The Foolishness of God

Dear friends, I hope this finds you well. 

Not long ago I posted an article entitled, “Unbelief Will Always Make A Reason.” I don’t mind an honest discussion and dialogue, but I don’t enjoy debating for the sake of debate (Note: if you post a comment simply to be nasty, belligerent, and combative, I will ignore it). Unfortunately, I took the bait and replied to an individual’s posted comment(s) in which blasted me as completely ignorant, a liar who deliberately seeks to spread lies, and in a later comment accused me of being a “bigot.” The last one I actually found kind of funny, because aside from the fact the label is thrown around so often in our society the accusation is filled with irony. According to a dictionary, a bigot is “a person who is obstinately or unreasonably attached to a belief, opinion, or faction, especially one who is prejudiced against or antagonistic toward a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group.” This person somehow came across my blog, which is not all that well known, attacked my Christian beliefs both vehemently and specifically, and spoke very condescendingly and antagonistically. Do you see the irony? One who displayed the very essence of bigotry, in the guise of “science” (which not everything she said was accurate, although she adamantly thinks she is completely accurate), was accusing me of being a bigot. But again, labeling is all too common in today’s society.

Anyway, I do not share this as a means of putting this individual down. I have come across other individuals through the years who sought debate, caring nothing about what I had to say, even in regard to answering questions. Admittedly, some questions I cannot answer, but this goes both ways. When all is said and done, while I am to give reason as to why I believe, it is not my job to convince others. That is a work only the Holy Spirit can do. When a person adamantly declares there is no evidence of the existence of God or of Jesus Christ whatsoever, no argument on earth is going to change his or her mind. 

This individual is correct about me not being a debater or scientist. Although I did very well in undergraduate and postgraduate studies, there will always be people far smarter than me. This is alright, as I am reminded of the brilliance of the foolishness of God.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:18, 25

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. ~ Matthew 11:25-26

It is credited to Jerome for writing, “The Scriptures are shallow enough for a babe to come and drink without fear of drowning and deep enough for theologians to swim in without ever touching the bottom.” 

The Gospel has such depths that leaves scholars scratching their heads, yet such simplicity that even children can comprehend. I do not exaggerate when I say one of the godliest persons I’ve ever known, who had an incredibly deep prayer life and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit was a man who had Down’s syndrome. People can boast in their prestige, intelligence, and might; however, these are the very things that often hinder and blind persons to the knowledge of God.

In retrospect, I am ignorant about a lot of things. If knowing God depended on me being greatly intelligent, wise, shrewd, comely, and influential, I would never come to have known Him. Still, were it not for the great mercy and grace of God who had pity, not only on my blindness and stupidity, but also on my very deadness, I wouldn’t have come to know Him at all.

Let the godless say what they will and revel in their own contradictions and perils, but their words do not nullify the Creator in the least, nor the evidence as displayed throughout creation or the historicity of the Cross. Let the “wise of this world” boast in their wisdom, but it remains that only those who are willing to bow their hearts and knees will begin to see and understand the knowledge of God, and only through the Cross of Jesus Christ is there redemption. Men can continue to believe in the mythological man-made “Utopian” dream, but he will always prove himself to be the sinner he is, with a “Midas” touch to tarnish everything he touches. Still, for those who are willing to receive it, the foolishness of God remains wiser than the wisdom of men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Friend of Sinners or Doctor Among the Sick?

My friends, I hope you have been having a blessed week.

It is often said of Jesus that He was a “friend of sinners,” but what is meant by this? Does this mean Jesus had a table in a corner at a local saloon, toking on cigarettes and while guzzling down brews with the boys, and flirting with the “ladies” of the night? Did He have a big tattoo of the temple on His back or a Star of David on His arm? Is this what comes to your mind when you hear that Jesus was a “friend of sinners”? Such thinking is preposterous!

The title wasn’t necessarily a compliment. In fact, from some it was said with disgust. “He’s hanging out with them? How revolting.” Mind you, Jesus did not take this as an insult. The writer of Hebrews says of those who are sanctified by Christ, “he is not ashamed to call them brothers” (2:11).

But how did Jesus see such situations? Did He see Himself as just one of the boys, one of the homies of the gang? To those who saw themselves as morally superior to others and who were critical of the company Jesus kept, He said,

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick … For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. ~ Matthew 9:12-13

When one goes to a doctor’s appointment, the doctor is not there to join in on the sicknesses, nor does he treat diseases as no big deal. He recognizes that those in his care are not healthy. Likewise with the Great Physician. Although He was to be seen with the sinners, He was not there joining in on their sins, nor did He treat their sins as of no consequence. Jesus recognized those around Him were extremely sick with sin. The prescription He gives is repentance—to turn from sin and to turn to Him.

My friends, each of us is infected with this virus called sin, and its symptoms are manifested in many ways: selfishness, pride, immorality, covetousness, lying, mean and belittling words, threats, violence, idolatry, laziness, partiality, etc. This disease is lethal. In fact, the Bible tells us that we were born into this world spiritually dead. Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus,

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world. ~ Ephesians 2:1-2

But our situation is not totally hopeless. In Jesus Christ we can have life.

He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. ~ John 8:23-25

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6

Some are turned off by Jesus’ exclusive claim. But if you were dying and a doctor said a certain pill or shot is your only chance of living, would you refuse it with such disgust? If, indeed, Jesus is the only way to Heaven (who else is like Him?), then why be offended for speaking truth? My friends, He offers Himself to you. If you do not know Him as your Savior and Lord, why do you continue to reject the One who loves you most?

If you are saved, it is entirely of grace. Regardless how we might like to compare ourselves to other schmucks, we are merely redeemed schmucks. Each of us were once dead in sin, followers of Satan, and children of wrath. This is why grace is so amazing.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. ~ Ephesians 2:1-2

Jesus did not come to simply love us as we are. His grace was never intended to bring forgiveness just so we can continue in our pride, vanity, immorality, drunkenness, laziness, bitterness, etc. When a person is truly touched by the love and grace of Christ, his or her life begins a process of change. 

By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. ~ 1 John 2:5-6

Wonderful Love

The wonderful love of Jesus is quite welcoming of misfits, ragamuffins, and scalawags. He is not indifferent to our pasts, failures, hurts, or shame. While He will not condone sin, He is not harsh with one’s shortcomings. His love is all inclusive. His mission? To seek and find those who are lost (see Luke 19:10).

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ~ Matthew 11:28-29

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. ~ John 6:37

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

While His love is transcending, it is not intrusive. Jesus welcomes any and all who will come to Him in genuine faith, but He will not force His love on those who do not want it. His love is able to cover the most vile and evil of sins, but He will not force a person to loosen their grip on their beloved sin in order to take His saving hand. His wonderful love grants each of us the choice to respond it or reject it.

Jesus is gentle with persons. For example: Peter (who had denied Him); the centurion who had sent one of his servants (a foreigner); the Samaritan woman (a multi-divorced “half-breed” who was an outcast even of her own people); Zacchaeus (a tax collector, considered a traitor to the Jewish people; and the woman found in the act of adultery. Each of these received warm and honest acceptance from Jesus.

Still, Jesus did not pander to people or cater to their expectations. He let persons reject Him and His love. For example: the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of the day); the rich young ruler (who wanted salvation on his terms); Herod (a leader addicted to his own lusts and who wanted Jesus only for entertainment); and Judas (who, apparently, was disappointed with the kingdom Jesus had in mind).

Nevertheless, Jesus extends His love to each of us. The question is, is His love worth surrendering ourselves and our sins? For many, this is too much, too demanding. Still, others feign to receive His love while holding firmly to their sin. However, in doing so, they have not really received anything at all. It is a shame that sin is so deceptive in that it can bring pleasure, all the while leaving so much destruction in its wake. Sometimes we are unaware of the destruction that it brings to others later.

But then there are those who do recognize the hideousness of their sins. How on earth can God love them? Oh, but He does, my friend! There is not a sin God is unwilling to forgive, if we will but look to His Son Jesus Christ in genuine faith.

I hope that you have come to know this wonderful love of Jesus!

Why the Message is Often Ineffective

It would seem as though the Gospel message is losing its potency here in the West, but let us not be deceived. The Gospel is just as powerful as it has always been, but it is people’s tampering with it that weakens its effectiveness. People are told that God “loves us as we are” (implying there is no urgency to respond or change). And behaviors and attitudes the Bible declares as sinful are often passed by as not really being all that bad, let alone sinful and evil. Mind you, I am not talking only of the supposed “big” sins of the world, but the cradled sins in the church too (e.g., pride, presumption, idolatries, apathy, desire for control or prestige, etc.).

Oswald Chambers notes, “There must be a sense of need created before your message is of any use.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is very useful and relevant, but how can it be received as such when many would-be messengers state otherwise? Or put it this way: why do I need a Savior if I can simply come as I am, I’m loved as I am, and my disposition(s) are not bad?

Indeed, we are loved. And we are to come as we are (we can come no other way). However, we are to come with repentance and an expectation to be changed by God’s transforming grace. Our pride, gossip, lying, hypocrisies, idolatries, immoral thoughts and acts, drunkenness, blasphemies, etc. are all bad—really bad.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. ~ Isaiah 59:2

For the wages of sin is death. ~ Romans 6:23a

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. ~ Revelation 21:8

Jesus states, 

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. ~ Luke 13:2-3

Elsewhere He says,

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. ~ John 3:18-19

We tend to think we are “good” because we have not done this or that, yet we think nothing of the way we have spurned God’s holiness and rejected His ruling over our lives. We pride ourselves in not killing anyone, but oblivious the hundreds we have wounded by our razor-sharp tongues. We do not see ourselves as idolaters, all the while refusing to bow to the authority of the King of kings and to His eternal Word.

Consider also the ingratitude and sense of entitlement of our society, and the way these reflect in people’s perception of God.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened…. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. ~ Romans 1:21, 24-25

The message of the Gospel, indeed, is powerful, but God’s love can only be appreciated when it is not taken for granted. Grace is amazing only when we realize our depravity and helplessness. Jesus will only be adored when we realize our sinful passions keep us enslaved but He has come to set us free. The Gospel is not simply spiritual vitamins. Rather, it is radical heart surgery.

Preach the Word and Contend for the Faith!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly amazing—and undeserving! To think, our sin (which is both an affront to the holiness of God and injurious to others) separated us from God and created for us a horrible hell-bound destiny; yet, the Son of God willingly bore our sins to deliver us from our depravity and bondage to sin and darkness; to reconcile us to God; to prepare us a home filled with genuine love, peace, joy, and purity—a place where there will be no death, sorrow, sin, or perversion of any kind (see Rev. 21:1-4, 27). And why was He willing to do this for us? “For God so loved the world…” (see John 3:16).

We will never fathom the horror the Son of God experienced in order to secure our redemption and pardon. The Holy One took upon Himself the sins of the world, facing the wrath of God against mankind’s murders, lies, thefts, rapes, perversions, pride, gossip, hypocrisies, etc. As if the scourging, beatings, and mockery was not enough, He was pierced by thorns, spikes, and a spear; furthermore, the Father turned His face from the Son He so dearly loves. The Son died in loneliness and with a broken heart which cannot be described.

This is the Gospel: Christ died for our sins (which have separated us from God), He bids all to repent (to turn from sin) and to die in Him, and to be risen with Him in new (transformed) life.

Somehow the church, in undisciplined zeal, began to compromise the Message to get people to come to church so they might be saved. Gradually the compromises have become more about building bigger congregations rather than God’s kingdom. Many churchgoers are more concerned about offending the congregations or the lost than they are of offending God. Furthermore, as the compromises have increased, so have the justifications of permitting all sorts of sins, perversions, and idolatries to find harbor in many churches—the very things Jesus was crucified for!

We are told to “preach the word” without compromise or apology—even if that means others turn and walk away. We are to plant the seeds, but it is God alone who will cause those seeds to burst forth with life.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. ~ 2 Timothy 2:1-3 (ESV)

Elsewhere we are told to contend (fight fiercely) for the faith (the Gospel). That is, protect it from those who would ravage, twist, and pervert it.

I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 3-4

Indeed, we are to preach and exhort in a spirit of love and compassion. However, how contemptible and deplorable to water down the Gospel message, lest we offend those who mock, trivialize, and trample the exceeding grace that Jesus Christ offers! What a mockery of the offense and scorn He endured on our behalf!

Oh people of God, let our hearts be revived for His sake, and let us preach and contend for the true faith entrusted to us. For those who respond in repentance and faith, praise God! For those who reject it, let them walk away and entrust them to God. As the Bible declares:

Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. ~ Revelation 22:11-12

Regardless of people’s response, let us be faithful to Christ and the Gospel message He has entrusted to us. To dilute the message to soften the sting ultimately does more harm than good—and we must give account.

It’s a Beautiful Morning

Followers of Jesus Christ are not to live in deliberate or habitual sin. We are asked, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1 -2, ESV). Furthermore, elsewhere the purposes of both grace and salvation are explained:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. ~ Titus 2:11-12

Even so, the Bible teaches us, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins, (Ecc. 7:10) and “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).  And life teaches us experientially that we can sometimes blow it profoundly! How many of us have asked, “Will God forgive me of this? Again???” In fact, some give up altogether that God still loves them and can forgive them.

My friend, perhaps you have asked such questions. Maybe you are wrestling with such doubts now. Believe me, I have been there numerous times. But God’s grace truly is amazing, and the death Jesus died in our stead transcends our understanding. I hope you will be encouraged by the following passages:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:13-14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:17

Perhaps you have blown it big time and guilt haunts you. My friend, look to the cross and the glorious and merciful Savior who had been slain upon it and is now alive forevermore! Find refuge in His mercy and peace in His great love for you. His mercies are new every morning, and there is never a time when we are not in need of them.

Heaven (Part 3): R.S.V.P.

Not everyone will enter heaven. What a sad and fearful thought that many church members—even persons of the clergy—will be denied entrance. Jesus says,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” ~ Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

Only those who repent of their sins (each of us have sinned) and believe on Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sins. Some will argue this is unfair, but consider the following:

  1. God is perfectly holy and pure. By His very nature and essence  He cannot, and will not, permit sin in His presence and heaven.
  2. Those who love sin would not enjoy heaven. The immoral, nefarious, and maleficent would abhor the absolute purity of heaven. Make no mistake, heaven would not be a paradise for those whose hearts are not changed by the Gospel and Holy Spirit.
  3. Some argue the Gospel is too “exclusive,” but God offers His salvation to every individual, regardless of their age, background, gender, color, or nationality. He will not force anyone to accept, but why would a person not want to?

If a deadly virus began ravaging the world, would you resent hospitals for saying there is only one cure? Would you refuse it because of its exclusivity? Yet, God says the only Cure for our dire spiritual predicament is to believe on His Son Jesus who died for our sins. Many are offended by this, and thus, forfeit heaven and every spiritual blessing that could be their’s in Christ.