Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What does God desire for the living man?

If you are NOT a believer or Christian, have you wondered what God wants men to be?  What is the foremost thing that God wants of men?  If you are a believer or Christian, are you already clear about these questions?

What is God’s perspective of the affairs of men?  Towards what He wants, what has God done? Is it possible for what God wants, to come about?

What does the Word of God or Scripture say about such issues or questions?

We read from the Book of Acts, in Acts 17, that in the early AD, the Apostle Paul was at one time engaging the Greek philosophers.  It started like this, Acts 17:22-23 –
22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

In other words, the Apostle Paul was going to give understanding to the then Greek philosophers about God.  Paul was going to tell them, to the tune of “What unknown? Unknown God?  Or God of whom we know nothing; no, NOT like that!  Let me tell you about God so that you no longer need to be blur about God and regard Him as unknown”. 

The first thing that Paul said was this (Acts 17:24-25):

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

In other words, what we, men, have, including our life and breath, they all come from God in the first place; we cannot give anything which is not from Him in the first place.  It is God who made the world and everything in it.  God is the Lord of heaven and earth.

The Apostle Paul went on to explain that, from one man, Adam, God made every nation of men.  This is what he said (Acts 17:26-27):

26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Yes, in between, certain events and things happened, and we are NOT going to go into all of that in any great detail today, but from the above 2 verses, it is clear that God meant for us to have nations of men, inhabiting the whole earth, like it is today.  In fact, the text said that God determined the times and places various men were and are to live.  In other words, it is no coincidence that there is a nation called Singapore, for example, having such various inhabitants here, at this season and hour. 

In other words, what we are seeing in the world is NOT outside of what God is able to handle.  It may NOT be “neat and tidy”; it is NOT so, because men were given free-will, right from the beginning.  God is nevertheless in control, and the play out of God’s creation, over time, and yes, with free-will for men thrown in, all of it, is still within what God is able to handle; and God let it proceed so, with the intent that men would seek Him, and perhaps reach out for Him, and find Him.  Verse 27 above was clear that God was NOT left behind, but it was that it was and is always, God is NOT far from us.

From here, we know one thing that God desires of men is that men would seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him.

Is it possible to seek God, reach out for Him and find Him?  Through the inspiration of the Spirit of God, the author of the Book of Hebrews tells us 2 truths, in Heb 11:6.

Heb 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

The 2 truths are (1) if we want to draw near to Him, if we want to seek Him, want to reach out for Him, and to find Him, we must believe He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (diligently or earnestly); and (2) if we want to please God, we must be having living faith.

Today, whether you are a believer or Christian, or you are NOT yet one, or one that has embraced some religion, like the ancient Greeks were, religious, it is possible for you to find Him and please Him.  Pleasing God is NOT simply by merely making an offering before an image or imagery.  Even for the Christians, the mere mouthing of “Hallelujah, praise God”, does NOT necessarily please God!  Faith is an essential element for pleasing God.

The above suggests to us that one thing that God desires of men is that men would seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him.  If God desires that, how can God NOT be found at all!  No, He can be found.  He would allow Himself to be found by us when we, first of all, believe He exists, and that He would allow Himself to be found by us as a reward, when we diligently or earnestly seek Him.

Many translations of Scripture used “believe God exists” for Heb 11:6. It is a fair translation; however another phrase used in some translations is “believe He (God) is”.  This, to me, has the fuller meaning embodied in it, just like the declaration of God that He is the great “I AM”.  “ He is” or “I AM” means NOT just He exists, but it is that He has always existed.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  And so, the furthest we can go back, is “In the beginning, there was God…” God was NOT created.  He is the Creator (Acts 17:24 above said it, too).  And so, when it is said, as in Heb 11:6, that we are to believe He is … (KJV, NKJV), it calls for our belief that NOT only He exists, He has always existed.  So, He or God is NOT created but is the Creator, and everything was created by Him.

Scripture said that we are without excuse of NOT recognising Him as God, the all surpassing greatness.  Romans 1:20 said this:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

So, the call of Hebrew 11:6 is NOT just we believe He exists, but is that we believe He is Who He is (The I AM) who has always existed.  The Apostle Paul wanted to get this across to the Greek, and so, he said this (Acts 17:28-29):

28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'  29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill.

God was NOT created; He was the Creator, and everything, including us, is created by Him, in Him, and for Him.  Thus, the “..in Him we live and move and have our being.”  We are created by God, and so, in that sense, all of us are the offspring of God.  All created things, even images made from gold or silver or stone, fashioned by men, cannot be God.  And so, we must NOT worship any of these things.  All such worship is detestable to God.

What God wants is that we be reconciled back to Him, our Maker.  When do we seek someone out, reach out for him or find him?  When there has been a separation.  If there was NOT, separation, two are together, and when two are together, there is no seeking necessary, there is no reaching out, and there is no finding.  In other words, there has been a separation between God and men.

It was NOT a physical separation as such, for Acts 17:26- 27 said that even though men were distributed in many nations, and across time, God was nevertheless NOT far from each one of us! Yet, a seeking and a finding were still needed.  The separation between us, men and God, is more than just physical.  In simple terms, we have been corrupted, and the “corrupt” in us alienated us from God.  The image of God with which we have been created via the first Man, Adam, had been wrecked by Satan through The Fall in the Garden of Eden.  If we use the metaphor of a software for the image of God, it is like we have been corrupted, by Satan’s tempering with The Software; and the latter was infected with a “virus” called Iniquity.  The corrupted-ness was then replicated down to us, every one of us, born of men, after Adam and Eve (Jesus was born of the Spirit {conceived of the Holy Spirit}).

There is now a problem for us to patch back to the “mother system”, God.  Men have become a “runaway” sub-system.  Each one of us must believe we have come from the mother system, and wants to be patched back to the mother system, God.  God is desiring for all runaways to fall back in (1 Tim 2:4 – God desires all men be saved).  So, if we liken God as the mother-ship, He would come for you, when your sincere signals are sent repeatedly out to Him.  Not you will find Him, He will allow Himself to be found by you.

Is reconciliation possible or re-connection possible?  Scripture, in Mark 10:27 said this: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

These words (Mark 10:27) were the words of Jesus, when a rich young man asked Jesus how he was to make it, to get to, return to be with God.  Amongst the things Jesus said, was the call for the rich young man to sell away all his possession and give money from the sale, away, and then to follow Jesus; and the saying that it is more difficult for the rich to get to, return to be with God, than the camel to go through the eye of the needle!  Now, this was despite the rich young man had been keeping God’s commandments since his youth.  The Disciples of Jesus were lamenting it would be too difficult – Who would be able to make it! Jesus was indeed saying, if men attempt it using their all, by themselves, it would still be impossible, but with God, it is different, all things are possible.

The moral of the story is NOT: it is hard-le, for me, a rich man to make it, for I cannot get myself to sell everything off, and give the money from the sale, away, and so, God got to cause me to want to do it-le; if NOT, don’t blame me-le, blame God-lah; NOT my fault-what!  The point is that we must believe it is worth it; in fact, worth everything, to be reconciled back to God, and then to return to be with God.

If we truly believe  “Who He is” (Heb 11:6), it is all worth it.  Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God this way (Matt 13:44-45):

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Jesus was saying the same thing over and over again.  Jesus told the rich young man to sell off everything and give the money from the sale, away, and follow Him.  Here, in the above text, again it was said by Jesus, to sell off everything and exchange the money from the sale with the Kingdom of Heaven.  In other words, the stumbling block to our return to God, is our reluctance to let go of the drawings of the world – the wealth, prestige, and things of the world.

Of course, at the end of the day, God is NOT a thing, but He is precious, and His Kingdom is precious.  But we cannot have God on our terms; that would make us God, but it is He who is God, and we have to be reconciled, on His terms and to continue on life pleasing Him.

Although we have been corrupted, destroyed of the image of God with which we have been created, that we have been “injected” with Iniquity, God still loves us.  John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, so that whosoever believe in Him, Jesus Christ, should NOT perish, but have eternal life.  God loved us when we were yet sinners. 

We all became sinners when the first Man, Adam, sinned in the Garden of Eden.  All of us has fallen short of the glory of God, since then; none truly righteous; yet God’s love for us, the pinnacle of His creation, continues on; and in order to ransom us from the destiny of Hell fire, on being counted with Satan who caused the Fall of men in the Garden of Eden, God gave His Son to be born a man and to die on the Cross for the sins of men.  To reconcile with God, we need to accept the way provided by God – to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; that Jesus died to be the propitiation for our sins.  Jesus was sinless, yet He was willing to die for us, sinners.  He has become the penalty for our sins.

However, entering into salvation through the saying of the typical Sinner’s Prayer is NOT the end of the story; it is just the beginning.  Upon entry, God gives that which we need to counter Iniquity, and that counter is the Holy Spirit, God give to indwell each one of us.  Now, the one thing that all believers must know and embrace, is that God is holy.  The holiness and wisdom of God makes it that God is always righteous, and there is only one yardstick for righteousness, His own righteousness. 

We cannot please God unless we embrace His holiness and subscribe to His righteousness.  What and who can reveal to us the righteousness of God? The Word or Holy Scripture prescribes for us, the righteousness of God; and the Holy Spirit guides us into God’s righteousness, if we allow Him (the Spirit) and yield to Him.  At the centre of this, is our belief and conviction in the Word and the Holy Spirit.  When our particular conviction has become strong enough, we will go into action consistent to the belief, and that is what we call an active faith or living faith (belief without action is incomplete faith or dead faith {or faith that is NOT yet alive or operative}).  So, when we talk about pleasing God, we cannot run away from His righteousness, and so, faith.  Without faith (belief and conviction, followed by action thereof) in what amounts to be the righteous desire of God, we cannot please God (Heb 11:6).

In order to please God, we have to continually live in faith; and this is what God would like to see us, believers, be doing – living in faith.  Living in faith is of course, NOT an easy thing, often times.  It calls for knowing the Word, and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and then obedience. 

When we do NOT know the Word or are NOT sensitive to the Holy Spirit, we may end up doing what God does NOT want, or NOT doing what God wants, or we could get the timing wrong. 

When we know we still have to believe what we hear, from our reading of the Word or from the Holy Spirit. If we believe it, with NOT strong enough conviction, we would end up NOT doing what the Word or Spirit directs.  We cannot obey what we do NOT know (but NOT what we do NOT understand, as far as God’s word or directive is concerned. There is a difference between “do NOT know – no knowledge, and do NOT understand the rationale), but it is equally possible that we disobey because we do NOT believe enough or have NOT, the faith. 

Disobeying God is NOT about NOT understanding what is commanded (the rationale), rather (1) it is you and I are without enough belief or faith (we doubt); or (2) it is we love NOT, God enough; we treat it as ok NOT to give topmost priority to what would please God. Now, when we know the Word or know from the Spirit, but we obey NOT, the end result is again NOT good, and it will NOT please God; whether it was from our doubting or our NOT loving God enough.

Is it possible to please God?  Who can please God all the time?  Hardly anyone could.  If there is anyone who came close to it, I venture to say Jesus, there again, Jesus was both fully man and fully divine; the other, I could say, for lack of anything ill-recorded for us, would be Enoch, who God translated to Heaven, bypassing death (Heb 11:5).  Even King David did NOT please God all the time; neither did His Son, King Solomon, who had been granted great wisdom (and wealth and fame thrown in).

While it may be impossible to please God all the time, it does NOT mean we should NOT endeavour to please God all the time.  Actually, if we displease God, that is a sin.  No one is without sin, but Scripture still exhorts us to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet 1:16), and that we are to resist sins to the point of shedding blood (Heb 12:4), at least!  We are also commanded to love God with our all, all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  Quite impossible, but still we must endeavour to do our best, to love God, and so, to please Him.  I frequently tell people, we do NOT just NOT do a thing, just because it is hard.  God knows, by our effort, it is impossible to have a perfect record; unless we are God or a member of the Triune God, it is impossible without the help of God to be pleasing God all the time.  But we are to be after God’s heart.  Do our best; and for all of us, it means we can improve further, and that is what God wants; and when we fall down, we get up, ask for His understanding and forgiveness (practise 1 John 1:9); and when we find it hard, ask for His help, and resume, and remain steadfast and faithful,  in our life of pleasing Him.

You are NOT necessarily engaging in, salvation by works.  Do NOT listen to overly grace preachers who heap guilt on you when you do your best to please God.  You are saved to please Him, and that includes doing all the good works God determines for you to do (Eph 2:10 – we are saved for good works).

Is there a key text or two, telling us how we are to live our life that we have become a believer or Christian?  I give below, two:

Matt 6:33 – Seek ye first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things would be added unto you.  

Romans 14:17-18 - For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Do NOT be deceived, Matt 6:33 are directed at believers. The Kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness - His righteousness.  We cannot but subscribe to God’s righteousness.  Romans 14:17-18 actually tell us that, of the same imperative of the Kingdom of God are His righteousness and the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. If you subscribe NOT to His righteousness, there can be no faith to talk about (for faith is anchored on His righteousness), and without faith it is impossible to please God.  There is only peace and joy with the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit does only that which is in agreement with the other members of the Godhead.  So, if you want the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, listen to the Spirit, and do likewise, be in agreement with God (and that is the base definition of righteousness – being right with God, right on, as to what God wants, and right on, as to when God wants done).

We do our best, with humility to be led by Spirit, and we let God be God - He judges.

As a summary, what God desires of men:

1.    seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him

2.    be reconciled back to Him

3.    continue on life pleasing Him, and to please Him we need to:

      a.     love Him, and so, obey Him (John 14:21a)
      b.    be with operative faith (Heb 11:6),
      c.     serve Him (Eph 2:10), and
     d.    be led by His Spirit, and so, be with true peace & joy (Rom 14:17)

Anthony Chia, high.expressions Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: high.expressions@gmail.com

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