Does “Everyone” Include Satan?

July 21, 2017 at 10:01 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: We were telling our children that God loves everyone, but then they asked, “Does God love the devil?” What should I tell them?

Answer: First of all, you are correct in telling them that God loves everyone “in the world” (John 3:16). Of course, we also need to let our children know that God loves in greater ways than we do, and that God is so much greater than, and different from us, that it is possible for Him to harmonize His will and His feelings in ways that are not possible for us. In other words, God’s feelings are perfectly controlled, and are more holy than ours, so it is possible for Him to love His enemies (Romans 5:8) and hate His enemies (Psalm 5:5, 11:5) at the same time.

When it comes to the devil (and the angels for that matter), the Bible does not give us specific information on God’s “feelings” about them. He created them, and the angels obey Him, which must please Him, and He is love (I John 4:8), so it is possible that He loves them, but the Bible never really emphasizes that, as far as I know. Satan and his demons, on the other hand, disobeyed Him, and He cast them out, and He has not devised a plan of redemption for them the way that He has for us fallen human beings, so it is probably reasonable to say that God does not love them in the same way that He loves us (if He loves them at all).

What I would emphasize to children is that the devil made a horrible choice in trying to make himself equal to God (Isaiah 14:12-14) and he paid for it. Still, he does not want to be forgiven. He hated God first without a cause, and that will never change. Our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, committed the same sin: disobedience and self-idolatry (and, sadly, we still do it too, every day). But the fact that God was still willing to die for us, and forgive us, shows how great His love for us truly is. Meanwhile, no matter what His feelings toward Satan are, because He loves us, He will one day imprison Satan forever and ever in order to protect us from him (Revelation 20:3-10).

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God’s Will concerning Your Joy

October 5, 2015 at 11:36 am | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 1 Comment
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Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Colossians 2:23

The heresy in the church in Colossae was an early example of what would later become called Manichaeism. Manichaeism was started by an Iranian false prophet named Mani. It taught that the “spirit of the world” must be denied to the point where misery was a necessary ingredient of Christian service. Originally, its ideas competed with Christianity, but its principles appealed to some Christians, and the Gnostics attempted to sort of “adopt it into” Christianity, although it was quickly denounced as a heresy.

The truth is that God’s will for your life is not that He simply wants you to be miserable. However, in an attempt to counteract the false teachings of Manichaeism, it may be that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. The crisis in the modern Church is that we have a tendency to associate God’s will only with our temporal happiness. We fail to take into account the eternal weight of glory (Romans 8:18) which might be built, and we devalue perseverance and discipline as means of sanctification.

God does not get a kick out of you being unhappy in your marriage or on your job or from any physical or financial limitations you might have, but neither does He give carte blanche to be guided by your feelings. God is God of the decretive and He’s God of the absconditus, but He’s also God of the circumstances and the details.

As Christians, we are soldiers, so we have to train (unpleasant but necessary); we have to go to battle (excruciating but necessary); and we will eventually get to enjoy the spoils of victory (have a feast and ride in a parade), which is joyful while still being God-glorifying.

So, you may get the joy of helping people on a job you hate, and you may experience the ecstasy of “making up” (or the virtues of patience and contentment) after enduring mistreatment by your spouse. Either way, God’s will for your life is sanctification and joy in Him. Don’t get too caught up trying to demonstrate your “free will.” We are terrible judges of our own summum bonum. We are “settlors” when God wants us to be “overcomers.”

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

This reference to the spirit of “the world” includes Manichaeism (let’s hurt ourselves to prove our own will power) and Libertinism (let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die).

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 thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Romans 8:35-37 (emphasis added)

God’s Dispositive Will

June 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 4 Comments
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A third broad category of thought about the will of God is called the dispositive will, or the will of disposition. Your “disposition” is how you are inclined to feel about something. It does not necessarily dictate that you will act in accordance with your feelings, but it can certainly influence your actions. It can be helpful to think of it as God’s “emotive” will because we know that God does have emotions. His emotions are holy and perfectly controlled, but if we ascribe human emotions to Him for the purpose of being able to discuss His character and actions (and the Bible does this) it is called anthropopathism.

The Bible does not always let us in on God’s inclination or disposition about certain matters, but sometimes it does. For example:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

II Peter 3:9

What does this tell us about God? It does not reveal His decretive will because obviously many are going to perish despite the fact that He is not “willing” that any should perish.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

Nor is II Peter 3:9 dealing expressly with God’s preceptive will, because, although He does command everyone to be saved, this is talking about His desire rather than a command. What it is revealing is God’s dispositive will – His inclination or His feelings about those who reject Christ, regardless of how they wound up in that condition.

Another example of the Bible describing God’s will in dispositive terms is:

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

Ezekiel 18:23

This verse is speaking about earthly, temporal life, not eternal life, and it asks a rhetorical question, so the answer should be clear.

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel 33:11

The Lord could force the wicked to turn from their ways, and His disposition is inclined toward delighting in repentance, but He does not always do so. In fact, the punishment of the wicked conversely satisfies His justice, wrath, and holiness, but it gives Him no predispositional or emotional delight, and – emphatically and obviously – no sinful delight.

Here is another example:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:29-30

These verses express God’s will in the preceptive sense because they command us not to do certain things, but they also give us insight into the dispositive sense of His will because they tell us He can be grieved (a combination of sadness and anger). Am I really powerful enough to grieve the Spirit of God? My “power” is not really the issue, but my sin and rebellion certainly do affect our loving and caring God, and He responds with love and what seems in our finite human understanding to be a “hurt” response, although He keeps His promise to eternally seal us, despite our sin.

Neither the apparent conflicts between these operations of God’s will (preceptive, decretive, dispostive), nor the recognition of their complementarity, can be explained away by appeals to the “free will” of man, because God is still omniscient and omnipotent and omnipresent and omnibenevolent, which leads us to consideration of God’s secret, or hidden, will, which we will look at next time.

God is Steadfast

November 28, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Habakkuk | 6 Comments
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Lord, we know that there is nothing too difficult for You. We thank You for your strength. When things are easy and smooth, we know that is because of You. Thank You for those times. When things are difficult and rough, we know You haven’t forgotten Your children, and You have not lost control. Instead, You are teaching us to depend on You, and You are showing Yourself to be strong in our weakness. Thank You for those times, too. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

Habbakuk’s name meant “to embrace” or “to wrestle.” It was a fitting name because he did both. He wrestled with God figuratively and he embraced God by faith. God doesn’t mind when His servants wrestle with Him in order to know Him better. What He has a problem with is when they ignore Him.

Around 600 B.C. the Babylonians were set to invade Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem. They would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple there around 587 B.C. Habakkuk was probably a priest who was also called by God to be a prophet. When he received his vision from God concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, he questioned God – much like Job had done before him. As he questioned God, he began to accuse God of being uncaring and unfeeling, and of being double-minded, and of falling down on His job. These accusations were, of course, false, and from God’s responses we learn that God is steadfast. His promises can be trusted.

Habakkuk said:

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Habakkuk 1:4

God answered:

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

Habakkuk 1:5

God promises to honor faithfulness and obedience, and to punish wickedness. When we begin to ask God, “What are You going to do about all the unrighteousness going on in this world?” we must accept His divine will. We cannot prescribe for God the means that He will use to punish the wicked, or to chasten His Own children.

There is a lot of talk about terrorism these days. Many would like to see God punish the terrorists, but what if terrorism is God’s warning, or His chastening against His Own people? We don’t like to think He would use wicked heathens as His tool for correction or for punishment. Since 1970 approximately 4000 Americans have been killed by terrorists, but today – if today is an average day – 3200 Americans will be killed in one day by mothers and abortionists.

The people of Judah in the days of Habakkuk and Jeremiah and Nahum had seen plagues and droughts and military defeats, and the prophets had told them these were warnings from God to repent. God knows when to wait for repentance and when hearts have become hardened.

Clear Calls for Christians: Proper Unity

August 11, 2014 at 11:49 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Last time we saw that, as Christians:

I. We are called to Pure Upgrade.

Additionally:

II. We are called to Proper Unity.

The fellowship with Christ to which we are called is a good segue into another fellowship to which we are called: the fellowship with each other.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

I Corinthians 1:10

“All speak the same thing” = “all be on the same page.” This is not what was going on in Corinth:

For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

I Corinthians 1:11

According to Proverbs 13:10 contentions only come by pride. They often lead to factions – choosing up sides – and that’s what happened here.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

I Corinthians 1:12

Paul’s response to this was his usual response, in a way. He pointed to Christ.

Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

I Corinthians 1:13

Christ is not divided, and He never has been – neither bodily (one of many reasons why the Roman Catholic practice of the “eucharist” is heretical), nor doctrinally. Only Christ died for us, and we are to be baptized in His name, not in the name of the preacher who does the dunking.

Paul did not preach that baptism saves.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

I Corinthians 1:17

He preached a message that has always sounded foolish to unbelievers.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18

But it is a message that is incredibly exciting and transformative for new believers. Why such a simple message? Why a crucifixion? So God would get all the glory and credit, not His messengers.

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

I Corinthians 1:23

The Jews tripped and fell over the idea that their King would be crucified. The Greeks could never be impressed by a message which said that the Savior of the world was a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. But we need to see ourselves as having a third specific calling, which we will look at next time.

Clear Calls for Christians: Pure Upgrade

August 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 14 Comments
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Have you ever heard someone say that he was “called to preach?” Or “called to teach?” Or “called to join the choir?” How does this work? Is it like when someone says, “God laid this on my heart?” “God told me to go back to that person and ask her if she’s okay?” Have you ever felt left out and lonely because it seems like everyone but you is getting private messages from the Lord telling them what to do? Did it make you feel like the sterotypical broken-hearted lover staring at the phone – just trying to will it to ring?

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Christian publishers and booksellers have capitalized on this idea with books and devotionals like Jesus Calling, in which a young lady claims to have written down what Jesus told her privately, so she can pass it on to the readers.

I will confess that I am not sure what to do with all this. I have never to my knowledge heard the audible voice of God. There have been a few times when I have felt like He wanted me to do something, and I am often convicted about my sin – in my heart – but I never know for sure how to discern whether I’m hearing directly from God, or if it’s just something that occurred to me.

I don’t know what God might be calling you to do, but I do know that there are some things that He calls all Christians to do in the Bible. I like these much better than ambiguous feelings and nudgings which are open to my own private interpretation. Some of them are pleasant, some are not. “Die to self daily.” That’s a calling, but it’s not always easy to do. “Give your spouse a lot of hugs.” That’s easy (for me, anyway. My wife may see it differently!) In this short series I want to point out three things that you have been called to – in the Bible. They are specifically for Christians (and even more specifically for church members), and they are found in I Corinthians Chapter 1.

I Corinthians is a letter that the Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul to write to the church at Corinth. Paul had been there for about 18 months before moving on, and now he was writing to address the problems they were having.

I. We are Called to Pure Upgrade

Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

I Corinthians 1:1

Now, Paul was directly called by God. He didn’t become an Apostle by finding a Bible verse that told him to do it, but the age of the capital A Apostles is over, so that call – in the truest sense – is not for us. It is the next verse that lists a calling which every Christian has received, and which every Christian needs to answer.

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

I Corinthians 1:2

Notice that the Holy Spirit is addressing the church of God which is at Corinth. This was a local church body – an organized local fellowship of believers meeting together. You don’t have to go to a local church to be a Christian. You also don’t have to go home to be married, but I would be a terrible husband if I never went home, and I would be a poor Christian if I didn’t go to church frequently and regularly.

Notice also the two types of sanctification in Verse 2: positional (“are sanctified”), which means that Christians are set apart in Christ Jesus, marked by God as belonging to Him; and progressive, which deals with our participation (“called to be saints”). God has called us to be special – sacred – set apart – set apart from the world – and set apart unto Him.

Our sanctification classification comes with gifts, too. The Corinthian church members were wealthy in gifts.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

I Corinthians 1:4-5

They were especially wealthy in revelatory gifts. Our spiritual gifts are given to us by God so that we can use them not as trophies to brag about, or toys to play with, or weapons to fight each other with, but as tools with which to build Christ’s Church.

So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

I Corinthians 1:7

We are building a building of fleshy stones – believers brought into the Kingdom and placed in the body of Christ to serve and glorify Him.

This is one of the clearest callings for Christians: the call to pure upgrade. When we get saved, the blame for our sins is taken away, but we are still blameworthy on a daily basis. Our sanctification is about going from being blameworthy to blameless.

Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:8

Blameless is not sinless, but it does have to do with the purification of our motives.

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful to get us to a state of blameless sanctification. We could not do it on our own, but we are “called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ,” and that fellowship is promoted and enriched by our sanctification, just as it is hindered and strained when we move backward from blamelessness.

Next time, we will see another clear call for Christians: the call to proper unity.

Who Do You Think You Are?

June 2, 2010 at 8:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Most, if not all, Christians have experienced times of sorrow, loss, disappointment, or grief. It would be callous to compare the trials and tribulations of one person to those of another person in an attempt make light of anyone’s troubles. However, in the history of human tragedy, certainly the Bible patriarch Job would rank pretty high on the list of those who have experienced grief.

Despite being a man who feared God and eschewed evil (Job 1:1), Job received the news of the deaths of all his children and the loss of all his property almost all at once. (Job 1:13-19)

In the end, Job was patient, persistent, and persevering, and God ultimately blessed him in a great way (Job 42:12). However, God did make it clear that it was God, not Job, who understood and controlled the workings of providence. At one point, the Lord spoke to Job, and asked him,

Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

Job 38:2

We would probably be hard-pressed to find a Christian today, in a solid, fundamental, Bible-believing church, who would pick up a Bible and say, “Some of this Book is true, but a lot of it, I’m not so sure about.” Few Christians would question the truth of God’s revealed Word. However, how many of these same Christians would turn around and question God’s providence: “Lord, why have You let such an unfair thing happen to me?” “Lord, why have you placed me here, or why have you let this terrible person come into my life?”

If we believe God’s Word is perfect, then we must believe His will is perfect, too (Romans 12:2), and we must not challenge His divine providence. Shall we – mere animated vessels of dust – rail against the Lord Who has created, and has the power to smoothly control, all things, events, seasons, and creatures?

Right Where You’re Supposed to Be

April 24, 2009 at 10:16 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes, Eternity | 9 Comments
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Have you ever wondered why you were born in the place where you were born? Have you ever thought about what it would have been like to live in a different time in history? These are questions that we will never be able to fully answer on this side of eternity. However, you can rest assured that, according to Scripture, God, before He created you, ordained in His perfect will that you would be born exactly where and when He chose.

The divine appointment which we call our birthday was chosen for our own good, and for God’s Own glory. In the heart of every person, at every place and time, since the beginning of creation, God has placed the idea of eternity, and revelation of Himself.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

For this reason, every single one of us is without excuse if we have failed to acknowledge and worship God. (Romans 1:19-20) We have all failed to do this at one time or another, but the realization that we are part of God’s eternal, unseen plan should cause us to rejoice, and should motivate us to serve Him with joy.

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

Ecclesiastes 3:12


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