Tag Archives: Love

The fruit of the Spirit, pt. 1; Love

We are told in Galatians 5:22 a list of the fruit of the Spirit, starting with love.  In the first part of this series it becomes important to talk about why God chose the analogy of “fruit.”  Note that the fruit being produced is not the fruit of ourselves, it is not something that we do, but rather the Spirit Himself produces it through us.

So many times people revert to legalism in their walk with Christ, but Paul tells us that the just shall live by faith; and faith is trusting.  In the case of the fruit of the Spirit, we trust that the Spirit will bring forth these things in our lives in their own time.  No vine, or tree can cause fruit to grow with any type of effort of will.  You can squeeze your eyes shut and try as hard as you can to produce fruit, but that is not how it works.

A good tree produces good fruit, and there is none good but God Himself; hence our need for the Holy Spirit to produce this fruit through us.  We don’t put the effort into it, we yield to Him.  So, lets take a look at this fruit one aspect at a time.

The Greek word for love here is “agape.”  Agape love is the type of love that is stable, profound, and enduring.  When John, in 1 John 4:8 remarks that God is love, it is agape love that is used.  (There are different words for different types of love in Greek, but that is a different article…)  It is a benevolent, caring type of love.  Since God is Agape, and the Holy Spirit is God, that is what fruit is produced through us.

Love like this can change the world… and what is more, this kind of love even works on the human heart.  Sometimes this type of love is uncomfortable to feel toward others and we actually fight against it.  We have this odd idea in our culture sometimes that love and caring is weak; far from it!  This type of love wants what is best for others without regard for self.  When Jesus commanded us in John 13:34  to “love one another,” as He loved us, this is the type of love He was speaking of.

In this world, as never before, we need this type of love that is guided by God, and flows from the Spirit to those around us who crave it so badly.  Next, we’ll look at joy

3 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Musings

Book Review; Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

Ooookkaayy… this should be interesting.  So, my philosophy is not to comment on something either glowingly or negatively unless I’ve read or watched it myself, especially if it is of a controversial nature.  It seemed like everywhere I turned in Christendom people were discussing this book, or warning others not to discuss the book…so I knew I had to read it and review it.  I have to be clear; this is my introduction to Bell.  I have no former gripe or praise for him, no angle to work for or against him.

Hopefully, I’m going to do something a little bit different in this review, as other reviews have already rightly attacked the factual flaws in Bell’s work.  If you want that style of review,  you can get one here: God is Still Holy and What you Learned in Sunday School is Still True: A Review of  “Love Wins.” I don’t agree with everything in the review, but it gives a good overview of many of Bell’s problems.

No, I want to approach this a bit differently and talk about implications.  First, let me say…I can’t believe this book, Love Wins, was actually published…I mean, I get why.  It’s going to make a ton of money, but it’s content is illogical, and its style is unpolished.  I’m really struggling with this review because I can’t believe that people would change their view on God, Heaven, or Hell based on this book.  The “gotcha” questions Bell proposes in the first bit of the book are easily answered by anyone versed in Apologetics, not just well-versed, just versed.  They are “milk” type questions…and are eerily reminiscent of the list of “questions” found on fundamentalist atheist websites.

For example, Bell asks, “What saves someone?”  I answer, and the Bible answers; Grace through Faith.  Bell asks, “Well, isn’t faith an action, and hence a work.”  I answer; No, something can be an action without being a work.  The Israelites were not allowed to work on Sabbath, were they allowed to think?  Sure.  Were they allowed to love?  Sure.  Where they allowed to trust (that’s faith)? Sure.  So, the big answer to all Bell’s rhetorical style questions is; we make it in by grace through faith, and faith is not a work.  QED.

So, moving on, what do I mean that I want to approach this review by implications?  I mean, what are the implications IF Bell’s thesis is right?  The implication of Bell’s thesis is that God is a monster…in fact He’d be the very monster Bell decries.  Bell clearly says that love can’t be forced, but the logical implication (reading Bell) is that it can be.  In the end, says Bell, everyone will succumb to God’s love and turn to God willingly.  That is a logical contradiction.  To be free will there must be true choice, but in this case, just by looking at Bell’s title; Love Wins, one can see there isn’t.

“Love wins.”  I didn’t know love was in a competition.  I didn’t know it was out to beat me.  But, I guess I was wrong.  Bell feels that God will so smufficate a person with love, they WILL respond and turn to Him either in this life in the next.  I resent the implication.  I resent his maligning of God’s character and God’s love.  God is not a rapist, nor is He a brainwasher.  Bell’s thesis is creepy in the extreme.  If you want to debate Hell, fine.  Annihilation vs. punishment, fine. Universalism, fine.  I even love to discuss the possibility CS Lewis raises that Hell is locked on the inside. But by claiming that God “wears you down” over long periods of time til you cave…why would anyone think that is acceptable from a Holy Loving God?

Bell’s implication is that God is neither Holy nor really Loving in any true sense, nor Just; He’s just interested in making sure every human being can be put on some Heavenly tally sheet.  Bell’s implication is also that evangelism is pointless, and so is suffering in this life.  What I mean by that is that everything winds up the same for everyone given enough time in the life to come.  A rapist that rejects love and God in this life gets an infinite series of chances to accept God’s gift of salvation, and in fact, will indeed come to accept it because nothing can stand up to God’s love.  We call that brainwashing.  A brainwashed individual is not acting under free will.  Jesus suffered when He observed that He had tried and tried to get through to the Jewish people, but “they would not.”  Why so upset if they were all going to be A-OK through all eternity?

Now, I completely understand someone being frustrated by evangelists trying to scare the crap out of someone to get them to believe in a loving God.  Fortunately I wasn’t raised that way.  For me, it has ALWAYS been about love and choice; true love and true freedom in choice.  I trust God to be just while still believing that Hell is real.  If we want to talk about Him giving every human an equal and fair chance at Heaven, I’m there.  If you want to point out that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, that they choose it, I’m there.  If you want to point out the Devil is not in charge in Hell, and that it may not be all physical torture and pitchforks, I’m there.  But I draw the line at clearly maligning God, Our Father’s, character.

Briefly; other problems.  Horrible hermeneutics, flawed logic, sloppy writing, and whoever set up the actual book format…well, they shouldn’t win any prizes.  Plus, Bell dances around any reference to eternal contempt for some alongside eternal life for others, and ignores bulk passages that clearly indicate that faith in Christ is required to enter Heaven, that we die and then the judgment happens, etc… Not to mention he tries to describe Heaven, and it’s implications…he should’ve left that to Alcorn’s book “Heaven.”

I love books that make readers consider things from a new angle…this wasn’t one of them.  I’ve read another book recently that I guess I should’ve reviewed instead; “If Grace is True: Why God will save every person” by Gulley and Mulholland.  I didn’t agree with them either, esp. since they deny Christ’s sacrifice was necessary; however, their book was set up logically enough to review in a succinct way.  I feel Bell is theologically and intellectually dishonest, either unconsciously or on purpose.  He seems to be the type trying to “out moral” God…it just won’t work, and this isn’t the reference I’d turn to if I were to try.

3 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Ministries, Reviews, Theology, Uncategorized

Post-Thanksgiving Ramblings…

The day after Thanksgiving, or “Black Friday” for the shopping hordes has arrived.  For those of us who don’t enjoy the crowded Wal-Marts, Targets, and Malls, it is a good day to wind down, finish digesting all the food eaten, and perhaps to reflect a bit on what’s ahead.  Christmas.  Yes, Christmas will be upon us before we can blink twice.

It is easy at this point in time to start obsessing about Christmas gifts and Christmas plans.  It might even be time for those who have a grind against Christmas to gear up for protests. Christians protesting that it’s pagan, pagan’s protesting that it’s Christian…funny how that works, isn’t it?  What I would like to challenge my fellow believers to remember (even if you don’t celebrate Christmas) during this time is that it is the people that really matter.

Finding the right gift for someone is often a rush, you find something “just right” that you know they’ll love and it’s a good feeling.  The point I’m trying to make  amidst my rambling is to always focus on the person themselves, and not just the gift or the season.  We all need to take the time to appreciate the people in our lives, because we won’t have them on the Earth with us forever, and even though when death separates believers, we have hope to see then again, it is still hard to lose someone here on earth.

If there’s someone you want to see or talk to, don’t wait for a holiday gathering; see them now.  Send a card now, for no other reason than to say “hi” or to ask “how have you been?”  Holidays are great times to get together, but don’t take the opportunity that we have every day for granted.  During this time, we should be remembering one of the greatest facts of our faith; The Son of God became human, He came and dwelt amongst us.  The God of the universe came and made a real connection with mankind; He was a Son, and a Brother, a Friend, a Teacher…He ate with “us” and cried with us, and walked many roads with us, and celebrated Holidays with us.

We have daily chances to connect with family, friends, and loved ones.  Let’s not wait for a specific day, but rather view every day as a chance to interact with the people that mean something to us!  As we remember how Christ interacted with humanity, let’s use everyday to remember God’s grace and love and turn everyday that we can into Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc… We only have a limited number of days here on this earth, let’s not waste ‘em!

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings, Sacred Secular

Friends…

Friends, listening ears, and open hearts…everyone needs ‘em, and praise the Lord for them!

2 Comments

Filed under Humor, Musings

Romans 8:35-39; part 2…

Now on to verses 36 and and 37 in Romans 8:

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Paul pulls a saying from Psalm 44:

Psalm 44: 21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. 22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. 23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever. 24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth. 26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake.

This is an example of why I love the Psalms…they are very honest in expressing the emotions and struggles that humans face, and the way believers call out to God amidst those struggles.  Don’t forget, Paul had just given a litany of bad things that cannot separate us from the love of Christ.  Here, he is pointing out that we, by being believers, by standing for God and things that are right, we will be persecuted by the world.

This brings up an interesting apologetics point.  Many non-believers would have people think that religion, esp. Christianity, was formed so that men could have power over other men; that preaching about faith and love is all about control.  Along with this is the idea that it was all self-serving.  I always laugh at that, because what did faith gain the earliest Christians in this worldly life?  Torture, ridicule, prison sentences, death, dismemberment, being persecuted by their own cultural group, etc… Oh, yes, these men of God were greedy, power-mad individuals for sure.  They were indeed counted as sheep for the slaughter…and in many countries of the world, my fellow brothers and sisters still are in a very real sense.

Also, this should make those preachers teaching that life as a Christian is a bed of roses stop and take note.  We are going to face rough times, there’s no doubt about it, but these tough issues and events cannot separate us from the love of Christ.

What does verse 37 tell us?  Not only will we eventually conquer all of those previously mentioned circumstances, but we are more than mere conquerors.  The Greek term here is hupernikao, which my Strong’s tells me means, “to gain a surpassing victory.”  What an interesting thought connected to the image of us being slaughtered sheep.  Precisely how did Christ Himself conquer?  Through death on the cross, and He conquered death itself by rising three days later.  We have the same victory that surpasses mere conquering only through Christ as verse 37 clearly points out.

We gain the victory through Christ, we become conquerors through Him, then go on to eternal life with Him that loves us so dearly and bought us by His death.  We can only wind up at that point by acknowledging what Christ has done and having faith on Him.  Don’t expect the going to be easy, it isn’t, but the end result is all worth it, and the journey is too.  I’ll continue on with the rest of the verse in my next installment.

Leave a comment

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Theology

Romans 8:35-39; part 1…

I know I’ve been away awhile; I’ve actually been elsewhere on the ‘net dialoguing with an agnostic, and I’ve been a bit obsessed with practicing my guitar, so there ya have it.  Today I want to blog about a Bible passage that many people, including me, read through and don’t really stop and ponder the full meaning of.  I know many people that quote this passage, and really like this passage, but there’s an aspect to it that I find highly comforting that I used to gloss over.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I want to take this passage in parts to talk about each idea.  First we have a type of rhetorical question from Paul, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”  Now, here’s one aspect of this that I used to skip over without thinking about; notice that Paul doesn’t just ask us about Christ; “Who shall separate us from Christ?” no, he is emphasizing the love of Christ.  If anyone is curious this “love” is the Greek “agape.”

We already have Christ Himself telling us He’ll never leaves nor forsake us, and Paul emphasizes that point, as well as the aspect of Christ’s love toward us.  Not only will all these things not separate us from Him, they cannot separate us from His Love either.  What a comforting thought!

So, what is covered in verse 35?  We have; tribulation, distress, persecution, famine,  nakedness, peril, and sword.  Tribulation, in the Greek; thlipsis. Looking up thlipsis in Strong’s I find an interesting literal meaning; a pressing, or pressure.  So, all those pressures in life, all those things pressing in on us cannot separate us from the love of Christ.  Distress, in the Greek; stenochoria.  Another interesting literal meaning; narrowness of place, a narrow place.  Now, I don’t know about you, but that conjures to mind situations we feel “stuck” in, where we feel smothered by anguish, or indecision, or doubt.  Again, all those things smothering us, causing us anguish cannot separate us from the love of Christ.

Next; persecution, diogmos in the Greek.  This one is straightforward, yet we Christians suffer persecution in different intensities and in different forms.  There are missionaries right now suffering physical persecution to the point of death in some cases.  There are teenagers being harassed by peers and even teachers for their faith.  There are people split from their families because they accept Who Christ is, and on and on and on.  We are promised persecution in this life, BUT it cannot separate  us from the love of Christ.

Famine is next.  I like the literal in Greek; limos, a scarcity of harvest.  Think about that one.  A scaricity of harvest means you’ve put what effort you can into something, yet it does not come to fruition.  With the economic situation around the globe, times are tough.  There’s also countries and peoples facing literal famine too.  It’s hard and daunting, but know that even that cannot separate us from the love of Christ.  Nakedness?  Gumnotes in the Greek; literally bodily nakedness.  If you’ve lost everything, including the shirt off your back, we are still united to the Love of Christ.

The Greek for peril is kindunos; dangers is another way of putting it.  Notice it doesn’t limit what kind of danger we find ourselves in which means they are all covered in the fact that any danger cannot separate from His love either;  physical, financial, emotional, spiritual, etc…  How ‘ bout danger by sword?  The literal in the Greek is literally a blade; big sword, little sword, machaira covers them all.  What a comfort to both our soldiers, and our fellow believers who are missionaries who literally face the sword for their beliefs!

All of this should make us seriously consider a few things.  First, there are some salesmen out there that are selling the idea that if you become a Christian your life will be magically transformed into a bed of roses.  After reading just this bit of scripture, does that seem to be the case?  By no means.  We will go through very very tough and trying times, some of us will even face death for our beliefs; being a Christian and having faith is no crutch, no easy ride.  HOWEVER, we are promised something no one else is; absolutely nothing can, nor will separate us from the love of Christ.  Most of us know what it is like to feel really loved by someone or something.  Imagine love that is eternal, that is perfect and that is always with you.  For those of you who feel unloved, or who have never known that kind of love, you can have it in Christ.  He came to this earth, lived, was crucified and resurrect for us humans, that’s love.  He did it all so that we may be reconciled to God Himself, through Jesus Christ and it’s all rooted in love.  Think about it.

I’ll continue on with this passage in the next installment…

Leave a comment

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Musings, Theology

For our own good…

I’ve been in the middle of a conversation with an individual who cannot comprehend an important aspect of God’s character; His desire to improve and enhance our lives.  Here’s some of the background of my thoughts on this.  God gave us His law…that law is not only righteous, but amongst many other things, that law is for our benefit.

Let me give a couple of examples; the cleanliness laws of the old testament (these laws are also very interesting from an apologetics POV, but that’s for another time).  Those laws were not just God being arbitrary, they were for the benefit of the people who would follow them.  Those laws would help protect the people from various diseases and plagues, as do the sexual purity laws.  Not only do the purity laws protect from disease, they also provide a stable environment for children to be brought into the world.

In the latest conversation I had, the aforementioned individual basically tries to paint God as an egomaniac that demands worship based upon some need of God’s.  I explained, quite patiently, that having God as the center of worship is good for us.  Anything else that becomes the center of worship for a human is less than optimal.

If people worship food, they get into health trouble, if it’s money it festers into greed and can lead to all kinds of evil.  If we worship nature, we are worshiping something less than the Creator, and you can’t covenant with “nature.”  God wants good for us humans, and what is good for us humans is to worship Him.  He’s perfect, unchanging, absolutely Holy and Just whilst being perfectly Merciful as well.  He never lets us down, and again, He wants to do good for us.

He’s the only source of a perfect, eternal relationship with another being.  No other relationship can compare; other relationships are flawed and/or they will pass away.  Other relationships tend to inevitably bring emotional pain, however temporary, to those involved at some point.  No other being has the capacity to literally know our thoughts, our feelings, to be able to number the very hairs on our heads…

What God puts forth for us to follow is indeed there for a reason, for many reasons.  Don’t try to twist God’s benevolence into something base…for one, it’s just not true, and for another, you miss out on the benefits and insight that seriously looking for the reasons brings the searcher.

1 Comment

Filed under Musings, Theology

Romans 8:35-39 and loldogs…

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

;)

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor