Saturday, June 11, 2016


A Book Recommendation

"Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it." 
-George Bernard Shaw, atheist British playwright

The world and the devil seek to persuade us that Christianity is all about activity--being a good person by keeping the rules of life and by enforcing those rules on other people. When we buy that lie we bear ugly fruit, as indicated by the sarcasm of the famous atheist above. But Christianity is the life of God coming down from heaven and manifesting itself in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.  That life then was poured out into this world at Pentecost, filling God's people who had embraced the way of unmerited favor. Once in the way, we Christians can easily get distracted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2Cor 11:3). Christianity is simply the life of Christ overflowing from saints (those in Christ) as they fix their vision on Christ, the source of perfect love. This overflow creates community--a beautiful community of the love (righteousness and compassion) of Christ. 

The Key to Everything by Norman Grubb, is about this topic and points out hindrances to recognize. We are all born gripped with the conceit of self and need to learn to see past that conceit to Christ our life.  I read this short, simple, and practical book twenty years ago to my great blessing and then gave away 100+ copies. In re-reading it recently I found the blessing to be even more invigorating and refreshing than I had remembered it to be the first time. Here is one excerpt.

"Once you have seen that [Christ in you as your inspiration], you see that He is the illimitable One.
Then you relax and say, 'That is what life is: Another living His life in me.'
You've got the key to everything.
Every problem becomes an opportunity.
Every tough spot becomes a chance to enjoy the luxury of seeing Him deliver us out of it.
And you welcome such spots." pp. 31-32 in 1999 edition

Do you want to get to the place where this excerpt describes your experience? Your relatives, friends, and co-workers certainly would be blessed if you did. Why not read this book, take some simple steps forward, and bless those around you? It can't hurt anything except your pride.
The book retails for $4.99 or can be read online here:

Thursday, June 2, 2016


The Law is Good

The law is good. It is very important to make clear that the moral law written on the conscience is good, and that the culturally specific application given by God to Israel--The Law of Moses--is also good. Jesus declared that all the laws and the prophets hang on one central point: "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way as you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." -Matthew 7:12 Do you agree that it is good to treat others as you would like to be treated?


Every Point of the Law is Good

In the above verse Jesus declares that the principle of the Golden Rule applies in absolutely every situation. Do you agree that there is no exception to this rule? This means that God and your conscience have zero tolerance for you ever holding a grudge, ever being impatience with a careless driver, ever being irritated with a fellow Christian who rubs you the wrong way, ever being frustrated with your spouse, children, or parents, and certainly ever thinking about getting revenge. Zero tolerance for sin is good. What is your tolerance level for sin? 

The wholeness of the Law is Good

When you think of the law of God, the commands of Jesus, or the voice of your conscience, how do you interpret that information? Do you start with the individual points that you perceive and then slowly expand the scope of your evaluation, or do you see life as a whole and evaluate each point that you notice in light of the whole? In Deuteronomy 4 God told the Israelites that they were not to add to or take away from the commands of God, but were to keep them all. Shortly after in the same speech Moses told the people, "It will be our righteousness if we are careful to observe ALL this commandment before the Lord, just as He commanded us."-Deut. 6:25 We also read in Jesus most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, "Be ye therefore perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect." -Matthew 5:48 And we read the same thing in James, "He who keeps the whole law and breaks one point, is guilty of all." -James 2:10.

As mentioned above, The Bible says that God has written the moral law on the conscience of all people (Romans 1:19). Do you think that is true? If that is true and if that knowledge is accessible, then we should be able to discuss and evaluate together what is good. Does that intuitive understanding include the principle that goodness requires perfect obedience? In witnessing to students at USU I have many times shown them a card containing the following question and asked for their response.
True or false....
It is good to love your neighbor 99.99% of the time
to abuse your neighbor 0.01% of the time
Students identifying themselves as atheists are generally lightning quick to answer that the statement is false because it is never good to abuse one's neighbor. They often have an edge in their voice that I suspect is a criticism of the hypocrisy they observe in the religious crowd. It is not uncommon for the traditionally religious students to squirm under the pressure of the question, because they don't want to admit that they are not good. It seems clear to me after hundreds of conversations with non-Christians that it is intuitively obvious in the human conscience that it is never good to do wrong and that goodness is a seamless whole.

It is Never Good to Dishonor the Wholeness of the Law or Any Point of It

Are you persuaded that God always wants the law to be honored in every point and in its wholeness? Do you think that God desires us to think that way, too? Do you think that God desires us to ever suppress the beauty of the wholeness of the law? I suggest that this is the key to unlocking spiritual blindness and to growing in personal and spiritual maturity. "The Lord is well-pleased for His righteousness sake; He will exalt the law and make it honorable."-Isaiah 42:21 The honor of the God's law is God's delight. Is it yours? Do you agree that God always sees every individual thought and action of every person in such a way that the honor the wholeness of the law is in view to Him? Do you think that it is good for us to neglect the honor of the wholeness of the law when we evaluate its individual points? It is possible to view individual points of the law, but in doing so there is great temptation to forget the law's wholeness. 


It is Never Good to Leave Goodness Undone

Several years ago I had a conversation with Alex, who said he was Jewish, an atheist, and a philosophy student from Florida. I asked him what he would do if he were walking to class along a small river and noticed a small child floundering in the water and about to drown. He said that he was a lifeguard and champion swimmer and would evaluate the situation quickly and jump in and save the child. I suggested that such would be a good action and that I and the child's parents would honor him. I then suggested to him that this day was going to be unusual for him in that as he continued on to class he would every few minutes notice another child floundering in that small river and about to drown. What would he do? He said that each time he would quickly evaluate and jump in and save the child. I asked him to imagine what would happen if when he got to the tenth child he decided not to save the child--not that he was tired or late for class, but simply didn't want to help that child. He said that such would not be good. I then asked what his friends would do when they found out that he had saved the lives of 9 children that day. Would they honor him as a good person? He was disgusted and said that if his friends knew that he intentionally hadn't helped the tenth child they would be angry and criticize him. He added that even if he had saved 99 children and intentionally let one drown, he couldn't be a good person. Do you agree with Alex? Life is full of good actions that your conscience calls you to do. Your conscience calls you to leave none of them undone. You and I have left many good deeds undone as well as doing much wrong that our conscience warned us against. Let's stop pretending that partial goodness counts with God.


You Are Not the Judge

How do you respond when you see a fellow Christian fail? How do you respond when that person hurts you? First, is it good for you to sit in the place of judgment for that person? Second, is it good for you to ignore or minimize or pretend away that failure of another Christian? None of these is good and so your only good option is to trust or honor God as the judge. God always maximizes sin and judges by perfect love and commands all people to do the same. Do you hear that call or do you minimize sin and take judgment into your own hands? 


Prosecution or Defense: Which team Are You On?

Do you hear the voice of God and your conscience calling you to honor perfect love as the only good way to see life? Since you are not the judge, you simply act for the defense or the prosecution in every situation you find yourself. As a Christian you are part of the defense team lead by Jesus. Satan leads the prosecution and points the finger of condemnation. In the moment that you notice someone fail or hurt you, how do you respond? Do you notice the violator from God's view of perfect love where the only hope is the death of Christ? Or do you dishonor the law and see hope in human performance? When you do the former you gladly receive all the bad treatment others give you because you are seeing Christ and the glory of sin-bearing love. Perfect love excludes all condemnation and gladly bears all things thinking of the blessing of the other. When you do the latter, you stumble over righteousness, get offended, fight back, and speak words of condemnation. You have played into the hands of the Accuser and are speaking and acting like you are on his team. We all have been tricked at times by the voice of the Accuser. Let's be honest and learn to discern these two voices that we might be effective peacemakers.

Let's make it practical. When someone hurts you which voice do you hear? The Accuser cries out, "Look at what he did to you!" The voice of the Spirit cries out, "Look at what Christ did for him and you!" How you respond to mistreatment reveals which voice you are heeding. Of course the mistreatment may be painful. Of course the person shouldn't have hurt you. But the call is for that person to be perfect not just to avoid that one action of mistreatment of you.  As a Christian you are not trapped in your circumstances; you have life above this world and thus have the freedom to see your life from above, from heaven. Christ has lifted you up, blessed you royally, freed you from all condemnation, and made you his royal peacemaker.  Your identity is as a member of the defense. Practice remembering that and watch what happens. 

Conclusion: Resist Dishonesty About Law

It is easy to be dishonest about your conscience and God's law and goodness. The Adversary always calls you to make God's law and love manageable, to lull you to sleep about perfect love.  It takes much practice to hear the voice of perfect love in the heat of the moment. But hearing the voice of perfect love is the only honest way. Let's not pretend that there is no spiritual battle. James calls saints to submit to God and resist the devil, and that then the devil would flee. I suggest that submitting to God is simply to honor, see, hear, and perceive perfect love in the moment. When you do the devil will have no room to work in your heart and life. Thank God often for His perfect love and for making perfect love the only good way to live and judge. Speak perfect love to yourself and to others. As you do this you may find yourself becoming more sensitive to the spiritual battle that rages all around us.
Perfect love or manageable tasks: the one you hear is the one you will speak.