Theology

Suicide, Forgiveness, and God’s Redeeming Power

 

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Suicide is a tragedy that has touched many families. For those who have lost loved ones in such a tragic way, there are often wounds that last a lifetime. Suicide is a tragedy that has touched many people from all walks of lives, and it doesn’t discriminate – people of all races, economic classes, educational backgrounds, you name it – almost everyone has loved ones, or has known someone who has taken their own life.

I remember a few years back, a pastor that I knew from a distance took his own life. I was struggling with how this sort of thing can happen, so I was speaking with someone very close to me about it. As we were discussing, this person made the comment, “I’ll bet he’s really wishing he didn’t do that now.” The implication here was that this pastor was in hell.

I’ve often heard, and I believe many of us have heard, because I believe it’s a misconception that many people have, that if you commit suicide, you automatically end up in hell. I tried to explain to my friend that I didn’t believe suicide does automatically send you to hell. They simply said, “Well, I think it does.” When asked for a theological or biblical reason behind their answer, they didn’t have one…it’s just what they’ve always been told, and the belief they’ve always held. I used to believe this also, for the same reasons…it’s just what I’ve always been told. But just because you’ve always been told something, doesn’t necessarily make it so.

As I’ve studied this subject however, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t believe it to be true that suicide automatically sends someone to hell. First of all, there is the case of Samson who we know killed himself along with many Philistines in Judges 16, yet is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as a model of faith. I believe even more though, we need to look to the overwhelming teaching of Scripture which is this: If you are in Christ, and I have no reason to doubt that many who commit suicide are, then you can be assured of your salvation. If you are in Christ, all of your sins past, present, and future are forgiven. (Acts 10:43, Colossians 1:14) I believe this is especially pointed to also in Psalm 103:10-14. Romans 7 and Hebrews 10:14 also certainly give us a picture of the “already-not yet” aspect of salvation.

I think people have arrived at this faulty conclusion because they have this idea that you have to confess every single sin, in order to be forgiven of every single sin. But that just isn’t the case. Can you imagine trying to remember every sin you commit throughout the day? What about the sins you commit without even thinking about it? Following this faulty logic, none of us would or could receive forgiveness for all of our sins. Not only that, our salvation would become dependent on a work, which again the Bible tells us is not the case.

Certainly we are to confess our sins as soon as we are reminded of them, or see that we have sinned, but none of us are so perfect that we will remember each and every one of our sins, and confess them to our Lord. We are all sinners and must confess that to Christ on a regular basis, and repent of the sins we see in our lives. But unfortunately all of our sins won’t be clear to us.

Furthermore, as far as I can tell, the Bible only speaks of one unpardonable, or one unforgivable sin. What is it? Jesus tells us Himself in Mark 3:22-30 & Matthew 12:31-32. The only sin Jesus tells us we cannot be forgiven of is blaspheming, or speaking against the Holy Spirit. I believe what Jesus is speaking of here in these verses is the rejection of the Holy Spirit’s call to salvation, ultimately denying who Christ is and denying Him as Savior. If we deny Christ as Savior, then we cannot be forgiven of that sin, or any sins for that matter. Once we do confess Christ as Savior however, then all of our sins past, present, and future can and will be forgiven as I talked about earlier. (Also see Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13)

So am I saying it’s okay to commit suicide? NO! NEVER!

Our bodies are the temple of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19) There is no situation so bad, so tragic, that it should make us want to harm ourselves knowing that our bodies belong to God. There is no situation so lacking in hope that we shouldn’t put our faith, hope, and trust in Christ to redeem that situation. That being said, all of us are prone to act irrationally at times. I know I myself have done more than one stupid thing in an act of anger or distress. The actions of those who take their own lives just happen to have greater consequences than the things I’ve done. Yet my actions were sinful, just as their acts are. Whatever situation it is that leads folks to take their own lives, I would like to think that I would always act differently, or do things differently than they have…if not for my own sake, but for the sake of my wife and children. As I’ve said, I can’t even imagine what folks who have lost loved ones to suicide go through. But, until we walk in someone else’s shoes, we can’t truly know what we would do, or how we would respond.

I do think though, there is some truth in what the friend I was speaking to said. I do think as folks who take their own life give an account to God, they do mourn for what they did. The Bible tells us that we all must give an account for the things we do. (Hebrews 4:13, Romans 14:12, and especially 2 Corinthians 5:10) So while I do believe we are forgiven for all our sins as believers, and won’t have to suffer hell because of them, we all will give an account, and there will be consequences for all of our actions.

My heartfelt prayers go out anyone who has lost someone they love dearly to suicide. I can’t begin to imagine what they go through. What I do know though, is that we have a God who can and will redeem any situation, and will glorify Himself through it. I’m sure it’s often hard for them to see that, heck it’s hard for me to see how He will do it even from a distance.  Still I know it’s true, and I pray that perhaps somehow, they will be able to cling to this fact in the midst of their pain.

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Christ Our Holiness

holiness

If we were to put together a list of God’s attributes certainly Holiness would rank amongst the top. This is good as it is very important that we understand that God is a Holy God. It is even more important however that we understand what exactly Holiness means, and what it means to say that God is Holy, and how that relates to each of us as Christians.

The first time we see the word Holy used in Scripture is in Genesis 2:3. In this verse Holy is used to describe the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a day set apart and blessed by God. Blessed by God for the purpose of rest.  The next instance we see the word Holy used is in Exodus 3:5 to describe the ground on which Moses stood as he spoke with God at the burning bush. Moses was commanded, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Moses was so afraid to look at God that the scriptures tell us, he hid his face. Moses had good reason of course, for we find out in Exodus 33:20 that no man can see the face of God and live. Then, in Leviticus 11:43-45 God commands his people, “You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them and become unclean through them. For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” In 19:2 he says, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”

In just a few verses we can gather rather quickly that the word Holy as it relates to God means, set apart, sacred, undefiled, and pure. To say that something is Holy is also to say that it is perfect in every way. Certainly this definition can be applied to God.

God does not just say that he is Holy though. God also commands his people to be Holy. Anyone with eyes to see can see that there is a problem here. Ever since that fateful day in the Garden in which Adam and his wife Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, holiness has not been a word that can be used to describe humanity. Certainly the Prophet Isaiah saw a problem:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts! (Isaiah 6:1-5).    

As Isaiah was confronted with the unimaginable holiness of God, all he could do was shout out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips…”.

Isaiah was stunned by the awesome Holiness of God, as he should have been. Isaiah’s response is the correct response to the God who is perfect and holy in every way. The fact that God is so holy, and we are so unholy means that there is a problem. We as unholy people cannot approach this perfectly holy God. Since Adam and Eve were cast from the garden, holiness has not been able to dwell in the midst of unholiness. That is of course, unless God does something.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with thongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:6-7).

In order for Isaiah to stand in the presence of God, his guilt had to be taken away, and his sin had to be atoned for by God. You and I are no different.

This same holiness that we have been talking about that is attributed to God here in the Old Testament is also applied to Jesus in the New. Let’s look at just a few verses to illustrate this point.

In Mark 1:24 even the unclean Spirit cries out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

Hebrews 7:26 uses the following words to describe Jesus, “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”

1 John 3:5 says, “…in him there is no sin.”

In Luke 5:8, Simon Peter takes our minds back to our Isaiah 6 passage earlier as he responds to Jesus with these words, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Again, as we are confronted with holiness, we shrink back in fear, for we know deep in our hearts that unholiness cannot dwell in the same place as holiness.

Now some folks see an issue with this. They think that yes, God is Holy, but he is also love. Therefore, if God loves us, then he can just look past our sins. This attitude however is a mistake. When we take this line of thinking, what we are actually doing is elevating God’s attribute of love above his attribute of Holiness. God is love, perfect love in fact. God is also holy, perfect holiness. To think that God simply looks past sin is a dangerous mistake. It leads straight to a path of licentiousness because we begin to think that sin is not a big deal. But the bible tells a much different story. Sin is a really big deal. So big in fact that God had to send his son to die on a Roman cross for it. The love of God and the holiness of God are not in opposition. Within God, and within Christ who is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Holiness and Love dwells perfectly together. At the cross of Christ we see love and Holiness at work all at once. Certainly love put Christ on the cross, but if it were not for the Holiness of God, there would have been no need for him to be there. The Holiness of God demands Holiness in return from his people (1 Peter 1:15-16). Yet, we cannot attain that Holiness on our own. Therefore, Christ had to attain it for us. That was the purpose for which he died. 2 Corinthians 5:21,

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The entire purpose of Jesus’ ministry is that, “…he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she (the Church) might be holy and without blemish.”

It is here that we find peace and rest. Often as we are confronted with the Holiness of God, we respond in ways similar to that of Moses, Isaiah, and Peter. We cower in fear. We hide our face from God. We ask Him to flee from us, for we are sinful people indeed. But in Jesus, these sins are removed from us. In Jesus, we are holy and without blemish. In Jesus, we are the righteousness of God. We no longer need to be fearful of the Holiness of God. Now, we get to embrace it, for it is ours.

My Biggest Problem & The Beauty of The Struggle

Life is hard. I think most of us can agree with this statement. Certainly there is much beauty that surrounds us, but the undeniable truth is that life is also quite the struggle. Most of us spend our days either ignoring these struggles, or simply trying to avoid them.We just have to grin and bear it, and eventually we will be able to move past the struggle, and once again we will be see the beauty. The beauty is what we are after, but the struggle seems to be where we often find ourselves.

Two things are on my mind this morning.

How we respond to the struggles of life says much about us. My default is to blame other people or to blame my circumstances. I am a perfect illustration of Genesis 3:12-13. After man sinned in the garden, God asked man what happened…Instead of fessing up he decided to blame both the woman and even God himself…”This woman YOU gave me, she is the one who gave me the fruit!” In the same way, the woman also blamed the serpent. Neither the man nor the woman were willing to take the blame for their own actions. Instead of appealing to and trusting in the mercy of God, they chose to take the low road and say, “It isn’t my fault!”

Now, perhaps we can give Adam and Eve a pass. They’d never sinned before, so perhaps they didn’t have that great a grasp on the mercy of God. Perhaps they didn’t fully understand how this grace thing worked. We don’t have this excuse. We’ve been seeing people sin for quite a while. We’ve only lived in the midst of sinners. In fact, all we’ve ever been is sinners. Yet, we’ve also seen grace in action, especially in the person of Christ.

The point I’m trying to make is this. My biggest problem isn’t my circumstances. My biggest problem isn’t other people. My biggest problem is myself. The struggle is there for all of us. Yet, the issue is not really the struggle, but how I respond to the struggle. Do I blame everyone, including God? Or do I accept the struggle, accept my responsibility for the struggle, and hand it over to God appealing to his rich steadfast love and mercy? (Psalm 51:1) Turning it over to God is the only right answer. This is true whether we are speaking of sin (our own or of someone else) or any other struggle of life. The fact is, whatever your struggle, whatever your circumstance…God has you there for a reason. This doesn’t make it easy, but seen in the proper light, wherever you are, whatever ever your situation…is an opportunity to glorify God. (I am reminded once again of Philippians 1:20-27)

And this takes me to my last point. Perhaps the struggle is the point. Perhaps the struggle is the beauty of it all. There is nothing more beautiful than the love, mercy, and grace of God. This is never more evident than in the midst of trying times. It might take us a while to see it, but once we are able to re-center and refocus ourselves on God we know this to be true. Apart from these struggles we could never know the the mercies of God, at least not in any experiential way. This is true in speaking of sin, sickness, or even death. It’s even true when the kids are driving you nuts or the drive-thru is slower than it should be. So, perhaps the struggles are there to point us to God.

Maybe, just maybe, the struggle isn’t the opposite of beauty…Maybe, the struggle is all part of the beauty.

Blogging Through The Bible: Genesis 2:10-25

We ended off our last time on our journey through the Bible at Genesis 2:9, so let’s pick up today in verse 10.

Verses 10-14 speak of a river that flows from Eden and divides into four other rivers. As I picture this scene in my mind, and the pre-curse earth, I certainly picture paradise. Especially as it talks about the gold one finds in the land of Havilah. It almost seems as if we are getting a preview to what awaits the child of God in heaven.

After these few verses we get into the meaty part of Genesis 2…

Verse 15 tells us that God placed man in the garden to work it and watch over it. As I said previously, God created man for work not sloth. For many of us, our ideal is to be able to sit around and do nothing, to have no obligations. We’ve all seen cartoons where the guy is sitting on the cloud playing the harp. Sadly, that’s the view some of us have of heaven. But it’s not biblical,  nor is it reality. Man was created for a purpose…In the big picture, those of us who are steeped in Scripture know that the ultimate purpose for man, his chief end as the Westminster shorter catechism tells us is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” But part of how we glorify God, is in how we work. How we fulfill our obligations…AND how we enjoy his good gifts and the fruit of our labors.

In verse 16-17, we get back to one of the trees that we spoke of last time. The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God tells man that he was free to eat from ANY tree in the garden, except that one tree…for on the day that he ate of this tree he would die. In literary terms, I believe we see here a foreshadowing of what is to come…In these verses though, once again we see God’s generosity as the provider for his creation. He supplied man with more than enough to sustain him…He could eat freely from ANY tree of the garden. God blessed man and blessed him bountifully…If only Adam had understood the beauty of the blessing and what he COULD have for all eternity…If only Adam had paid closer attention to God’s warning against eating from this one forbidden tree…But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ultimately though, I don’t believe it was so much about the fruit or the trees. I believe it was mostly about obedience and disobedience. Would Adam obey God? Would Adam take seriously the Word of the Lord? Would Adam rejoice in the good gifts that God had provided, or would he seek happiness outside of the Word of God? Would Adam trust that God knew what was best, or would he try to take control of his own destiny and seek something better than what God had already provided? I think we all know the rest of the story…but, let’s not jump ahead. (Really having a hard time reining myself in!)

Verses 18-25 begins the narrative of the creation of the first woman, Eve. I love this part of the story.

The narrative begins, “It is not good for the man to be alone…I will make a helper as his complement.”

So, God already knows it isn’t good to be alone. He has already decided to make a helper for Adam. Now, it is important to note that when God is talking about a “helper” for Adam…he isn’t talking about someone to be subservient to Adam. He says this helper would be his “complement”…This helper would be one who would walk side by side in the garden with Adam. This helper could provide Adam with what he didn’t have. This helper would complete him. I think verse 24 backs up this statement, “…and they become one flesh.”

Here we see the perfect illustration of the way in which God designed relationships. The way that God designed marriage. Marriage is to be one man and one woman, working together to fulfill God’s purposes. But I’m starting to get ahead of myself again…

God has already decided to create the woman, but before he does, he creates every wild animal and livestock and he brings Adam out to name all of the creatures. Again we see the awesome privilege given to man to watch over creation and to exercise his dominion over it…

But as Adam is naming the creatures, he realizes that there is no helper for himself…He saw all of the other creatures, and we know that God created them male and female…and Adam said, “hmmm…something here is not like the other.” All of the other creatures already had mates. God told them on day five to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:22) Adam noticed that he didn’t have a mate…(I can’t help but wonder what that conversation was like.)

I think we see here an important principle that we should address about how God works. God already knew the plan…He knew that he was going to create the woman. Woman wasn’t an afterthought for God. He knew that it wasn’t good for the man to be alone…But before he provides the woman, he shows Adam his need for the woman. He shows Adam that he is lacking…THEN He provides. Perhaps we see here a glimpse into the big picture. God reveals to us our absolute dependence upon him…then he provides. If we didn’t see the need, then how could we give thanks and praise Him for what we didn’t know we NEEDED in the first place…

Think about it, God provided for Adam all the food he needed…but it’s all Adam had ever known…He didn’t know what it was like to not have food. Is this one reason he didn’t appreciate what God had already provided…

Honestly, I’m not sure…this is merely speculation. But, as it relates to the woman…we most definitely see that God first reveals the need, then he provides. And, as we know Adam was very appreciative…When he first lays  his eyes upon his new wife he says, “This one, AT LAST, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man.” (verse 23)

In verse 24, as I said earlier…we see God’s design for marriage, “…a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife and they become one flesh.” Man and woman complete each other(with God at the center of course). This isn’t to say that if you are single, you can’t be a complete person…In this case, you’re simply looking to God to complete you. And for some, this is indeed the better choice as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7. But, for most of us, God’s good plan is for us to marry, and “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28)

Verse 25, the last verse of Genesis 2 says, “Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.”

I believe this is again foreshadowing what will happen in Chapter 3. Verse 25 is the picture of a perfect marriage. We see innocence and perfect intimacy. We see a marriage with no shame. We see a man and a woman who were free to enjoy each other without anything to hide. I think this is true physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This is the perfect picture of not just a perfect marriage relationship, but a perfect relationship in general…and the perfect relationship with God. And I think this type of relationship is the type of relationship that all of us desire…both with our spouses, but even deeper than that with God. Isn’t this the type of relationship that Christ, our perfect example had with his Father? What a beautiful picture of what is possible, and not only is possible, but awaits us when we enter into His presence, thanks to the work of Christ on our behalf…BUT, more on that later…

Up next, Chapter 3!

Living Is Christ

I’ve written quite a bit about discontent. Oftentimes, even if what I write isn’t overtly about discontent, there is still that undertone. The reason for this is because I am often rather discontent with my life. I know this sounds like a horrible thing to say, but it is the honest truth. I write and preach often about the necessity of the believer to rest in Christ and to cease from their striving…To trust in Him and His holiness. I believe this with every ounce of my being, but yet I so often fail to practice what I preach.This failure is without a doubt the source of much of my discontent, and the anxiety I often deal with.

I’ve had a lot of uncertainty lately. I’ve set a lot of goals for myself, and it just seems like no matter how hard I attempt to achieve these goals they just aren’t working out. Nothing I do seems to be good enough. I’ve had many disappointments, and quite honestly I have been quite frustrated by it all. Many of these things are related to ministry, and my service to God…These seem like worthy and God honoring goals…So I think that simply adds to the frustration that I’m feeling. In prayer recently I even heard myself shout out in frustration, “God, I really wish one thing I do would work out the way that I want it to! Just one thing! Just ONE thing, God!”

I know this isn’t how Christians are supposed to talk…especially preachers. But, it’s where I’ve been. Perhaps it is where I will be again. I’m not sure if it’s where I am.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about it lately, about this discontent, where it comes from and what to do with it. For many of you the answer is probably pretty obvious, but I have a tendency to be a bit slow sometimes…Finally though, I arrived at the obvious conclusion: My discontent is my lack of satisfaction in Christ. Very simply, I’m not satisfied with Christ.

John Piper has famously said that “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” I’ve probably heard him say that a hundred times. I’m sure I’ve quoted him many times. But, that truth has come alive to me in a fresh way as of late. In Philippians 1:21 the Apostle Paul says, “…living is Christ.” In the same letter he also says, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content…I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

Philippians 4:13 is often quoted out of context and made to mean that no matter what we do, God will bless it, and we will be able to do whatever we want. That simply isn’t what the verse is speaking about. Philippians 4:13 is about being content because you have all you need in Christ. Paul can utter, “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me…”, because of Philippians 1:21, “..living is Christ.” These are beautiful words and this is a beautiful place to be. Philippians is often referred to as the epistle of joy because as you read it, you just get this overwhelming since of joy that the Apostle is feeling. Where does that joy come from? Being satisfied in Jesus…nothing else.

This is where I have to get to. I believe this is where we all have to get. If nothing else in life works out the way you want it to, are you still satisfied in Christ? Is Jesus really enough for you? This is what I’m asking myself…Jesus really is enough, and I have to wrap my mind around this. It’s good to have goals, but never let these goals take the place of Christ himself. It’s good to desire to serve Christ, but don’t let this service become your overwhelming desire. Don’t make ministry or “doing more” for God your idol…Jesus is the goal. Christ is to be our overwhelming desire.

Cease striving, rest in Christ. Be satisfied in Christ. He really is enough.

Living is Christ…

Living is Christ.

Blogging Through The Bible: Genesis 2:1-9

When we talk about creation, Genesis 1 seems to get all of the attention. Obviously, it’s where we see the origins of all things so its certainly understandable…But I think sometimes we forget how special Genesis 2 is. Genesis 1 gives us the big picture view of creation, but in Genesis 2 the Bible zeroes in on the garden, and especially on the creation of man, who as we said last time is the “jewel” of creation as bearers of the image of God.

First though, in Chapter 2:1-2 we see that God has finished creation, so he sets aside the seventh day, and the Bible says that he rested on that day. This is obviously a precursor to what we know to be the Sabbath, which will be instituted later through Moses. But, for the casual reader that could be a strange statement, that God “rested”…Was he tired? Did he need to rest? Well, no. He is God, He created all things simply by the Word of His mouth, so no he wasn’t tired. I think we see a couple of things going on here…

First, as I said he is setting an example for His people to follow. For six days God worked. For six days he created. Now, on the seventh day he stopped…and the Bible says He rested. But I think it can be inferred from the text that God took time to simply enjoy the fruit of his labors. Many of us could take a major lesson here. Like I said, God didn’t need to rest, but he chose to stop and enjoy what he’d created. He took time to stop and “smell the roses,” to use a human analogy. Verse 3 says that he “declared it holy.” The Word holy as it’s used in Scripture simply means complete, or set aside…This is what we see here on the seventh day. On the seventh day God’s work is finished and he has set it aside.

Many of us should take a cue..We spend all of our time going and working and striving. Work is good, we were created for work, Genesis 2:15 says as much. But, there is also a time to stop and enjoy the fruit of your labors and rest in God and what He has done. This is the beauty of the Sabbath that is prefigured here. It’s not simply about resting, but also about taking pleasure in God’s good gifts.

Now, we move on to what I spoke of earlier and the creation of man. We will fast forward to verse 7, and here the Bible says that “..the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.”

I love this verse…Again, as I said…Genesis isn’t a science book, and I am no scientist, but it is pretty neat that science does confirm that the minerals and materials found in the human body do correlate quite closely to the minerals that you would find on the surface of the earth. But, aside from this and more importantly is the second part of the verse…God “breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.”

Man became a living being because God breathed life into him. We owe our lives to God. This is just as true for us, as it was for Adam ever how many years ago it was when he appeared on the scene. You live, you take your next breath, because God wills it to be so. God is the giver of life, therefore all of life is in his hands. Reminding ourselves of this often is healthy and much needed.

In verse 8 we see that God places Adam in the Garden that he planted…then verse 9 the Bible tells us how God provides for the man he created. He planted and caused to grow beautiful trees that yielded fruit for the man to eat…So, God is a perfectly capable provider, and provides us with all that we need. Again, another point that we would do well to keep in mind, and meditate on often…

We also hear about the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…unless you were born under a rock, you know that these two trees play quite a prominent role in the rest of the story…

We are going to stop here, because I really want to focus in on several other aspects of the second part of Chapter 2 before we move into Chapter 3, and I am intentionally trying to keep these blogs short (1,000 words or less), and there’s no way I can do the remaining verses justice in less than 300 words.

So, I hope you’ll stick with me, and come back for the rest of Genesis 2!

Blogging Through The Bible(Intro):Genesis 1

I want to begin blogging through the bible. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I really hope I can keep it up. I don’t know how fast or slow it will go, but I think it could be a blessing to many, including myself. I don’t make any claims to be a great biblical scholar, but I do spend much time studying the Scriptures and I pray the knowledge I’ve gained and will continue to gain can be of benefit to others and I hope that folks might use this as a springboard to study the Bible for themselves.

One of the goals of my ministry, whether it be preaching or writing, is to help others fall in love with the Bible. Obviously the major goal is to help them fall in love with Jesus, but I think this happens fully, when we fall in love with the Scriptures that speak of Him from beginning to end. Also, it is important to note I don’t intend to pull out every single detail of the Scripture. This would indeed take more than a lifetime. I simply intend to pull out the major points that I see as I go through the Bible myself, and I hope to give this to the reader in bite size and easy to understand chunks.

So, as we begin this journey, I beg you for your prayers. I will need them to stay faithful in this blogging journey. Also, please pray for those who read, that they will be blessed and pointed to Jesus. Also, if you have friends or loved ones who are seeking, send them to the blog. Perhaps God would use this to help them learn more about the Bible, and through that learn about God and what He’s doing in the world. I also ask that you would ask questions if you have them, or even just offer encouragement as you feel lead. Few things inspire like a kind word or to know that people are reading and thinking about what you are saying.

So now that we have the introduction out of the way, let us turn our attention to the Scriptures.

People approach Genesis 1 in many different ways. Obviously, there are those who view it as nothing more than a myth. I don’t really have anything to say to those folks, because nothing I write here will make them see any differently. There are also those who believe Genesis 1 is completely true…these are my people. But even among these folks you will have many differing views as to how we should read Genesis 1, and what we should believe about creation.

Here we have the first major point…Genesis 1 is about creation. That’s the point Moses(the author of Genesis) is trying to make in Genesis 1. Where did everything come from? When Moses penned the book, there were many different creation stories going around. Moses wanted his people to know the truth of their own origins, and the origin of all the created universe. Everything we see (and can’t see) came from God. God spoke all things into existence simply by speaking.

Some want to view Genesis 1 from a scientific point of view, and view the order in which God created things and show how it lines up perfectly with the way we know science “works.” I suppose there are good points to be made here, but I don’t want to dwell here for our current purposes. Others want to talk about the age of the earth, and what exactly is the length of a “day” as it is used here…since in Hebrew the word “yom” that is translated as “day” in the text can either mean 24 hours as we know it, but it can also mean other lengths of time…Unfortunately, we can’t “know” how the word is used here…So, there is room for discussion here.

On this previous issue, hinges the debate of the different issues related to evolution. And the origins of man.

But ultimately, this isn’t the point Moses is making.

Genesis 1 isn’t a science book, nor does it intend to be(nor do I believe it is opposition to science as some erroneously declare)…If we want to boil Genesis 1 down to it’s main points, I believe these are the things we must see:

*God is the creator of all things.

*God created all things from nothing.

*God was already present “In the beginning” therefore God is eternal and has no creator…from eternity past to eternity future God simply “is”…This is certainly one of the most important and foundational truths that we have to get and apply to our lives, “In the beginning God…” Indeed God is the creator and is sovereign over ALL things, and upon this truth everything in Scripture is based…and if more of us could wrap our minds around it, it would truly change everything and  how we view the world.

*Man is the highlight and jewel of God’s creation, for he was “created in the image of God.”

*When God created all things he looked around and said it was “very good”

There are of course other “theological” issues we can address here in Genesis 1…

*The Trinity was present at creation…There is the plurality of the hebrew Word “Elohim” used for God..There is also the fact that in Genesis 1:2, it references the “Spirit of God” hovering over the waters…Then we look to John 1 as he puts Jesus in Genesis 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh.” So, I believe we see the trinity in Genesis 1.

*Also, as I stated, Man was the jewel of creation. He was to rule over the fish, the birds, and the livestock, and over all the earth…We also see that God provided for man everything he needed, Genesis 1:29-30. And, God as I said earlier, created all things “very good.”

We will see in just a bit that, things didn’t stay “very good” but we can’t place the blame for that on God.