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“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17
God is omnipresent, that is, He is everywhere present. There is nowhere that we can go out of His presence, nowhere we can hide from Him.
Many other cultures, having the seed of eternity in their heart [Ecclesiastes 3:11], vaguely remembered this truth about God, but re-presented the idea through pantheism.
Pantheism comes from Greek word roots that translate everything is a god. The trees are each a god, or at least a manifestation of His physical presence. The rocks are gods. The water is god. The air we breathe. The ground we trod. Sun and moon and stars. All is god. And god is all.
Except that it isn’t so.
As we have already seen, God is distinct from His Creation. While He is omnipresent–ever here with all of us–He is also transcendent, or equally separate from everything His hands have made. Created things are not God, and God is not in any way created. While all things hold together in Him, He Himself has no need of sustenance from His creation.
Not only so, but the Creation is meant to draw our understanding back to God the Creator [Romans 1:20]. It groans under the strain of sin, longing for the return of our Savior just as we ought [Romans 8:19-23]. And if we refuse to acknowledge God and praise Him, then the Creation will do it for us [Luke 19:40].
Here it is so important to remember that God loves the pantheist, just as He loves you and me. And that the pantheist has a heart seeking after eternity, a heart waiting for the good news of Jesus Christ, but lost in a half-truth. Satan is happy to keep them spinning in their partial-understanding, but God is not willing that any should perish [2 Peter 3:9].
Are you ready to give an answer for the hope that you have within you [1 Peter 3:15]? Can you be a light to the pantheists of this world?
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
God is transcendent. He is equally above the highest earthly authority and the basest of criminals. He is equally above the ordinary good guy and the saintliest of saints.
Just as we grade levels of badness, rank acts of evil and sort them from minor wrongdoings, so too we rate our own goodness. How do I measure up when compared to another human being? I’m not as good as Mother Theresa, but I’m not as bad as my drunken neighbor who beats his family.
But that’s all human perception, and actually, human misperception. Sure our faith should spur us on to good works [James 2:17-26], but those good works do not save us [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Rather, by God’s infinite grace, it is our finite faith that saves us. And while we will each have to give an account of ourselves to God [Romans 14:12], it is only the Christ in us that will justify us before our heavenly Father [Romans 5:1-2].
Consider walking across a beach. Each grain of sand is so small underfoot that we don’t register which ones are larger and which ones are smaller. We are equally larger than the minute variations in each of the millions of grains of sand that make up a single beach.
Or consider the stars. The distance to each one from the earth varies considerably. Yet to the naked human eye, the night sky paints them all as if they were hung side by side.
It’s not a perfect analogy–nothing is when we try to fit our infinite God into our finite understanding–but it gives us a very basic idea of all this transcendence business.
When we stand before God, it’s all going to come down to the same thing–faith in Christ. God loves each of us the same. God sees each of our sinful natures the same. And God’s goodness is equally above any and every good work that we find to do. He has no favorites [Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25]!
Do you think of yourself more highly than you ought [Romans 12:3]? Are you resting on your own merit? Or, through faith, are you resting on God’s grace–Christ?
“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:23-26
Jesus, the incarnate [meaning in the flesh] Son of God speaks to His disciples here, reminding them of His true three-in-one nature. He and Father God act in one accord. Those who obey Jesus, do so out of love for Him–a love which is reciprocated by God the Father and God the Son both. Both Father and Son together come to indwell the obedient believer. And God the Spirit–sent by the Father in the name of the Son–quickens our minds to remember Jesus’ words.
All three infinite persons of the Godhead work together in our finite heart–if we just live through faith.
The Holy Spirit is called the Parkletos here, or the Paraclete. A paraclete is someone who literally comes to stand alongside. The Greek word means Advocate though it is often translated Counselor, as in legal Counsel. But in the mind of the New Testament believer, the word carried a much broader term than defense lawyer. The Counselor was a Helper to those who were in trouble with the law.
It’s no coincidence that John calls the Holy Spirit the Advocate. Besides the Judeo-Roman implications of being in trouble with a court of law and the human difficulty with upholding the Law of Moses [aka the 10 Commandments, et al; Romans 8:3], we need a perfect mediator to make peace with God [Romans 5:1; 1 Timothy 2:5]–Jesus Christ and the Spirit sent in His name by God the Father.
If all this scriptural connectedness isn’t enough, we need an Advocate because Satan is the adversary. Literally–Satan means adversary. The enemy of God. And we also were God’s enemies before accepting Jesus as Lord of our lives [Romans 5:10; Ephesians 2:12; Colossians 1:21; Titus 3:3].
Paul explained it like this. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out [Romans 7:18]. Everyone one of us is born with a sin nature that naturally rebels against God. We can either recognize this sinful nature and ask forgiveness [aka repent] or we can refuse God’s grace–Father, Son and Spirit–and continue to live the way that we see fit [aka keep rebelling].
Have you invited the Advocate to stand alongside you? Or do you still walk in the ways of the adversary?
“Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Romans 5:1-2a
So many wish for peace on earth. And rightly so. Though human understanding of what this means and how it is accomplished is often far from God’s truth.
Does world peace mean no more war or even hostilities between bullies and their victims? Does it mean no more sadness, hunger, sickness and dying? Or does it mean just an internal state of being despite the external conditions? And is any of this really possible?
To find the true answer to peace on earth, we need to first understand why there isn’t peace here to begin with. In short, sin. Sin causes sadness, hunger, sickness, dying, hostilities, wars and the accompanying inner turmoil [Genesis 3:14-19]. If we could totally eradicate sin from the world, then we would have perfect peace.
And it is God’s will that we do return to the peace that He created us for. Right from the entrance of sin into the world, God set His plan of redemption in motion to restore peace among human beings and between humans and Himself [Genesis 3:15]. A plan that included coming to earth as a God-man in the form of the baby Jesus, living among us and dying both by and for our sins.
Jesus came to save the whole world through His death [John 3:16-17]. When He is Lord of our life and we grow more like Him, we learn to love one another as He loves us [Matthew 22:36-39; Mark 12:30-31]. As far as it depends on us, we live at peace with our fellow human beings [Romans 12:18].
More importantly, Jesus restored the peace between human beings and our Creator God. For where sin is, God cannot be also [Isaiah 59:2; Habakkuk 1:13; 1 John 1:5-7]. So before salvation we were God’s enemies [Romans 5:10 & 8:7; Colossians 1:21; James 4:4], and when by faith we accept Jesus’ forgiveness for our sins, it is Jesus’ righteousness that covers the sin in our lives so that we can be at eternal peace with God.
More than that, we look forward to the hope of eternal life. At that time, everyone who loves God and lives by His peace will inhabit the New Creation where peace on earth will finally be restored. No more sadness, sickness, war, death, inner struggles with sin or the like [Revelation 21:4].
As we sing our songs of peace, joy, love and hope this Christmas, understand what it all truly means. Understand that this is God’s will for your life and mine. Understand that we can begin to experience each of these virtues in some measure by God’s Spirit in our life in this world, and their perfect fullness in eternity to come.
Do you live the peace of Christ for all the earth to see God in you?
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:13-15
Jesus speaks to close the Revelation, much in the same way that He did to open it, declaring His eternality and, therefore, the sovereign authority of this book [Revelation 1:8 & 17].
The Alpha and Omega–first and last, beginning and end letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is the spoken Word of God through whom all things were created [John 1:3; Romans 10:17; Colossians 1:16], have their being [Acts 17:28] and–by faith–are reconciled to God [John 3:17; Acts 10:43; Romans 5:9; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 4:9].
He is before all things that are in this world and He will always be, long after every stitch of grass and blade of sword have perished in the fires of judgment. Nothing on earth will remain in the New Creation, because nothing else is eternal. Like traversing the gravity-free reaches of outer space, nothing in the physical world holds any weight at all in the scheme of eternity.
Only what is done for God has any gravitational pull in eternity.
Extremely and eternally joyful will be everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus, accepting His forgiveness for their sins and thereby washing the proverbial robes of their soul [1 Corinthians 6:11]. There is plenty of Old Testament precedent demonstrating the need for physical cleanliness to be in God’s presence, much of which was prescribed in tabernacle and temple worship [Exodus 19:14 & 40:32; Numbers 8:21; Ezekiel 16:9].
It’s true that cleanliness may not be next to Godliness–as it is nowhere stated in scripture–but to stand before God we do need to be sin-stain free. Without spot, blemish or wrinkle. Justified. Redeemed. Washed in the cleansing blood of Jesus. It’s the only way to access the tree of life [Genesis 2:9 & 3:22; Revelation 2:7]. The only way to be granted access to the twelve gates of heaven inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and guarded by twelve angels [Revelation 21:12 & 27].
Outside is the trash heap of the heavenly city, the eternally burning lake of sulfur [Revelation 19:20, 20:10 & 21:8]. The gates to hell are wider than the imaginations of humankind and the paths more numerous than rope-fibers of the hangman’s noose [1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-6; et al].
All ways but One lead to condemnation.
One Way leads all who find it to life.
Which gravitational pull do you obey? The weightlessness of earth or the truth of eternity? Unsure? Check the path your walking on. Gain discernment by comparing and contrasting the sign-posts of your life against God’s Word [James 1:22-25].
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16
John, still looking into the wide open vision of heaven saw, once again, the rider on the white horse [Revelation 6:2]. If there was any question of His personage in the earlier reference, this passage should clear it up.
Revelation 3:14 agrees that this is the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. Isaiah 11:4 speaks of His righteous justice–an attribute that scoffers hold as oxymoronic, because we live in a time where what God calls wrong, the world calls right and what God calls right, the world calls wrong [Isaiah 5:20].
Here again we see his eyes of fire, his crowns and bloodied robe [Revelation 1:14, 5:6, 6:2, 11:15 and 12:10].
Here again we see the unknown name inscribed as on the invitation stones [Revelation 2:17]–new names fitting of a new Creation. Yet His name is the Word of God [John 1:1]. He is the living Word. He is truth. He is the way, the truth and the life [John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6]. Son of the I am that I am [Exodus 3:14]. Through Him all things were created [John 1:1] and have their being [Colossians 1:16-17].
He leads the faithful–made righteous by the forgiveness of sins–as the victorious army over the sins that once held them captive.
The sword of His mouth is the truth of eternity [Revelation 1:16 and 17:14]–the bittersweet, double-edged sword that falls in judgment. Though He does not desire any to choose to perish [2 Peter 3:9], all who deny the truth of His kingship, all who refuse to accept the forgiveness of His lordship in their lives will receive the eternal wage of their own sin [Psalm 2:9; Romans 6:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 2:27].
Vengeance belongs to Him alone [Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19], for He alone will step into the winepress to tread out the harvest [Isaiah 63:2-3; Revelation 14:20]. For He alone is the King above every king that has ever ruled, is now ruling and will ever rule on earth. He alone is Lord–sovereign authority–above every scientific law and government issued decree, statue, law, ordinance, rule, et al.
If He tells the sun to stand still or reverse in the sky, then it obeys [Joshua 10; 2 Kings 20:8-11]. If He commands the wind and the waves, they obey [Matthew 8:27; Mark 4:41; Luke 8:22-25]. The sick are healed, the lame walk, the blind see, the dead are raised, demons cast out [Matthew 10:8 and 11:5]–by one name alone. Jesus.
All of Creation obeys its Creator. Every authority will confess that He alone is Lord God [Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:11]. Do you?
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
Ironically, Labor Day is the day we celebrate having jobs by staying home from them. Seriously though, we can be very thankful that as Americans we have good work through which we can enjoy financial stability and meet our own basic needs.
The Bible advocates for us as people being gainfully employed, whether for self or for bosses, for money or just to survive. Proverbs in particular has much to say on the subject of hard work versus laziness. For example, “Lazy hands make poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth,” Proverbs 10:4. “Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare,” Proverbs 20:13. This doesn’t mean we should never sleep, rather that we shouldn’t oversleep–as many enjoy and insist on through our teen years.
The Bible also has much to say on overworking purely in pursuit of wealth. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” 1 Timothy 6:9-10a. Workaholics miss out on the joys of life and often find that, while they’ve amassed much financially, ultimately their life is empty. Likewise, lazy people–who put stock in gambling or lottery tickets hoping to strike it rich quick–often lose more money than they ever win. And even those who have won very large jackpots are known to blow their sudden wealth faster than it appeared, often ending with greater debts than before having won. They too feel empty despite the temporary financial gain.
The straight and narrow life is all about balance. “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” 1 Timothy 6:6. The wealthiest people are those who enjoy the work of their hands and do so as unto the Lord. They are satisfied with the love of family and content to live within their means, no matter how simple. These people feel richer than the wealthiest people on the planet, because they are rich with God’s love and the love of fellow man. They have stored their treasures up where it counts–in heaven [Matthew 6:20].
If you’re too young to work, be thankful for child labor laws on this Labor Day and be thankful for loving parents that provide for your needs in this blessed nation in which we live. If you’ve already had your first job, consider Godly financial principles and work hard for your boss as God would have you to do. Discipline yourself even now in your teen years to rise early, serve diligently and work with an attitude of gratitude for all that God has provided for you through your faithfulness. Be content. And be blessed.