Category Archives: – Truth, Love, God – a series

What’s Your Idolatry?

Interestingly, Part of Mark Driscoll’s last sermon touches on the ideas that i’ve outlined in my note, False Gods.

Idolatry is usually a good thing in the bad place… in God’s place! ~Mark Driscoll

I guess i’m not delusional after all! 😛

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False Gods – What IS the Gospel? (3/3)

First, This is part 3 of a series, the first 2 parts can be found here and here.

Before I start talking, there is a great youtube video on the topic of Counterfeit Gods, you should probably watch that first! 🙂

God is whatever we make supreme

On that note, i would like to exclusively talk to my Christian brothers and sisters for a bit.
We always say that God is the center of whatever we do, that we gave everything to live out His will, and we try our best to understand, so we can better live.

But do we really?
Consider the following words:

Truth, Love, Community, Unity, Acceptance, Service, Forgiveness, Righteousness, Justice, Scripture, Patience, Kindness, Humility, Life of Abundance.

Have we, at any point, made any of those “Christian Qualities” higher than our God?
I definitely have, and sometimes continue to do so.

While God IS the above, and commands and promises the above, they are not God Himself!

Consider this:
The most noble of causes are often the most subtle in corruption, yet also the most dangerous.

It is precisely because they are good qualities, that we do not recognize it as it truly is, idolatry.

The Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ God, they thought, was God, but was actually the Scripture, and Jesus called them “Brood of Vipers”.
In what ways are we the same?

I would like to consider the first 2 items, truth and love.

Truth:

Knowledge is essential, but it is not sufficient – John MacArthur

This is my biggest challenge, I have often put truth above God, as I call myself a truth seeker, I would often forget that truth is useless without love (refer to 1 Cor 13: 1-3).

Love:

This is a fun one, remember in my previous note, I suggested that we have corrupted the term ‘love’ as a strong feeling or affection, instead of God’s love, which is a will and dedication to serve.
As we serve and evangelize on the WRONG idea of love (ie. to accept anything and everything w/o conviction) this is what happens:

Its (the gospel) goal [becomes] an instantaneous human decision, rather than a radical transformation of the heart wrought by almighty God through the Holy Spirit’s convicting work and the truth of His Word.

…Indeed, many members of the church in the Western world suppose they can best serve God by being as non-confrontive to their world as possible.

…The church somehow got the idea that it could declare peace with the enemies of God. ~ John MacArthur in Ashamed of the Gospel

and the result is, often times, church growth! It seems to work, because more people are being ‘accepted’ and are coming to church. But John MacArthur suggests otherwise.

Artificial or unnatural growth in the biological realm can cause disfigurement – or worse, cancer. Synthetic growth in the spiritual realm is every bit as unhealthy.

I would like to suggest anyone that actually believes that homosexuality is not a sin clearly prohibited by the Scripture and they should be accepted as natural part of creation is putting this kind of love in the throne of God instead of God himself.

I pray that you would actually consider what I have written, but you probably wont (see Romans 1:18 to 32, highlight on v28). Remember, I suggest in the first note of this series, that when a new opinion comes up, even if you don’t agree with, should approach it with submission, reason, and obedience.
I will not go into the scriptures here, but i pray that you will at least entertain this possibility.
And reason with Him, with the resources over at CARM.
And finally, obey Him at his word, even if you do not agree.

What IS, then, the Gospel?

Propaganda’s spoken rap/poetry is a good place to start.

Jesus, our God, is both truth and love, and that in Himself is the Gospel, a new covenant.

They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. Jeremiah 32: 38-41

The gospel, is this (at least, my way of paraphrasing it)

“For all have sinned and fell short the glory of God,” but He provided a plan for the broken, imperfect people to come to a perfect God. He is always by your side, and His truth and love in conviction empowers you to shine for Him as you continue to stand in awe of the God who holds the world together in the palm of His hands, but bends over backwards to die a brutal death on a tree, and rising again to bring you home, to call you His beloved. Your response is no more than loving Him back. Not a fake idea of Him, but the Authentic God.

Imagine your favorite public figure, actor, athlete, singer or politician. That next press conference, he/she was inquired about you. And the response was that, ‘ya, _____ (insert your name here)? He/She’s a good friend of mine.’
How would that make you feel?

That is what God is willing to do for you.

But the man who loves God is known by God. ~ 1 Cor 8:3

And your response?

But now that you know God – or rather you are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? ~ Gal 4:9

Love and Beloved in Christ,

~John

The meaning of Life is… Love? (2/3)

“The meaning of life is love”

This line is spray painted under a bridge where i would drive past on a relatively regular basis.
I agree, and i would think most people in the world, secular, chrisitan, or other religion, would agree as well.

BUT love is such a big word.

When we say the meaning of life is love, what do we mean really?
Whose love, What love, How to love?
A definition for love is

a strong affection for another, based on kinship/personal ties, sexual desire, or admiration/benevolence

This is a very popular, but secular, idea, that love is affection. A love that cannot be faulted, a love that always vouch for tolerance and acceptance, a love that cannot and would not condemn.

But what/how should we consider love, really?
In the previous note, i have suggested that truth is in God alone. So i would like to explore what Godly love is actually like.

I would like to consider 2 things:
1. In 1 Cor 13, the famous Love passage

  • – v1-3: without love, i am nothing, everything i do is of no benefit –> that sounds like it supports our theme of the meaning of life is love
  • – v4-7: characteristics of love: patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, always protect, always trust, always hopes, always preserveres –>

2 things i would like to highlight here:

  • does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth –> this does not sound like i should accept everything and condemn nothing.
  • always preserveres –> I just want to point out that wedding vows are suppose to be a love that always preserveres. till death do you part, not till when the feelings are gone.

Either way, none of these qualities of love speaks of a strong affection toward someone/something, but rather, these qualities sounds like something we need to actively work on to live out.

2. Jesus
I (and many Christians) believe that Jesus is the perfect manifestation of a perfect love, as He is both man and God. So lets look at some things Jesus said and done.

  • Jesus’ cleansing of the temple.
    In all 4 gospels, there are narratives of Jesus marching into the temple, flipped tables (One cool thing about Jesus is that i think He is the first recorded table flipper in history!), drove out merchants, and stated that “My house is a house of prayer, but you had made it a den of thieves!”
    That doesnt look like a love that just accepted them as who they were, aren’t the merchants people that Jesus came to save as well? He still rebuked them.
  • Jesus and the adulterer. (John 8: 1-11 story). Jesus stated, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus’s love offered forgiveness, but it also commanded her to not sin again. And the same applies to us, the subjects of Jesus’s love, his statement for us sinners are exactly the same. “Go and sin no more.”
    Again, a love that convicts.

God is Love, but love is not God!

What i mean here is that while God is a perfect love, not all love are the same as God.
That is because when we use the word love, it can mean various different things, usually the concept that love must accept/tolerate anything and everything, otherwise it is not love. But i disagree, acceptance does not mean i support what you do, but rather, it means i accept you as who you are, but parts of your life (ie. parts of sin) still need to change.
God is bigger than that, He is also Justice, Faithfulness, Truth, Hope, Righteousness and so on.

What is the point of entering into a relationship of love if it does not change you?
God is beckoning for all of us to enter deeper into His perfect love, a love that accepts us as who we are, but also convicts us of our imperfection, so that we can face the right direction and be empowered to continue to say, “Thy will be done.”

So yes, the meaning of life is love, but its not the cheap alternative that the world offers, it is a Godly love. A love that is a will and dedication to serve, rather than mindless feeling or tolerance of anything and everything anyone does.

When Mercy Found Me

That is where I met Jesus

~John

All about… Truth (1/3)

Let’s begin with a disclaimer:

My random writings such as this are to serve as an open letter, but more so toward myself, as I learn best about myself and about this world i live in as i write and process through it. I also want to put it here so that if anyone is interested, they can read it.

Truth, is an interesting term, the definitions of it includes: (Oxford Dictionary)

1. a fact or belief that is accepted as true
2. that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality

I have always believed in that there are observable, absolute truths; but i’ve come to realize that in reality, no truth is purely objective. Truth shared or observed are always by and from the observer’s subjective.

No truth can exist in a vacuum by itself. And truth is not true unless it does not change.

In this thought, how can we ever determine what is truly… true?
Your morality, my morality; your belief, my belief; your opinion, my opinion;
There are always examples and evidences that we can site, no matter what position we stand on whatever issue we stand on. Even if we cannot find an evidence/example, who can fault us? It would be irresponsible and judgmental to say my subjectivity is better than yours, simply because I said so.
We all have clouded views on what is true, we cannot see it clearly.
And we cannot define truth, if truth are to be unchanging, but we and our ideas keep changing, how can we say what is true?

So now I’ve also came to a conclusion on how we can unify the 2 opposing thoughts:
1. truth should be absolute for it to be considered “true”
2. but no one can ever share/understand that clearly, because we always approach it with our subjectivity.

The answer is, really, simple:
Truth can be Absolute because you can take on the subjectivity of the Being who is capable of pure objectivity, God.
God states that He does not change, always the same yesterday, today and forever.
Roman 3:3 – His faithfulness will never cease, nor can it be nullified
James 1:17 – There is no shadow of turning within God

Now the question still remains on how we can take on God’s subjectivity if our own subjectivity is so flawed and clouded?

1. Submit.
To God, when you approach a new idea, or a new challenge comes up to what idea you hold already, lay down your pride, allow God to speak, approach it with the humility that you may be wrong.

Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

2. Reason.
With God, and with fellow believers.

Isiah 1:18a. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord

Read what God says on the matter at hand, read what other fellow Christians say, but more importantly, take God at His word.

3. Obey.
Even if you dont completely agree.

Isaiah 55: 8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

There are still a few more comments to be made about God’s Word

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

One preacher summarized well, in saying that both the Word (Jesus) and the word (scripture) are

“God’s gracious self disclosure.” ~Kevin DeYoung

And our response should be one of gratitude, and not of sceptism and “hey God, maybe you are wrong here.” Or ideas such as, “I cant believe that, it is against my worldview!”
Truth is in Jesus as He proclaimed that He is the way the truth and the life, and through Him alone can we come to the Father. 

Couple more quick comments about the ‘obey‘ part.

John MacArthur, in Ashamed of the Gospel,  warns us of a degenerating Gospel that the church of the North America is preaching. He suggests that truth, really, is a take-it-or-leave-it kind of thing. The Gospel

“… is disturbing, revolting, upsetting, confrontive, convicting, and offensive to human pride. There’s no way to “market” that.”

When we try to “market” the gospel by downplaying part of the doctrine (such as hell, or human depravity), we are entering into a

“frantic attempt to make the gospel into the kind of product most buyers wanted”.

The true truth is in

“Whenever the Holy Spirit is genuinely drawing someone to salvation, that person’s heart cries out for deliverance from Sin! The gospel call is not an invitation to join the fun and end emotional pain.”

It is not about making the gospel more appealing, but rather, it is about living with faith in truth so that God can use you in His work.

Francis Chan echoes John MacArthur’s heart in Erasing Hell. He suggests that there are definitely parts of the bible he does not want to believe, but he believes anyways out of obedience. (more specifically, about people going to eternal hell) If I were able to confine God’s will to between my 2 ears… then He is not God, I am God. You cant put God in a box. If we are only to pick and choose which part of the bible to believe in… On whose authority are we doing that? On whose authority can we say, “yep, this part of God’s word is fictional/just stories,” and which parts can we say, “that’s literal, i should probably follow that.”? How can we decide?
(watch Francis Chan on this topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KDpZdWQvAY)

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell . No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.’ ~C.S. Lewis

So please, please choose to say to God, everyday and in every circumstance, “Thy will be done.”

~John

Word of God Speak

Wash my eyes to see your majesty

The Lord’s Prayer