Thursday, May 5, 2011

The complexity of our LORD...

It has been quite a week. I truly miss blogging after being away for a week or longer. There is something therapeutic about it. I would not call myself a writer, and yet I enjoy journaling and sharing my heart through the type.
So, the world, as usual, has never ceased to be eventful, while I'm just trying to finish up another semester. I'm not a very politically-involved person. Perhaps, it is one of my great faults. Most times, I choose to be ignorant of what is happening in the world of politics because it frustrates and grieves me. I may be a conservative at heart, but it's not how I define myself or what I'm most passionate to preserve. I have seen the politics of this world eat away at souls and embitter those who are children of God. The fact that more Christians are caught up in politics than the Word of God is a sad reality. While I should be more well informed than I am, I decided awhile ago that I was to only be concerned about ONE thing and that is my LORD, His character, and His living Word. I have only one life to live and I desire to spend it more concerned about His kingdom than this earthly one. He is the one who makes leaders to rise or to fall and none can stay His hand when He purposes to do His will. He works through the prayers of His saints to triumph over evil and bring His glory and kingdom on earth. Thank God for the freedom and rights of this country, but if they were ever taken from us, may it only be so that we might find Christ the highest treasure through the trials and the souls of many be brought to Him. I'm not particularly pro-America and, yet, in another sense, I am. But that's a topic for another day.

In the many events that occurred this past week, there was one that got me thinking - the death of Osama Bin Laden. It seems pretty shrouded in mystery, as usual. Whether Osama died years ago, died this past week, or this is just some huge conspiracy, I don't care enough to discuss it. Rather, I care to know God's heart in the death of the wicked, whoever they may be. Many times, I find that Christians take only one side (not that they're wrong, but that there's so much more to it than one might think). We are to love our enemies. We are not to rejoice in the death of the wicked. It's a humbling, grieving reality. It reminds us that we have a God who is to be feared. It reminds us that everyday, regardless if they are killers or orphaned children, there are thousands of souls slipping into hell. It reminds us that there are souls in desperate need of a Savior and to know the Truth.

Dr. Voddie Baucham posted this article, The Death of Osama bin Laden: What Kind of Justice Has Been Done?, on his Facebook page this past week, including these words:

Wonderful article to ponder in a culture that celebrates both Rob Bell (who thinks it's wrong for God's justice to be vindicated in Hell) and the killing of Osama Bin Ladin. And no, I'm not saying it was wrong to kill Bin Ladin; I'm saying it's hypocritical for a culture that increasingly deems itself too "sophisticated" for to death penalty (or Hell) to rejoice when someone takes a bullet through the head.

Baucham's comments jumped out at me! It's true. There are many rejoicing in the death of Osama, and other such men like him, and, yet, could it be that the many who are rejoicing might be those who hold fast to the message of universalism because they want to believe that their own story is a happily-ever-after forever? I'll be honest: Rob Bell stepped out of historic Christianity the moment he started preaching universalism more boldly, which was long before he wrote his now controversial book, Love Wins.

Rob Bell wrote, "hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.
This is what the emergent church is passionately embracing.

I could wish that this were true, Rob, if only the LORD declared it to be True. But I will not wish for something that is against my LORD's Word because He is the King of kings. He alone is the Supreme Authority. He justifies and He condemns and His judgement does not negate His divine Love. His Love does win, but not in the finite, humanistic way that our minds can only perceive.

The hard truth is that there is a Hell, which is an eternal torment, and many are falling away who will never know the eternal joy of being with their Creator. Should not this truth shut our mouths, humble our hearts, and drive us to our knees in deep groaning and prayer? Should not this truth make us weep?
Rob Bell, the emergent church, and whoever enjoy the kind of teaching for their 'itching ears' will not feel this urgency because the corrupted truth that they hold to is merely just a rebellion against God's holy Word and another Lie of the Enemy.
The lie that there is no eternal torment in hell is what will hinder the spread of the true Gospel. Why would there be any urgent need to declare the Gospel and fight and strive for the dying souls of this world if, in the end, every single soul will be reconciled to God? I'm saddened and upset about the Universalism message because it strips away from the power and glory of the Gospel! It strips away from the work of the Cross, the death of our Savior! We don't need Christ or His work on the Cross if we're all going to inevitably be saved! How do these lies not GRIEVE US? Yes, they may sound SO good. They may sound SO right. But we have to remember the way that the Serpent tempted Eve in the garden. The deception seems so beautiful and pleasing....but how awful and tormenting is the fruit of it!
To be sure, we are living in the times that Paul wrote of:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~ 2 Tim 4:3-4

I am compelled to share these words by John Piper on Bin Laden's death and the heart of God in all of this. I thank my God for men who uphold the authority of the Word and seek to uphold ALL the texts of Scripture rather than canceling some to bring out others. Holy Father, continue to preserve Your Word!

God’s emotions are complex—like yours, only a million times more. Right now, your emotions about bin Laden are not simple, i.e. not single. There are several, and they intermingle. That is a good thing. You are God-like.

In response to Osama bin Laden’s death, quite a few tweets and blogs have cited the biblical truth that “God does not delight in the death of the wicked.” That is true.

It is also true that God does delight in the death of the wicked. There are things about every death that God approves in themselves and things about every death that God disapproves in themselves.

Is God Double-Minded?

This is not double talk. All thoughtful people make such distinctions. For example, if my daughter asks me if I like a movie, I might say yes or no to the same movie. Why? Because a movie can be assessed for its 1) acting, 2) plot, 3) cinematography, 4) nudity, 5) profanity, 6) suspense, 7) complexity, 8) faithfulness to the source, 9) reverence for God, 10) accurate picture of human nature, etc., etc., etc.

So my answer is almost always “yes, in some ways, and no in other ways.” But sometimes I will simply say yes, and sometimes no, because of extenuating circumstances.

Here is why I say God approves and disapproves the death of Osama bin Laden:

In one sense, human death is not God’s pleasure:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . . For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32).

In another sense, the death and judgment of the unrepentant is God’s pleasure:

Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself.(Ezekiel 5:13]

[Wisdom calls out:] Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you.(Proverbs 1:25–26)

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)

As the Lord took delight in doing you good . . . so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. (Deuteronomy 28:63)

We should not cancel out any of these passages but think our way through to how they can all be true.

God is Not Malicious or Bloodthirsty

My suggestion is that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself not a pleasure to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. The death and suffering considered for itself alone is not his delight.

Rather, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God has pleasure in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory.

When Moses warns Israel that the Lord will take pleasure in bringing ruin upon them and destroying them if they do not repent (Deuteronomy 28:63), he means that those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable.

God is not defeated in the triumphs of his righteous judgment. Quite the contrary. Moses says that when they are judged they will unwittingly provide an occasion for God to rejoice in the demonstration of his justice and his power and the infinite worth of his glory (see alsoRomans 9:22–23).

A Warning

Let this be a warning to us: God is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced. Even on the way to Calvary he had legions of angels at his disposal: “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord”—of his own good pleasure, for the joy that was set before him.

At the one point in the history of the universe where God looked trapped, he was in charge, doing precisely what he pleased—dying to justify the ungodly like you and me.

(Adapted from The Pleasures of God, pp. 66-74.)

And I end in my post with this final verse. Let us seek to be humbled by these words....

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. ~ Romans 11:22


Rebecca said...

Though I did not get time to read the whole thing, I really enjoyed what I did read :)
God bless.

Vanessa said...

Very good thoughts on these issues - it is sad how few accept the sovereign justice of God. He is not a tame lion.

Nolan said...

Lots of great stuff to think about! I am with on you that political view. I have quite a different opinion on the whole Rob Bell controversy, but I will try to post a blog about it rather than in this comment.

You chose a great title for these topics: "The Complexity of our LORD"

"Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10