Passion Defined

My Story For His Glory

One of the sad trends that I have noticed in the progression of Christian materials, attitudes and beliefs of today is an almost continual decline in the way that God is either portrayed or implied to be. Let me explain. We have so many resources and such a wealth of information available to us that it's almost ridiculous, but much of it falls short in a very vital thing: an appropriate view of God. Somehow, we have lost the importance of making God the prominent focus of what we do and even in what we believe. Our "Christianity" has become so focused on us and how we can "have it all together" that we have essentially robbed God of His deserved recognition and glory by failing to point everything back to Christ and the cross. What good does it do us if we have some wonderful book on God's righteous standard of living if it fails to recognize the righteous God who gave it? Not all things are like that (there is still much that does indeed make Christ the true focus) but mainstream Christianity shows a disturbing decline in the way that God is presented and understood. We must return to making God prominent in the resources we use, in the way we think, and in how we act, but first we must address what has led to this compromised, devalued view of God.

Certainly no Christian will say that he has a "low" or "devalued view" of God, yet there continues to be a pervasive problem in the ways people believe about God. So where is the inconsistency? Why is it that Christianity has come so far from making God the focus? The reason is because we have in many ways made man the focal point and as a result, we have lost the Christocentric (Christ-centered) perspective that the Bible gives. I believe that often it's not the necessarily the level at which people profess to view God that causes difficulty, but it's the level to which we have elevated man. Current beliefs in regard to man hold to a perspective in which many Christians see the spiritual state and abilities of man as much more flattering than a Biblical understanding of his true condition. We profess a high view of God as Lord and Master, but often our inner beliefs place man on a high pedestal, creating conflict between the knows sovereignty of God and the supposed sovereignty of man. My next post will deal specifically with an appropriate, Biblical view of man, but for now we will focus on what it means to have a high view of God and what we must do to return to a high view of God.

It is difficult to "define" a high view of God and I believe the main reason why it is challenging is because we are the finite trying to describe the Infinite. Even our best terminology, descriptions, and expositions couldn't even begin to effectively create a picture of the greatness of God It would probably take years upon years and book after book in an attempt to encompass and communicate the magnitude and fullness of God. God is so vast and indescribable from the amount that we DO know about Him that it would be impossible for us to even come close to successfully describing His grandeur. Realizing that God is immeasurable and we are finite is the key, I believe, to having an understanding of the highness of God. Here is my best attempt to define a high view of God: A high view of God is a deeply established conviction, founded in Scripture, that holds to the undeniable evidence that the infinite God is 1) in total control of all things; 2) that His will cannot be thwarted; and 3) that His deeds, works, ways and plans are prepared for His own glory (1st Chronicles 29:11-12; Isaiah 14:24-27; Isaiah 48:11) There is probably much more that could be incorporated into this simple definition of a high view of God, but from my meager understanding this will have to suffice. I believe that it incorporates the essentials for our purposes though, because the essence of a high view of God is realizing that He is sovereign and that He does all things for His glory. We will be specifically discussing sovereignty as it relates to salvation further down the road, but for now I want us to see that God is great, He is high, and He is in control. This is what I mean when I refer to having a high view of God.

Now that we have looked at what it means to have a high view of God, we will now look at what it requires to have a high view of God. To have a high view of God, we must keep two things in mind. First, we must be willing to accept what God's Word says, even if we can't fully comprehend it. Second, we must be willing to release and reform our conceptions of God if our previous understandings are wrong, and here is what I mean by that: If there are truths we find in Scripture that add to our understanding, we must reform our beliefs to incorporate a more developed view of God; if there is something that we believe that doesn't line up with Scripture, we must be willing to release that and accept what the Bible says. Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." Being wiling to change our beliefs about God isn't a change to be viewed negatively, it is a thing of joy! When we see something we have never seen before or part of God's character comes alive to us in a way that we've never realized it is a thing of rich fulfillment. I pray that as we search the Scriptures through this series that we would look for ways to learn more about God and that we would strive to conform our ideas to the most Biblical understanding of God that we possibly can, realizing that Gods ways are not our ways and that we may not be able to understand them with our finite minds.

Now we can talk all we want about what we need to do to have a high view of God, but I think we would all agree that it is much easier said than done! Having a high view of God doesn't mean that we can simply try and understand Him by our human reasoning. To try and make an infinite God fit into a finite mind just won't work. Trust me, I've tried it! If you don't know what I'm talking about, try logically wrapping your mind around the concept that God has always existed, He had no beginning, and He will never have an end. Because we are stuck with finite minds in a world trapped by time, we simply cannot comprehend what it must mean for anything, let alone God, to not have had a beginning. In this physical world, all things have an origin. My point is this: If we simply rely on our human abilities to understand God, we will fail, and fail miserably. A high view of God doesn't come from anything we, in and of ourselves, can understand. Some aspects of God's nature are easier to comprehend than others, but there are some things that we simply can't understand fully and we will just have to accept by faith.

Before we go further, please let me assure you that I'm not here to tell everyone that they have a low view of God! Not at all! I know there are probably areas in my own life in which my view of God isn't strong or high enough and as I seek Him and study His Word, He reveals much to me that I need to change to conform to the image of His Son. My prayer is that each of us would examine our hearts to see if the way we view God doesn't line up with the Scriptures and then change it accordingly for a better understanding of the God we serve.

At this point you may be wondering, "Why in the world is he saying all this about having a high view of God? I thought this post had to do with salvation." Well, it does! Earlier I mentioned the progressive absence of an appropriate view of God in "modern" Christians materials and ideas. Well let me assure you right now that I have in every way attempted to ensure that this post/series will not follow that trend. All things start with God and end with God; He is the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning and the End. What He begins, He finishes (Philippians 1:6). This is why I have included this part in the series. This series will start with a high view of God and it is from this foundation that the rest of the series will be built. The following are the underlying principles that will be used as the fundamental pillars for this series:

God is all-powerful. If there were one minuscule particle outside of the power and might of God, He would not be the omnipotent God He claims to be. All things are under the complete power, control and rule of God. 1st Chronicles 29:11-12 says, "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for ALL that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you , and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. " (emphasis mine) Psalms 66:5-7, "Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; theypassed through the rive foot. There did we rejoice in him, who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations - let not the rebellious exalt themselves." These are only two passages that describe the awesome and complete power and control of God. The Scriptures are full of verses that tell of the omnipotence of the God of all, and the book of Job also attests to undeniable evidence that God truly is the Almighty.

God is all-knowing. Just as all things are under the power and rule of God, all knowledge and wisdom is held within His hand. There is nothing (past, present or future) that Gd does not know. Psalm 139:2 says, "You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar." Isaiah 46:9-10 says, "I am God and there is no other, I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning." 1st John 3:20 also testifies to the fact that he knows everything, as well as Matthew 10:29-30 which says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all numbered." There is absolutely nothing that God does not know. He even knows the number of hairs on our heads!

There are many other attributes that I wish I could take the time to further expound upon, but for now I will simply list the others that also seem foundational to this discussion.

God is faithful.
God is loving.
God is merciful.
God is gracious.
God is just.
God is holy.
God is patient.

It is from this understanding and this position on the highness of God that the following parts of the series will be built upon. God has all the power, all the knowledge, all the love, grace, faithfulness, and so on. Our view of Him and His ways must reflect the Words of Scripture, not the words or ideals of man. We must constantly be evaluating the way we view God to make sure that what we think doesn't contradict His Word. It's not what we know about God that is the final authority; it's what the Scripture says about God. We know that because of our finite minds we will never grasp the fullness of God's greatness, but we are told to strive for perfection and to know as much as we can about Him and make Him known. Let us plumb the depths of God's greatness and seek to see Him as the truly amazing, powerful God that He is!

In a way, this is still laying the groundwork for this series. I'm "defining my terms" so to speak. My goal is to create a Christ-centered paradigm so that the following principles are consistent with God's Word. The next post will also be foundational in a sense. As Part One has given a foundation for a high view of God, Part Two will give a foundation for an appropriate view of man. We will look at Scripture to see exactly what it says about what man is capable of and what his true nature is like. But until then, may the Lord bless and keep you and may His face shine upon you!

To an audience of One,

Joshua

11 comments:

Josh said...

Hi Joshua,
Funny thing is, I've been thinking about alot of what you just posted about! Trusting in God's sovereignty over my life is something that I've been working on. It is very hard for me to walk by faith and not by sight. But, if I walk by sight and seek my own way, it shows a lack of God in my life. In essence, I am saying through my actions that my will is more important to me than God's will. And by walking in my own short sight, shows that I feel God doesn't have things under control and I could do them better.
Everyday, I continue to learn to trust in God's sovereign hand over my life...

Thank you for this post. It is obvious that time and effort was put into it.

God bless you brother,
Josh

Southern Maiden said...

Hey Joshua-
I'm glad you're beginning this series with what is most important. I can't wait for the next post (though I guess I'll just have to)! God bless!

Anonymous said...

Wow Joshua (I found you on Maiden of Purity), that is an amazing post! You sure have talent. You should be a writer or an author because it is just awesome! I don't know if you have heard of the author Eric Ludy, but you sound just like him! I can really see all of the work which you put into this post, and just know that it was worth it. You really have a gift from God. I really can't wait until you post the next one up. May God bless you as you continue to seek Him for answers.

Catherine

Rachel M. said...

I have a question: what do you know about, with the topic on salvation, unbelief and doubt? Personally, I know I have struggled with doubt of salvation, and I was curious what your thoughts on that topic are. Thanks!

In Him,
Rachel m.

Joshua said...

Rachel, that’s a great question! I know that in the past there were times when I struggled with doubts and uncertainty concerning my salvation. I’ll be talking further about some of these things and also related issues in later parts of the series but for now, here are some general principles that we know from God’s Word.
There are several things in Scripture that are mentioned as “indicators” of being truly saved. I don’t have a whole lot of time to go into detail right now, but some of the things that show true conversion are conviction of sin, a spirit-led life, evidence of the fruits of the spirit, and an understanding of God’s Word and spiritual matters. Romans 7-8 speak much about the difference between those who walk according to the flesh (unsaved) and those who walk according to the Spirit (Believers). When we are saved, we are regenerated in Christ, and as it talks about in Romans chapter 6, we are given new life in Christ. When Christ saves us, sin and death do not have any claim on our lives. In Colossians 1:13-14, Paul writes, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.” If the Lord has saved you and given you new life in Him, you are part of His kingdom now. You have been removed from the kingdom of darkness and you are now part of the kingdom of God. A very encouraging passage is John 10. I would encourage you to go and read that chapter because it provides assurance for those who are in Christ Jesus. Those are some things to ponder when you are thinking about you salvation. Hopefully that answers your question for now. As I said, I’ll be addressing these issues in further parts of the series.
God bless!
Joshua

Cody said...

@ Rachel M. - Paul Washer has a great Biblical Assurance of Salvation sermon series available online (free to listen, etc.) Here is the link: http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/resources/sermons/paul_washer#biblical_assurance_series
Josh, have you listened to these? They are based in First John.
Until the whole world hears, Cody

Adam said...

Look forward to reading more..

Joshua said...

Catherine, thank you for your comment! I do aspire to be an author someday, Lord willing! I've heard of Eric Ludy and I've heard that his stuff is excellent but I haven't had a chance to read any of his books yet.

Cody, I think I've heard about the series but I haven't listened to it yet. I've been told by lots of people now that there is a ton on Paul Washer's site that I need to hear! ;-)

Rachel M. said...

Thank you, Joshua, for answering my question!
I will definitely read John 10. :)

@Cody--Thank you for letting me know about Paul Washer. That is definitely the Holy Spirit, because I have recently listened to his first part in the Secret Church series of "Angels, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare" and it is so great! I will check out the link you provided. Thanks again!

Rachel M. said...

I realized that in my last comment I got people mixed up, Cody. :D You were talking about Paul Washer and I was somehow thinking of David Platt and his messages with the secret church. Sorry about that! :)

Grace said...

What an excellent post. Wow! I've been a Christian my whole life and I continue to learn new things about who God is and what He wants. He continues to shape me into who He wants me to be and a lot of times this means having to give up certain activities or ways of doing things. He has to come first.

I completely agree with you that we put man above God so much. I still struggle with this sometimes when it comes to things even as simple as like body image. Then I have to remind myself "Who cares what people think? I serve the God who created the universe!"

Thank goodness we serve a loving God full of grace and love that he is always teaching us how to be more like Christ and less like the world. This was a great post that was very insightful and well thought out.

Blessings!

Grace

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