Monthly Archives: August 2014

Aside

Why did God allow Ananias & Sapphira to fall dead after lying & keeping back some money from the church?

First of all, the Bible does not tell us what God was thinking, so anything we can come up with is conjecture or at best hypothesis.

But, here’s some possible reasons:

1.  Maybe their greed & deceit would have spread within the new, young church and God wanted to rid his church of that at its infancy until it was better established and could maturely handle those types of actions

2.  To lie to the Holy Spirit indicates a severe misunderstanding about the nature of God, i.e. his omniscience & omnipresence, the fact that he knows all and is present everywhere.  Maybe, Ananias & Sapphira in a quiet corner somewhere stood counting their profits from the sale of their land.  Maybe, they grinned to each other thinking that they could keep part of it and present their gift like it was all they had.  Who would know?  If they truly didn’t understand that God could know, they may have planned to lie to him and try to appear generous before him expecting to be rewarded.  What happens in the soul of someone who believes this?  Maybe they think they are superior to God, able to outsmart him, master of their own fortunes & fates.  Sounds like pride to the nth degree, similar to Satan in his quest to be like God.  And Peter nailed it when he identified that Satan had filled Ananias’ heart.  It’s uglier to look at the scene like this.  So, why did God punish so severely?  Obviously, God thought it necessary and just.

3.  Maybe it was merciful.  Maybe, if A & S had been permitted to live, they would have continued in such blatant sin & dark deeds that they would have totally walked away from God and caused many others to turn away also.  Maybe their spiritual growth was finished and their purpose on this earth had come to a complete halt. So, God, in his mercy, took them away before they could further damage their own souls & before they could harm others.

4.  Maybe A & S had never even been true believers.  And maybe God knew they never would.

5.  Maybe God’s reasons are unknowable in this instance.  Maybe he chose for multiple reasons, ones that we have no ability to reason out.  That is one of the beautiful things about him, fearfully unpredictable.  He is who He is.  I am that I am.   So, what do we do with this?  Do we cower in fear not knowing what he might choose to do with us?  In my experience, no.  We can trust him to be faithful and kind and loving.  So, what of A & S?  Where’s the love?  Maybe the love is further down the road?  Linked to #3 about mercy.  Moses was a faithful servant, even friend, of God for a long, long time.  However, one very small act of hitting a rock instead of speaking to it cost him the entire Promised Land.  There was no pleading with God at this point.  Moses had crossed some line that God had set up.  Killing the Egyptian wasn’t as bad.  Doubting God as he stood on His holy ground wasn’t as bad.  Smashing the tablets God had just written on was not as bad.  None of those things cost Moses the Promised Land.  But hitting a rock instead of speaking to it did.  Maybe it was pride.  Maybe Moses thought however briefly that he could command water and that it was within his realm of power to provide it, and so he chose to hit instead of speak.  Regardless, what a harsh punishment.  The culmination of all Moses had done was taken away from him.  He would never step foot into the Promised Land.  How could he even bear that?  To be able to look across and see it, but never go to the very place he had so faithfully and patiently pushed the Israelites toward.  Was God unloving and harsh in his judgement?  Or was his love just further down the road?  Fast forward to the New Testament.  Jesus is transfigured with two other people, Moses & Elijah.  MOSES!  After his harsh punishment, God did not forget or disregard Moses.  He had to punish him, why so severely, I don’t know.  But, he did not leave Moses behind.  Not really.  He gave Moses a glorified moment with the Son of God in front of the future leaders of his bride.  So, maybe Ananias & Sapphira also had a severe punishment, but further down the road, invisible to us at this time, they were welcomed into the realm of the forgiven & told “well done.”

Maybe.  Or maybe, it’s something even more wonderful and complex than my wildest imagination.

Ananias & Sapphira

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Relationships of the Heart

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If our works are not good enough to earn righteousness before belief in Jesus, how are they suddenly good enough after?

God is after our heart. He has always been. Adam & Eve had that unspoiled relationship with God before sin. They walked together with God in the cool of the day…God was with them. Sin split that relationship apart devastatingly and left man with a severe defect from his heart outward. The Law of God was given to help godless men focus their behaviors so they could be primed to relate to God and to one another. Following the Law would prove impossible. Why? How hard can it possibly be to follow a few rules? Impossibly hard.

The problem doesn’t lie with the Laws, rather it lies in the heart of man. Sin has so disfigured our hearts that even our good deeds aren’t good. Suppose every Law was kept by someone. Would they have achieved salvation through perfect obedience to the Law? I would say no. Because in God’s eyes, it’s not about the Laws themselves, rather it’s about the relationship. Even someone who perfectly kept all the Laws would not be deemed righteous, because the heart of all men is twisted against God. It’s the heart that is impure, even though the outward deeds are perfectly performed. No righteousness can come from a heart that is hostile to God. That is why the rich young ruler who said he had kept all the Laws was challenged to do something not written in the Law…but it was something that revealed the actual condition of his heart–turned against God.

Galatians 2:21
“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

Doing good deeds before a saving belief in Jesus does nothing to earn God’s salvation or approval. After someone has believed, they have something put within them…the righteousness of Christ.

Philippians 3:9
“and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”

Once someone believes in Jesus, their righteousness is only on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness, not anything they can do. If our good works weren’t good enough to earn God’s approval before saving faith, how could they suddenly be good enough to earn his favor or rewards? They can’t. We are found in Him. Our righteousness can only come from Him. Nothing we do is good enough because, while we’re in the body, we struggle against our sin nature. We have been given a new nature, a living spirit now made alive with Christ.

Romans 8:10
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

We now have a relationship which is allowed only because we’ve been made righteous by Jesus, not because we can now do right.

So what of good works? If none of our works are righteous, why are we compelled to do them or why does it matter?

From within the restored relationship, where our new nature identifies us as children of God, we are already in the correct position. There is no method, form, or law required to relate to God; we are already rightly related, spirit to spirit, deep to deep, heart to heart THROUGH Jesus.

But what happens is, because there is a new nature, the deeds we do are Christ working through us…His righteousness being manifested, not by our wonderful GOOD choice, but because His righteousness at work in us is automatically righteous. We are not doing something we SHOULD and are therefore right before God; we have been MADE something new & righteous and out of that new nature comes righteous deeds. But the deeds are only righteous because they come out of the new, sinless nature which is none other than this: “Christ in us, the hope if Glory!”

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Colossians 1:27

And once again, Philippians 3:9:
“and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”

What Do You Love? Or Whom?

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I figured out something this morning while worshipping…When I see my Savior clearly, I am totally consumed with Him, as I should be. His brightness & holiness & God-attributes cause within me a weakening of all of I am. I instantly recognize I am nothing, bring nothing, can do nothing. Similar to when people in the bible see God or an angel from God, they drop to the ground on their face. In Revelation, the elders are constantly falling on their faces. Here’s my point, when someone is enamored with someone they talk about that PERSON. They can’t not talk about the person and how amazing that person is, what they love about the person, how they don’t deserve that person, how they can’t wait to spend time with that person. They do not talk primarily about what must be done for that person and what is expected by that person. Instead of talking about what they must do for that person, they spend their time talking about what that person has done for them. The person so consumes them, all that the person has done & is, they DO things for them; BUT all they have to talk about is the person. The Son shines so brightly & is so powerfully everything I am not, I must shine light on HIM, the person. I can’t help but think, see, talk, and worship HIM. He so fills me provoking in me love in heart, mind, soul, & strength, that yes I DO for Him, obey Him, listen to Him, but my entire focus is HIM. NOT the doing for Him. My eyes behold HIM, not all I must DO. I am only acceptable to Him because of Him. My obedience is only acceptable because His grace has made it so. Not because there is anything inherently good in my obedience. Question: Do you primarily love God’s law? Or do you primarily love God? Hint: Of which is you heart most enamored? Of which is it hardest not to speak? Which is most in your writing & your speech. Your answer is the clue to whether you love the God who makes you come to Him only through grace, where no works count or whether you prefer achieving by keeping the Law & the sense of righteousness you believe it gains you. And most poignantly, if the Law of God is most important to you, it is idolatry. Idol worship. And you are among the ranks of the Pharisees who clung to God’s Law instead of loosening their hands from it and embracing their Messiah. They had no inheritance with the Son, although they believed every word of the Law. What or Whom do you love most?