the good God

good God

“How can you believe in three gods?”  asks my Muslim neighbor.  It’s then that I come face to face with a common misunderstanding about God as I understand him.

Recently, I was given the book, The Good God (Michael Reeves, Paternoster, UK, 2012) from a pastor friend in London, England.  It is a small book.  And after a brief thumbing, it appeared to be packed with theology and quotes from church fathers.  I shrugged it off as another colorless treatise on the Trinity.  However, as I began to delve into the pages they began to delve into me.  I gained a fresh veneration and love for my God in a book I’d dub as both practical and devotional.  The fog surrounding the Trinity vanished and what appeared was God’s incomparable beauty and love.

The thrust of the book is that God is love because God is Trinity.  It goes on to say that if God was not Father he would not be loving.  “It is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God.” (vii)  The love between the persons of God help one to understand the triune God better.

What was God doing before creation?

A Christians understanding of God is built on the Son who reveals him (4). God as Father helps you to know how he loves.  If you don’t start with Jesus the Son, you end up with a different God who is not Father.  Richard the Scot said, “If God was just one person, he could not be intrinsically loving, since for all eternity (before creation) he would have had nobody to love…being triune, God is a sharing God, a God who loves to include. His love is not for keeping but for spreading.” (14-15)  Luther said, “Only when God is known as a loving Father is he known aright.” (60) And John Owen said, “God is our most loving Father…The greatest unkindness you can do to him is to refuse to believe that he loves you.” (77)

Over the past few years, I have observed a culture of a single-person god among Muslims in North Africa.  I can echo Reeves observations when he says,

“Oneness for the single-person God would mean sameness. Alone for eternity without any beside him, why would he value others and their differences? Think how it works out for Allah: under his influence, the once-diverse cultures of Nigeria, Persia and Indonesia are made deliberately and increasingly, the same. Islam presents a complete way of life for individuals, nations, and cultures, binding them into one way of praying, one way of marrying, buying, fighting, relating—even, some would say, one way of eating and dressing.  Oneness for the triune God means unity. As the Father is absolutely one with his Son, and yet is not his Son, so Jesus prays that believers might be one, but not that they might all be the same.  Created male and female, in the image of God, and with many other good differences between us, we come together valuing the way the triune God has made us each unique.” (84; also see 1 Corinthians 12:4,17-20)

Single-person gods—having spent eternity alone—are inevitably self-centered beings.  If this is the kind of god one worships, they become like what they worship.  “If God is not triune it gets even worse: for if God is not triune, it becomes difficult, not only to account for the goodness of creation (as we have seen), but also to account for the existence of evil within it.” (39)  Thus how God the Father loves the Son helps one to understand how God loves creation, hates evil, and his love does something about it.

What is God’s work in salvation?

It is because God is triune that the cross is such good news.  Friedrich Nietzsche boldly said, “God is dead.”  By this he meant that belief in God is simply no longer viable and faith is no longer needed.  However, Reeves adds “‘God is dead’ is where true faith begins. For, on the cross, Christ the Glory puts to death all false ideas of God; and as he cries out to his Father and offers himself up by the Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), breathing out his last, he reveals a God beyond our dreams.” (105)  At the cross we see a God who is infinitely better: unconditionally loving, darkness hating, tremendously glorious.

Since God is a lover from before creation (of his Son), he created humans to be lovers too.  Created to love God, we turn to love ourselves and anything but God.  This is when sin entered the world.  Naturally, man is bent in on himself and takes hellish delight in his own supposed independence.  However, God as the supreme lover atones for sin himself via the Son. God gives himself.  What single-person god would do this? Especially when you think of the reckless and storied lives of the Greeks and Romans.

“Strip down God and make him lean and you must strip down his salvation and make it mean.  Instead of a life bursting with love, joy, and fellowship, all you will be left with is the watery gruel of religion. Instead of a loving Father, a distant potentate; instead of fellowship, contract. No security in the beloved Son, no heart-change, no joy in God could that spirit bring.” (82)

Without the Son, God cannot truly be a Father.  If God is alone, he is not truly loving. Thus he has no fellowship to share with us, no Son to bring us close, no Spirit through whom we might know him.

Reeves says, “My new life began when the Spirit first opened my eyes (light) and won my heart (heat) to Christ… And as he stirs me to think ever more on Christ, he makes me more and more God-like: less self-obsessed and more Christ-obsessed.” (73)  Again, we become like what we worship.

When I go and share the knowledge of God’s great love with others I reflect something very important about who God is.  I share the missional, generous, image of God.  As Reeves continues, “The mission (of God) comes from overflow of love, from the uncontainable enjoyment of fellowship (with himself and others).” (86) Who is to love?  What is my example to be loving to others?  It is found in God as Father.

I would highly recommend this book to a new believer, seminary student, small group, and missionary to Muslims.  It is a book that fosters love for God and greater appreciation for his love for us.  This truly speaks more to my Muslim neighbors than a powerful apologetic.  As I think of God as Father and relish in the love of the Son and the life with the Spirit, it sincerely affects my love for my neighbor.  My only caution is for those who desire a beefy book with slam-dunk comments to defeat opponents of the Trinity, it’s not that kind of book.  Neither is it an exhaustive book on the Trinity.  It is sufficient enough to give a good defense why God is triune.  It satisfies ones longing to know and love God better.

Note: The book also goes by the title Delighting in the Trinity for those who live on the US side of the pond.

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the God who reveals

Recently I visited Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. My wife and I were celebrating our third anniversary walking among God’s creation. As amazed as I was by the Redwoods, all the people taking pictures of the trees equally amazed me. If you think about it, doesn’t it seem weird that people are flocking to take pictures of big trees? Why do people take pictures of trees? Why is my brother in awe of the open horizon of New Mexico? Why does our jaw drop at the Grand Canyon or Teton Mountains? Simply, creation wows us and fills us with wonder. It’s amazing.

In the 1998 film The Truman Show, Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a generally cheerful insurance adjuster in a cozy island town whose days run like clockwork—until the day a stage light falls out of the heavens and crashes near his car. Little by little his world begins to give him clues that later help him discover the truth about the world (stage) in which he is really living. Likewise, your world is giving you clues that tell you something about God. He is not hiding.

1. God reveals He is through creation (Psalm 19:1-6)

People often wonder, “Where did all this come from? Why are we here?” What are some of the hints and clues you see in creation that point you to the existence of a Creator? And what are some of the aspects of creation that cause some people to believe that no Creator exists? Whether we understand creation or not it continually shouts out that God exists (1 Chronicles 16:31-34). Creation never presses pause on praise God. The picture you receive from this psalm is that the world acts as a loudspeaker, a stage, and an art gallery—all pointing to God’s glory.

However, man’s response to creation can be foiled (Psalm 19:3). First, people ignore the communication of creation (Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:15). Second, people can miss or not hear God through creation because the communication of creation is not audible. In other words, general revelation (i.e. creation) is indirect communication unlike special revelation, which is written Scriptures or spoken through the God-Man Jesus Christ.

Think about the ways people attempt to guard themselves from God’s revelation. What are some of the most common ways we try to hide from God’s voice? What are some of the common ways we try to drown it out? God wants to be heard. General revelation goes further than just telling us that God exists. It also tells us what kind of God exists.

2. God reveals who He is through creation (Romans 1:19-20)

Suppose you came home one day to find a box at your door with a note attached: “These are the personal belongings of your twin brother.” Once you got over the initial shock of having a twin brother you never knew about, you’d open the box and look inside, hoping the contents might tell you something about him.  If the package contained keys to a Harley Davidson, a knife, and a tin of chewing tobacco, that wouldn’t tell you everything about your brother, but it would certainly give you an impression. But if the box contained a set of watercolor paints, a beret, and a tin of organic breath mints, that might give you an entirely different impression, wouldn’t it? The box’s existence would tell you that you had a brother, but the box’s contents would tell you a bit about him.

In the same way, the created world says you have a God, and what you see in the created world tells you some general things about Him. By seeing the general revelation of “the heavens” and the rest of the world, you can get a sense of God’s glory, the sum of His attributes. What knowledge of God’s attributes do you gain by looking at creation? The universe shows His eternality. The sun and rain show His goodness and grace. A volcano and hurricane show His power. When we look at His creation we see who He is and who we are too. Matt Chandler says, “Nobody stands at the base of the Rocky Mountains and says, ‘Remember that time I benched 300 pounds in high school?’”

Nor can anyone say, “I have never heard the gospel before. No one told me I am sinful and God is holy.” His attributes are seen in all humanity—sense of fairness, longing for justice, compulsion to create, etc. But what can and cannot God’s general revelation do? Romans 1:19-20 teaches about responsibility. General revelation is sufficient to hold us accountable for our sin, but not able to save us.

3. God reveals what His plans are through creation (Acts 14:11-18)

What did Barnabas and Paul want the people of Lystra to know? As the pagan demand for more sacrifices to a dead god continued, Barnabas and Paul desperately wanted these people to know the good news that Jesus has made the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, and He did so to honor the will of a Heavenly Father who had been far better to the unsaved people of Lystra than Zeus had been. The missionaries pointed to the evidence: “You have a witness that this is true!” they cried. “He has given you rain and harvest and good food and happiness.”

Acts 14:17 gives you an aspect of the gospel story. When looking at the world around you it is easy to recognize that this place is broken but there are visible aspects of God’s grace. In Matthew 5:45: “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” The benevolent heart of God is made visible through common grace, which is available to every man on this planet. God intends for the happiness you experience in marriage, parenting, and His other good gifts to point you back to Him. The gifts everyone enjoys lead to the Giver.

In Romans 8:22, Paul writes, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” The image is that of the earth giving birth, but the focus is on the pain as it gives way to newness. We look forward to the return of Christ and the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13). The brokenness we see in “the whole creation,” is signaling to us that something is wrong and there is something better beyond this.

In conclusion, the world is a grand theater in which God showcases His glory. One thing we must say about this theater, of course, is that it is not itself the story but the stage for it. Like a good stage set, it tells us something of the story before the players even enter and begin reciting their lines. But it is the script (i.e. the Bible and Jesus) that really reveals. God is not hiding. He is in plain sight.

Concise Theology of General Revelation as seen in Muir Woods

Recently I visited Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. My wife and I were celebrating our third anniversary walking among God’s creation. Walking together is one of our greatest joys. And walking in Muir Woods is quite majestic. It smells of ancient forest. It sounds of pleasant birds and gentle water brook. We even saw a tame young fawn drinking from the water brook that carved through the huge ravine.

We were not alone in the woods. People drive from all over the country and the world to see these mammoth trees. Muir Woods is filled with giant Redwood trees that are bigger than your car in circumference and taller than a 20-story building. Your neck strains seeking to look at the top branches swaying in the ocean breeze.

As amazed as I was by the Redwoods, I was equally amazed by all the people taking pictures of the trees. If you think about it, doesn’t it seem weird that people are flocking to take pictures of big trees? You cannot help but take your camera out of your pocket and snap a few shots. However the photos never really do justice to their reality. It’s like taking a picture of a mountain; you cannot grasp its massiveness and grandeur. But we do not care because we must take a picture to remember what glory we’ve beheld.

It is natural to want to capture nature. We are enamored by nature. John Muir said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than [one] seeks.” Creation wow’s and fascinates us to our core. That’s why people were photographing Muir Woods beauty or spend a moment in silence within the particular grove of trees named, “The Sanctuary.”

Creation is just one of many ways He has revealed Himself to man. It is hard not to look at the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, or Muir Woods and think, “Wow, God made this.” Any other response is utter rejection of the obvious reality. This is called General Revelation.

Here is a concise theology of General Revelation as seen in Muir Woods:

God make Himself known through His creation.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” [Romans 1:19-20; Cf. Psalm 19:1-6]

Creation shouts the glory of God!

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” [Isaiah 55:12, Cf. 44:23]

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!” [1 Chronicles 16:31-34, Cf. Psalm 96:11-13]

Creation makes known the glory of His Savior Son.

“As He [Jesus] rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” [Luke 19:36-40′ Cf. Acts 14:11-18]

Creation along with humanity groans to gain back its lost glory after the fall, but is promised a restoration far better than its former glory.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” [Romans 8:18-22]

Noah (Part 2): God is faithful through the flood

Without God’s grace on Noah and his family, you and I would not be here today. Remember, the reason God chose to save Noah is given in Genesis 6:8, “But Noah found favor [grace] in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah did not begin his life a blameless [6:9], righteous man [7:1], “walking with God,” but he began a sinner. The only difference between Noah and the other sinners who drowned in the flood was that God was gracious to Noah. God choose undeserving Noah to be an object of His grace. This is the first time in the grace appears in word form in the Bible.[1] God is so faithful to mankind despite their flagrant sin.

The time has come [Genesis 7:1-5]

God calls Noah to enter the ark. Final preparations from God arrive about the ark and the future flood. There are two very interesting items to note. First, God asks Noah to gather seven pairs of clean animals, and a pair of unclean animals. In God’s wisdom, the mixed genders of the animals give the ability for the animals to procreate after the flood, but what is the deal with the clean and unclean animals? At this point, there was no law [cf. Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14:3-12], nor any recorded conversation with Noah concerning the difference between pure and impure animals. In the context of the first chapters of Genesis, I tend to lean towards the belief that the distinction of clean and unclean animals was for the purpose of sacrifice. Sacrifice and worship were already a big part of God’s created order [cf. 3:21; 4:3-5; 9:20ff].

Second, God’s patience for man’s sin extended for 1600 years [Genesis 5], He allowed 120 years for people to repent [6:3], but no one did. The time has come and Noah has only one week to gather two of every kind of animal.[2] This is totally an impossible task for one family to accomplish on their own, unless they have divine help [cf. 7:16; 2:19]. And again, Noah obeys all that God commands Him to do [cf. 6:22]. God’s sovereign rule and His expectation for man’s obedience run parallel to each other. God requires Noah to build the ark—taking 120 years—possibly showing the diligence of Noah’s obedience.

Put your feet in Noah’s Nike’s [Genesis 7:6-24]

Noah builds a big boat in a desert, for 120 preaches with no one listening only mocking, and God gives him 7 days to gather all the animals of the field and air before the flood walls burst [note: water came from above and below]. The decree of God comes to pass just as He promised. His sovereignty is displayed in His wrath against sin.[3] This is one of the most sobering passages in all the Bible. The destruction was all encompassing and annihilating to every living thing on earth [7:19-23], except for what was in the ark of His grace. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to celebrate your 600th birthday? I am sure Noah was flooded with emotion.

What would you be thinking? Could you image what Noah and his family was thinking as the storm clouds move in, as he notices neighbors and friends working the field, as he hears the voices of children and mothers in their homes, as they stand in the ark during the flood? “What about the other people who do not get into the boat? Is it fair that they are out there and we are in here? Has God left us alone? Will this boat stand the strength of this storm? Will we ever be able to get out of this boat? Will we have enough food?” We do not know what they were thinking, maybe fear, doubt, or loneliness.

I remember as a child, I would hide from my mother in the clothing racks while shopping. She did not like that very much. One time we were in JC Penny’s and I thought it would be fun to hide extra hard and extra long. So I hid in the center of a tall rack of jean. I could hear my mother saying, “Justin, where are you? Come out this minute!” I waited until I couldn’t hear her anymore. I peaked out from the clothes and she was gone. I was alone. For a split second, I was excited because I lost her, but then I was filled with fear because I didn’t want to live in JC Penny’s the rest of my life. I loved my mom and didn’t want to lose her. I searched throughout the store yelling her name, but could not find her. Until I heard a voice from above say, “This is the costumer service counter. Would Justin Hutts please report to the service counter immediately.” The voice said it again. I ran to the front of the store. There was my mother with a look anger mixed with an embrace of grace.

God has already shown Himself faithful. He is in the storm. His sovereignty is displayed as He fills the ark, He shuts the door on time, and He unleashes the flood re-creating of all He created. Holding the boat afloat and by His grace filled it with 8 people and enough animals to replenish the earth. God’s progress of redemption again takes chaos and shows His absolute control. The same language in Genesis 7 is used in the initial act of creation [Genesis 1; Note: Creation and Re-creation Comparison chart].

God Remembers Noah [Genesis 8:1-19]

Even in the floods of judgment, when God seems most distant to our eyes, He is faithful to remember His own [8:1]. Noah is not forgotten. God gives Noah a glimmer of hope amidst the stormy seas. The word “remembrance” is found twice in this passage and only two other times in Genesis in relation to God and man.[4] This word is used primarily to speak of a covenant God makes with His people, thus recalling a promise made by God to sustain man.  In Exodus, this word used again, as God recalls the covenant relationship between Abraham and His children as they are living in Egypt [Exodus 2:24; 6:5]. This is the kind of remembrance that God has for Noah and his family in the ark. God is faithful in carrying out His plan and executing His promises to Noah [cf. 6:18].

It only took forty days for the waters to rise and destroy the earth, but it took about 5 months for the waters reside.  What is Noah doing during this time? He patiently waits [8:10, 12]. How many of you would be willing to wait on God like Noah? How many of you when bad things happen with impatience plead with God for immediate relief? Noah simply waits. He waits for a word from God before leaving the ark [8:15, 18]. God speaks; Noah obeys. Noah knew God was at work. The rain stopped and the waters began to reside. Do you see the sovereignty and faithfulness of God at work? Do you see the rhythmic ebb and flow of the flood story?

In conclusion, the flood flexes the character of God as sovereign dealing with sin [death, Romans 3:23; 6:23], and faithful to His own through the flood. We are also confronted with the patience of God and how He is offended by sin. We are encouraged by Noah’s faithful obedience. Noah was particular, not partial, in following God’s instruction. ‘Cutting corners’ would mean the destruction of his family too. God expects lifelong obedience. Noah is an example to all of us not just of obedience but also the faithfulness of God in the midst of the fierce flood.

Questions for Reflections and Application: In light of Genesis 6:5-7 and 2 Peter 2:4-9 why did God send the flood? What does the flood reveal about the fate of those who continue in sin without repentance? According to Romans 3:21-28,  how is the Old Testament act of atonement ultimately applied to Jesus Christ? According to I John 4:7-21, how is Jesus’ atonement related to Gods love and ours?


[1] Later, Paul the apostle carries this word in his New Testament teaching on salvation ”by grace through faith alone”. Noah was a favored because God saved him by grace and he had faith in God alone.

[2] Is God just to send the flood? Yes. Why didn’t He give them more time? He gave them 1600 years, plus 120 years of warning, and 7 final days to turn. Why didn’t he send a preacher? He did. Noah preached for 120 years, but no one repented. He was the Billy Graham of his day. Why didn’t God let them sin? You would curse God for His injustice. Why didn’t God save them? He did. He had Noah build a boat. No matter all that God does to people still choose not to heed God.

[3] The flood was a day of judgment, which would be echoed in God’s prophets as they foretold the Day of the Lord,  “The prophets also appealed to the imagery of creation’s reversal to depict the day of the Lord’s judgment [i.e. Isaiah 24:18b; Jeremiah 4:23-26; Amos 7:4].” (cf. Bruce Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI. 2001. 139.) This type of imagery is not seen until the end of time, which is prophesied in the Book of Revelation.

[4] Cf. 9:14-15; 19:29; 30:22; Exodus 2:24; 6:5; 32:13; 1 Samuel 1:19; Judges 16:28; Job 14:13; Psalm 8:4; 9:12; 74:1-3; 98:3; 105:8; 106:45; 111:5; Jeremiah 15:15.

creations need for reconciliation with its Creator

I am the product of the normal dysfunctional American home, which means my parents divorced before I was able to speak, I was in and out of special education classes in school, needed specialized counseling, and struggled with parental authority until after college. I am grateful today for my family situation and how God used it all as a means to mature me into the man I am today. However, when I was younger, I was not so grateful. In fact, I was bitter, jealous, self-centered, and had ungodly expectations of my parents, especially my mother.

It was until the summer after college, I came under conviction for my sinful expectations and need for reconciliation with my mother. After years of church, 4-years of Bible College training for the ministry, and life of ministry awaiting ahead God convicted me through His Word and His Spirit, “Justin, if you are going to be a vehicle of reconciliation into the lives you are ministering and have not reconciled with your own mother, you are living a lie. I have reconciled your relationship with Me. How dare you are slapping Me in the face.” By the end of that summer I sat down with my Father seeking forgiveness, and my mother seeking reconciliation for my hidden expectations. And God reconciled.

First, God promises to conquer sin and remove it from His creation [Genesis 3:15]. In the beginning of the fall of mankind, God gives a glimmer of hope. This verse is known as the protevangelium, or the first proclamation of the gospel. In the seriousness of the situation, Adam’s sin, gives a sobering mention of a seed of salvation. Although centuries of conflict will follow this fall, a day would come when the seed of the women triumphed over sin. Eve’s daughter, Mary, gives birth to the promised seed. “He”, namely Jesus, the promised seed [Galatians 4:4], will one day crush the head of Satan [Galatians 3:16-19]. In a sense, as followers of Christ live under the gospel and become reconciled to God they are destroying the devil and his work [Romans 16:20].

Second, God works throughout history to reveal Himself and reconcile His creation to Himself. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, God progressively works out His redemptive plan. In Genesis, we will see His plan worked out through Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and later with Moses, David and the prophets. God is relentless and passionate about His redemptive purposes for the people of this planet. God remedies creations need through the Redeeming Seed. He is the climax of history and the saving activity of God. He conquered sin, death, and Satan.

Third, God uses sacrifice as the means for reconciliation. It is a sacrifice that clothed Adam and Eve [3:21]; a sacrifice where blood was spilt because of sin. God provided this sacrifice. God initiated reconciliation and provided its means. What the Lord Jesus Christ is called in 1 Corinthians 15:45 is the second Adam. That the first Adam failed, and that the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ succeeded.[1]

Interesting connection, in the Garden before Jesus’ death, remember who comes to the second Adam? The serpent. The serpent tempts Jesus as He did Adam with food. He also tempts Jesus with pride. He takes Him and shows Him all the kingdoms of the earth, and says, “You can rule and reign over all. You don’t need to go to the cross and suffer. All you need to do is bow down and worship me.”

The first Adam allowed the serpent to speak. Jesus steps in and speaks. The first Adam allowed the Word of God to be misquoted. Satan again, in his temptation of Jesus as Adam, misquotes Scripture and changes its meaning. But Hebrews 4:15 says that every moment that the serpent came to tempt Him, He was tempted in every way as you are, yet without sin. At every moment that the serpent came to Jesus, He emerged sinless, triumphant, and victorious.

And so the serpent devised one final plan. As he had caused the first Adam to kill himself via sin that led to his death, he knew that he could not get Jesus, the second Adam, to kill Himself, so he decided that he would simply kill Him. In Luke 22:3, we are told that Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ own 12 disciples. He possessed Judas Iscariot, fulfilling the prophecy of Zachariah in which a friend through a kiss for 30 pieces of silver would betray Jesus. Indeed, Jesus was betrayed. Jesus was handed over. And Jesus was ultimately murdered unjustly.

Colossians 2:13-15 says that though this appears as a victory for Satan and his minions, it was the greatest victory in the history of the world for the Lord Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus did something extraordinary. He took sin upon Himself.[2] And Romans 5 says, “We’re either in the first Adam – dead, or in the second Adam – alive.“ Are you dead or alive? Which Adam do you follow? The Second Adam is your only hope of salvation and a forever. Follow Him.


[1] Cf. Daniel 7:13-14; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 12.

[2] Struggle, affliction and suffering won the battle over the serpent. Cf. Isaiah 53:12; Luke 24:26, 46-47; Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 1:5-7; Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 1:11.

i love the world

I love lots of things. I love Taco Bell, IKEA, Swedish Fish, Wisconsin, VW’s, my wife, and traveling around the world. I understand that is a random list of things. How can a list of things that are so good be so bad?  Everyday things that are good can be twisted towards evil, in turn, ruling my heart and distracting me from wholehearted worship towards God.

John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” [1 John 2:15] But then in another place John says, “For God so loved the world…” [John 3:16] and Jesus says, “As [God] sent Me into the world, so I have sent [believers] into the world.” [John 17:18] So on one hand, I am not supposed to love the world, but God loves the world. And on the other hand, I am not supposed to love things in the world, but Jesus sends His followers to live in the world. Okay, let’s decipher and answer: What is the world? Should or shouldn’t I love the world? How can I love the world?

What is the world?

I am going to begin with biblical worldview of the world. The gospel message sums up the biblical worldview of the world. The gospel is a belief that the Bible is absolutely true in that God is a loving Creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God. In other words, since God is my Creator I am responsible to Him, but I have rebelled against His authority, therefore I need a Redeemer to restore me to a right relationship with God, so I must respond the gospel of Jesus Christ with wholehearted commitment.

According to the gospel, God created the world and the world God created He created “good”. The “good news” does not begin with Jesus, it begins with the good world created by Jesus. The Bible says that God’s creation worships Him and honors Him as the Creator. However, the sinful fall of man has tainted the world. The Bible says that creation and humanity groan for the day when they will be recreated. The world I am called to love is the world God created, not the sinfully rebellious, self-centered, God-forsaken; independent-spirited that marks worldliness.

How can I love the world without loving the world?

First, love the world by enjoying the world God created. All of creation enjoys and worships God, so must I [Psalm 19:1-4]. God created the world for His glory. The created world does not just sit still in its place, it shouts out constant worship to its Creator. Creation worships a real and tangible Creator whose fingerprint is on that creation [Romans 1:19-20]. Not all created beings acknowledge God as Creator, rather they ignores Him [Romans 1:18] and worship the creature over the Creator [Romans 1:21-25].

God created the world good for you [Genesis 1-2; 1 Timothy 4:4-5; 6:17]. Eden, which means “pleasure” or “delight”, was meant to be that for the humans He created to indwell the garden. The garden was a sanctuary of God’s goodness. How can I practically enjoy the world God created? Take a walk outside and breath in the fresh air. Worship God’s worldwide beauty in how He formed the planet, scattered the stars in the sky, carved the mountains, plains, deserts. Worship God in how He made the human body works from the smallest electron to the beat of the heart to the mysterious brain. Worship the simple ways God cares for you,

“The earth feed us. And clothes us. And shelters us. Think of grass for a moment—possibly the most abundant form of vegetation on the planet, in its myriad varieties in all climates. We eat grass, one it has become meat from grazing animals whose only diet is daily grass. We drink grass, in the form of milk and curds. We wear grass, in clothing made from wool or shoes made from leather. Millions of humans still use grass for effective thatched shelter from sun and rain. Grasses are woven in ropes baskets, and floor coverings. Grass alone provides humans with incalculable benefits and supplies so much of our needs, even before we go on to talk about cultivated grasses that produce the vast variety of nourishing grains we shake into our cereal bowls in the morning.”[1]

God created the world as your home, a temporary home. The world is your temporary residence, not your eternal dwelling place. You are a temporary steward of the home God has given you. The Bible says in this present world you are strangers and aliens to this world [Hebrews 11:13]. You are homeless and God is calling you home. Your time here on earth is worship practice for what is to come afterwards. To a home that He will recreate [Revelation 21:14] not filled with worldliness.

Second, love the world by serving of the world. In Genesis 1:28, God give you a creation mandate: care for creation as a royal steward [cf. Genesis 2:15]. As a dominioneer, you are charged to take care of everything God has created on earth, spread yourselves out in population, and spread the popularity of God’s fame through your obedience. You were made in the image of God to bear His name, to work, to rule, and to serve as God’s steward [Genesis 9:1].

Remember at the end of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when Sam was giving a speech to Frodo to continue on the journey of carrying the ring of burden?

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo; the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was, when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going… because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

What is good in this world? What in this world is worth fighting for? God. God is what this world is about. Your life now matters. Your work, family, sleep, and daily routine all matter. Every square inch of the earth you trod matters. Every second of life is significant. God rules it all. He owns it all. As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!”[2] God is supreme over every sphere you enter and roam.

Third, love the world by shining the light to the darkened world. People tend to fight for the spotlight. We want the spot to shine on us. However, the gospel reminds us that we are not the central actors in this divine drama. It is not about me. My fame will fade. The story that matters, which all history focuses upon is: Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world [John 8:12]. He is the primary light. We are just secondary reflectors of His light, like the sun and the moon.

The best way you can love the world is to be an ambassador of the gospel to a darkened world. Shining His light into it through your words and deeds. The way you live, the way you work, and the way you talk all reflect on the God you love. Your first mandate was to subdue the earth [Genesis 1:28] and your final mandate is to make disciples of all peoples [Matthew 28:19-20]. Both mandates spread the fame of God’s name along the way putting the gospel on display.

In conclusion, Should or shouldn’t I love the world? Yes and no. No, I should not love the things in the world that steal my affection for God and rob me of wholehearted worship. Yes, I should love the world God created. How can I love the world? I can love the world by enjoying God’s creation, ruling over His creation as a servant, and shine His light to the darkened world.


[1] The Mission of God’s People, Christopher J.H. Wright, Zonderzan, Grand Rapids, MI. 2010. Pg. 54

[2] Abraham Kuyper, Sphere Sovereignty. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI. 1988. 488.

the beginning of everything (except God)

In the comedic book, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams everyone is on the quest to find the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. A super computer is built, named Deep Thoughts, to calculate the answer, but it must take 7.5 million years to compute. The great day arrives and the world awaits its answer. And the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is, 42. Not the answer they were looking for. Deep Thoughts answers their disgruntlement, “So once you do know what the question actually is, you’ll know what the answer means.” Then Deep Thoughts suggests they build a computer, named Earth, to calculate the right question. The question will take another 10 million years, but a bypass is being built that just demolished earth. So long and thanks for all the fish.[1]

You do not have to build a super computer or search the worlds end to find the answer to the origins of life, the universe and everything. Genesis tell you a lot about the originator, and its origins. First, God created everything with order to reflect His character. Check out the precision and order to the days of God’s creation:

Day Day of the Week What God Made More Details Interesting Tidbits
1 Sunday [Forming] light and darkness The light rose and set. [Sun? Not sure.] Sunday is the same day Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is the illumination of Heaven.
2 Monday [Forming] sky and waters separated Water in the sky, water in the clouds, water in the middle, and water below. In Genesis, God separates things by His Word. God does not say Monday is good!?
3 Tuesday [Forming] dry ground and waters separated Land and seas. God made things grow on Tuesday. Land appears 400 times in Genesis. Important. Also, you plant seeds in ground and grow with water. Seed is a key word in Genesis too.
4 Wednesday [Filling] sun, moon, stars (lights separated in Heaven) 2 lights. Great light: Sun. Lesser light: moon. How did God create light without the sun, moon and stars on Day 1?
5 Thursday [Filling] fish and birds God created things to swim in the water and fly in the sky. God is preparing man’s real-estate to be lived in. God blesses [v.22; 40x’s in Genesis]
6 Friday [Filling] animals and man, plants and trees God puts all the animals together in order [i.e. livestock/farm]. God gives the animals to man to use to help with work.
7 Saturday rest Sleep; day off from work to worship Days are for working and evenings are for sleeping.

Did God really need 6-days to create everything? It is just like asking the question, if God got tired after creating everything? No. God could have created everything in the blink of an eye or the snap of a finger, but He chose 6-days to demonstrate the week of work and need for day of rest. God made all this great stuff before He made you. He desires to take care of you from the get go. What a great God!

Second, without an understanding of Genesis 1-2, you cannot understand Genesis 3 and beyond. Without understanding how good God created everything, you cannot completely grasp what happens in the rest of the Bible.

Third, creation is a theme found throughout the Bible. You will see the notion of creation pop up other places in the Bible. It all starts in Genesis with God creating all things. Later in the Bible, Jesus Christ comes as the Savior of mankind, redeeming His creation. Those who believe in Him become new creations. Even later in the Bible, following the second coming of Jesus Christ, the idea of creation will reappear with the creation of a new heavens and new earth that are not stained with sin. God loves to create.

Fourth, since God created everything, everything is under his authority. You are responsible and accountable as a creation to your Creator. Why should I obey God? He made you. He owns you. He holds the deed to your life. You can still choose not to believe or obey, even create your own gods to worship, but that does not erase the fact that He is God and you are not. He owns your life, and you owe Him your life. Since, He is the authority everything will give account to Him. It is best to obey Him today than tomorrow.


[1] Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,Portland House, New York, NY. 1997. 117-122

breaking news

Have you ever received any breaking news? The kind of news that startles you for a moment and your life is never the same. Maybe you received news that your lover has just broken off the relationship, your father passed away suddenly, you failed the test, you are pregnant, you lost your job, or you watch a tragedy unfold on the breaking news today.

This is not the kind of news we want to hear, but inevitably we will all here some bad breaking news. How do you normal respond to bad news? Brace yourself; I have some more bad news for you. Ready? You are going to die. 100% of people who are born into this world will one day die. Do you know where will you go when you die? The answer to this question might be even worse news to you. The thought of death and the perplexity of an afterlife cause many to be fearful or anxious.

Not all breaking news is bad news. I have some wonderful breaking news for you: the gospel. What is the gospel, you ask? The gospel is good news. It is earth shattering, life-altering breaking news. When I am confronted with the gospel I see myself for who I really am and the way I respond to the gospel can have eternal ramifications.

The Gospel is the center of Christianity. Without a right understanding and application of the gospel you do not have a true picture of Christianity. The gospel is what makes Christianity distinct and exclusive from other faith-based systems. The gospel to Christianity is like a wrench to a mechanic or a flower to a florist. The mechanic does not sit around and ponder, “What is this wrench used for?” Nor does a florist wonder, “What is a bouquet of roses?” Without the gospel one does not understand the core of Christianity.

How good a grip do you have on the gospel? What is the good news that Christians blaa-blaa-blaa about? What is so good about good news anyway? We do know what the gospel is not, or at least what the gospel is not alone.

  • The gospel is not Jesus alone.
  • The gospel is not Jesus death, burial and resurrection alone.
  • The gospel is not a belief in Jesus alone.
  • The gospel is not being forgiven of my sins alone.
  • The gospel is not God loves you alone.
  • The gospel is not God has a special plan for you alone.
  • The gospel is not changing my life to be a better [loving] person alone.

The gospel is a belief that the Bible is absolutely true: God is a loving creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God. The gospel is not only something I believe in for a moment that will change my life eternally, but its also the means for me to live righteously all throughout my life.

How do I know this is the gospel? How do I know this gospel is true? How do I know this gospel is for me? Could it be as simple as Bible tells me so? YES. It comes down to whether I believe God wrote a book and that this book is Truth.

How can I know that the Bible is absolute truth and authoritative? Is the Bible reliable? Other than the Bible we have three sources of so-called reliable truth. The first source of truth we have is tradition. Tradition tells us what has be true passed down from generation to generation. Some say tradition is not reliable because traditions change or generations might distort the truth to another generation. A second source of truth is reason. Reason uses mans thinking to proven or make understandable what is true. Does everybody agree on what is true? Reason often leads to skepticism and more questions rather than understanding truth. A third source of truth is experience. Some measure truth by what I can seems or feels right. What we know from experience is the experience is not a good measurement for truth. Tradition, reason, and experiences fail us more often then not. What is your standard of authority? Is it reliable? Are you sure?

So where can we find truth? I believe that God authored His Word and spoke these words to called men who recorded them in what we know as the Bible. I also believe since God is perfect and holy, the Bible is infallible and authoritative [2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 18:30]. Therefore, the overall plan of salvation for sinful men that God lays out through His Word is absolutely true.

In the letter to the Romans the apostle Paul writes about the Gospel. He gives a concise and clear explanation of God’s purposes in Christ. He writes this letter to people who would consider themselves Christians, but Paul wants to make sure they really do understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” [Romans 1:16]

If Paul were alive today he would share the gospel with his mailman, garbage man, X-Box buddies, bowling league, and bullies at work or school. We know this because he was unashamed of the gospel in his time when Christians were killed for their faith. He was beaten, bullied and put into jail, but this did not stop him from sharing the gospel with the prison guards. The gospel was life to Paul.

What is the Gospel according to the Bible?

First, I am responsible to God. I am responsible to God because He is my Creator and Sustainer. Without God I would not be breathing. Since He is Creator He has say so over His creation. He did not just create you and leave you alone. He created you for fellowship with Him. You cannot have fellowship with a God who is far off playing Parcheesi in another planetary system. The God of the Bible says He is with us and He has made His presence know quite plainly.

ROMANS 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

God is visible through His creation. When I look at Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and the myriads of stars in the summer sky I am left to ponder: Could not have been created by mere chance? Could there be a greater power behind this? God says we are without excuse. It is as if He has written in the clouds, “Look around you, I am with you.” Since God is your Creator, He owns you. On that basis alone you are obligated to obey Him. Yet that is not always what happens, which brings us to the next point.

Second, I have rebelled against God. Rather than obeying our Creator and thanking Him we spit in His face and in a sense tell Him by our words and actions we do not think He is doing a good job running this world. Therefore we sin against God.

ROMANS 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Have you ever blamed you messes on someone else? That is exactly what we do to God. We say to God, “If you really loved me and if you were really good, my life would not be like this!” Thus we pretend to be God and create our own truth system that makes us feel good. When we replace God we think we are wise, but God says this is foolish. You cannot play pretend god for long because God is jealous and wants to be our King and True Vine. Those who do not praise God will be rejected from His kingdom and cut off as dead branches.

Since, God is Creator, He has the right to judge His creation [cf. Romans 2:1-5]. My sin condemns me to death and eternal separation from my God. This is bad news. Do you see how bad your sin really is? Sin is life altering. Yet in the shadow of this bad news there is breaking news that shines as a beacon of light to our rescue.

Third, I can be redeemed by the blood of God’s Son who died and resurrected for the sins of humanity. What is God’s solution to our sin problem? God took action. Since God is a good and loving Creator He made a way for His creation to be forgiven—by faith in the work of Jesus Christ.

ROMANS 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

God sends Christ to earth as visible a message: “My creation, you are not okay. You are not as good as you think you are. In fact, you are wicked. You need Me. You need My help. I have come to the rescue. Repent of your sin and follow Christ.” Now this is good news!

Fourth, I must respond to the gospel. My response is to turn from my sin and believe Christ. It’s an all-in-Jesus-is-my-King choice. There is no turning back. When we give our life over to God we are saying to God I no longer want to be enslaved to sin, but now I want to be a slave of righteousness [cf .Romans 6-8]. God draws me to the message of the gospel in His grace and I must respond in faith. Salvation is not based on how good I am, can be, or wish to be, but solely on the work of Christ. “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness [Romans 4:4-5].

You now have come face to face with the breaking news of the gospel. The gospel is indeed life-altering and earth shaking. Your response to the gospel is a matter of life and death eternally. In review the gospel is: God is a loving creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God.

hiking up a mountain with a pregnant wife

Sarah and I just got back from our wonderful vacation filled with family, friends, and new memories of glorious mountains. We were able to spend a few days hiking and exploring the back country of Rocky Mountain National Park. We climbed up to the base of Mummy Peak and tented at the treeline basin nestled below Fairchild and Hagues Mountains. We did not encounter any bears at 11000 feet, but we did have plenty of encounters with chipmunks. They don’t warn you at the park office about those pesky varmints!?

When standing within the virgin forests gazing up at the sharp rocks jetting into blue skies one cannot help but think, “God is powerful and mighty to have created this natural art.” The picturesque mountains are certainly contagious. I miss the sounds of mountain birds singing and wind whirling in the tall evergreens, the smell of the crisp snow capped air mixed with ointment of perfuming flowers. God is so creative in the way He attracts our senses to His beauty and majesty within creation.

Much of this vacation was imagined and planned by my wife Sarah. Even though she is 5 months pregnant she did not complain much about the elements. Sarah is perched for adventure. Next week she departs for over a week with a group from our church to Haiti. There she will again hike a mile up a mountain to serve faithfully in a forgotten village 6 months after the devastating earthquake. Some say Sarah is crazy for going overseas this far into her pregnancy, while others have offered her money to stay home, but she presses on with the support of her husband.

I have confidence that Sarah will do be just fine in Haiti, especially after climbing the 6.2 mile trail up and down Lawn Lake. Our baby is going to be a little climber and adventurer just like mama. Our God is a protector and provider. He is the God who has given us our child and He is the God who will also hedge my wife and child as they go to unknown places spreading the fame of His name.

the sea horse

The sea horse declares the glories of God. This unique creation gallops slowly near the shore with its tail twisting forward gripping seaweed. The seahorse is an amazing creation that describes a lot about our amazing Creator

The sea horse is incredibly unique. Its protective bony armor cleverly protects it from imminent danger. Its armor is so strong that it is almost impossible to crush a dried dead sea horse in your hands. Its tough skeleton is not a yummy or crunchy for predators. 

The sea horse unlike all other fish in that its head is set at right angles to its body. It swims with its body held upright. It can bend its head down or up, but not from side to side. To most this would seem like a handicap, but the Creator in His amazing wisdom has designed the seahorse’s eyes to move independently, swiveling around in any direction to watch each side. 

The sea horse uses its fins to swim vertically, and rises or sinks by cleverly altering the volume of gas within its swim bladder [w/o the use of Beano!?]. If this bladder is damaged, and it loses even a tiny bit of gas, it sinks to the bottom, where it will lie helpless until death.

The most unique characteristic of the sea horse, compared to all other animals in God’s creation, is that the male gives births to its young. The male sea horse has a kangaroo like pouch built into its armor. The female lays the eggs directly into this pouch, where the male fertilizes them. She may lay as many as 600 eggs. Once impregnated the dad-to-be swims off as the baby incubator. One or two months later he gives birth to tiny replicas of their parents.

The sea horse is like the platypus. As far as evolution is concerned: it presents an enigma that baffles and frustrates all theories that seek to disprove a Creator. It is easy to see when one looks at the sea horse that there is a Divine Designer.