Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Character of Christ

Attributes of Christ that Christians should strive to emulate

Christians are so named because they seek to serve Christ.  Christians should be Christ-like in their words and actions.  People should be able to tell based upon a person’s character whether or not they are a Christian. 

However, from my experience, it seems that most people have a negative opinion of Christians.

A scathing secular review of Christians:  "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -  Mahatma Gandhi 

Unfortunately, Christians are sometimes the most un-Christ-like people.  Whether it is through self-righteousness, inconsistency, or flat-out hypocrisy, many Christians fail to live up to the name of Christ!

Matthew 7:16  You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?

How many people are turned away from the church and the message of the Gospel because of the un-Christ-like behavior of so-called Christians?  If the Christians act no better than the rest of the world, why would anyone want to join their ranks?

1 John 2:6  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

Let us re-examine the character of Christ and review the attributes that we should be emulating in our Christian life. 

Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

One of the biggest criticisms about Christians is that they are self-righteous, “holier than thou” types.  We've all ran across people that fall into this category.  Nobody wants to be around people like that.  Certainly, nobody wants to listen to what that kind of people are preaching!

Jesus is the ultimate example of humility.  If anyone had the right to flaunt their righteousness, it would be the Son of God Himself.  But Jesus didn’t do that.  He humbled Himself to the point that He became human, giving up the glory of Heaven to descend down to our level on Earth, becoming human in the process.

2 Corinthians 8:9  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Humble associations – Jesus didn’t talk to great rulers and politicians, He taught to the common people, proving that He is the Savior to all. 

Luke 8:1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.

Philippians 2:5-11  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Are we humble in our words and actions?  Do we recognize that God is the source of all righteousness and that anything that we do in this life that we perceive as righteousness pales in comparison to His glory? 

John 13:12-17 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

 Firm in the face of temptation
I think people often make the mistake of thinking that it’s unfair of God to expect us to be like Christ because Christ was perfect.  But it’s important to notice that even though Christ was sinless, He was not immune to temptation.  In the flesh, Jesus was, in fact, tempted just as much as we are.  This should be a point of comfort to us. 

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Christ was strong and stood firm in the face of temptations.  Not long after His baptism, Jesus went out to the wilderness to fast and was tempted by Satan himself (Matthew 4).  It’s interesting to note that in this account Jesus responds to the devil’s temptations by quoting Scripture.  It was benefit us to do the same.  In times of trouble we should also turn to the Word of God and draw from His strength. 

Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Are we strong in the face of temptation?  Do we turn to God in times of weakness?

1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

OK, so "prayerful" may not actually be a word, but if it were, I think we would most certainly find it to be a fair descriptor of Christ.  It’s interesting to notice that Jesus prayed frequently. 

Luke 5:16 - So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

There are around 30 accounts of Jesus praying in the Gospels.  We read of Him praying alone, in public, before meals, before doing God’s work, and in times of tribulation and despair.  Based on the Scriptures, Jesus seemed to constantly be in “prayer mode”. We also know that when Jesus prayed, He did so reverently and earnestly.  We know that while He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane that He was in such anguish that He was in tears and “His sweat was as blood.”

Do we pray as often as Jesus did?  Do we take prayer as seriously as Jesus did?

Do we do as we are commended to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17? 

John 5:30  I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

 Jesus knew what His mission on Earth would ultimately lead to.  He knew the tribulations and sufferings He would face in His human life and the agony of His cruel death on the cross.  Shortly before being betrayed and being taken away, Jesus prayed that He would not have to face the brutality of the cross.  But even in the midst of praying not to have to go through with it, He submitted His will to God’s. 

Matthew 26:39, 42  He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.  ; Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

Do we submit our will to God’s will?  Do we have an attitude of obedience?  Would we be faithful until death?

Revelation 2:10  Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Because of His reputation as a healer, everywhere that Jesus went, multitudes followed. 

Matthew 14:14  And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

We know from the Scriptures that Jesus healed many that had had life-long illnesses that were considered beyond treatment at that time (some of which remain so even today!).  The fact that Jesus healed them is not only evidence that confirms the deity of Christ, but also His great compassion for others.  Jesus was kind to all that He came across and gentle in His words and actions.

While we may not have the miraculous healing abilities of Jesus, we should have empathy for our fellow man and seek to serve them. 

Galatians 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

We should likewise strive to be kind and compassionate with others.  The way we treat others could make all the difference in the world.  The words we use and the actions we make could be the extra push of encouragement someone needs to get up the hill and overcome their struggles, or the push that puts them over the edge, to the point of no return. 

Romans 15:2-7 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

Are we kind in our dealings with others?  Are we gentle in our reproaches?  Are our actions selfless in nature?

2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.

Full of Grace/Forgiveness
While on Earth, Jesus not only healed the physical infirmities of the multitudes that followed Him, but He also restored their spiritual health. 

Matthew 9:2  Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

Even in the midst of being crucified by the very people that He had come to save, Jesus forgave.

Luke 23:33-34 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Are we willing to forgive others when they do evil towards us?  Are we willing to forgive even minor offenses? 

Colossians 3:13   ...Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Christ was not a hypocrite.  While on Earth He talked the talked and walked the walk.  He practiced what He preached.

Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Are we living consistently?  Are we living our lives as an example to others, without hypocrisy?

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Jesus exemplified longsuffering through His tribulations and persecutions.

Isaiah 53:7  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.

Are we as longsuffering as Jesus?  Do we handle our tribulations, which are minor in comparison to those that Jesus faced, with patience and submission to God’s will?

Hebrews 12:1-4 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

Jesus said in John 13:34:  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another

So great is the love of Christ that nothing can separate us from it!  

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

Jesus exhibited His love for all through His ultimate sacrifice. 

1 John 3:16  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

John 10:11-17 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.  I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.  Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Do we love others enough to sacrifice everything for them?  Do we even love others enough to sacrifice our time and energy for them?  Do we love others enough to share the story of Christ and to spread His message of love and sacrifice?

Ephesians 5:2  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Conclusion:  To be a true Christian, we must follow His steps, we must put on Christ!
Christians are not merely the people who go to church on Sunday, occupy a seat on the pew, and listen to the preacher.  James 1:22 commends us to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."

We’re not going to be perfect, but you do need to strive to be as Christ-like as possible! 

1 Peter 2:21-24  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

As Christians, we are told to “put on Christ”. Romans 13:14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

How does one “put on Christ”?  Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

To those of us who are not Christians:  What are you waiting for?  Why have you not made the good decision to put on Christ?

To those of us who already call ourselves Christians:  Can we truly say the following?  

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Our God, He is Alive

This hymn was one of my grandpa's favorites.  He sometimes called it the "Azure Blue" song.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back to Basics

            2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Believing that the Bible is the very Word of God, the Church should have no other creed or guide or manifesto in what a Christian is and how a Christian should worship.

One Authority

When we call ourselves Christians, we are acknowledging Christ as our Savior and Lord. Our allegiance and obedience are owed to Him.

Christ has All Authority Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Jesus is our authority when it comes to religion. And He established one church.  No pope, no council, no committee is permitted to make decisions regarding worship.  Christ is our head priest.

Colossians 1:18  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Ephesians 4:4-6  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Worship in the Church

If there is truly One Church, then why do we see so many churches out there in the world teaching so many different doctrines?  Denominations formed when people (not God) decided to worship in completely different ways.  “Worship God in any way that makes you happy, as long as you are worshiping God, then you are OK,” is the philosophy that most people have toward religion today.

Thankfully, we are blessed to live in a nation where that is legally an option.  However, in worship, we are not seeking to please ourselves or our government.  Our worship is to be directed toward God and God alone.   Therefore, shouldn’t the recipient of our worship be able to determine the type of worship He wishes to receive?  Reading and studying the Bible is the only way to know the Will of God. 

Worship CAN be in Vain

Matthew 15:9 - The people mentioned in this verse were worshiping God by the “commandments of men.”  Whatever these people were doing was not pleasing to God because it was not directed by God. 

Leviticus 10:1-2 - In the Old Testament, Nadab and Abihu died because they offered “strange fire” in their sacrifice to God.  To Nadab and Abihu it may have seemed that any type of fire would do or that maybe “strange fire” was better.  But God had given special instructions in what type of fire to use and when those instructions weren’t followed, He wasn’t pleased.  Nadab and Abihu were punished because of their inability to follow God’s instructions for worship.   

We cannot “go beyond” God’s authority in our worship without disobeying God’s will.

2 John 1:9-11 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”

Matthew 15:8-9 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

Anytime that man decides how God should be worshipped is deviation from God’s Word.  If we were to add anything or take anything away from God’s worship, we are essentially adding to or taking away from the Word of God! 

Revelation 22:18-19 refers to the Revelation letter, but I think it could apply to the rest of the Bible as a whole - “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

True Worship

John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

To quote a workbook we used in Bible study years ago, “To worship in spirit is to worship from the heart.  It involves understanding, meaning, and feeling.” 

How can we worship God in truth?  If God can be worshiped incorrectly, then how could we know how to worship Him?  God has provided us with the Bible which we accept as His divinely inspired Word.  

In reading and studying the Bible we learn the Will of God and how He expects us to worship Him.            

Acceptable Methods of Worship
  •  Assembling with the Saints
We must assemble with the Church in order to properly worship God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • Teaching/Preaching
Matthew 28:20 “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

John 6:45 “It is written in the prophets,  ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”
Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  (How could they know the apostles’ doctrine without studying?)

Acts 20:7 “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

This is why we offer Bible classes and have sermons preached.  In reading and studying the Bible we learn the Will of God and what it is to live a Christian life. 
  • Prayer 
Prayer is to be a part of our lives as individual Christians, but is also a method  of worship we engage in when we come together as a Church.

Ephesians 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—"

Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Acts 12:5 “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
  • Singing
This is where a lot of churches begin to differ in their doctrine.  There is no reference to instrumental music in the worship of the first-century church. 

Looking at secular history, we see that “the first recorded example of a musical instrument in Christian worship was an organ introduced by Pope Vitalian into a cathedral in Rome in 666." Another source states that  "Pope Vitalian is related to have first introduced organs into some of the churches of Western Europe about 670 but the earliest trustworthy account is that of one sent as a present by the Greek emperor Constantine Copronymus to Pepin, king of Franks in 755" (American Encyclopedia, Volume 12, p. 688).   In fact, the very word A Capella which today is defined as “vocal music” is literally translated from Italian as “in the manner of the chapel/church.”  This implies that at one time the only method of musical worship in ALL denominations of Christian worship was vocal.  Someone somewhere added something to God’s Word along the way. 

Looking to our authority, the Bible, we see no evidence of instrumental music being used in the early Church. 

Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” 

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

We could spend all day discussing this one aspect of worship and there are several other scriptures in which we see the early church using only vocal singing to worship God: Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, Acts 16:25, Romans 15:9, 1 Corinthians 14:15, Hebrews 2:12 and 13:15, James 5:13.

Instrumental music may sound nice to the ears of the human listener, but God is the one we are seeking to please, not man and there is no evidence of a Christian church using instrumental music in the New Testament.  One might argue:  “But the Bible doesn't specifically say ‘Thou shalt not use instrumental music’ anywhere either.”  This is true, but there are plenty of things that the Bible doesn't specifically say that we know is wrong through common sense. 

Using logic and deductive reasoning from the evidence provided in the scriptures, I think that it is safe to say that for some reason God does not intend for us to use instrumental music in our worship.  We can infer this even without His explicit forbidding of it.
  • The Lord’s Supper
This is probably the single most important act of worship that a Christian engages in.  The memorial feast, the communion in Christ’s memory is to be taken every week on the first day of the week

Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Acts 20:7 “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

1 Corinthians 11:23-30 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.  Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
  • Giving 
Through our giving, the work of the church continues.  We are commanded to give not only in that manner, but also to help those who are in need.

1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

This is the only way that we see the church raising money.  We see no authorization for the selling of products or baked-goods door-to-door or bingo or any other fund-raisers. 


We have learned today that in order for our worship to be acceptable, it must be on God’s terms.  It is possible to know what God expects of us by reading the Bible which is, after all, God’s Word. 

There are things that people add and take away to God’s ways and plans, but they ultimately do so in vain.

Why does God want things done His Way?  

            Isaiah 55:8-9  For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

To put it simply:  God knows better than we do.  Whether it is the proper way to worship Him or the proper way to save our souls, God knows better than we do and we must submit our obedience to His divine will.

            Likewise, there is a proper way to be saved, to be forgiven of sins and to become a child of God…

The Plan of Salvation

John 14:6; Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me..."

1.)  Hear the Word
Luke 11:28, Romans 10:17

2.)  Believe
John 12:46, Hebrews 11:6, Mark 16:16

3.)  Repent
Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30, Romans 3:23-24

4.)  Confess
Romans 10:9-10, 1 John 4:15

5.)  Be Baptized
Acts 2:38, Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16

6.)  Live Faithfully
Romans 6:1-4, Matthew 7:24-27, James 1:22-25, Revelation 2:10

2 Corinthians 6:2 -TODAY is the day of Salvation!
    For He says: “ In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”  Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Hallelujah Praise Jehovah

One of my favorite hymns...

The lyrics are inspired by the 148th Psalm:

Psalm 148 (NKJV)

Praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!

Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heaven of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For He commanded and they were created.
He also established them forever and ever;
He made a decree which shall not pass away.

Praise the LORD from this earth,
You great sea creatures and all the depths;
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
Mountains and all hills;
Fruitful trees and all cedars;
Beasts and cattle;
Creeping things and flying fowl;
Kings of earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth;
Both young men and maidens;
Old men and children.

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above the earth and heaven.
And He has exalted the horn of His people,
The praise of all His saints-
Of the children of Israel,
A people near to Him.

Praise the LORD!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

God and Hate

One of the most disturbing sights I ever saw was on the cover of a newspaper a few years ago.  An article on the front page described a group of so-called “Christians” from Kansas who were picketing funerals for American soldiers.  Accompanying the article was a picture of the group just outside a graveyard during a soldier’s funeral.  Several of the group members were holding large colorful signs that said “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God hates America”.  Among the group’s ranks was a child, also holding up such a sign.

            As discouraging as this was to me, I later looked up the group’s website on the Internet.  Their homepage was full of disheartening messages (I was first greeted with a banner that proclaimed “Welcome, depraved sons and daughters of Adam”).  More discouraging pictures of picketers on the site read “God hates the USA”, “You’re going to Hell”, “God is America’s Terror” and “God hates Homosexuals”.  A set of links demonstrated that God’s hate is not just reserved for the US and homosexuals, but apparently God also hates Mexico, Ireland, and Sweden.   

            Now that I have sufficiently depressed and/or angered everyone, I will get to the point of the lesson…   

Does God really hate anyone?

After reading the newspaper article and website, I began thinking about the relationship between God and hate.  Being raised in the church and a student of the Bible myself, it’s hard for me to believe that God could actually hate anyone.  So I began this study by looking up the word “hate” in my concordance.  I started my search with these verses.            

Deuteronomy 12:31 - “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”

            In Deuteronomy 12:31 I found my first instance of “the Lord” and “hate” being used in the same verse.  There is no mention here of God hating anyone.  However, this verse does state that God hated the detestable things that idol worshipers were doing in the worship of their gods.  We cannot generalize with this verse and simply say that God hated these people.  The verse clearly states that He hated what they were doing.

            Likewise, Psalms 6:12-19 describes “six things that God hates”.  All of the things listed in these verses are evil, sinful things, but nowhere does it say that God hates the person that practices them. 

God hates sin, not sinners

            Righteous people in the Bible, who were chosen by God to spread His Word, were always promoting love and condemning hate.

            Jesus, the Son of God Himself, preached against hating anyone in Matthew 5:43-44.  According to Jesus, we shouldn’t even hate people that sin against us!  Throughout the Bible we find instances in which God is sinned against, don’t we find that God still loves and blesses those that sin against Him?  Look at the children of Israel!  They constantly turned their back on God and He continued to look after and care for them.  God didn’t hate the children of Israel.
            Jesus’ disciples also preached against hate. 1 John 4:20 – You can’t say you love God while hating your brother.

Galatians 5:19-20 - Hatred is listed as one of the works of the flesh

            Throughout the Bible we are told that God is a righteous being.  How could a righteous being hold us to a standard of righteousness that He doesn't follow Himself? - 1 John 3:10

God is Love

Proverbs 10:12 says that “Hatred stirs up strife, but Love covers all sins”.  If this proverb is true, then surely God is love!  Does God not offer to cover all of our sins through the acceptance of His Son as our Savior?  God is not a god of chaos; God put an order to everything from the beginning of time.  God does not stir up strife! 

1 John 4:8 states it very simply:  God is love.


            The conclusion of the matter is this: God doesn’t hate anyone.  As human beings, we are sinful by nature, but God doesn’t hate us for that.  God doesn’t hate sinners.  God hates sin.  Sin separates us from God.  Isaiah 64:6

            1 Timothy 2:3-4 states that God desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.  If God wanted everyone to be saved and to serve Him, how could He possibly hate anyone? 
            John 3:16 - God so loved the world...

            Romans 5:8 - God demonstrates His love for us...

            1 John 4:8-19 - God showed His love for us through the sacrifice of His Son.


Matthew 5:13-16
"You are the salt of the Earth;  but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.  
You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven."

Welcome to the Salt & Light blog.  The purpose of this blog is to share some lessons from God's Word that I and others have written through the years. 

I encourage you to read along with an open mind and an open Bible.  It is my goal to teach lessons from God's Word as it the ultimate standard by which should direct our spiritual path.  

I hope that you enjoy the lessons found here and that they are spiritually fulfilling.

God bless!