•••by Russell Young
Modern Biblical teaching, at least from a western perspective, has become focused on mankind and the blessings that have been promised to him if he would only “believe.” The consequence of this focus is weakening the church and distorting the truths about God.
It is not uncommon to hear “believers” lament the fact that God is not answering their prayers; after all He is a good and faithful Father who loves them unconditionally and wants the best for them. The “love’ and the “best,” of course are according to their own understanding. Contemporary song writers don’t hesitate to exuberantly express that God “adores” them and how “pleased” He is with them. In their thinking God’s grace has assured them of a place in His Eternal Kingdom.
God created and They (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) created for Their good pleasure or according to Their plan and interests. When His original creation was completed, He “saw” (advised Himself, approved) all that He had made and declared it to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31); it pleased Him. This original creation state is the one on which God rested His approval. Concerning man, it is revealed that man had been made in God’s “image.” (Genesis 1:27) That is, man had been created in God’s moral likeness, pure and regular in all his thoughts and imaginations.
When the focus is taken from the Creator and put on man, the believer allows himself all kinds of permissions and allowances; God does not. Paul wrote that the believer is to “work out his own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and that he is to be once more conformed to image of the Son of God. (Romans 8:29) The focus of teaching needs to shift back to the promotion of reality. God is loving and merciful but he is also, holy, Sovereign, and King.
“Believers” who rest in their determination of their love for God and His for them need to reflect more fully on teachings concerning the New Covenant. The writer of Hebrews has made it clear that many are still living on “milk, not solid food” which is teaching about righteousness. (Hebrews 5:12-6:3) The Lord said that, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached and everyone is forcing their way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the law.” (Luke 16:16, NIV)
Teaching that permits an eternal hope without satisfying the heart of God is deceptive. God’s “love” does NOT nullify the law and His requirement for holiness on the part of those who will dwell with Him. Adam and Eve were created holy and those who will dwell with Him must be holy. (Hebrews 12:14) No one will be able to “force” his way into His Kingdom.
The bulk of modern theology has taken the focus of the believer’s attention from God and onto himself. The message so misrepresents the truth that many are prepared to disown God because of His failure to bring “good” into their lives. He is seen as the all benevolent Father abounding in love and in blessings allowing the nature of those expected blessings are determined by the heart of man and his perceived needs.
It is no wonder that the world is confused about the Christian faith. When “believers” go about living according to the desires of their flesh and in the interests of the world and fail to experience their expectations from a loving God, their faith ends up proven false according to their understanding of God’s goodness. God expects His people to love Him with all of their heart soul and mind (Matthew 22:37) and to be humble before Him.
As one retired pastor has written, “We gladly portray a gospel of God’s love and forgiveness, but neglect or downplay, or water down if you like, obedience, confession, repentance. This message virtually ignores the ongoing work of the cross. The Holy Spirit makes it clear in numerous passages that God wants, and is looking for a holy people, a pure ‘Bride’ for His Son, nothing else; not a harlot, living for the things of Egypt, but a pure and righteous ‘Body.’”
Those who allow promises of God’s grace and mercy to cover rebellious and disobedient hearts and who ignore His holiness are living in the deceptions of the Evil One. It’s ALL about God! Creation was for His good pleasure.