Archive for January, 2014
What does it mean to love God?
It means listening to and believing in the testimony about Jesus in the Scripture that he is the Christ the Son of God; Jesus’ testimony about himself, John the Baptist’s testimony, God the Father’s testimony in the works of Jesus and in the Old Testament.
It means seeking first the praise that comes from God because we have listened to the Son.
It means the death of self. Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself.” Paul, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself.” The Faithful, “for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
If you say you love God and all of the above are not true at some level you are merely blowing air.
In 1 Kings 18, the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, the main point comes from v.21, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” Elijah is not condemning Israel for having questions about God, but rather for their hesitation and unbelief in the face of past revelation. In other words, there is no inherent virtue in riding the theological fence. Questions are meant to lead to answers and we are meant to follow the answers.
This is the purpose of the ensuing confrontation. Elijah is providing for Israel yet another clarifying event to show that the Lord is God. And this is exactly what occurs. After nothing happens to the altar of the prophets of Baal, after the fire descends and consumes the alter of Elijah, the people cry out, “the Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.” But this wasn’t Elijah’s complete challenge, was it? “If the Lord is God…follow Him.” The event clarified that the Lord was God, the people understood and declared that the Lord is God. But did they follow him? The sad answer is no; perhaps in the emotion of the moment they did briefly, but continuing to read through the history of Israel shows no real change in the people in terms of their following the Lord God.
Today, we are not meant to seek for more events like Mount Carmel and the fire from heaven. In Jesus, God has already provide the ultimate clarifying event. The Lord is indeed God and Jesus is the Lord God. The only question that remains is will we follow him? The short answer is “no, we will not.” But this only highlights the grace of the gospel. God gives us repentance, God gives us faith, and when we believe God gives us a new heart so that we can follow. In Jesus we are graciously allowed to complete Elijah’s challenge, “If the Lord is God, follow him.”
(“sobras” is a Spanish word that can mean leftovers or scraps. Occasionally I am going to post some “sobras” from the Sunday morning sermon, either something that did not get said or just a reminder of truths from God’s word.)
John 5:1-16 shows two different responses to Jesus, neither of which led to faith (as far as we know). Both the healed man and the Jewish leaders were unable to see Jesus for who he was: the Jews because of their focus on their traditions and works based righteousness; the healed man because of his self focus even after being healed. Jesus intentionally provokes the Jews, but he gives the healed man a chance. “See” he commands him…connect the dots…draw out the conclusion; “you are well” he reminds him…your own body is testifying of me…believe in the one who just healed you.
Don’t miss seeing Jesus, either because of your tradition or your personal experience. Open God’s word and see Jesus. Seeing Him clearly leads to believing in Him truly and to following Him faithfully.