The Death of a False God Who Needs to Die
[This article is adapted from Pastor Powell’s blog at basketoffigs.blogspot.com. It was written in reply to an article by George Will in which he stated that the Indian Ocean tsunami “brought another geological challenge to the biblical notion of an intervening, caring God." Pastor Powell does not apologize for the tone of his response.]
I'm sorry, Mr. Will, but you know nothing of what you speak. December 26 did nothing of the sort. What is challenged is the humanist notion [not Biblical] that God must act according to our sentimental affectations. The modern sentimental idea of God, the result of two or three centuries of unbelief and humanistic attacks on the Bible, has nothing to do with the Bible.
Isaiah gives another perspective of God: And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? [Is. 2:17-22]
The fact that men do not know the God of the Bible, does not mean that the God of the Bible does not know them. What December 26 did was show the world that our sentimental and shallow view that God is in error. He is not a benevolent grandpa who will rush to serve up whatever we want, in spite of our denial of His Word and appointed Savior. Such a view is sadly out of tune with reality. It never was true and it isn't true now. It is humanism and humanistic sentimentality that is exposed.
How dare you, Mr. Will, attribute man's fancies to the Bible and then condemn them as though they were God's word! Do you think that the heavens are blind and deaf?
Isa 24:18 "And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake."
This is the God of the Bible, the God Who cannot deny Himself. He is the Creator of all things and the source of all things. Do you think you can tweak His beard and He will not pay attention? Do you think that you can turn your back on His love that gave us His Son and not experience His wrath? His wrath does not vanish like Alice’s cat when confronted with out unbelief.
What 9/11 and 12/26 really shows us is that God has His dark angels that know nothing of grace and mercy [Ex. 12:23 and 1 Cor. 10:10]. God's love is wrapped up in Jesus Christ [Roman 5:8], and those who reject God's Beloved Son, will someday meet these other angels. Unbelievers will not like these holy angels.
Amos 9:1-4: I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.
Hebrews 10:28-31: He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The souls of the beloved of God, who believe in Christ and trust Him, did not perish in the waves, but were transported by angels into the bosom of Christ. What was a terrible calamity to others was a home going to the people of God.
But if you do not repent, you will likewise perish.
“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” [Deut. 10:16]
How can I do that? What knife will I use to cut away the corruption of my heart? I know not any that I can use for such a thing.
Reason won’t do it. The basic irrationality of sin is referenced in Ezekiel: “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” [Ezek. 18:31]
But how can I make my heart new? “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? [then] may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” [Jer. 13:23] I don’t know how to change my heart any more than I know how to circumcise it.
It is certain that there is something wrong with my heart, O Lord, and I cannot behold You unless something is done about it for, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” [Matthew 5:8] But how can a man be pure before God?
Inability to do the law is no excuse for not doing it. Therefore I die! Oh, Lord, I die for I cannot live without You. You have said it clearly: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” [Gal 3:10] “Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee: And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things…” [Deuteronomy 28:45]
Zeal will not do it. It is not enough to try to do the law, for You will not justify the wicked, O Lord. “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].” [Ex 34:7] Is this contradiction? How can You forgive iniquity and transgression and sin without clearing the guilty?
Is there folly with You, O Lord? I cannot even think it, for what hope have we poor fools, if there is folly with You?
Shall I resort to pretense, O Thou that searchest the hearts of men? Shall I clear myself by approving of the law and pretending to perform it, condemning others, excusing myself for trying really hard and condemning them for not trying hard enough? Will that excuse me before Thee, the righteous judge of all the earth? Nay, for “not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” [Rom. 2:13] Is it enough for me to make my boast of God, and know His will, and approve the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law? Shall I be justified because I am confident that I am a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Shall I be justified if I am able to teach others, but do not teach myself?
Will I be justified by teaching others? Shall I preach that men should love You with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, warning them of hell, and do not myself love so love You? For though I try very hard to love You aright, shall I make that my boast: that I love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? My very heart will condemn me.
Is it enough that I maintain that men should love their neighbors as themselves when I do not so love my neighbor? I do try very hard, but is this sufficient, O God? To try hard? Did not Israel try very hard at times?
How shall I circumcise my heart? What knife can reach to my heart? How can a man be just before You? “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…” [Hab. 1:13]
But You, O God, search and try the hearts of men, including mine, O Lord. You understand my dilemma and my darkness. You saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore You arm brought salvation unto You; and Your righteousness, it sustained You. [Is. 59:16]
Oh, the wonder of it, O Lord! When You found no righteousness in me, you found enough righteousness in Yourself for me! O the wonder! O the grace! O the mercy, O Lord, Thou righteous judge of all the earth!
A righteousness not my own, but a righteousness sufficient to sustain You in Your mercy and grace! This is too great for me, O Lord God!
I can only drink in the shallows of this grace, O Lord God! It is more than my soul can encompass. The very righteousness that You leaned upon, O Lord God, is the very righteousness upon which I lean.
“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” [Deut. 30:6]
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” [Colossians 2:8-12]
I am complete in Christ! “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” [2Co 5:21] Christ was made an unclean thing, the off scouring of the earth, and cut off from the land of the living and placed under the curse of God so that I might have a righteousness complete and perfect, able to sustain both God and me at the day of judgment. He is my circumcision from all my sins. In Him I can be just before God. O the wonder of it all!
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” [Gal. 3:13,14]
I cannot attain unto the blessing of Moses, O Lord, for sin chains my heart. But I do attain to the blessing of Abraham, which is the promise of the Spirit by faith. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” [Romans 8:2-4]
A righteousness not my own! Who could have thought of such a thing! Complete in Jesus Christ. O the wonder of it all!!!
What can I give thee, O Lord, for such salvation? I can but give my broken and contrite heart to You, as a living sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise.
“Marvelous Grace of our Loving Lord
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.”
“Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress
‘Midst flaming world in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head.”
“My heart for thy cause I offer thee, Lord, promptly and sincerely.” --motto of John Calvin.
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Ro 12:19 AV)
Christians are forbidden to seek private revenge for wrongs. Instead, we are commanded to love our enemies, to do them good, and to pray for them. We have the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and the martyrs.
Governments, however, are called to punish evildoers. This includes evil men within their borders or evil nations that refuse to live in peace and justice. The civil ruler is ordained by God and “is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” (Ro 13:4 AV)
There are evil, lawless men who would destroy all order and civilization if they are not restrained by responsible government. Of these lawless ones [whom he calls the sons of Belial] King David said, “But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.” (2Sa 23:6-7 AV) Solomon, the wisest of men put it this way: “A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.” (Pr 20:26 AV)
If governments are truant before God and refuse to punish evildoers, or refuse to admit that there are such people, the very foundations of civilization are in jeopardy. Injustice and tyranny reigns, and underground men, evil to the core, rise to power. They despise law and despise those who have “values.”
God, however, is not like we are. If human governments are weak and refuse responsibility to protect the weak, God Himself will rise to take vengeance. The days are awful indeed when this happens.
“God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” (Nahum 1:2-3 AV)
How do you deal with guilt? A disturbing question, and many will not read past this sentence, because the subject is so unpleasant, that they push it from them. The modern man hates introspection, he hates those who make him feel guilty and refuses to be “manipulated” by guilt. He rises above guilt by psycho-babble injections of self-esteem and positive thinking. He just wants to move on and get on with his life. He wants to get it all behind him, whether it is the murder of his children, fornication that comes to public view, cheating on political fund-raising, or assaulting fans at sports events.
“Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” (Pr. 26:12 AV) “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD….” (Is. 55:7 AV)
Having ideas [conceits] is something like having a baby. No woman thinks her child is ugly. To her, the little rascal is the most beautiful thing in the world. We are that way with our ideas. We will defend them, nourish them, feed them, and support them, but the man is rare indeed who will face his own ideas squarely and send the little beasts packing. They are his own, after all, and even God is not permitted to intrude and question him.