See if you can spot the issue here.
“We worship a living God. Not one locked up in the Scripture of 2,000 years ago.”
That sentiment was voiced some years ago by a protestant clergyman, who went on to say “What I love about believing in a living God is that I believe God is constantly revealing God’s self to us over time, and with each succeeding generation, we come a little closer to understanding the mind of God.”
The clergyman’s words brought to mind for me another quote from Dr. J.I. Packer, who said “a half-truth masquerading as a whole truth becomes a complete untruth.” In my mind, the words of the clergyman talking about a living God is an example of a half-truth masquerading as a whole truth.
God is indeed a living God. That’s truth. He is eternally existent.
And our understanding of the nature of God has and continues to progress over time. Moses understood more about God than Abraham did. John the Baptist understood more than either of them. The disciples of Jesus understood more about the gospel on the day of Pentecost than they did fifty days earlier at the Passover.
And the church’s understanding of the incarnation, the nature of the God-man and how the One God exists as three Persons – all of these ideas became clearer as God worked in the church by His Spirit to confirm their understanding of what the Scriptures teach.
But I imagine you saw the flaws in the thinking of the clergyman above. First, the idea that God is a living God does not mean that He is a morphing or changing. For human beings, to be alive is to be constantly changing. You are not the same person you were a year ago. Or five years ago. Or for that matter, you are not the same person you were five minutes ago. And you’ll change between today and tomorrow. To be alive as a human means that we are in a constant state of change. Our thinking, our behavior, our attitudes and beliefs all continue to develop over a lifetime.
God is an unchanging God. “Jesus Christ,” the Bible says, “is the same – yesterday, today and forever.” In Malachi, God says “I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
The idea that God is somehow “locked up” in a 2,000-year-old book implies that the God who has revealed Himself to us on the pages of Holy Scripture has outgrown His old ways of thinking and acting. He has kept up with the times.
The second question for each of us to think through is this. If God is not “locked up” in the pages of scripture, but He is indeed a living (i.e. changing) God, then how can we know Him? How does this living God reveal Himself to us today?
Most people who believe in a kind of “living God” who is still in the process of revealing Himself to us have come to see the modern, up to day version of God as a God who thinks more like they think. In fact, you’ll almost never hear someone talking about a new understanding or a new revelation from God where the new revelation is in conflict with or opposed to what the person who is receiving the revelation thinks or believes. Is it just a coincidence that the new revelations about the “living God” are always happily concurrent with what modern cultural norms?
The idea that “with each succeeding generation, we come a little closer to understanding the mind of God” also fails the test of history. The 2,000 year track record of the church follows a pattern of faithfulness to the gospel followed by lapses and seasons of darkness followed by a reviving and reforming work of God’s Spirit to bring His people back in line with what the scriptures have always taught. The vanity that comes from thinking that because we have smart phones and the internet we now have a clearer picture of who God is and how He thinks is not a new conceit. We have to remember that if Jesus doesn’t come back in the next hundred years, our great grandchildren will look back on our day as “primitive” in the same way that we look back on how our ancestors lived 100 year ago and think about how much they didn’t know yet.
So what might the “living God” spoken of above look like in 2123? Will His thinking have evolved on current issues? Will He look like a smarter and more powerful being who essentially believes in the same things we believe in?
Maybe the bigger and more important question for us is what humanity will look like in 2123. We can hope and pray that God in His mercy will bring a fresh revival and reformation in His church. Instead of a “living God” is no longer locked up in the pages of a 2,000 year old book, let’s hope and pray that his followers are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:4) who realign their lives to conform to the “living and abiding word of God” that points us to the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, whose understanding is unsearchable (Isaiah 40:28).
COUPLES NIGHT OUT
Are you coming to the Redeemer Couples Date Night? We need to know this week so we can get our food order in and have everything ready for a week from Friday.
|We’ve been saying it for a while now, but it’s true. Your marriage matters. That’s why we’ve made plans for a special evening out, complete with child care, so that you and your spouse can have fun, have a great meal, relax and focus on your marriage.|
Signing up is easy. Click here and add your name to the list.
And remember, this is a great opportunity for you to reach out and invite another couple you know to join you. There’s a special rate for guests who are not part of our church.
If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s time to decide. Join us for a great evening together as we focus on your marriage.
Here’s all that’s happening at church leading up to Easter.
|Palm Sunday morning, our elementary aged kids will start our worship service with a special song. Pro tip: arrive early that week so you don’t miss the kids!|
Don’t forget. The Resurrection Rally is a great kid-friendly event to invite guests to.
And if you have any spare plastic eggs (the small ones – 2.5 inches) that you can donate to the cause, bring them with you to church this Sunday.
Finally, be thinking about friends or co-workers you can invite to join you for our Sunday morning service on Easter Sunday.
Ladies, Saturday morning, April 22 is our Spring Women’s Gathering from 10:00 am – 11:30 am. Food, fellowship and fun. The event is free, but we need to know you’re coming. Click here to sign up.
|This Summer, our students are making plans to host an outdoor VBS in Memphis in conjunction with Street Reach! Parents – click here for more information about the trip! Or see Pastor Cole with any questions you have.|
|In the final years of his life, King Solomon decided to explore what kind of personal satisfaction could be gained by approaching life without God at the center. He chronicled His experiment in the book of Ecclesiastes. |
And this Sunday, Pastor Jeff Terrell from Ascend Church in Kansas City joins us to explain what Solomon ultimately concluded when all was said and done.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!