more of you to where the things of this world no longer entertain me.

God, set me on fire so the rest of the world can watch me burn.

God will because He loves me and will keep me forever.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.

Notes:

  1. Romans 8:5-8
  2. John 3:36
  3. Romans 8:9–11
  4. Romans 8:14–17
  5. Romans 8:27

The Mover

Who made me to differ, but thee? for I was no more ready to receive Christ than were others; I could not have begun to love thee hadst thou not first loved me, or been willing unless thou hadst first made me so. O that such a crown should fit the head of such a sinner! such high advancement be for an unfruitful person! such joys for so vile a rebel! Infinite wisdom cast the design of salvation into the mould of purchase and freedom; Let wrath deserved be written on the door of hell, But the free gift of grace on the gate of heaven.

– from The Mover
The Valley of Vision

Ordo Salutis II: The Weight of Sin

Before we can even try to understand what God has done in Salvation, we must first truly understand our condition as human beings born on this earth. I feel compelled to at least touch on this doctrine for I believe that many Christians sometimes either forget their natural state before God saved them or they simply don’t remember being that ‘bad’ of a person before being saved. It is not that we have to dwell on our depravity, our flesh, our sin nature but to ignore or forget about it would absolutely rob our heart of joy and worship before the Lord.

To see how this all started, we have to go back to the book of beginnings, Genesis.

In Genesis 1 & 2, God reveals to us how He intended and declared all of creation to be: good. But what is good, really? This is not simply ‘good/better/best’ as Christ pointed out to the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-30, although everyone would agree that a world without bad things happening such as death, murder or disease would be a better place. However, the word ‘good’ implies something richer and more meaningful. When God declares creation to be good, he declares it to be right-standing with Himself. Since all of creation, including Adam & Eve, declared good in his sight, there was no separation between God and man. Man, at this point, was simply created into a relationship with God. God’s intention is that man and women would then be born and by the very nature of being born, we would have been born into a perfect relationship with our parents, with all humans and with God. In creating Adam & Eve, our original parents, God gave all humans a heart that continually worships non-stop. Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares that God set eternity into our hearts so that we would always long to worship and that we would seek out that worship in an ever-filling, ever-loving, ever-glorious, everlasting God that would fill our bottomless hearts forever and ever.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

So what happened.

We all know the story of the disobedience of Adam and Eve: Eve was tempted by Satan into breaking the only commandment that God gave us while Adam watched and did nothing.

But let us have the Apostle Paul explain what our original parents did and because of that, what every human has been born into doing automatically:

Romans 1:19-25 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

We have all exchanged the truth:

* All love comes from God
* All good things come from God
* God is our provision
* God is all sufficient
* the fullness of joy is in God alone
* the path of eternal life is in God alone
* true peace is in God
* there is no one greater than God

… for a lie:

* love can be fulfilled in created things
* good things can come from created things
* Created things can provide for me
* Created things will sustain me
* the fullness of joy comes from created things
* the path of eternal life is in created things
* peace can be found in what we do or in our situation
* that God cannot be the greatest

Adam & Eve exchanged the truth of God and exchanged it for something not God. We have exchanged God’s plan for perfect peace and righteousness and exchanged it for our own peace and self-righteousness.

With that horrific exchange, our universe is now broken. Sin, death, disease, suffering, torment, pain, anguish and hurt were introduced into our world through just one man.

And because our God is right-standing, holy and blameless, there is a cataclysmic divide between God and man because of sin.

It is God cannot stand the sight of sin and doesn’t want to deal with it, it is the very nature of God that doesn’t allow for the presence of sin. In the eternal realm, this is very evident in the fall of Lucifer in Isaiah 14. For the very thought of wanting the glory that rightfully belongs to God alone, Lucifer was banished from heaven into hell.

It is by nature we are idol factories.

It is by nature we are children of God’s wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3

It is by nature and choice that we war against God and continuously blaspheme his holy name.

Every single person born of a man has fallen way short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Because of our sin nature, we cannot do good in the sight of God but we only have the ‘free will’ to continue to do sinful things. Romans 3:10-12

For our sin nature, it is quite just for our righteous, holy, and blameless God to rightfully condemn us and rightfully take our lives and we would not be in the right for us as creation to demand from the Creator, “Why!” Daniel 4:35, Jeremiah 18:1-23

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death…

For us being born, we are destined to die.

Is there any hope for our weight of sin? Who can be so powerful enough, yet able and willing enough to save me? The world cannot. It has failed and constantly fails within itself. People cannot because they’re infected with it as well. Inanimate objects? Are we even asking that question?

Then who can save me from this body of death? Christ Jesus is his name!

Mark 8:27–30 Jesus Opens the Only Way to God Because He is the Only Way to God

Mark 8:27–30 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

  1. In what ways does Jesus show us who God really is?
  2. What did Jesus come here to do?
  3. Can there be any other way to God?
  4. What happens when we get God?

 

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22:6-11

My Lord,

Who am I that I have been rejected a million times and despised a million times more?

You say, “Speak of my love” and it falls on deaf ears. You say, “Speak of my power” and it means little to the strong. You say, “Speak of my glory” and their eyes remain blind.

However, you saved me. You made me with your hands. You are the one who started my heartbeat. More than that, when I was wicked and evil and when I despised your holy name, you did nothing but see me and let your grace and love fall on me.

Once more, you were always my God. Even after my mother abandoned me and while my father sought to destroy me, You were my God.

Even when I didn’t know you, your righteousness and holiness tainted my walking corpse and I tasted of your power.

But your mercies come quickly: you followed that up with your heart in place of mine.

Be ever so close to me. Be the whisper that draws me out–yes, even into the wilderness. Because if I have You, then I have everything I need.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Here is Love: He is the One Who Knows Us – Romans 8:27

Romans 8:27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

This is a fantastic God

What compares to the knowledge of God when He alone reveals all truth and science to us? Yet, he is not merely the best supercomputer in the world with every single piece of knowledge and scientific fact ever. 1

What compares to the knowledge of God that he numbers the stars in the all of the cosmos, grains of sand on all the beaches and even the number of the hairs on your head? But he is not the greatest calculator that can count really, really high.

What compares to the knowledge of God that he not only knows the past but knows the future. He is not some brilliant scientist who has discovered time travel. He knows the future because he made the future.

What compares to the knowledge of God that he searches the whole world but he is not merely the best surveillance system ever.

This is the God who actually, perfectly knows each and every one of us. But what does that even mean in our world today? Where we put ourselves on social media but only show the world what we want them to see. But every single one of us are yearning to be truly seen and truly known—maybe not by everybody but by somebody.

Maybe we think, “I hope that God sees the good inside of me.” But what if this God saw a lot deeper than that. What if he saw past your social media posts, and then your walls, and then past your personality? What if he could peer inside your soul and see the deepest corners of your heart? What would God see then?

What if he saw your bad? Your fears, your doubts, your sin, your trespasses? You might think if he saw that, he couldn’t possibly want you or even love you?

Here’s the truth: he knows all of that. But this is the mind of the Spirit: way before you were born, the stars were placed in the sky or even before there was even dirt, he made up his mind about you.

Long before Genesis 1:1, he saw into the future and saw you not at your best or your greatest but at your weakest, sickest, and most terrible. Before you could even fathom a thought, God thought of you, loved you, and set the plan in motion not only to create you but to save you.

Who is truly like this God who is not scared nor frightened of your deepest sins? Who is like him whose heart breaks for what broke yours? Who grieved over your pain and also, who was rightfully jealous when you ran away from him?

Ah, but he knows you and sees you truly for who you are.

His reaction is not one of condemnation and tosses you away. He does not strike you down where you stand. He does not turn his back on you. Instead, he comes after you: not like the Devil Lion who would only consume your soul but the like the Protective Hound who simple chases you down, places you gently into his jaws and carries you back to safety.

I know this to be true because he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who came not into the world to condemn you but only through him, to save you.

My Beloved, if you are his adoptive, precious child then do not fear that God knows you inside and out as he is only here to remind you of your fears and weaknesses. That is the Devil’s job. But Rejoice! For God sees you, knows you, loves you and wrote your name in His Son’s book of life. Run to him! Flee to him! Let him comfort you in the only way a perfect Father could ever do.

But what if you don’t know God like this? What if this is all foreign to you? Just know that our precious God made sure there is more than ample room at the foot of the cross of Christ for you.

Let the Almighty God take you into his strong arms as he begins to constantly, consistently, thoughtfully, and lovingly pray and intercede for you according His own will because he loves you.

I pray that everyone who reads these words would know that God didn’t create you and left you behind. He didn’t save you and then distance from you. God didn’t rescue you and then be disconnected from you. No! He saved you, pulled you in close, whispers blessings into your ear, rejoices and sings over you in gladness! 2

Because he loves you.

Oh, the mighty love of God be will with us all today and forever. Amen.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.

Notes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 1-3
  2. Hosea 2:14; Zephaniah 3:17

Ordo Salutis I: The Overflowing Love of God

To proclaim ourselves as Christians to proclaim that we believe and trust upon Christ as our Saviour and Lord. 

At that beautiful moment when God saved us, we hope and pray that each one of us are immediately surrounded by other brothers and sisters in Christ that are willing to walk alongside us in love, encouragement, teaching and exhortation.  It is my sincere hope that no newly saved person is ever alone by themselves trying to figure this thing especially when the cross of Christ has not only saved us to Himself but we have been reconciled to each other. Here at ground zero, we are given a new heart and new desires by God.  Desires to want to know more of him, to know and love Him more and more each day.

But how is it that we are actually come to salvation by God?  This is the question that the idea of the Latin term “Ordo Salutis” (or the Order of Salvation) attempts to answer.  If we have some knowledge of the Bible, the better question would no doubt be:

“What did God have to do in order to save His people to Himself?”

In order to answer this, we have to fully dive into the Scriptures to see what God has revealed about what salvation is.  We cannot rely on superstition, church history or simply what “feels good”.  We must seek out what God says about salvation.

So in this series, we are going to attempt answer questions such as, “Does the Bible teach about God electing us to salvation?”, “Are we predestined by God?”, “What is free will of man?” and “Can a person truly be saved without the outward appearance of a new heart?”.

So in this, we begin with the Golden Chain (emphasized in orange) found in this passage:

Romans 8:27-30 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

In verse 30, Paul did not simply throw the words “predestined”, “called”, “justified” and “glorified” at us as though their order matter not.  Paul was very careful in ordering them in the way that he did to give us the idea of what all occurred on the part of God in order to save us. 

Before we begin to take this passage apart and split into different doctrines, I want to know some of your thoughts.  Keep in mind that they are no wrong answers.  I want you to be as honest as possible because I simply want to know where you are coming from and what your perceptions are.

Here are your questions to ponder for our next lesson.  Feel free to answer in the comment section:

  1. What does predestination mean to you?
  2. Do you believe that God predestined our salvation?
  3. What is free will?

Passages to read for our next lesson:

  • Romans 8:27-30
  • Romans 3:10-12
  • Genesis 3:1-21 (What was Adam and Eve doing before God clothed them?)
  • Genesis 6:1-9 (What was Noah doing before God bestowed grace upon him?)
  • Genesis 12:1-4 (What was Abram doing before God called out to him?)
  • Isaiah 6:1-7 (What was Isaiah doing before God revealed His glory to him?)
  • Acts 7:54-8:3; 9:1-6 (What was Saul doing before God saved him?)

I am very excited to walk alongside you in this study.   I strongly encourage you to do all things, especially reading the word of God, bathed in prayer and seeking out His understanding and His will in all things.

May God bless us all in this journey.

Mark 8:22–26 Jesus Opens Our Eyes So That We Would See God

Mark 8:22–26      And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

  1. Is it even possible to see God without God?
  2. How do we get to see God and his goodness?
  3. If we cannot see it, how are we able to see God? What can we do?
  4. Is it possible to truly know God without the help of God? Could we study and go to a lot of church and go to Bible school and really know God?

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

 

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22: 1-5

God!

Where are you?

I am in trouble!

Sin and wickedness have surrounded me. Everything goes dark and cold. Satan and his minions look upon my flesh with lust and hunger.

Temptations are too much. I cannot do battle. My muscles are weak, small, and frail.

I cry and scream: HELP ME, O GOD!

But you are my powerful Champion. You are the people’s Savior. You are invincible. You are forever strong.

I have praised you in the past and my lips shall sing of your praises for as long as I draw breath and beyond.

Your people before me trusted you and I trust you now. You have never failed me. Even when there have been moments when I didn’t know your goodness, you were always good.

You have rescued my grandmother and my dad.

Now rescue me!

Save me, O God.

My life is in your hands.

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.