AFM Ministry's David Shelton

David's Life applications of God, his Word and his calling

Month: March, 2016

Coconut gods

When you describe only one attribute of someone, are you actually describing that person, or are you creating a false image of them?

Lets make an analogy.  A man became stranded on a tropical island with no fresh water and he was about to die, but he had a two-way radio with signal in which I could communicate with him, and let’s assume I knew for a fact that that island had coconut trees with water filled coconuts and it was the right season for young coconuts, but that man knew very little about coconuts and the life-giving water found inside.

 

coconut shell

This is not a coconut. Not really. It’s just a coconut shell. 

Say I talked to him and told him about how wonderful coconuts were.  That coconuts are brown on the outside and have this fibrous husk and wood-like shell, and maybe I talked about how the coconut can be made into nice little wooden bowls.  Would I be doing that poor thirsty person any good?  No, not unless it rained before he died!
If I told him coconut is wood, and certainly they are wood all over; would I be giving that person a real and accurate view of what a coconut really was?   It’s inaccurate to tell someone a coconut is wood only, it’s a partial or a functionally incomplete description the thing called a coconut and its benefits. Actually quite a useless conversation to that person dying of thirst. Although it’s really not inaccurate to say coconuts have fibrous hard shells; to say that only in describing a coconut to someone who does not know what a coconut is, would be a part-truth that is in reality a deception or a lie; a distortion of truth. A false image. The image I described above in reality is a false image of what a coconut really is.

In this story above, not only is it a twisting of truth, it’s downright evil, because I have knowledge of the truth of how that coconut could save his life, but I did not inform and help him find the full useful truth of that coconut. Truth is vitally important to someone who does not know enough of it.  Coconuts are so much more than wood!  Wood is one of many attributes of a coconut. Coconuts are full of water and nutritious fleshy food also. Their husks make great firewood for cooking and warming . Later in their cycle they can be pressed into beneficial oils.  There are many attributes of coconuts.  Nothing at all what you would think if all you knew was what I said above.

What am I getting at?

Many well-meaning people today are giving a false reality of who God is and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God has made it very clear. He hates falsehood! He hates false images being made of him, misrepresenting him as something lopsided or one dimensional emphasizing only the attributes of which we prefer for our own selfish reasons!  God spoke long ago and even coded it into the law given Moses .  “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” (Ex 20:4).  Then Jesus Christ himself repeated this timeless truth when he spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:23-24 when he said,”But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Truth.  God wants us to know him in truth, through the empowerment of his Spirit  though our spirits. Truth is so important because if we misrepresent

watery coconut

Jesus is the life-giving water of God

it in some important way as to leave someone with a twisted or one-sided view of God, then they like the man above in the fictional story, will likely perish.

We need to care about people enough to tell them the truth about God as graciously as possible. I recently watched the TV special of “The Passion” play, hoping in vain that truth about Jesus Christ might be brought out in such a way as to demonstrate what the love of God was all about some 2000 years ago when Jesus died for us. I turned off the TV feeling so incomplete and unfulfilled.  It really only spoke of Gods love in a confusing way and for us to love our fellow man and basically all get along.  They all sang familiar hit songs of modernity that wrought out human emotions and many were in tears watching and enjoying what they felt was the Love of God on display. But was it really?

What we saw on TV that day was a false image, an Idol. The very thing God hates! The Gospel of Christ and the passion of which it was conceived and brought forth in to living flesh was only done in response to the eternal holiness and justice of God Almighty! Yahweh, God I AM, cannot and will not let the guilty go unpunished. Listen to what God said about himself to Moses:
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 34:6-7)

This God of love, who is very much described as Love throughout the Bible, is also the God from which all mankind must learn to tremble…tremble…TREMBLE! He is high and lifted up in extreme searing holiness! Even the demons bow before Jesus and tremble in fear!  (James 2:19) But rarely does proud and arrogant man. No. We just want to add Jesus to our portfolio of niceties and love songs to make us feel happily deluded so we can go about our way living as we so please. But God, he is a perfect God in whom no darkness exists ( 1 John 1:5) and who requires each and every one of us to likewise be perfect as He is perfect (Matt 5:48) in order to not face judgement to a life in eternal fire punishment! (Matt 13:42)  The Word of God says, “Our God is a consuming fire!” (Heb 12:29)  The Gospel is good news of God!  But good news about what? It is in the Gospel we come to see the true love of God and what HE did to rescue us.  But what was Jesus really rescuing us from?  Was it from Satan and hell?  Sure..but what is hell and what is the power of Satan over us?  It’s quite simply the justice of God being worked out in our lives for all our lawlessness and rebellion….for our sins.
There was only one mention of the word sin on that Passion TV show that I heard when Perry said Christ came to save from our sins. But in this world, who knows what this means?  No one speaks of it anymore. We are all told we are basically good people who just need a little direction and love of God in our lives. Who doesn’t want love?  Sure we all like that. But what we do not like is to be told we are sick and utterly ruined and depraved to the  core! But without this part of the Truth, we will not repent and we will accept a false vision of God, not God at all, but a coconut god, an Idol. Yet this is what we are and this is why Jesus came to die. He humbled himself and the majestic Son of God became like one of us to die and become the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God to atone for our evil doings.Without the shedding of pure blood there is no forgiveness of sin! (Heb 9:22) God alone could only do this because no person, no not one of us is good and thus are unable to save ourselves from the very righteous ANGER from God over sin (Rom 3:10); God the very One who created us in love  to know him intimately and be his children. God’s love compelled him to do this for us, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!  (Rom 5:8) This is the real God of the Bible.  The God who hates sin, and the God who came and died for our sins, and then proved his power over sin and death and rose victoriously from the grave on that Resurrection Sunday! Do you really think God would go to all that extreme measure if He did not  both love His holiness and his people? Gods blood took place of our eternal punishment! Christ paid the price and took the blows from the justice of God the Father!
This God demands holiness. You must likewise be holy in order to live. Come before him unclean and you perish forever in Gods burning wrath! So by God’s grace and love he did for us what we could not ever do. He spilled his own atoning blood.

But… But not everyone has their sins atoned.  While the blood of Christ is enough to atone for all peoples sins, only those who choose to follow Jesus by surrendering their life to him and be his forever slave will find this great and eternal Salvation and be set free!  Jesus said it in many ways, but in a succinct manner in John 3:16 ” God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  But it is not enough to leave it at that one summary statement, we must hear the full counsel of Gods Word and the teachings of Jesus and see the bigger picture of truth so we do not end up with a crazy coconut belief about God.   Jesus explained what it means to believe and he demonstrated it. He said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:26)  Belief means obeying and following Jesus as Master and owner, forsaking all else as of little importance compared to him. This is the Jesus of Calvary who died for us!  This is the God who calls us to “repent” and have obedient faith! When we fall on our knees before him willing to surrender it all to him, then we are given the new life of the Spirit, born-again into the eternal family of God with new power to overcome sin and live for Him. This is what the Gospel is about, humbling ourselves before God so that HE will then lift us up! This is love, not that we loved him, but that he loved us first and called us out from among sin and death to live no longer for ourselves, but for him who was crucified and rose from the grave, our Master… Jesus of Nazareth!

No more Coconut gods !  Please no more just talking about the love of God out of context of how and why that love was expressed on on the bloody Roman cross!  Go help people see the real God; the real Jesus living in you and preach in loving grace, knowing but by the grace of God, we too should have perished, but preaching the truth of the holiness of God and the wickedness of man. For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God…Every human needs to repent.

Jesus came to declare the Truth. His truth is this:
We all are sinners, utterly wicked by comparison to Holy God.
We all will perish by the very anger of God against us for our sins.
God loves us so much he came and died for us in the person of Jesus Christ and rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
Truth is we must repent and accept by humble faith God’s free offer of salvation  in order to receive Christ’s atoning blood as our payment and restoration. This faith means following and obeying Christ as Master of everything in your life.

Truth is… This is the Biblical faith that saves!

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. – 2 Cor 5:21

The Great Terrorist

“May I be daily more and more conformed to thee, with the meekness and calmness of the Lamb in my soul, and a feeling sense of the felicity of heaven, where I long to join angels free from imperfections, where in the image of my adored Saviour will be completely restored, so that I may be fit for his enjoyments and employments.
I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face, for I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world.” – excerpt from a Puritan prayer from ‘The Valley of Vision’

Early America was filled with many well educated and literate devout followers of Christ. Prayers and speech like this are full of solid theological  meaning and depth that we just do not hear today. We today are some of the shallowest people our nation has ever produced due to the techno-media sound bite attention span most of us have, we rarely plumb into the depths of God’s word and truths and apply them so eloquently to our own words and lives.  When I read these Puritan prayers, I am challenged to think and ponder God’s Word and his blessed truths as they apply to myself. Thank the Lord for many writings from these godly people of early America and beyond. We all would do well to read more of our Christian ancestors and their deep faith and knowledge of God. They offer us much wisdom and inspiration. 
Who today speaks like this? Who talks about the “felicity”  (intense happiness) of heaven? Who refers to our God as the “king of terrors”, because truly He is for all the unrepentant!
Look how the prophet Isaiah responded to the King of glory when he saw his vision:

Each creature was calling to the others: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord All-Powerful. His glory fills the whole earth.” Their calling caused the frame around the door to shake, as the Temple filled with smoke.
I said, “Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure, but I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful.”-Isaiah 6:3-5 NCV

And this same God who came and befriended us, saved us from his own terrible wrath to come for our own sins, will return as the greatest terrorist of all time bringing fear to the vast majority of sinners in the world! Look how John’s Revelation pictures him!

image

The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.- Revelation 1:14-18 ESV

But for us redeemed by his merciful hand, we know him as the shepherd of our souls. Truly he is the meek and mild Shepherd who is the defender of our lives.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. -John 10:14,15

Our Holy Holy Holy God, has given us who trust in him a  confidence and peace beyond words, because apart from that, we should all tremble..tremble….tremble…. If still lost in our own righteousness (or should I say our lack thereof)
The standard is God’s holiness.
How will you measure up?

  In Christ you are pure and perfect…
…if you don’t know him, you are not going to fare well. Terror is the best description.