A Righteous God
07 Oct 06, at the "New Life" Service at the Anglican Cathedral, the pastor started the service by praying against Gays. The presiding pastor mentioned that some Bishops in Norway are "promoting" homosexuality (as if it needs promotion) but seemingly constrainted by the Holy Spirit to condemn further, he quickly digest and prayed that the Church of Norway may remain true to her historical roots of evangelical missions and walk in Biblical Christianity and biblical faith. He then went on to strongly prayed for the church' missions to the ends of the earth. How amazing, the presence of the Holy Spirit was so stong in the church that the Pastor could not continue in his condemnation against Gays but reverted to praying for missions to the ends of the earth to every single tribe. Ironically, he was actually praying for gays to come into the church, because gays are the last tribe on earth, not some lost tribe in Africa or deep in the jungles of South America, but a unique group of people in our very midst who has been denied by the church to enter its gates. The Pastor despite his degree in divinity has been clearly inconsistent in his theology. His condemnation of Gays would be based on the old testament Jewish Holistic codes which apparently calls it a sin, yet his call for missions is based on Christ commandments. However, Christ was crucified at the cross because of the Jewish Laws, and therefore if consistent with the laws, the call to missions should be to persecute all non Jews especially Christians who claim to worship Jesus just as the Jewish zealots did in the first 50 years after Christ was crucified. At the "New Life" service, the Holy Spirit intervened and redirected the prayer to indirectly call for Gays to enter the church through missions just as God changed the prayer of the prophet Balam to bless the Jews instead of cursing them.
Theology (Greek θεος, theos, "God", + λογος, logos, "word" or "reason") is defined as reasoned discourse concerning religion, spirituality and gods. One of the most profound questions and paradoxes facing many learned thinkers and reflective theologians are the difficulty with the pictures of a seemingly cruel God, a God that demands the cruel punishment of His Son Jesus Christ, and acts of cruelty by the Hebrews against nations they conquered in the Old Testament. Many have found it inconsistent between the idea of God's all consuming love versus the notion of hell where sinners suffer eternal torture. The question of an all powerful God apparently permitting sickness, death, pain, sorrow, inequality, cruelty, and injustice seems so contradictory to a God of Love reflected in Christ Jesus. But for many, even Christ' claim is far too exclusive and contrary to His love for man. In view of Christ claim that He alone is the way and the truth and no other religions, many have questioned and doubt whether salvation is simply accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour with no tangible works or Christ like behaviour to first reflect this reality of salvation in our lives. They questioned whether our theology of what Christ death means to us matters at all or it is more important just to focus and talk about the resurrected Christ (be it symbolic or an actual event) and what works for each and see the resulting good works and Christ like characteristics as indication of our Christian identity and faith leading to salvation.
When we attempt to mold God into our own image or in this case, to fit our own theology in one particular area, if we want to be consistent we will be continually be forced to redefine other areas of the bible even though it comes against a consistent revelation of the bible. Our arguments presupposes hypoteticals and their correctness and maybe all a delusion. We may end up detouring from the biblical truths and biblical christianity. This is much akin to continue lying to cover up an original lie. When we attempt to base our theology solely on the idea that God is Love because of our long life experiences and fundamental as it may be, we missed out on the truths on the other pillar that is also reflective of God in the bible, the righteousness of God that is bounded by strict moral values and legal principals. An all powerfull God, having the power and love to act and to intervene cannot do so unless it is legally right to do so. The notion that God permits certain actions by mankind under some mysterious will because His thoughts are higher than us is not biblical because it implies God have the ability to stop these actions which He does not because He has no legal right to do so. A righteous God cannot contradicts His own morality and principles. When God bless us it is not because of our goodness, it is because of His Son jesus Christ whose death and resurrection permits God to bless us under the Mosaic Covenant because Jesus fulfilled all its requirements.
In our "Post Modern" theology become enstranged from the God of the Old testament because it is apparently a cruel God and we come worship only the God of the New Testament because it fits our theology of a God of love. In order to justify our position, we come to reject much of the Old Testament as being metaphorical or folk tales not understanding with wisdom that without the foundation of the Old Testament, the need for the resurrected Christ in the New Testament is meaningless. The creation study becomes just a story to us made up by the Hebrews. We close our ears and our eyes shut to anything from the Old Testament or over analysed it and by doing so we also missed the way and the meaning and true significance of the cross and the tread of Christ revealing God's mercy and grace from the Old to the New Testaments. The strong push by Liberal or "progressive" or "Post Modern" ideas have resulted in a Conservative backlash to defend the bible and a push to the Christian Right to go back to the Jewish Laws. This over reaction tantamounts to intellectual suicide as if we are to be consistent have to reject the New Testament where Grace and Mercy abounds over law in Christ Jesus who made us a new creation apart from the Law. Christianity becomes pseudo Judaism devoid of Christ as its centrality.
Why does God seemingly "allow" pain and suffering even to the righteous? The question implies that God has the power and the authority to stop pain and suffering. Whilst, God has the power, He has no authority to do so. God is a covenant God and is bounded by His righteousness. The earth is given to Satan by mankind. It belongs to Satan and all its people within it to do what he wills and desires. God has no right to touch them unless they called and reached out to Him through Jesus Christ!. Only Christians are owned by God and have a legal right to ask for blessings and healings through Jesus Christ death at the cross. What right has God to intervene in Satan's kingdom! God can only intervene because of a legal reason, and that reason arosed when Abraham decided to sacrifice his son to God therefore giving God the right to send Jesus to die for us. God is always looking for legal entry points to bless and to save. God did not sit on the sideline and did nothing. He gave all He could, He gave His only begotten son that through Him we may become part of His family. To accuse God of permmtting and allowing for pain and suffering is to blaspheme His name.
The following is a typical example of cruelty apparently "instituted" by God for the liberal Christians despite their reluctance to admit their position. If read carefully, God is not cruel but being righteous and consistent with His principles. His all powerful nature does not allow Him to act without reflecting on His righteousness. Look closely and you will see God's grace and Mercy in the midst of judgement according to His morality. He is like the farmer always looking out for the lost sheep, always eager to find a legal reason of how He could bless, prosper and save.
God and the Hebrews entered into a covenant freely and not by any compulsion. The Hebrews agreed to abide by the terms that if they sinned against God by worshipping idols and not giving God the honor due, they would die but conversely if they followed the law, they would be blessed by God. Therefore when the Hebrews broke the law and the primary law which really shows their denial of God's grace and salvation, God is duty bound to kill them according to the covenant just as He is duty bound to bless them when they follow the law. He has no choice. But justice was meted out with mercy for they had a chance to turn back, to come back to the Lord's side. If God had not responded according to the covenant, He would not be a righteous God. God has no legal right to subsequently blessed the Hebrew nation if He is unwilling to judge them when they broke the law. But God's mercy abounds much even in the Law. God had to act in Exo 32. If He did not, Christ death at the cross has no meaning. But God gave a second chance for the Hebrews to be on His side and not on the side of the idol god. Simialrly, today, God's arms are wide open full of grace and mercy offering mankind salvation through Jesus Christ. But most reject Him and destined to suffer death.
Even Jesus, who so potrayed God's love could not simply ignore the demands of the law, the contractual arrangement entered into by the Jews. The Jews were asking whether they need to follow it because it was so harsh and drew more judgement rather than blessings! Jesus answered in Mat 5:17 that He did not come nor has the authority to destroy the consequences of failing to follow the law but He came to fulfill it by bearing its demands on our behalf, the demand of death when we fail to follow the law. The Law has no time limit or limited validity, the requirements must be met till eternity. Therefore, one needs to follow it and even better that the religious leaders (Mat 5:20) and there is no escape from the need to fulfill the requirements of the laws for blessings. Jesus came to fulfill the demands of the Law, the demand for one to suffer death when we break the law. Hence, Jesus came to fulfill the punishment of the Law for our sins in our place. Once we believed and accept Jesus into our lives, the punishment for our sins fall on Christ. It is simple, some say too simple, forgetting that it cost the life of the son of God. Jesus not only fulfilled the punishment demanded by the law, but also the blessings if we follow the law and do not sin. Because, Jesus is sinless, He fulfilled perfectly the requirements of the law to receive blessings. Therefore in Christ, we have a double blessings, of mercy of not receiving the judgement of the Law, of Grace by receiving the blessings of following the law perfectly because Christ is perfect.
Theology does matter much more than any good works because if our theology is bible based then the good works is already done in Christ. Paul asked us to judge a person not by the works he has done, but the work of Christ in that person, i.e., whether you have started that process of outward transformation because one has been inwardly transformed to become in new creation when we accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Many preachers have denied the existence of hell because they could not comprehend that a God of Love could ever allow or permit that mankind would suffer for eternity of pain and torture. They consider it a good Jewish story only and at best reflect the pain suffered from separation from God. But without Hell, there is also no Heaven and no justice or morality. There will be no notion of Heaven where we can be with God and have eternal peace. Our right theology will get us into heaven, our trust and faith in the sufficiency of the resurrected Christ to save. It makes a difference between Heaven and Hell. One may not care a "damn" about others theology but more on works, but God sees differently. It is not the Church we go, not the denomination we go to, it is who we see Christ as by faith that only though Him we will get to heaven not by Mary, by Buddha, or by Muhammad, great people that they are, they are all sinners for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Our God is an exclusive God and the gate which is Christ alone is very narrow. Even many "Christian" denominations are not Christ centered but based on their leader, the saints, the apostles, of good works, of pennance, of following the law. There are hundreds of religions all claiming to lead to God. Some have equated to a blind man touching different sides of an Elephant and giving a different description but it is the same Elephant. This would be a resonable deduction if God had stayed in heaven but Jesus appeared in the flesh and though we were once blind but now we see the light. In Acts 17:29, Paul said of the Athenians as always groping in the dark without seeing the true light of Christ. After two thousand years, many still do not see the light despite going to seminaries.
The intellectually inclined amongst us will question whether we can "loose" our salvation or fall from Grace in the most extreme of situation when we deny Christ for example or when we take up another faith. James 2:17 is also often quoted justifying the act of good works to help the poor and works of social justice as itsself being a demonstration of faith leading to salvation. In the context of the Roman Greco world where multiculturism and religions co-exist, the works here does not refer to the good deeds. James was questioning the apparent discrepacies between our actions versus our claim that we are of Christ. These works include remaining in worshipping of idols and other gods, or the word of our mouths worshiping and honoring other gods and declaring that they too might be other paths to salvation or uncertainty that Jesus truly saves or that we are indeed justified. Such works therefore runs totally contrary to our profession of faith in Christ Jesus. Are we really saved after all? or is it just a mental consent of following a set of rules? If it is by faith and we are truly saved, then we will naturally demonstrate that faith in action by proclaiming the Good news and in the case of Abraham, he chosed to give up all to worship the true God. When we chose to deny Christ at our freewill, we may have never accepted Him in the first place. In these context, we are warned to work out our salvation (Phil 2:12) with fear, to examine ourselves whether our faith is just a self justifying delusion. Christ death paid for the consequences of our sins that we did yesterday, today, and tommorow. We cannot fall from Grace by definition because we can only fall into grace i.e. only when we fall into sin, do we need the grace of God. Otherwise, we are sinless and do not need Jesus Christ and the grace of Salvation in the very first place.
The filter of entering heaven is very narrow but the grace and mercy of God is very wide. He has waited for thousand years for mankind to come back to Him. Gays are waiting at the door of the church to come in because Christ is represented by the church. When the church reject Gays, it stands at the entry of the narrow gate and bears great condemnation for their self righteousness in barring the gays from coming in and indeed sending them to hell. The Gay issue will not go away. It can't because Jesus is coming back for all tribes. When we come against Gays, we come against God who will remove in time those who are blocking the narrow gate to heaven. We are Forgiven at the Cross of Calvary.