In looking at the context of Rom. 1:16-19, which you quoted, certainly verse 20 should have been included, as this continues the thought / the point –which is, what may be known about God (v. 19) has always been made plain (to mankind) by God. (v. 20 // see also 10:18 and Ps. 19:1-6) Thus Scripture informs us that revelation about God comes through creation (by seeing, experiencing, and knowing things about it and the order of things –moral, physical, etc.), as well as through that “instinctive” knowledge of God which He has placed (created) into every person (same verses // Rom. 1:21,28, & 2:14,15,26,27), but which many suppress because they love sin. (1:18 // John 3:19-21)
You ask how the wrath of God is revealed from heaven and then quote Rom. 16:25,26. These verses are not focusing on God’s wrath (God’s wrath which many in the ancient world were already aware of, though many considered it the wrath of plural gods), but are focusing on Jesus and the salvation that comes through Him –a mystery “now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings”, or “…through the Scriptures of the prophets.” (v. 26) In other words, through the Old Testament; and though these were the Scriptures Jesus regarded as the words and revelations of God Himself, it seems you consider them as inferior to the New.
Paul mentions the mystery also in 1 Cor. 2:6-10, calling it “God’s secret wisdom” (v. 7) –“a wisdom that has been hidden” (same verse), for had the rulers understood it they would not have crucified the Lord. (v. 8 ) Yet God has revealed this mystery, and all that goes with it, to us by His Spirit, even giving us the mind of Christ. (v. 9-16) He has done so for the children (the humble), yet hides spiritual truths from the wise and learned. (Luke 10:21) Therefore, of those who teach by the Spirit, Jesus says, “He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you [namely, your message] rejects Me.” (v. 16) You and I are saying (teaching) very opposite things, and so we must understand that we could not both be teaching by the Spirit of God. Let us remember that Satan himself quotes Scripture –sometimes stupidly, sometimes cunningly, when trying to get his lies across. (Example: Mt. 4:6) And of course false teachers do the same (1 Tim. 4:1) as they distort the Scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)
You say, “The main way a revelation is made manifest to all nations is through the scriptures which come from heaven.” However, though the revelation of Christ’s work is known through the Scriptures, not every revelation about God and His requirements is given solely that way. Scripture informs us that such insight comes through the “voice” of creation (Ps. 19:1-6 // Rom. 1:19,20 & 10:18), through conscience (Rom. 2:14,15), and through the Lord’s judgements upon various inhabitants of the earth. (Ps. 58:9-11 // Isa. 26:9 // 1 Cor. 10:1-12 & 11:27-34) So although I continually uphold God’s Word as of vital importance, I realize that there is one other priority a follower of Christ needs. It is the Spirit. We must have the Spirit of God and Christ, whom we possess by being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8) and led and controlled by the Spirit (Rom. 8:,9,14 // Gal. 5:18,25) –He who leads us into all Truth. (John 16:13) To heed the Spirit and the Word is what it means in John 10:27 to follow the Lord’s voice. For the Scriptures studied, quoted, and used apart from the Spirit do not bring Life. (5:39,40)
You continue to speak about God’s Future Final Judgement and how God’s Word repeatedly warns us about it. Of course this Judgement is to be our main concern, for it is the Last Judgement, the final and irrevocable one. Earthly judgements are part of God’s goodness (His goodness which entails His justice, as well as His patience, kindness, etc.), for it is due to His goodness that He warns us, disciplines us, and punishes us, and this so that we will repent. If we do not repent of deliberate sin, strive hard after holy conduct, and abide faithfully, we will be disqualified (John 15:1-10 // 1 Cor. 9:24-27) and condemned to Hell along with the godless. (Mt. 5:29,30 & 24:45-51 // 1 Cor. 11:32 // Heb. 10:26-31) God’s goodness (and God is always good) comes from His love, His justice, His righteous anger, and His instructions, comforts, warnings, and rebukes. Thus God punishes those who keep sinning (Heb. 12:6b), as well as gives training and discipline and times of testing to mature us and to see if we are faithful / to see if our faith is genuine. (Luke 8:13,15 // Acts 14:22 // Heb. ch. 12 // Ja. 1:2-4 // 1 Peter 1:6,7)
Again, as I said, God does not change. (Mal. 3:6 // Heb. 13:8 // Ja. 1:17) This means that His attributes (such as His justice, love, holiness, power, etc.) do not change. Regarding the way of the New Covenant: It applies only for those who have come into it by way of being born of the Spirit. Otherwise, one’s master is the law (which lacks power, and because of sin, brings death –Rom. 7:9-12). Therefore if someone does not “serve in the new way of the Spirit” (v. 6), then he actually remains captive to sin, which means to be under its slavery and its curse (ch. 6) and thus under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // 2 Peter 2:9) For “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient” (Eph. 5:6) no matter what they claim. (Titus 1:16)
Consequently, the wonderful promises of verses such as John 1:29 (which says that Jesus takes away the sin of the world) have not been applied to those who refuse the Promise (the Truth / the Power) of the Spirit by which to walk in a state of continual purification. (Gal. 5:18 // 1 Peter 1:22 // 2 Peter 1:3,4 // 1 John 1:7) Why? –Because they have rejected the Savior. “Everyone who sins breaks the law of God” (1 John 3:4), and God, therefore, retains the right to judge, whenever and however He wants, the “lawless person” (see same verse) because that person remains a participant of the devil (v. 8 ) and demons (1 Cor. 10:20-22) –that dark kingdom (Col. 1:13) and realm of death that is under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // Rom. 6:16,23 // Eph. 2:1-3 // 1 John 3:10-15)
I am grieved that you cannot see the error of what you keep saying about how the Lord’s accomplishment on the cross necessitates the negation of the fact that “the LORD [still] exercises justice on the earth”. (See Jer. 9:24) Also, your insinuation that my teaching is diminishing the power of the blood of Christ reminds me of how Calvinists also insist that Jesus had to have died only for the elect because otherwise it would have to be said that His payment wasn’t strong enough to save everyone, since everyone isn’t saved. Furthermore, you suggest that not always knowing whether a disaster is straight from God or from natural causes or consequences is to operate in “confusion (of which God is not the author).” This “confusion” verse you quote is 1 Cor. 14:33, but if we go to it, we see that its context is about there needing to be order among speakers during church meetings. Thus the versions that use “disorder” or “dissension” instead of “confusion” are the better translations. Regardless, Scripture reminds us that God, His ways, and His dealings are too immense for our limited (partial / finite) understanding (Job 36:26 // Ps. 145:3 & 147:5 // 1 Cor. 13:9,12), and that we have available to us all we need in order to trust Him, follow Him, and know Him.
More than once you’ve mentioned 1 John 2:2. However, using this to teach that God no longer exercises His dealings of justice (wrath, punishments, and rewards) is an incorrect usage of the verse. This verse instead is about the payment Jesus made, informing us that it was adequate to pay for the sins of the whole world. It is saying that He did, in fact, pay the ransom for the whole world. However, as we know from other Scripture verses, the whole world does not come under God’s favor automatically. Nowhere does the Word teach that they do, except that they have all graciously been given physical life, the gift of free choice, an orderly, functioning, and beautiful earth to live in, and the offer of salvation –that union with Christ through which the special (present and eternal) favor comes. However, each individual must accept Christ’s payment as applicable to oneself, applying it through one’s belief, repentance, and submission to Christ as Savior –and as Lord.
1 John 2:2 is saying just what verses such as 1 Tim. 2:6 is saying: That Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all men.” Jesus paid the ransom for the world of men –in full. Everybody’s sin was paid for. The debt was cancelled. (Mt. 18:27) However, for those who refuse the Truth, cling to sin, reject the pardon, and/or commit injustice against their fellowman, the debt is reinstated toward that individual. (Mt. 18:32-35 // John 3:36 // Heb. 10:26-31) The Light is available for all, but many refuse to come into it. (John 3:19-21) It seems that you are saying that God’s wrath against everyone has been appeased. This just is not so. Because only through repentance from sin, submission to the King, and belief in the fully-paid-pardon can the appeasement be applied individually. And of course everyone must remain faithful –must remain in the Light, the Truth, the Love, the Pardon, the Spirit’s control. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 8:9 // 1 John 1:5-7)
True belief, true repentance, and true submission (which adds up to true faith) all has to do with obedience. Obedience is what brings about holiness (being righteous before God) and what incurs eternal life. (Rom. 1:5 & 3:21,22 & 6:16,22 & 8:3,4 // Heb. 5:9 & 12:14) Jesus’ ransom enables us to walk in freedom from sin (Rom. ch. 6-8 // Gal. 5:24), and we are certainly expected to walk this way. (Rom. 6:1,2 & 8:9,14 // Gal. 5:25) If we rebel and keep rebelling, we backslide out from Christ’s love (John 10:6,10) and are no longer abiding in Christ –thus not covered by God’s favor. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 8:12,13 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 10:26-31 & 12:14-17 // 2 Peter 2:20-22 & 3:17)
You say, “Through the blood of Christ the world is in a state of peace or favor (as announced by the angels on the day of Jesus’ birth) until a specified “day of wrath” to come.” However, I again insist that God’s Word teaches that this peace (favor / pardon / treaty / fellowship / unity) –which is between God and man (Rom. 5:1,2 // Eph. 2:12-18) as well as between others who are in right fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1:7)– is a reality only for those who have come into union with Christ and remain there through obedience to Him. The peace does not blanket the world’s inhabitants who remain in the kingdom of darkness. Instead such people are at enmity with God, His law, His saints, and His Gospel. (Rom. 8:7,8 // Phil. 3:18) There is no peace for them. (Isa. 57:20,21 // Rom. 3:17) The wrath of God remains (present tense) on everyone unless, or until, they unify with Christ. (John 3:36 // Rom. 1:18-32 & 2:8,9 // Eph. 2:3-5 // 1 Thes. 2:16 // Rev. 2:20-23) –which comes only through continued, faithful obedience. (Heb. 10:26,27 // 1 John 3:24) Being one in spirit with Christ (1 Cor. 6:17) is what it means to be “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) and controlled by His Spirit. (v. 9) Only then is a person not under condemnation from God. (v. 1)
The world as a whole is most assuredly not in a state of favor with God, nor in a state of peace, nor have their sins been taken away. We know that “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8), but at present, until Jesus comes again bodily and sets up His rule from Jerusalem, the devil’s work (and thus God’s wrath) is still going on in the earth, only wiped away for those who are unified with Christ through “the obedience which comes through faith”. (Rom. 1:5 & 16:26) Jesus says He came not to bring peace, but a sword. (Mt. 10:34) Not “peace on earth… but division.” (Luke 12:51) This is because most in the world, by their own choice, cling to the devil’s kingdom, thus causing the battle between good and evil to go on in this present age. God is the Victor, but the majority of people, because they are not in union with Him, are still abiding in chaos, not peace.
No, 2 Peter ch. 2 does not speak only about the Final Judgement, but uses past earthly judgements as warnings to us of potential earthly (and eternal) judgement. Verse one makes this clear as it refers to those (after the cross) who will teach heresies and thus bring swift destruction on themselves. 1 Cor. 10:1-14 tells us that past (earthly) judgements are “warnings for us” (v. 11), cautioning us to be careful and not fall. (v. 12) Fall to what? To temptation (v. 13) and sins of idolatry (v. 7,14), grumbling (v. 10), testing God (v. 9), sexual immorality (v. 8 ), and sins of the heart (v. 6) –because we, like they, could fall under God’s earthly judgements (v. 8-10) of displeasure. (v. 5) This is why James 5:9 warns “brothers”, meaning believers in Christ, that if we grumble against each other, we will be judged by The Judge.
Jesus teaches us in Luke 13:7 that if He sees someone not producing that for which He planted them, He will give the command to have it cut down. This is a judgement, though He will be patient for a time to see if there is repentance. (v. 8 ) If not, the Father “cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit.” (John 15:2) Such branches are thrown away, they thus wither, and they are therefore thrown to the fire. (v. 6) The earthly judgement happens first, then the Final. The one/s for this present age, and the one for eternity. (2 Peter 2:9 // Jude 1:5-7)
Some more references teaching God’s earthly judgements of wrath: Jesus taught that everyone who is greedy can incur from God a judgement of an early death. (Luke 12:20,21) Jesus showed wrath when He made a whip of cords, overturned the money changers tables, and drove them out of the temple area with scathing rebukes. (John 2:13-17) Jesus predicted God’s judgment (via armies) against that present generation of Jerusalem because they had refused their Peace / their Messiah. (Luke 11:50,51 & 19:41-44) Jesus called that specific coming judgement “the time of punishment” (21:22) and a time of “great distress in the land and wrath against this people.” (v. 23) The reference was to God’s wrath against the Jews in fulfillment of the prophets’ continuous warnings over the centuries (v. 22), having warned them of their nation’s destruction and dispersion to other nations (v. 24) –“until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (same verse) The Jews received this punishment in full after the cross.
I wish you would have addressed more of the references I mentioned, including Pr. 3:33-35 where it says, “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked…”, as well as Ja. 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 which both say, “God opposes the proud”, and explained how these could not mean God’s punishing judgements (pronouncements / declarations / renderings) on earth. Also verses such as 1 Peter 4:17, 1 Thes. 2:16, 2 Thes. 2:11, and Rev. 2:5,16,21-23 lacked your explanation as to how it is at all possible that these are not speaking of God’s earthly punishments / judgements. The New Testament (not to mention the Old) refers often to God’s earthly judgements (punishments / rewards / applications of justice), either directly or indirectly, another one of those references being 1 Peter 3:7 which commands husbands to treat their wives with considerateness and respect “so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” It could be nothing other than God’s decreed punishment toward a man (–a praying man) that would cause the man’s prayers to be hindered (obstructed and possibly fully rejected) by God.
1 Cor. 11:32 can refer to nothing other than God’s earthly judgement against a person who claims Christ when it says, “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” You want to split hairs about words, yet the words about the Lord’s “judgement” and “discipline” and “punishment” are often used interchangeably, as shown here, as well as in Heb. 12:6. Heb. 10:38,39 warns us that if a righteous person shrinks back (with a lack of faith, which also includes a lack of obedience –Rom. 1:5 & 16:26), he will be destroyed. 1 Cor. 3:16,17 warns us about God’s pronouncement of destruction against a temple of the Spirit who would defile himself, and verse 19 quotes Job 5:13 when it says, “As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.'” This is just another one of those numerous places where the New Testament derives its doctrine from the Old Testament in order to teach us the Truth / God’s doctrine.
Another example of this is 1 Peter 3:10-12 which quotes Ps. 34:12-16, these passages informing us that those who do evil will not see good days because God opposes (confronts / thwarts / is hostile toward) them. This is about God’s judgements of punishment on earth. An example also is found in 1 Cor. ch. 5 when we are told that “God will judge those outside [the church]” (v. 13) while we are to judge (though only by His Spirit –John 7:24 and Ja. 4:12)) those inside the church who commit wickedness. We do so by expelling them from our midst (1 Cor. 5:13 quotes Deuteronomy) and handing them over to Satan who God often uses, as He does with governing authorities, as His agent of wrath. (v. 4,5 // Rom. 13:4 // 1 Tim. 1:19,20) Clearly these judgements are to be executed on earth.
Well, you and I have both stated our views at length and now I no longer wish to continue this discussion, for the Lord has prodded me to confront you in order to warn you, not so that I could join with you in a pursuit to win an argument. I find it very disturbing that because of the cross you do not hold the Old Testament up as profitable for doctrine, though 2 Tim. 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine. I have tried to convince you, as gently but strongly as I’ve known how, that you are in great error about God and His Word concerning this subject, and that your public accusation directed against those who believe differently than you on this issue –that they are blasphemers– is not a small sin before God. Our words of doctrine are to be “the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11) and they are to be said by His Spirit. However, if we do the opposite, then we are slanderers against God, His Word, and His followers, and slanderers are listed right in there with the rest of the wicked and deceived who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9,10)
April 26, 2015
One of the most beautiful things in the world for anyone to witness is that love between a bride and groom as they say their vows, especially when they say it with deep emotion and with words obviously not from rote, but from their own hearts.
So, a few days ago when a friend sent me the video of her son’s and her daughter-in-law’s wedding (which I’d very much been looking forward to viewing), I was greatly blessed and actually had tears streaming down my face through the whole thing. What a beautiful bride, what sweetness between them, and what precious words of commitment they expressed to one another. And what an extra-special occasion too in that both families were able to travel back to their country of origin (the Philippines) to celebrate it.
Here is the uniquely beautiful wedding video:
Pr. 11:31 says, “If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!” The message, the declaration, the truth of what this verse is saying is obvious. So the question is, is this a verse that at present, in our day and time, pertains to humankind –those who are righteous (meaning those who do what is right –1 John 3:7), those who are ungodly (meaning those who are corrupt / irreligious / profane / godless), and those who are sinners (meaning those who keep sinning) receiving their due on earth? Or should we consider that that which is taught in the book of Proverbs is to be inconsequential to everyone that has lived, is living, or will live since that moment at the cross when Jesus paid mankind’s debt of sin?
I certainly would hope that all who claim to be Christians do acknowledge that the book of Proverbs, just like the book of Psalms, Isaiah, and Deuteronomy, and just like all of Scripture, is to be regarded as completely significant for understanding correct theology –that is, how we are to understand who God is, how He relates to humans, and what He expects of all of us. If Jesus (and the New Testament writers) quoted the Old Testament extensively as that by which we are to order our lives, we are greatly mistaken if we think that we, as well, are not to quote it and live by it. (Mt. 4:4)
So, this being the case, let us reread the Proverbs verse above and accept that, either by allowing everyone their due (through consequences) or by pronouncing upon them their due (through punishments or rewards) God has and always will operate in this manner toward mankind. Let us recognize that this aspect of The Truth (about God’s never-failing just judgements) should be acknowledged as a given, considered soberly, and responded to accordingly by all men, and especially by those who claim to uphold God’s Word.
Does the Word of God support what I have just written? It does, and throughout. Here are just some of the many passages that show it:
Rom. 13:1-5 informs us that he who rebels against governing authorities is rebelling against God who has set all authorities in place. It says that the authority figure “is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong-doer.” (v. 4) Regardless of whether or not the agent is also angry, this verse is saying that it is God’s wrath that is brought down, through His agent, as punishment upon the wrong-doer. For God’s moral law was made for curbing wicked men’s actions (1 Tim. 1:8-11), but, if there is no one who is functioning in particular situations as God’s servants to execute His wrath on the wicked, God will do it Himself. (1 Cor. 5:12,13 // 1 Tim. 1:19,20 & 3:6 // Rev. 2:5,16,21-23)
Does a governing authority ever rebel against God and operate unjustly or immorally? Absolutely, and injustice is not God’s wrath, but men’s cruelty. In those cases, which are indeed many, God’s “agent of wrath” brings himself under God’s wrath. For truly, anyone and everyone who conducts himself sinfully (disobediently / in falsehoods) remains under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // Gal. 1:6-9 // 2 Thes. 1:6-10 // 1 Tim. 4:16 // Heb. 10:26-31) He lives outside of the love and mercy of God –held under punishment until the Final Judgement (2 Peter 2:9)– unless he repents before his physical death (Heb. 9:27) and obeys God’s commands. (Mt. 19:17 // John 15:10)
Let’s remember that wrong-doers, in God’s eyes, can be individuals as well as groups of individuals. (Ezek. 21:1-5 // Luke 12:20,21 & 19:41-44) And let us also remember that although God can, and sometimes does, fully deliver the righteous who are (often unwittingly or unintentionally) aligned with the wicked (Gen. ch. 19), He does not always do so (Ex. 1:8-11 // Luke 21:12-24), even though He will grant them His strength, comfort, and provision as they call out to Him in the midst of the war, famine, plague, flood, persecution, or other. (2 Cor. 1:3-11)
Something else we should keep in mind when we’re focusing on God’s judgements: Not all hardships or tragedies we encounter are a result of our negligence or sin. Instead, the cause may be the laws of nature God set in place at creation’s dawn, or the effects coming from a fallen world, or Satan and his agents, or God’s loving training. (2 Cor. 12:7-10 // Heb. 12:5-11) If it is the latter, God can use any of the other causes to apply the training, doing so not to punish, but to teach us stamina and wisdom, to teach us to recognize His voice at a moment’s notice, to teach us to better empathize with others, and to become mature, complete, and conformed to Christ-likeness (Rom. 8:29 // Ja. 1:2-4) so that we can receive the crown of Life. (Ja. 1:12)
So, even though it is often difficult to decipher the reason behind catastrophes, this should not cause us to disbelieve the fact that God is continually exercising justice throughout the earth. (Jer. 9:24) For God’s Word reveals to us that He is.
Pr. 15:10 says, “Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the [righteous] path.” The whole counsel of Scripture informs us that this discipline comes from God, either through consequences, through an agent of God’s wrath, or directly from God Himself. As 3:33-35 says, “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked… He mocks proud mockers… [and] fools He holds up to shame.” These verses show that God Himself executes these judgements and the wording infers that He does so upon such people during their earthly lives. This includes the age we are in since the cross, for both Ja. 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 paraphrase Pr. 3:34 when they say, using the present-tense, “God opposes the proud.” To be opposed by God is to reap woes / judgement / punishment. “And those who walk in pride He [God] is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:37)
Pr. 5:22 says, “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him” while verse 23 says that he will die due to his lack of discipline. Chapter 11, verse 27 states that those who seek mischief will receive evil themselves. We are told that disaster overtakes sinners (13:21) –their ruin contrasted with those whom the Lord protects (3:25,26)– and that the arrogant, as well as the perverse, will reap a fall. (16:18 & 28:18) Moreover, “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed –without remedy.” (29:1)
In Jer. 4:18 we are told that sinful conduct and actions bring bitter punishment, and the context shows that God is the One punishing. As God says in verse 12, “Now I pronounce My judgments against them” while in verses 27 and 28 He says, “The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely. Therefore the earth will mourn… because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back.” This is referring to a judgement of God on earth.
Jer. 5:3,9,10 also points out God’s punishment on earth when it says, “Oh LORD… You struck them, but they felt no pain; You crushed them, but they refused correction… Should I not punish them for this? declares the LORD. Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely… Your wrongdoings have kept these [seasonal rains] away; your sins have deprived you of good.”
Jer. 6:11-19 speaks of earthly punishment, as well, when it says, “This is what the LORD Almighty says… But I am full of the wrath of the LORD… Their houses will be turned over to others. …they will be brought down when I punish them… I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes…” Should anyone think that people own houses in Hell? No, this judgement from God is executed on earth. And should anyone think, “Well, this is referring to the Israelites before the cross”, let them understand that Scripture makes it clear that God’s past judgements, including those that fell upon the Israelites, were written down as warnings for us. (Rom. 11:22 // 1 Cor. 10:1-12 // Heb. 3:7-15 // 2 Peter ch. 2)
Jer. 15:6-9 says, “…You keep on backsliding. So I will lay hands on you and destroy you… I will bring bereavement and destruction on My people… suddenly I will bring down on them anguish and terror… declares the LORD.” Later God asks, “Why bring such great disaster on yourselves? Why provoke Me to anger..? You will destroy yourselves…” (44:7,8) Thus we see that sin, which reaps disaster for the sinning ones, is equivalent to reaping God’s wrath. This happens on the earth as is obvious when God makes such statements as, “Your cries will fill the earth.” (46:12)
Isa. 45:7 is a statement that blatantly tells us that it is the Lord who brings prosperity and creates disaster (on earth). In Amos 3:6 God says, “When disaster come to a city, has not the LORD caused it?” Lam. 3:38 has a similar question: “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” Verse 39 then goes on to ask, “Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?” Let’s understand that when a “living man” is punished, this means it is a man receiving punishment on earth. Indeed sin reaps punishment –which is actually the Lord’s mercy to persuade the sinner to repent. For “sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (Ja. 1:15) The Lord does not want us to reap death (Rom. 6:23), but to walk in His love / His Life –which comes (only) by obeying His commands. (Dt. 30:15-20 // Mt. 19:17 // John 15:10)
In Isa. 54:16 God informs us that it is He who forges a weapon fit for its work and who creates the destroyer to work havoc. Is this not called “God’s judgement”? Chapter 59, verses 1 and 2 tell us that it is sin that separates people from God and causes Him to refuse to listen to their prayers. Again, is it not a judgement from God when He refuses to listen to a sinful person’s prayers?
Let’s consider this sobering verse: “‘I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,’ declares the LORD, the LORD Almighty.” (Isa. 19:4) This verse cannot be viewed any other way than that it is referring to a nation receiving God’s punishment –on earth– regarding a cruel dictatorship. Isa. 26:9b cannot be viewed otherwise either, for it says, “When Your judgments [LORD –v.8] come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.” In verses 20 and 21 we read God’s admonition to His people to hide themselves from His wrath which He is bringing against the sinners of the earth.
Ps. 76:6-10 is undeniably about God’s angry judgements of justice in the earth: “At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before You when You are angry? From heaven You pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet– when You, O God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. Surely Your wrath against men brings You praise, and the survivors of Your wrath are restrained.”
Ps. 64:7-9 is similar when it says, “But God will shoot them [those plotters of injustice –v. 6] with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down. He will… bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done.” This can only be describing God’s judgements on earth and the reactions of its inhabitants. And then there is Ps. 78:38 which mentions God’s partial judgements in the world, for it says, “Time after time He restrained His anger and did not stir up His full wrath.”
In Ezek. 23:49 God says, “You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry.” In 33:12 He teaches, “The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys…” In Ho. 5:10,14,15 God says that He will pour out His wrath on them… and tear them to pieces until they admit their guilt and seek Him in their great misery.
In Amos 8:11,12 God declares that the days are coming when He will send a famine through the land –a famine of hearing the words of the LORD so that people will stagger about searching for the word of the Lord, though they will not find it. Rom. 1:28 says that because people refuse to retain the knowledge of God, He gives them over to a depraved mind. 2 Thes. 2:11 speaks of God’s punishment against those who refuse to believe and love the Truth, for it says, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” All these references are undeniably about God’s judgements in the earth. And for anyone who has eyes to see, “The wrath of God is [indeed] revealed from heaven [from God / God’s throne / God’s command / God’s agents of wrath] against all the godlessness and wickedness of men…” (Rom. 1:18)
I could go on and on with Scripture verses that speak about the judgements God deals out on the earth. And besides those that pertain to mankind in general, there are many specifics I could mention as well. Here are a few of those:
In 2 Sam. 12:9-14 we read that the Lord declared over David’s household the judgement of calamity and death due to David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba and of murdering her husband, Uriah. Even though God forgave David (v. 13), He did not revoke the decreed punishments; and chaos did pursue David’s family after that.
God punished King Nebuchadnezzar by giving him the judgement of insanity for his continued arrogance (Dan. 4:28-33), though he was restored after he eventually repented. (v. 34-37)
In Acts we read about several of God’s judgments, one being when Ananias and his wife Sapphira, members of the early church, were immediately struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit by way of lying to Peter. (5:1-11) Later, we see that Simon the sorcerer (who believed the Gospel), received, via Peter, a curse for a perverted view and request, though also a warning to repent, which Simon quickly did. (8:18-24) We read that Herod, after accepting sacrilegious praise from the crowd for his public speech, was struck down by the Lord, eaten by worms, and died. (12:21-23) And we read that Paul cursed Elymas, a false prophet who was opposing the Truth, will temporary blindness. (13:6-12)
Gal. 6:7,8 warns that everyone reaps what they sow, notifying us that this decree has been solidified by God who will not be mocked. To reap what we sow is a pronouncement still in place. Therefore, those who sow sinfulness must understand that they will reap punishment from God –here, in this life. And that if they do not repent, they will reap punishment eternally. God’s Word –the Old Testament which Jesus honored and quoted, as well as the New Testament– reveals this Truth obviously and abundantly. We, therefore, are to live by, including receiving our doctrine from, “every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Dt. 8:3 and Mt. 4:4)
It is wrong doctrine to teach that we are to view the Old Testament as inferior to the New. Jesus lived by and quoted the Old Testament and taught us to do the same. (Mt. 4:4 & 22:29) In Mal. 3:6 God tells us plainly, “I the LORD do not change.” In Heb. 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” while James 1:17 informs us that with God there is no inconsistency / variation / change.
It is, therefore, a mistake to think that the world is under a canopy of safety from God’s judgements, whether they be His punishments to sinning people in this life, or His eternal condemnation of those who refuse His corrections. God judges sin and sinners now, as He always has and will in the future. The whole Word of God teaches this, both in the Old Testament and in the New. Never does the New Testament negate the unchanging attributes of God, including His love and His justice, but it instead confirms them, and where not stated explicitly, treats them as “givens”.
Consequently, those of us in the New Covenant are definitely not “more safe to sin” than those under the Old Covenant. God’s Word warns us that we are actually to be judged more strictly because much more Light and Power have been made available to us in the New. (Mt. 13:12 // Acts 17:30 // Rom. 7:6 // Heb. 1:1,2 & 12:25 // 2 Peter 1:3,4,19-21) Therefore we should understand that “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” (Col. 3:25) Assuredly, our Master in Heaven does not show favoritism (Rom. 2:11 // Eph. 6:9) but punishes everyone (Ps. 118:18 // Pr. 17:11,13 // Heb. 12:6) accordingly, doing so through consequences, circumstances, other people, and/or Satan. (Rom. 1: 24-32 & 13:1-6 // 1 Cor. 5:3-5 // Gal. 6:7,8 // 1 Peter 4:17) For the Lord, who detests that the guilty are sometimes acquitted by men (Pr. 17:15), “will not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1:3) Instead, “The LORD takes vengeance on His foes and maintains His wrath against His enemies.” (v. 2)
Such warnings are replete throughout the Bible. Mal. 2:1,2 and 4:5,6 warn us that dishonoring the Lord’s name will cause the Lord to send a curse upon us. 1 Cor. 11:27-34 warns us that if we dishonor Christ’s body and blood, we will reap judgement from the Lord in the form of weakness, sickness, or even death. Heb. 10:26-31 warns us that dishonor toward Christ, toward His covenant blood that sanctified us, and toward His Spirit –which, it says, is done through continued sin– will put us in danger of Hell. 1 Cor. 3:16,17 inform us that even those who house the Spirit of God will be destroyed if they defile themselves.
Sin is what brings a person, family, church, organization, or nation under God’s judgement. If it is continued (not repented of), the sinning ones (no matter what they claim) will reap death. (Rom. 6:23) This death means to walk spiritually dead –now and into eternity. (Eph. 2:1,2 // Rev. 20:14,15) The Lord is merciful and punishes people so that they (and/or others who are watching) will repent (Isa. 26:9,10 // Heb. 12:6), but if the sinners continue to refuse repentance (from evil actions or teachings), the Lord can, at His own discretion, bring them a strong delusion (Mt. 13:10-15 // 2 Thes. 2:10-12), turn them over to their depravity (Rom. 1:18-32), remove their lamp stand (Rev. 2:5), fight against them Himself (v. 16), cast them on a bed of suffering (v. 22), or strike them dead. (v. 23) Even righteous people, if they are somehow aligned with the wicked, are not necessarily immune from God’s (non-eternal) sword of judgement. (Ezek. 21:4 // Luke 19:41-44)
Just because God’s Word warns so often and so strongly about the Final Day of (Eternal) Judgement when Jesus will separate the sheep and the goats (Mt. 25:31-46), and which should certainly concern us most (Luke 12:4,5), this in no way negates the fact that God deals out punishments (and rewards) now, in this life, on this earth. When Rom. 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness…”, the Greek (and the chapter’s context) show God’s wrath being present tense. 1 Thes. 2:16, too, shows that the fury of God against evil-doers is not reserved only for the distant future, for it says, “…they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last [finally].”
Other verses speak of God’s punishments (to believers and unbelievers) in the present tense as well. As 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God.” 1 Cor. 11:27-34, which I mentioned already, is clearly about God’s judgement in this present life since it teaches that many, by treating Christ’s body and blood irreverently, bring upon themselves weakness, sickness, and death from the Lord. (v. 30) Verse 32 shows this unmistakably, for it says, “When we [note the word “we”, as in believers,] are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”
1 Cor. ch. 10 is another warning about God’s potential judgements to us in this life, verses 6 and 11 using the word “examples” concerning the Israelites’ punishments, while the passage states that the judgements which God inflicted on Israel in their desert rebellion can happen to anyone who turns to evil. Chapter 5 alludes to this as well when it teaches us that by the Spirit we are to hand “over to Satan” (v. 5) those in our fellowship who commit certain sins (v. 11) “so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (v. 5) James 4:6 reminds us that “God opposes the proud” while verse 3 tells us that if we petition God with wrong motives, we will reap nothing. Over and over again the Scriptures let us know that God judges sin and sinners –in this present life and in the one to come. Ruin, misery, lack of peace, shameful lusts, foolishness, physical ailments, clouded minds, darkened hearts, the inability to comprehend Truth, sudden death, and final condemnation –any of these punishments God can bring to those who continue in their sinfulness. (Mt. 13:10-15 // Luke 12:20,21 // Acts 5:1-11 & 12:21-23 & 13:10,11 // Rom. ch. 1 & 2 & 3:16-18 // Eph. 4:17-19)
In Jer. 9:24 we are told to allow ourselves to boast in understanding and knowing the Lord and His ways, particularly that He is the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth. This verse does not refer to understanding that God exercises these at The Final Day of Judgement, but that He does so now, and does so on the earth. To know God is to know this, and therefore to (truly) know this is to know God –the God who is never inconsistent, shifting, or changing. –The God who has revealed Himself in the Scriptures, no part of which is inferior to the rest.
April 15, 2015
I was comforted just now to read my own post here:
The last few months have been hard for my husband and me as we just keep receiving one trouble after another. Then there are SOOOOO many others who are having huge problems as well, and yet with our own trials, our ability to help them is greatly hindered. But what are our main deterrents? They aren’t always what we think, are they? They aren’t always the trials themselves. Instead, is it not fear, anxiety, discouragement, lack of gratefulness for those things that are good in our lives, and lack of trust in God to see us through, that are our main problems? I certainly believe so.
No matter what pain or trial we are in, we can ride above them. We can have joy in spite of them. Why? How? Because we have the Lord! We exist not merely in the stormy sea, the evil world, but we exist in Him who surrounds us –who lives in us and we in Him– even as we still live in this groaning environment (of people and the earth itself). Therefore, all our hope is in Him. All our strength and courage is in Him. All our peace and rest is in Him. Without Him, truly we have nothing. Nothing but fear, pain, death.
But let’s look up. Let’s remember. Let us keep calling out to Him who can calm the raging winds. Let us keep stepping forward, even through the uncertainty and sufferings, and keep praising the One who knows all about everything, who knows what to do, who knows the final outcome, and who knows how to protect, provide, and comfort us.
Please click on the above link, and as you read, keep in mind, as I also keep in mind, that our trials at that time were enormous, and yet the Lord gave us, day after day, renewed strength, peace, comfort, joy, provision, protection, Himself, and all those other blessings that come from being untied with Him, so that we rode through safely. The testing went on for a much longer time than anticipated, but we came through –and learned a ton in the meantime.
So, although Fear tries sometimes to strangle us, let us again focus our minds only on Jesus. On what He can do. On the fact that He is the Healer, the All-powerful One, the One “who performs miracles.” (Ps. 77:14)
It does help to remember God’s faithfulness through the past, to declare His most certain faithfulness to us now and into the future, to write it down and confirm it to ourselves. This blog has helped me, if no one else. I’ve written a lot down. A lot of what God has done for me in my life, and for my family, the Agta, and others I’ve prayed for. I’ve written down what God has taught me –from His Word and His Spirit and through circumstances –the difficult ones and the ones full of peace and joy. I have thousands of notes and dates in my Bible, and those, as well as my blog posts, will, and have been, extremely helpful to me in remembering. Remembering that God does speak, that He does care, that He is in control, and that He does deliver. And even when I’m very old, I will look back and read my own writings about God’s faithfulness to me, about His love to us all, about His kindness, His power, His mercies, and His tender love. I will read my own writings about His expectations of us, but also about His help to us.
I’ve written about God’s Word, and have shared much about its effects on me personally –my life, my beliefs, my words, my actions. I’ve written about spreading His Truth –how I do it and about the huge importance of doing so in whatever ways He directs each one of us. I’ve written about the importance of praising the Lord, obeying and honoring Him, memorizing His Word, and putting it into practice. I’ve written about my Savior, my Lord, my Counselor, my Teacher –about His attributes. I’ve written about how much I love Him, and have shared about what He has taught me. I have written because it makes a difference. For eternity. At least for me. And hopefully for others as well.
May the Lord give us continued peace, courage, and rest –the real kind which He only can provide. And may we all wait calmly and faithfully until He delivers.
April 13, 2015
In John 17:17-19 we read Jesus praying to the Father, “Sanctify them through Your Truth: Your Word is Truth. As You have sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the Truth.”
From these verses we can learn that it is God’s Word, the Truth, that sanctifies us, which means that it cleanses us from sin and makes us holy and separated unto God. Let no one think that “sanctify” means only “set apart for God”. Many people teach this, but it is not all that sanctification entails. We are set apart unto God through His grace and power and through our faith (our belief, repentance, and submission), but we must remain in this position. (John 15:1-10 // 2 Peter 3:17) If we continue deliberately sinning, we are treating our sanctified position with contempt and God will negate the pardon He gave us. Those who do not believe this need to study and contemplate such verses as Mt. 18:32-34 and Heb. 10:26-31.
Let’s look again at John 17:17-19. We see that it is through God’s Word that we are able to abide in righteousness before God. And why does Jesus sandwich between two phrases –phrases about being sanctified by the Truth– a statement about His commission of sending us into the world (to spread the Truth)? I believe it is because our obedience to the “Great Commission” (see Mt. 28:18-20) is part of our sanctification. As we abide in God’s Word –saturating ourselves with it by reading it, studying it, meditating on it, and putting it into practice– we grow in the fruit of the Spirit and in knowledge of God, His ways, His power, His holiness, His wisdom, His maturity, His grace, and into His image. (Rom. 8:29 // Gal. 5:22,23 // Eph. 1:17-19 & 4:13 // 2 Peter 1:5-8 & 3:14,18) Jesus reveals through His prayer that this growth and fruit production happens through the Word of Truth.
What then should we be doing concerning the Word of Truth? We should be seeking its gems fervently. We should be studying it, memorizing it, and obeying it. Do we set aside plenty of time each day to sit, undistracted, under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit who is found in the Word? Do we quote it and meditate on it even while going about our other activities during each day? Do we organize our week so that we are putting the commands therein into practice? All these we should be doing. All these we are required to do. Attention, honor, and obedience to the Word of God is what will keep us sanctified in God’s eyes.
Let no one be deceived: Whatever we sow, that is what we will reap. (Gal. 6:7) If we sow to please the sinful nature, from that nature we will reap (within ourselves, for ourselves, and in and for those we influence) corruption, decay, rottenness, defilement, death, and destruction. (v. 8) But, if we sow to please the Holy Spirit, from Him shall we (and others we influence) reap Eternal Life. (same verse)
Sowing to the Holy Spirit means we are putting God’s Truth into our minds, our hearts, and our lives. It means we are abiding in God’s Word by meditating on it continuously and applying it obediently. It means we are growing in our sanctification and are thus pleasing to God.
April 8, 2015
My sister and her kids came to visit us recently, which, living in Idaho, they are able to do only about once a year. We had a great time and below are some photos of our time together. (Jillian stayed with her grandparents five days longer than the others because she had come from the East Coast on her Spring Break, surprising her siblings.) We certainly appreciated the Lord working it all out and keeping everyone safe, including through the unexpected snow and ice storm!
Also: The last several photos are some of our family this last week.
3/5/15 Jillian, when we visited at my brother’s Cornerstone Ministry at UTA
To see a photo of Jenny’s husband and to read about a very endearing thing he did recently for a boy with cancer, click here: