Why God Does Everything

Many of us know, love, and rejoice in what God does. We love the beautiful, creative power we see in how he created all things. We love that he is all knowing and all wise.  We love that God has chosen to save sinners despite anything we have done. We love that he is strong, just, and punishes evil. We love that he is merciful, gracious to those who take refuge in him. We love that he is love. We love that he chose to create, save, and sanctify us.

These are truths of the Bible that most Christians have no problem rejoicing in. We sing about such truths. We lean on them in hard times. We share how good these truths are with those we love. We find comfort, hope, joy, and peace in these glorious truths.

Yet, most of us struggle to grasp why he chose to do things. We know what he has done, but have never dug deeper to understand why he does what he does. Why did he create us? Why did he choose to save us? Why does he do the work of sanctifying us in order to make us more like his Son? Why does he lead us in paths of righteousness? Why does he blot out our transgressions?

Does he do these things because he sees something in us that leads him to be merciful? Are his works done in order to lift up humanity to where he wants it to be? Is there really a reason at all? Does he simply do these things because he can and there isnt real intent behind it all?

Scripture gives us an answer that is loud and clear. We don’t hear about it often enough and yet it will change everything for us. It ought to change how we view God, ourselves, and the world. It should make us see God as big as he is and as glorious as he is.

We have to answer the why. What is the purpose of the works of his hands? Why does he do all that he does?

The answer in Scripture is… for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Psalm 25:11 For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

Psalm 79:9 Help us, O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name; And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, For Your name’s sake!

Isaiah 43:6-7 Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.

Isaiah 43:25 “ I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

Isaiah 48:10-11 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.

Ezekiel 20:44 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,” says the Lord GOD.’”

1 John 2:12 I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.

God does everything he does for his name’s sake. He does what he does for his glory. Only God is worthy of glory. He is worthy of all glory. It only makes sense that all of creation and the work of the creator is aimed to promote the glory of Creator. All of his handiwork is evidence of his glory.

We ought to take note. All that God does is for his name’s sake. All that we do ought to be to make God more famous. Our hearts desire should be to see God glorified, lifted up, and praised among all nations for who he is and what he has done.

Why do we live on mission? For his name’s sake. Why do we gather for corporate worship? For his name’s sake. We do we live in biblical community? For his name’s sake. Why do we serve the church? For his name’s sake. We do we aim to take the gospel to the unreached people of the world? For his name’s sake. 

Let us live for the sake of God’s name. May our hearts long to see God glorified, not ourselves. “Success” is living a life of faithfulness for the fame and glory of God.

Can You Lose Your Salvation?

This is a highly disputed topic and we need to have grace with one another as we discuss this issue. We also need to humble ourselves before the Word of God and let it do the teaching. Often times we believe something because it is what we were taught and we never really examined it closely by the Scriptures.

We are seeking to answer the question: Can a person who was once saved by the gospel fall away from grace, lose their salvation, and spend eternity in hell?

Throughout church history the primary answer has been “No.” With that said, there has always been a segment of Christianity that have believed that a person can lose their salvation if they fall away after being saved by the gospel. My position is what has been called for centuries, “Perseverance of the Saints.”

Defining Terms: Perseverance of the Saints

The doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints teaches that once God saves a person (justification) he will work to make them like his Son (sanctification) and sustain them until the day of Jesus’ return (glorification). In essence, he will guarantee that they will persevere until the end.

Once a person has been made right with God through repentance and faith God promises to sustain and sanctify that person into the image of his Son, Jesus. When a person believes the gospel they take on the righteousness of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). Perseverance of the Saints teaches that God will continue to transform that person into the image of Jesus and they will never lose the righteousness given to them through belief in the gospel.

Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Storms:  Those who by the Spirit’s work are born again and justified by faith alone in Christ alone, will, by the work of that same gracious Spirit, persevere until life’s end.

To sum up how one defines Perseverance of the Saints it is sufficient to say, “God will finish what he started.” It might help to think of it as “the preservation of God.” It is not God that needs preservation, but rather it is God that does the preserving. God saves us and he also preserves us until the final day that we are fully united with Him.

A couple false views:

Once Saved Always Saved (no matter how you live):

One version of “eternal security” wrongly teaches that a person can be saved by the gospel and no matter what happens after that they will go to heaven. This view says that once a person becomes a Christian they will always remain saved no matter what their life looks like. “Once Saves Always Saved” is a good line, but only when we use it correctly. Once we are saved we are always saved because God promises to preserve us to the end. This does not mean that once we say a “sinners prayer” we can then live however we would like.

The Bible teaches us that once we are saved (justified) there will be evidence of this in our life. 2 Cor. 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

The life of a Christian is not only a one time status change from “not saved to saved.” The life of a Christian is one of continual transformation into the image of Jesus. God did not save us from our sins to simply leave us where he saved us. He saved us in order to change us by making us more like his perfect Son, Jesus.

StormsYes, true believers can backslide and fall into grievous sin, but God the Father, on the basis of the work of God the Son, will, through God the Spirit, preserve them in faith and present them to Himself on that final day of judgment.

Losing Your Salvation

Another popular false view is that you can lose your salvation. This view says once a person’s salvation may be lost by choosing to stop following Jesus and forsaking his/her faith.

God did what we would consider unthinkable- sending his very own Son to die on a cross so that sinners can be saved. He paid the ultimate price to take us- you and me- from death to life. This is incredible! If God can raise us from death to life can he not also sustain something that he made alive? We are dependent on him to save us, but all of a sudden he decides to leave the rest of our salvation up to us?

God saving sinners doesn’t stop at us initially being saved. He is working to restore our entire being. He doesn’t just want our sins removed, he wants us to walk in “newness of life” until He returns and sin and death is no more.

What is the purpose of what Jesus did?

John 6:37-40

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Jesus came to do the will of the Father. The will of the Father is to give everyone who looks to Jesus and believes in him eternal life! He then makes a promise, “I will raise him up on the last day.” Indeed, God will raise up everyone who believes in Jesus on the last day. This passage is crystal clear. Jesus will lose none of the people that trust in Jesus for salvation and God will raise all of them on the last day.

John 10: 37-40 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

If anyone that was justified by God lost his/her salvation that means Jesus failed. The cross failed. The resurrection failed. God’s power is limited, for he is not able to sustain those he saves. The gospel is not very good news. If we can lose our salvation it means the gospel really only gives us a chance to be saved, but is unable to secure it. In this scenario the gospel gets us in the door, but it gives us no assurance that we won’t turn around and run right back out!

The Heart of Perseverance of the Saints

It is all grace. By God’s grace we are justified, initially made right with God. By God’s grace we are being sanctified, we are being transformed day by day into the image of Jesus. We are dependent on the grace of God from beginning to the end. Perseverance of the Saints should give us hope because we know that it is not up to us. It is not up to us to maintain a certain level of godliness to remain in God’s grace. If that were the case it wouldn’t be grace!

Christians, take heart. God is big. His love is big. He loves you so much that he not only saved you initially, but he promises to sustain you until the end. Your salvation is in His hands!

One final passage to encourage your heart:

Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory.

Remember, the Holy Spirit is God. When we believed in Jesus we were sealed with the Holy Sprit  “as the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory.” That, my friends, is good news.

Blogging Round Up :: Best of the Best

Parents, Don’t Just Give Your Kids Technology

I’m surprised by how many parents just give their kids technology – without taking the opportunity to train them in responsibility, accountability, and wisdom.

They Fired Jonathan Edwards 

Jonathan Edwards is regarded as one of America’s top theologians and philosophers, was used to bring revivals to New England, and ended up as president of what we know today as Princeton. He served the church for twenty years. And they fired him.

Busy All The Time: Over-Scheduled Children and the Freedom of the Gospel

Parents agonize over going weeks without one meal around the dinner table with all family members. They regret missing consecutive weeks of church while traveling to soccer tournaments. They languish as they want their child in a Bible study, but they cannot tell the football coach that small group comes before the pre-game meal or film study. Parents feel robbed of the vision they had of an intimate family that eats nightly meals around the table and went on walks to catch up on life. Instead, they’re trapped in a circus of carpool.

The New Age of Christian Martyrdom

It’s chilling to imagine worse treatment than what the average North Korean prisoner has reported, including a mother forced to drown her own baby in a bucket, and tales of subsisting on nothing more than rats and insects. According to first-hand accounts from former prisoners reported by Amnesty International, “every former inmate at one camp had witnessed a public execution, one child was held for eight months in a cube-like cell so small he couldn’t move his body and an estimated 40% of inmates die from malnutrition.

When Atheists Are Angry At God

Many atheists do, of course, proceed to their denial of God based solely on rational justifications. That is why evidentialist and philosophical approaches to apologetics will always be necessary. But I’m beginning to suspect that emotional atheism is far more common than many Christians realize. We need a new apologetic approach that takes into account that the ordinary pain and sufferings of life leads more people away from God than a library full of anti-theist books. Focusing solely on the irate sputterings of the imperfectly intellectual New Atheists may blind us to the anger and suffering that is adding new nonbelievers to their ranks.

Tips for Parents of Teenagers

I have two kids, they are 5 and 2. I don’t have teenagers of my own so I totally get it if you decide to tune me out totally at this point…

For everyone still here, I am a Student Pastor. I was a teenager 7 years ago and I work with dozens of teenagers on a weekly basis. Not only do I work with them, but I sit with many of their parents. Sometimes there is broken heartedness, anger, confusion, frustration, hurt, sadness, and disappointment when we sit together. There is also desire for better days, hope, transparency, brutal honesty, and a willingness to listen and learn (though I typically do most of the learning).

The world is very different today than when parents were in Middle School and High School. In fact, it is quite different from when I was there. Below are some “tips” for parents of teenagers. No, these are not tips coming from a parent with amazing teenage kids. These are tips coming from a Student Pastor that works with all different types of kids and parents.

  • Don’t let the culture tell you what a good parent is. God gave us the Bible for a reason. Let’s use it. Even the best parenting blogs in the world fall terribly short of what we can learn about parenting from the Bible. Our culture tells us a lot of wrong things about teenagers, entitlement, freedom, discipline, etc. The Bible doesn’t tell us a wrong thing about anything, including parenting.
  • Once you have firmly set yourself on God’s word as your guide in parenting begin to look for biblically based resources to help. There are a lot of good resources out there to help us learn and grow as parents. Knowing that I only have one shot at parenting my kids is terrifying to me. Therefore, it is a mission of mine to learn and grow as much as I can as a parent while I am in the trenches. Most parents admit, “I don’t always know what I am doing and I know I am not the best parent.” Good, humility helps! Now, let’s take action to grow and learn.
  • Make sure your kids hear praise for their character more than their looks, skills, accomplishments, friends, athletics, etc. Your kids will see what you value in them by what you praise. Encourage them in every area of life, yes… but make sure it is abundantly clear that God in them reigns supreme. Everyone around them wants to know what they can get out of them, what they can accomplish, let them hear trumpet sounds of praise from their parents about the type of person they are.
  • They don’t have to be given access to everything. Their life won’t end if they don’t have the newest, coolest cell phone. You do not have to allow them to be on every social media outlet. From what I have seen most teenagers do not know how to conduct themselves online. The internet is the last place teenagers need to be learning social skills. It isn’t healthy when such a large percentage of their “conversation” is online or through texting.
  • Know what apps they have. I promise you there are a lot of apps out there that you know nothing about that can cause a lot of damage. Pay for a service that monitors everything they do on their phone and on their computer. Everything. I’m not even sure I would let my kids have smart phones until at least 16, but even if I did I would monitor everything. There is a lot of power and responsibility with technology. Be aware of their activity and have consistent conversation about it.
  • Know the Sexual Revolution taking place in our culture and fight against it with all of your might. This is taking purity away from teens and heaping shame, guilt, and condemnation on them. It’s a bad trade off. What your daughter wears does matter. If the coolest, hippest clothes say, “I’m a sexual object” don’t buy them. It is better for her soul to wear “uncool clothes” than clothes that objectify her. Watch your daughters closely, “How do they seek attention from boys? What type of attention are they seeking?’ On to the boys, watch them closely, “How do they treat and look at girls? How do they talk to them?” Fathers, set an example. Show them how to treat a girl by how you treat your wife. Talk to them about this issue, a lot! Teach them what the Bible has to say about sexuality and why.
  • Create a culture of repentance and forgiveness in your home. We all fail. Parents fail, teenagers fail. You need to create a culture in which mistakes aren’t the sworn enemy. Create a culture in which your teenager feels safe coming to you with their sins, hurts, and shortcomings. They are going to share with someone, let it be you. Don’t have a harsh, condemning approach. Be the first one in the family to repent of your mistakes, apologize, and seek forgiveness. They will see it, they will follow.

All The Dying Megachurches

1544379_653093764732643_1808453389_nThom Rainer nails it with this quote. I agree 100%. What I like most about this quote is that it has nothing to do with church numbers. A church can be growing week by week, month by month and still be dying. Real “life” when it comes to churches has to be based on spiritual vitality and vibrancy, not numerical growth.

What struck me most though, is when having this conversation or posting a quote like this to a picture why does our mind automatically go to old, small churches? Is it really only older churches that have a tendency to put their preferences over their passion for the gospel? I think not.

With a changing age it is just easier to pick on those churches. We say, “Clearly, they are guilty of this as they are holding onto the past and only care about their traditional worship and keeping up the status quo.”

Let’s ask another question… “Are there not megachurches full of church members whose personal preferences are greater than their passion for the gospel?” Of course there are, they just prefer loud, dynamic music accompanied by smoke and a laser show. Thom Rainer is absolutely correct, when that happens a churches spiritual vitality and vibrancy begins to die. This is happening all over in America, in churches numerically small and large that vary in all different types of worship, styles, and philosophies.

One of the most vibrant churches I have had the pleasure of being a part of is quite traditional. We sat in our pews every Sunday, worshipped to more traditional music, and were surrounded by people both young and old. One of the most spiritually dead churches I have been a part of had music as contemporary as it gets and was over 900+ people. It was growing and growing, year by year. No one would have said it lacked spiritually vibrancy at the time, but after a very rough last several years the proof is in the pudding.

We often say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We ought to apply this to how we stereotype churches as well. Old, traditional churches can be absolutely filled with spiritual life and vibrancy. The Megachurches that are sprouting up everywhere across America can have very little spiritual life and vibrancy.

We build a lot of churches, only God builds churches that have deep spiritual life. The best way to make sure you are a part of a church that isn’t dying, is to be spiritually vibrant yourself. Ask yourself, “Does my passion for the gospel far outweigh my personal preferences?” The two healthiest churches I have ever been a part of are very different when it comes to style and philosophy of ministry. Yet, what they have in common is they are made up of people whose passion for the gospel far outweighs their personal preferences.

Church size and church style? They mean very little. A church made of people whose passion for the gospel outweighs everything else? Yeah, that can be world changing.

Why Christianity Is The Greatest Movement In Human History

All kinds of movements are happening all the time. Some are very serious, some are quite trivial. There are some movements that seem to be here one minute, gone the next. But, sometimes there is a movement within human history that, in fact, changes global landscape. There are movements that change the course of history. Some of these movements are based on pure military power and purpose, others on religious belief, and some are simply trends that go from society to society wreaking havoc.

There is one movement, though, that stands above the rest- Christianity. You don’t have to be a Christian to see and believe this. Historians concede the fact that nothing in the history of the world has had the type of global impact that Christianity has. The breadth and longevity of Christianity is matched by nothing and no one.

Why? Why has Christianity stood the test of time? Why has it stood against numerous attacks, criticisms, and enemies? Why can seemingly nothing take it down?

1) Christianity has a perfect author. He is not only the author of Christianity, but the author of all human history. The Person being the steering wheel in this movement is a God that cares more about his creation than anything else. He cares about how he created it, how it fell, and how he is restoring it. Christianity is simply a story being written by a perfect author writing a perfect story that he will end at a perfect time. Every moment starts somewhere, with someone… Only Christianity starts with someone who Was, and Is, and Is To Come.

2) Christianity is the only movement that fully understands Love and is fueled by it. Very few movements have been fueled by love. Many movements are destructive, many are started with selfish ambitions, but a few are love-based. Some of these movements meet spiritual needs, emotional needs, physical needs, social needs, psychological needs, etc. Christianity is the only movement that seeks to restore the whole person, and the whole world for that matter. In Christianity, love means restoring people and all of creation to its highest glory. This love it what fuels its entire existence and mission.

3) Christianity is based on a bloody cross that supersedes the wisdom of this world and displays true power. A lot of movements display power. These movements are usually marked by military power, weapons of this world. The power in Christianity starts with a bloody cross. The power of most movements typically demand deaths of many. The power of Christianity only demanded the death of one Man. Christianity doesn’t need what is considered “power” to this world, it has its own. It doesn’t even need the “wisdom” of the world. Wisdom of the world says you have to outsmart those around you. Wisdom of Christianity says it isn’t more brains you need, it’s a savior.

4) Christianity is based on truth. Despite thousands of books, so called “evidence,” and uncountable attacks… Christianity still stands. It has a serious backbone. People have wanted to snap it in half for centuries. Yet, it stands strong. Its strength is derived from the truthfulness of its claims.

5) Christianity transcends all cultures. Christianity is as un-cookie cutter as it gets. True Christianity never imposes one culture on another. Same message everywhere, but its shape is able to adapt as needed. It transcends every context and every culture. This gives it the ability to move rapidly and without borders.

6) Christianity has transformative power. Force is not needed for Christianity to continue to spread. The secret sauce of Christianity is its transformative power. Christianity is an equal opportunity offender. There isn’t one person on the planet out of its reach. It takes the nicest of men and the worst of sinners. It takes them and transforms them. Why do so many countries work so hard to keep Christianity out? Why do they murder people for simply sharing its message? Why are they so threatened? They have seen and they have heard of its transformative power. Christianity is an unstoppable force because it transforms person, after person, after person…

Stories You Should Know

The People Who Challenged My Atheism Most Were Drug Addicts and Prostitutes 

We are all sinners. On the streets the addicts, with their daily battles and proximity to death, have come to understand this viscerally. Many successful people don’t. Their sense of entitlement and emotional distance has numbed their understanding of our fallibility.

Soon I saw my atheism for what it is: an intellectual belief most accessible to those who have done well.

How I Escaped The Mormon Temple

After Micah’s expulsion, questions about Mormonism that I had harbored for years—about my patriarchal blessing, about the church’s history of racism, about the scope of Christ’s atonement—kicked into high gear. I heeded Micah’s advice, and began reading the Bible in translations easier to understand than the LDS-authorized King James Version.

In John’s gospel, I read, “These are the very scriptures that testify of me yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Salvation did not require the Mormon Church, only Jesus. I began to see clearly that Mormonism taught a different gospel than what the Bible taught.

Why Have Young People In Japan Stopped Having Sex?

“It’s too troublesome,” says Kishino, when I ask why he’s not interested in having a girlfriend. “I don’t earn a huge salary to go on dates and I don’t want the responsibility of a woman hoping it might lead to marriage.” Japan’s media, which has a name for every social kink, refers to men like Kishino as “herbivores” or soshoku danshi (literally, “grass-eating men”). Kishino says he doesn’t mind the label because it’s become so commonplace. He defines it as “a heterosexual man for whom relationships and sex are unimportant”.

Evangelicals Find Themselves in the Midst of a Calvinist Revival 

Evangelicalism is in the midst of a Calvinist revival. Increasing numbers of preachers and professors teach the views of the 16th-century French reformer. Mark Driscoll, John Piper and Tim Keller — megachurch preachers and important evangelical authors — are all Calvinist. Attendance at Calvin-influenced worship conferences and churches is up, particularly among worshipers in their 20s and 30s.

In the Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, the rise of Calvinism has provoked discord. In a 2012 poll of 1,066 Southern Baptist pastors conducted by LifeWay Research, a nonprofit group associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, 30 percent considered their churches Calvinist — while twice as many were concerned “about the impact of Calvinism.”