December 17, 2013
The title of this post came about from a period of time where I was away from home ,and came under a protracted attack on my health and spirit. Fortunately I had a copy of the
Bible and good teaching available via the internet. I listened to a message where Keith Moore was discussing this very subject with Kenneth Copeland. As I listened, I found myself agreeing with this seasoned minister as he pointed out that a lot of situations people say God is involved with, He is not in at all.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20. KJV
The verse above tells us that unless we open the door to Jesus, He will NOT get involved with our life in any meaningful way. God, unlike the devil, is a gentleman, and will not force His way into our lives.
All kinds of things can happen in our life, but until invited to get involved, it seems God will wait at the door.
Who’s in Charge?
Religious people, especially those who have difficulty reconciling Calvinist teaching and Armenian, say God can do anything at any time and He is Sovereign over everything and therefore, somehow, involved in everything that goes on. So whatever happens must be his will, right? My own experience and reading the Bible show that this is simply not true. While God is omnipotent and omnipresent, He chooses to limit Himself. Jesus at one point could do no miracles of any great degree because of the unbelief in His home town.
The Book of Genesis reveals that God delegated authority over the earth to man to multiply, fill, subdue and rule.
Men are therefore responsible for what is happening on this planet! Yes, God is Sovereign but we cannot justly blame him if He has delegated control over to us.
My experience of natural disasters has been primarily the two major earthquakes in Christchurch in September 2010 and February 2011.
A few people felt it was God’s judgement, as often is the case in disasters. I do not believe God was the cause of the earthquakes; Jesus himself predicted there would be earthquakes in the Last Days (Matt 24). And I do believe from scripture there is a place of safety in God that is available to His people. But it is not promised to all, not to those with religious experience or even to those who are viewed as morally decent, and attend church-only to those who make the Most High their “dwelling place” (Psalm 91) -.
Jesus was asked about a disaster that claimed the lives of eighteen people when a tower collapsed. He did not give any reason as to why the tower fell on these eighteen but instead used the incident to underline the need for people everywhere to get right with God.
“Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?. I tell you, no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” Luke 13:4-5
Jesus read the hearts of those around him and it is interesting that he discerned that they assumed it was because these people were “worse sinners” that “judgement ” came.
It’s amazing to me the assumptions and judgements people make after tragedies- in Christchurch three religious denominational churches lost their prime cathedrals.
I heard one local man say God was “pretty powerless” as “His” buildings had fallen down, forgetting Jesus said his church was not a building or a denomination but a spiritual, worldwide (the meaning of the word “catholic”) body with Himself as Head. Incidentally our local church, or part of the body, had no damage as it was renting its venue, and experienced great growth after the earthquakes. God will work in and in spite of situations-but this does not mean He causes those situations.
I happen to know an intercessor whom God had spoken to about the earthquakes prior to them happening and she had her suitcase packed and ready to go when the second, more dangerous earthquake happened. But for the majority of Christians, together with the rest of the citizens, the event was shocking and caught us unprepared.
In Luke 13 His emphasis was not on what caused the disaster but on the urgent need for salvation. He shifted the responsibility from judging others and even judging God back to judging their own hearts. God commands all men to repent. If we fail to obey we “perish”, the implication being to spiritually die, or be lost, because the clear implication is that repentance safeguards from “perishing”. Since all his hearers were later to die, and death is a fact of life, Jesus was obviously not talking about natural death.
John 3:16, the most famous verse in the Bible, declares if we believe on Jesus we shall not perish (eternal separation from God) but have everlasting life. We live in a fallen world where, increasingly, there will be disasters, as Jesus predicted (Matthew 24) but the issue is that the ultimate reason for bad things happening is not a capricious, judgemental God but the sin in the human heart that originated with Adam and Eve believing in Satan’s lie (He himself a product of his own wrong choices). Unless that is dealt with, we perish. One may live to ninety and another die at twenty when a tower falls but if they have not repented, both “perish”.
And if we see people experiencing tragedy it is not wise to speculate whether the people sinned, or to blame God. For a start, God is Love, and we know that “He is not willing that any should perish”. God is also a Judge and will judge the living and the dead. But we are not to judge! We do know as believers if we have responded to His Word in repentance and faith we are “saved from wrath” (Rom 5:9) and become children of God. There are benefits and privileges attached to being a child of God-one of which is the ability to hear God’s voice (“My sheep hear my voice”) a by-product of which is the ability to discern danger, and escape it.
We can engage God and get out of bad situations-but repentance or prayer are choices. Reading the Word of God instead of watching TV is a choice.
Religious Thinking believes a kind of fatalism that is unbiblical: “God has ordained this (bad thing) to teach you something”; “everything happens for a reason”; “God is everywhere in everything”; the inference is that everything that happens is predetermined (Calvinism) , so don’t bother fighting it. If you are taught that God is trying to teach you something with sickness, or, worse still , is angry with you, and that’s why you are facing the trial, of course you will not have any reason to stand up against the trial. It is true that God may have permitted it, but we know from the Word He certainly did not cause it. It is His Word and his Spirit and anointed church leaders that He uses to teach us, not sickness or disaster.
The message of the New Testament is that He loves the world and “is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance“. 2 Peter 3:9. It’s the truth that sets free. He does hate sin and there is a scripture that he is angry with the wicked (Psalm 7:11) –but His actual desire is for all to get right with Him;in everything He does there is justice-the same scripture says “God is a just judge”. In this world of turmoil and strife we need an umpire who is a just judge. His anger, if it is there at all, is not at his own children who love Him.
When I was in an Asian country and came under spiritual attack and had symptoms of serious illness that local doctors concluded was Bells Palsy, the Christians I was with were sympathetic and said they were praying for me but that was where their help stopped. To make matters worse, when I attended their church I heard messages which produced no hope or encouragement at all-in fact they made me feel more depressed.
Had God left me? Definitely not-but if I was to go by the responses or words of this particular group of Christians-I might have concluded God did not care, or maybe was “on vacation”. The words I was hearing from fellow believers were well-meaning but often in fact just religious-devoid of the power of God. Why? Because they were not based on Scripture : “We’re all sinners and we’re never going to be good enough” said one leader from the pulpit. Contrast this with the scripture:
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
In Asia I heard this from a Christian minister: “there’s nowhere in the Bible that says you can have faith and ask God for whatever you want”
I thought immediately of Mark 11:23-24 , where Jesus Himself says “whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them“ and was amazed at the fact that the pastor seemingly had no knowledge of this.
Of course, if you were sick, weary or oppressed (as 80 percent of his congregation were) these kind of off-the-cuff statements were nothing but faith destroyers and it was no wonder to me the church failed to grow and later on had to recall all the missionaries it had sent to do this brave work.
There is a suffering that a Christian goes through for following Christ and the Word- it often evidences in persecution. Mark chapter 4 is very clear the suffering that comes is persecution– not sickness or poverty- and the reason that it comes is to steal the Word.
Many problems and defeats Christians suffer are because of disobedience -which can manifest in something as innocuous as busyness, or not taking the time to listen to what God is saying. I have been guilty of this many times but fortunately I had enough Word in me to deliver me from Satan’s trap. In Asia, the ability to listen to the right words became for me a matter of life and death.
Religious teaches present an angry God who is more eager to punish than understand and that if something negative happens you cannot change it;you just need to suffer, because isn’t that what Jesus did? We have stated previously that God is not willing that ANY should perish. It is never God’s will. Even if God Himself has spoken and said “Set your house in order , you will die” if someone prays and repents, it can be totally changed. This is mind-blowing!
Religion says “Everything is in God’s Hands”, “God is in Control” and ,most amusing and unbiblical of them all-“you just never know what God will do”- when some tragedy occurs but never advances a solution. Let’s look quickly at Isa 1:19-20.
“If you are willing and obedient , you will eat the best of the land ,
But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword”
There two completely different outcomes here.. Are both of these the “predetermined plan of God”? They cannot be -they are diametrically opposed to each other. Was it his plan for people to refuse and rebel? Answer:no. Therefore neither is it His will to be “devoured”. And there are many devourers today!. God allows things but it does not mean it His His will or His plan-in fact it grieves Him.
This is amazing and completely foreign to most religious people. Look at Isaiah 38. God actually told Hezekiah he was going to die. Hezekiah repented and the amazing thing is God changed his mind -He repented of what He was going to do!
When I went to Asia I presumed I would get church support if I helped them. The church I went to help thought they were doing the will of God. They assumed God was with them because there they were, “sacrificing” ,out of their usual environment, and their leaders back home believed totally it was the will of God to do what they were doing. (Of course, God pays respect to faith, and he promises to reward the humble, but presumption is another matter).
They had decided to copy their format used back home in Australasia, and reach out only to English speaking people who were primarily artistic and creative. This narrowed down their field of opportunity and outreach quite considerably. The pastor is a good man, and I believe he started with good motives and on the right track (God definitely does want His message taken to all the world) but somewhere along the way presumption and human ideas substituted or faith and obedience to the Word and Spirit of God. I think he expressed his concern with other leaders who had sent him, who knew little about the actual spiritual and logistic realities on the ground, but they ignored this.
Proverb s 19: 2 says “Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet.” (NKJ) v. 3 says:The foolishness of man subverts his way [ruins his affairs};then his heart is resentful and frets against the Lord” (AMP)
It’s called MTF syndrome-Moving Too Fast. We think we hear something that God says, (and maybe He has indeed spoken). So we rush ahead without consulting him on His plan, purpose and timing of the message. I have been guilty of this-I am not saying I am in any way better than the group I am referring to!
“I am the Lord your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
11 “But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.” (Psalm 81)
These verses reveal you can limit or prevent God. These are people who had a covenant with God but did not end up pleasing God.
Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; But I will trust in You. Psalm 55:22-23
The above verses show you can die young, wrong and not at the time God would have appointed.
Not everything is God that people say is God. We need to be in the Word and keep in mind God’s character in these difficult days, especially when it looks like God is nowhere near!
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