Monthly Archives: December 2011

If God is For Us…

I’ve been a believer for about 2 years now. As I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into biblical community and seen more and more of my own sinfulness, I’ve noticed one sin that seems to creep in on every believer, anxiety. Whether anxiety as to physical needs (or wants), or being anxious in doubting our full forgiveness. The Bible answers this. Quite a few times actually, but nowhere as profoundly than Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Anxiety is a fruit of distrust. My hope is to lay out why the Christian has every right to confidently let go of anxiety and trust God.

Now, this is a very well know verse, which is why I worry most of us breeze over it without catching the weight of what it proclaims. To catch it, we’ll need to point out two key statements.

If God..

Okay stop. God. Who is God? Paul is speaking of the God of the Bible and the Gospel, “the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Ex. 34:6). This is the God who has announced his sovereignty: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” (Is. 46:9-10).

He is the Creator and Sustainer of all creation. It was by his word he spoke all things into being, and still by the word of his power he sustains all. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Is. 40:28).

This is the God who showed his sovereignty in bringing Israel out of slavery in Egypt and later in Babylon, and who brought Jesus up out of the grave. He is sovereign in salvation. He’s the God who calls, justifies, and glorifies all who “he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Rm. 8:29). He is the God who says to you, “you have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. (Is. 46:3-4).

If God is for us…

For us? What does that mean? “The words for us declares God’s covenant commitment to us. The goal of grace is to create a loving relationship, and the bonds of fellowship by which God binds himself to us is his covenant.” It is a unilaterally imposed covenant. Like when God says to Abraham in Gen. 17, “I am God Almighty… I will establish my covenant between you and me… to be God to you and to your offspring after you…I will be their God…you shall keep my covenant.” (vv. 1,7-9).

Covenant is an odd word to use in our culture today. The idea of covenant has been defamed and belittled, similar to the ways ‘love’ has. But, regardless of how light our culture views covenant, this covenant is an enduring one. The way it was meant to be. You see, covenant isn’t just an idea for the believer, it’s a reality. And it’s a reality because it was blood bought. We are partakers in the new covenant. The binding agreements have been made and held up by the blood of Christ. Sweet, precious blood of Christ, which holds me fast and covers me in the many moments I am unfaithful to this covenant. But God is not like me, he is ‘whole otherness.’ I can’t let my unfaithfulness be a gauge on how faithful the Lord will be. He has, is and will forever be faithful in carrying out his end of this blood bought covenant, to be ‘my God.’

Think

So think. That’s what Paul is trying to get you to do here. Compare the two sides. Your enemy/enemies, and God. The ‘who can be’ translation actually misses the point. What Paul is asking for a is a realistic review of the opposition, human or demonic, not a romantic pretense that it does not exist. Are you afraid of ‘them?’ You need not be. Whoever or whatever circumstance it is, God is greater. Fear not Christian, the Lord your God is for you. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” (2 Chron. 32:7-8).

A sovereign protector I have,

Unseen, yet for ever at hand;

Unchangeably faithful to save,

Almighty to rule and command.

He smiles, and my comforts abound;

His grace as dew shall descend,

And walls of salvation surround

   The soul He delights to defend.

                -Toplady

 

 

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, this framework has been adapted from J.I. Packer’s chapter ‘The Adequacy of God’ in Knowing God. Any unclaimed quotations are from him.


Help Needed?

This past weekend while I was watching an international soccer game a commercial came on at the half that really intrigued me. It was for a Christian dating website and what really struck me was the last thing the narrator said. He boldly declared to the viewing audience, “Sometimes we wait for God to make the next move, when God is saying the next move is yours.” First I laughed, and then I sat back and thought about that statement for a bit. Is it true, are lots of “singles” running around because they just aren’t proactive enough, or because they haven’t heard the voice of God?

Let me start this by coming clean and stating that I am one of those “Christian singles” that this website is geared toward. As a single in Christian circles, pressure for marriage comes from all directions, and with this pressure comes varying degrees of advice – some great, some not so much. So in writing this I’m not trying to offer advice on the issue of dating and Christianity. There are many great books written by authors much wiser than I out there that give advice and weigh the merits of dating and relationships in our context. I just want to offer my observations as a 26-year-old single, the target demographic of the commercial.

The statement that God is waiting for my move can’t solely apply to marriage. It also permeates every facet of a believer’s walk. If God’s waiting on me to make a move for a wife, then why not for a job, or a relocation? In thinking about this statement I’ve constantly circled back to the words of Christ in John 15:7 – 8. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” So often we confuse our rugged individualism, independence and gumption with spirituality. We subscribe to the notion that God helps those who help themselves, hanging onto those very words as though they were a profound biblical truth. God is not a passive observer of our lives, He does not sit in heaven popcorn in hand, anxiously waiting to see whether we will turn to the right or to the left. There are no what ifs with God. He is the author of time; meaning He is in the past, He is in the future and He is in the now, simultaneously. The days of our lives were mapped out far before we were even a thought in the minds of our parents. Seeing God as a co-author with us to our lives strips God of his omnis – omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence – and elevates us into the realm of the controller of the universe. That’s where my problem with the statement lies, that in the context which it is given it very much asserts a fallacy, that we are on par with God.

As we further meditate on the words of Christ in John 15, and couple with that the words of James 4:3, “You ask and you do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions,” one realization has to be made, that for what we ask to be granted, it has to be aligned completely with the will of God over our lives. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the heart is deceitful, and the only way to counter the deceit of the heart is to abide in the love of Him whose heart is pure and undefiled. When our desires flow seamless from the heart of the One we are bound to in love, then those desires are granted and they glorify our Maker.

God is always making the moves. He moved to create the world, perfect and spotless. He knew that sin would enter the world even before He created it and moved to set in motion a redemption story. He moved to send His Son to die on the cross to reconcile us to Himself. He moved to give us, believers in Christ, the faith to believe by the grace afforded us by the cross. God doesn’t stop moving. He moves us to delight in Him, obey Him and seek Him. God always initiates, we are the responders. The responsibility of man is our response to the evidences of God. So even in the realm of dating, God initiates by laying that attraction on our hearts and then He invites us in to take part in the glorious gift of pursuit and marriage. We are unable to snatch control from His hands. We can’t blind side Him, He authored our story, our life.

I didn’t really answer the question, “Is it my move next?” mainly because there’s a deeper issue. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” Matthew 6:33. Wife, job, kids, house, health, the list is endless. God moves us to Himself, He awakens desires in us as we draw nearer to Him. God is always faithful, always compassionate. He’ll make the moves, and He’ll compel us to respond.

Further Reflection:

“Grow Up and Get Married” – Geoff Ashley 

“I will wait for you” spoken word video

Christian Pick up lines – Stuff Christians Like

What not to say to Single Women” – Kevin DeYoung

Dude, Where’s your Bride?” – Kevin DeYoung