Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

An Idolatrous Image of God

God is love, and His love is why we exist, and I'm grateful for his love every day, but God is so much more than that. Look at it this way, it is very safe to say that I am a patriot. I gave up family, friends, and home to serve my country and it only cost me twenty years of my life, my health, and a substantial portion of my sanity. But I'm a lot more than that, I'm a father, a husband, a model railroader, an amateur photographer, a really bad plumber, an engineer, a writer... all these attributes and more make up what and who I am, and to ignore many of those attributes gives you a false image of who I really am. If you were to judge me, to define my value as a human, by observing only my patriotism then you have a highly skewed image of me and would probably be confused by the fact that I'm employed by a private company rather than marching in parades and saluting the flag 24/7. 

Also if you ever saw me trying to repair a drain you'd probably call a cop. 

When considering people we have to consider the whole person just as when we worship God we must worship all of His divine person, His love, His holiness, and even His anger. I only mention this for two reasons; 1. I was moved by a sermon by John MacArthur about how we diminish God by ignoring almost all of His divine attributes and 2. I have to replace a toilet this weekend.

Yes God is love, but why do so many people concentrate on that one single attribute to the point where all of His other attributes are forgotten or ignored? When we take away all of the other attributes that make up our Creator we diminish His essence to something that He clearly isn't. As Richard Lovelace wrote 

"...in a world in which the sovereign holy God regularly employs plagues, famines, wars, disease, and death as instruments to punish sin and bring mankind to repentance, the idolatrous image of God as pure benevolence and love cannot really be believed, let alone feared and worship in the manner prescribed by both the Old Testament and New Testament."
John MacArthur points out that after delivering a sermon on the holiness of God and the sinfullness of sin a young man came up to him and said "I'm a student in seminary, senior, and I just have to tell you that I did not appreciate your message at all. You were totally off base because you lacked love. Our message is love and I didn't find any love at all in your message."

John was shocked at the student's reaction because the passages he was teaching from were not about love. Later a faculty member summed up the student's reaction with "Well, you see the real issue wasn't that you didn't have enough love in your message, the real issue was that from that student's viewpoint you didn't have all love in your message, because there's no room for anything else."

How huge a disservice are we doing by allowing, nay, begging people to teach the false doctrine that 'God is only love'. Richard Lovelace continues:
"The whole church was avoiding the biblical portrait of the sovereign and holy God who was angry with the wicked every day and whose anger remains upon those who will not receive His son. Walling off this image into an unvisited corner of its consciousness, the church substituted a new God who was the projection of grandmotherly kindness mixed with a gentleness and winsomeness of a Jesus who hardly needed to die for our sins. And many American congregations were, in effect, paying their ministers to protect them from the real God."
What he is saying is that if you continue in the saccharine sweet sentimentalization of the nature of God, you preach a false God. In essence you created a sweet powerless puffball that sinners like Miley Cyrus use as a shield to justify their sinfullness rather than recoiling in the horror of the judgement that the true God is going to bring upon them. An overly sentimental idolatrous image of God will never renew the church or bring sinners to repentance because hey! God is love, he couldn't possibly be angry with ME. Here's where the "Love Above All" false teaching starts to show it's danger.

Apologetically you have an even bigger problem, here you are telling the world of a God who is ALL love yet on the other hand, you will find yourself trying to tell people how such a God who is love and only love can allow such things as cancer and AIDS and murder and war and torture to exist. It is only when we proclaim a holy God who has a holy hatred of sin that all of this stuff starts to make sense, because most of these horrors are a product of man's sinful nature.

Denying any of God's attributes emasculates God, for He is so much more than love alone;
  • God is Wise, He makes no mistakes, He is the Father that knows best as explained in Romans 11:33
  • God is Eternal, He always was and always will be Psalm 102:12
  • God is Good, and He is the source of goodness, He is the measure of all that we understand to be good  and true goodness cannot abide evil. James 1:17
  • God is Grace, no man deserves salvation when held up to God's goodness, but God grants us salvation anyway through His grace Psalm 145:17
  • God is Holy Holy Holy, His holiness is synonymous with God's purity, He is eternally incorruptible. Revelation 4:8
  • God is Immutable, He never changes, his stability is an island of comfort in a sea of constant change here on earth Malachi 3:6
  • God is Just, the ultimate judge over the lives and actions of men. He cannot be bribed or coerced, but He cannot break a promise so our faith that we are saved through the sacrifice of Jesus is well placed. Genesis 18:25
  • God is Merciful, God has demonstrated this attribute time and time again. We have turned our backs on God over and over yet instead of being destroyed as we so richly deserve God actually sent his son to pay our penalty in our place. Hebrews 4:16
  • God is Omnipotent, He can accomplish anything through his unlimited power Jeremiah 32:17
  • God is Omnipresent, He is everywhere present in the fullness of His being, there is no place we can go to hide from God, and no place we can go where we cannot be with Him. Jeremiah 23:23-24
  • God is Omniscient, He knows all there is to know, nothing is outside of his understanding or attention. Hebrews 4:13
  • God is Righteous, righteousness is similar to goodness and holiness, but differs in that it requires works to establish it. He refers to Himself as righteous because He works the good as well. Psalm 145:17
  • God is Self Existant, unlike all other things that relate to our existence, God does not owe His being to any other thing. God is the uncaused cause and the uncreated creator. Colossians 1:15-17
  • God is Sovereign, there is noting outside His control, not even the plans and actions of the most wicked. All things work to the good (Romans 8:28) regardless if we can understand the reasons or not. Psalm 115:3
  • God is Transcendent, He is unlike any other being in our experience so no analogy or comparison can come close to describing him with any sore of accuracy. John 8:23

When we ignore all of God's attributes and concentrate solely on love we allow people like Richard Dawkins and Bill Mahr free reign to question that false doctrine (as we all should) but the failures of this doctrine allows the evangelical atheist to convince the unsaved that there is no God. Their complaints are actually valid; "Would a god of love allow XYX to happen?" and of course the doctrine of "Love only" gives them ammunition to show that God is not only love, but they come to the incorrect conclusion that God does not exist, instead of the correct conclusion that a god of love only does not exist.

It's not surprising that people like Mahr and Dawkins who have rejected the Holy Spirit come to the wrong conclusion, but consider the new believer who hasn't truly studied the bible and their faith depends solely on what they hear from others. What happens when their baby is diagnosed with Epidermolysis Bullosa? How could a god who is only love inflict a disease on their baby that would prevent their parents from holding it? Had they been trained better, realizing that God is much more complex, more awesome than a god that only has access to one single emotion, the couple would have a much better chance at passing such a test of faith.

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