God is good.
These are words often uttered to those experiencing difficult trials in their lives. Unfortunately, these also are words that often sound hollow to the one experiencing those trials--cotton-candy, feel-good, substanceless words in the midst of excruciating pain or unbearable temptation:
God is good.
Since the garden of Eden, one of humanity’s greatest temptations is to doubt that Author of Good is truly good. In the opening chapters of Genesis, everything God creates is “very good.” Yet, when the serpent comes to Eve, he plants this thought in her mind: God is withholding good from me.
I wish I could have met the apostle Paul. Reading his letters gives the impression that Paul was a very passionate person, the kind of guy who was all in or all out. But if you wanted to see Paul really worked up, mess with doctrine. Christians often think of doctrine as boring or unnecessary. It’s something their pastor harps on because it’s his living, but makes little difference in daily life. Paul couldn’t disagree more. Few things got this passionate apostle more worked up than when people perverted doctrine.
I can almost see Paul dictating furiously, face red with anger as he states “I wish that those who unsettle would emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12) when heretics tried to add circumcision to salvation. Writing to a church he had never visited, Paul told the Romans to watch out for “those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” (Romans 16:17). Paul regularly lambasts false teachers, as in 1 Timothy 6:3-5: “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”
Why the anger? Why the strong language? Because twisting doctrine is an assault on all that Paul, and we, hold dear. Here are 4 ways heresy attacks what every Christian should cherish:
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)
Certain life experiences often deepen the richness of certain Scriptural passages.
I’m a first-time father. I’m absolutely loving it! One of the things I love the most is watching my wife care for my beautiful daughter. And if there are two qualities that encapsulate my wife’s relationship to our new baby girl, it would deep affection and personal sacrifice. Taking care of an infant is literally a one-way street. The mother gives and gives and gives with zero reciprocity from the baby (other than the frequent “deposits” she so generously presents us). The baby can literally do nothing for the mom, and yet the mom gives her time, her energy, and her body to nurture and care for her child.
When you hear “repentance,” what do you think of? Often we mean little more than reading off our list of bad actions so that God will forgive us. Perhaps we go a little bit deeper and acknowledge our wrong thoughts as well. Both of those are good, but they’re not enough. Do your prayers go down to the level of your heart, not just your head and hands?
Do you share with God your hopes, dreams, disappointments, and feelings? Do you ever admit to God that you’re depressed because you didn’t get what you want? Or that you are frustrated because someone failed to recognize you publicly? Have you ever told God that you didn’t feel like going to church Sunday evening, or that you’re scared to share the gospel with your co worker?
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