Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Believe the truth

Just over a week ago in my post called There's no 'Space In Between Us' I talked about how there is a deficient "gospel" out there, which is really no gospel at all, in which people feel as if there is some space or distance between them and God. They feel as if they've perhaps not performed well enough, or they've sinned too much, or for whatever reason they feel that there is some gulf that needs to be bridged between them and God - when in reality God has brought us near to Himself by the blood of Jesus, as an act of His loving-kindness and grace. It's not up to us to make ourselves 'right' with Him. He's done it all.

I've had various thoughts about all this since I posted that, but one thing has remained prevalent in my mind. It's simply this: If you don't feel close to God, or if you think that there is some gap or distance between you and God, your thoughts and feelings are betraying the truth. What we need is not to rely upon our thoughts and emotions when they don't line up with the truth, but rather what we need is to believe the truth. God's not withholding Himself from you. Didn't He say, "I will never leave you nor forsake you?" But it gets even better than Him simply not leaving or forsaking us. It's much more deep and personal than Him simply being there and not going away. The Bible says that He has become our very Life, joined together with us, interactive with us, faithful to the end. Even if we don't feel it, or our emotions tell us differently, the truth remains true!


  1. :) Yes, Joel. The simple truth is always the best "good news". Oh that God would plant seed deep within us that He lives IN us and not in some far distant Heavenly planet, and He loves and so dearly.

    I have been following some of the "doctrine police" sites and man, have they got a complicated and bad news gospel.

    Two really good posts in two days.....

    Bless you.

  2. Joel, can you point me to your blog post where you talk about the gospel of Jesus versus Paul's gospel? I'm not sure those are even the words you used, but you were pointing out how many people don't realize that not all the words of Jesus are to apply to us today. Is this jogging your memory at all? I've looked around and simply cannot find that post, but I know you wrote it! Thanks!

  3. Lennart,

    The two posts sort of came together at different times in my mind, but when I looked at them I saw that they were really connected. The overall thought is essentially, "The truth is really good news... keep your eyes open for the good news and believe the truth!"

    Yeah, there really is a bad news gospel out there, and my prayer is that people wake up and see how it just doesn't fit in with the gospel of grace!

  4. Tracy,

    It seems I've written about that more than once, but I'm thinking this might be the one you're thinking of:

    Jesus always spoke truth, but...

    If that's not it, let me know.

    Another one you might like, that's along the same lines is from Steve McVey:

    Rightly Dividing The Word

  5. Joel, that's the one--many thanks! I'll bookmark it this time around. :) And thanks for the link to Steve McVey's post as well! Hope all is well with you.

  6. We are brought into God's Kingdom by grace; we are sanctified by grace; we receive both temporal and spiritual blessings by grace; we are motivated to obedience by grace; we are called to serve and enable to serve by grace; we receive strength to endure trials by grace; and finally, we are glorified by grace. The entire Christian life is lived under the reign of God's grace.

    Penn State Fan

  7. Yeah, last I checked we're actually married to The Dude.
    It could be a problem that some of our physical marriages suck, thereby making it more difficult to realize our closeness (oneness) with Him.

    But, yeah, I get what you're saying, and by golly it's truth. No distance between us. The part I need more revelation on is His passion for me; it's more than His just being there for/with me. There's actually pursuit there, that boggles the brain. THAT, I think, will be our biggest epiphany when we stand before Him someday. His burning desirous love for us.

  8. Tracy, cool.

    Anonymous Penn State Fan,

    Can I just call you APSF??? LOL Just kidding.

    Yes... it IS all by GRACE! Grace is not just a subject to be touched on now and then. It's the very essence of Life.

    Free Spirit,

    Yep indeed, we're married to Him. As you mentioned in your recent post, Ephesians 5:31-32 is talking about the mystery of our union with Christ. In addition, 1 Corinthians 6:17 says that we are one Spirit with Him.

    I think you're right on the mark when you talk about how so many bad physical marriages make it difficult for us to realize our true closeness with God. Really, all around, our relationships with other people make it hard to understand unconditional love and grace and true closeness and true union.

    But yep... His true passion, His burning passion for us... is truly a reality and it's something that I think we appropriate by faith as we look at all He's done for us as a result of His passion (the incarnation, the cross, the life He's given us freely, etc). The more we focus on the truth, I think the more we can internalize it and live more and more in the reality. It's definitely not just the flip of a switch, though, that causes us to realize the fullness of His life in us. :)

  9. Good post Joel. This is something I struggle with every day - literally.

    Of course it doesn't help with popular songs such as Bette Midler's "God is watching us from a distance".

    That might be one of the biggest and easiest lies that Satan perpetuates - that God is far away.

    But obviously He purposes to work in a way that makes it SEEM like He is not close.

    ....I wonder why....

  10. John,

    Yep, I totally agree about songs like God is watching us from a distance. I mean, parents these days are (rightfully)A few weeks ago I heard that song on the radio and I had thought about posting the video for the very purpose of discussing it.

    I'm not so sure, though, if God purposely tries to make it seem as if He is not close. I look at various scriptures that show how He has revealed Himself, and how He's made us near to himself, and I think that perhaps we've made it too hard on ourselves to see the reality of Him (?).

    Romans 1, for example, talks about how "what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them... for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made..." By following the whole passage, I've come to believe the "them" in this passage includes every person who has ever lived, in their Adamic state, before being born again.

    The passage previously says about all the unrighteousness and ungodliness of man, that they "suppress the truth in unrighteousness." In other words, God has revealed Himself, and doesn't hide Himself, but rather it's people who have suppressed the truth.

    Now that we've been born again, and we are no longer unrighteous, we still do unrighteous acts and we have thinking that is sometimes off, that I think aids in suppressing the truth of who God truly is and who we truly are in Him, and how close He truly is to us ("one spirit"). But so much more than that is the simple truth that our minds need to be daily renewed to the truth. That's kind of what this post was about. In the daily renewing of our minds to the truth, I think we grow in our understanding and experience of the reality of how God is indeed right here with us, and working in and through us. I don't think He makes Himself hard to see, but rather has revealed Himself to us fully in Christ. I think that we, as we grow, still have fleshly tendencies that lead us to 'suppressing' the truth.

    I think, too, that there is some rotten preaching out there about who God is, and it may be intertwined into our thinking in such a way as to keep us from experiencing the reality of His life in us more fully.

    Well, I could go on and on here, and really I'm just throwing out some thoughts, and it's not as if this is all rock solid thinking on my part. :) I've just had a good conversation with Free Spirit on my other post, We All Wanna Be Loved, about "seeking" God, and I think that just as in that case, in this case there are also so many more questions than answers!

  11. Oops... in a rush I left out a couple of things!

    In my first paragraph, I meant to say:

    I mean, parents these days are (rightfully) concerned about what their kids are listening to, but this song (From A Distance) is totally not the message I want my kids to get!

    Also, about God revealing Himself to us, my thought that I originally intended to put out there is that due to our preconceived ideas about who God is and what He's like, I think we miss out on the perhaps thousands of ways that He reveals Himself to us each and every day. Again, I have more questions than answers, but these are just some thoughts... :-)