The splendor of a King,
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice,
All the earth rejoice...
He wraps himself in light,
And darkness tries to hide,And trembles at his voice, And trembles at his voice
How great is our God,
sing with me
How great is our God,
and ALL WILL SEE
How great, How great
Is our God!
Hey bloggers...it's a great day to be alive! The Spirit of God is moving, and this is the day the Lord has made...and God is good...and all things are working together for your good because you love Him!
I'm sure that you've got things you are having to work through right now...challenges, trials, "opportunities for miracles"...but I promise you, if you list all of the blessings in your life and compare them with the hardships, you will see that the good far outweighs the bad! You have every reason to praise the Lord today!
But sometimes it takes the occurence of something negative to make you appreciate all in your life that is positive. For example, I love all of your posts...everyone here is so on the page and full of faith that it really is a pleasure to fellowship with you all every day. But yesterday I got a negative message which I didn't post, and I even appreciate that one, because reading it made me so thankful that I have a connection with people who really have ears to hear.
I don't want to open the floodgates of strife here, but I do want to share this with you, because it gives me an opportunity to re-establish some things that I think are important. Since this was from someone anonymous, it shouldn't anger or embarass them that I am publishing it, and I hope that you all hear my response in the spirit in which I wrote it. This post is about focusing on the GREATNESS OF GOD, so please keep that in mind.
Here's what "Anonymous" said:
"This new format does not right all the wrongs that you believe. It's just sweeping them under a rug until the dust dies down. If you still believe in the ultimate reconciliation of all and inclusion and no true hell, then you're as lost now than ever before. You are picking and choosing verses in the Bible that fit your agenda and then applying YOUR understanding of it. And forgive me if I am being too "churchy" for you folks but God is a God of balance. Yes, HE is love but He also delivers wrath. I just have one question for you. You've been in ministry for decades. But now, you say that you are being enlightened with a paradigm shift. My question is "WAS EVERYTHING THAT YOU WERE PREACHING BEFORE THIS PARADIGM SHIFT FALSE TO YOU?"
And here's my response...
Peace to you, and thanks for getting in touch! I haven’t gotten a message like this in a few days, and I started to just ignore this one because I’ve already answered, in detail, everything that you brought up, but I decided to go ahead and say these things again, in order to (hopefully) help someone who might just now be discovering BLOGINTHENOW.
Just so you know, nothing’s being “swept under the rug until the dust dies down”, because all of the articles from the beginning of the blog are still available online (and easily accessible), and there isn’t a rug big enough to cover cyber-space. And as long as I’m in the ministry and preach the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the power of His cross, I don’t expect “the dust” to ever die down...I am happy to say that I have a very dusty ministry!
The only reason for the new format is that I just got tired of people with whom I have no issue constantly trying to pick a fight with me. I’ve retired from fighting with religion. Jesus told His disciples to go into a city and preach the Kingdom with this one stipulation…“if they receive you”. But, if not, He also told them to shake the dust off of their feet and move on until they found an audience with an open mind. Religious arguments are a waste of time because they don’t change anyone’s perception…change comes only by revelation. That’s why Paul said “Let him who is ignorant be ignorant still.” (1 Corinthians 14:38)
I just altered the layout and direction of the blog because I want to enjoy a positive exchange with like-minded people, and build up the Body of Christ, without stirring up unnecessary conflict from those with whom I have no argument or contention. Jesus said to agree with your adversary quickly, so I just keep it positive and uplifting here for the same reason that He preached the Gospel in parables. It’s why adults spell out “grown-up” words in front of small children.
If you really think I’m “as lost now as ever before”, even though I confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ and believe in the cross and the resurrection and am filled with the Holy Spirit and love the Bible and have given my entire life to the ministry of the Gospel…then I don’t know what to tell you. I guess…pray for me? You should know, however, that regardless of what you believe, I consider you a brother (or sister), and I love you, and command a blessing on you, and there’s nothing that you can do about it!
I don’t know what Scriptures I’m “picking and choosing”, and only the Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal my “agenda”, but more than anything else, my study of the Scriptures has made me fall in love with the Savior all over again, and has enhanced my worship experience. And I also don’t know what “paradigm shift” you’re talking about, because what I preach is what I’ve always believed. The only difference now is that in the last few years I came to see that my congregation was mature enough for me to declare the whole counsel of God concerning Christ’s triumph over Adam, and so I speak to them as spiritual adults in these matters.
Anyway, a living theology should take you somewhere…in Him we live and MOVE…so I make no apology for growing and walking in more and more light. In fact, I hope that I continue to grow in the future so, no, I don’t believe that everything I taught before was false. I’ve always preached the cross and grace, and I’ve always rejected the limits of religion. I guess you could say that there has been an evolution, of sorts, that has taken place in my theology, but it has only converted my theology into doxology. That simply means that a better understanding of the things of God leads to a better relationship with Him, which ultimately leads to a complete worship-encounter lifestyle.
I’ve already said everything I need to say about hell, because I care more about believing IN something, that in NOT believing in something. Regardless of what you believe about the four words that got interpreted into the word “hell” in the English Bible, the bottom line is that when you take a journey through the entire book of PSALMS, you see the universal/global paradigm that David and the other Psalmists clearly shared ( “All the earth shall worship You” ). And there are two words and one phrase that are prevalent in the Scriptures pertaining to God’s plan for the reconciliation of all things: “ALL,” “EVERY” and “THE WORLD.” I can’t speak for anyone else, but reading and meditating on these passages doesn’t make me want to argue with anyone who might not interpret them the way that I do . . . they make me want to sing and shout praises to God and to lift my hands and to bow down before the King of Kings and worship Him with my whole heart! Let’s read them now, Anonymous, and see if they don’t have the same effect on you.
Throughout the entire Old Testament, the great mercy of the Savior of ALL men, ALL people, ALL souls, is clearly revealed to us. In LEVITICUS, we read about the Day of Atonement and how once a year ALL the sins of the entire nation of Israel were simultaneously laid upon the scapegoat: “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it ALL the iniquities of the children of Israel, and ALL their transgressions, concerning ALL their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man” (Leviticus 16:21). Think about it…the sins – ALL the sins – of each and every individual were removed from them, whether or not they asked for it and whether or not they deserved it! Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever! How great is our God!
In the book of ISAIAH, the Prophet tells us that “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and ALL flesh shall see it together . . .” (Isaiah 40:5). In speaking for the Lord concerning His purpose and plan for ALL mankind, he says, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do ALL My pleasure,” (Isaiah 46:10). Then, in his greatest and most famous Messianic prophecy, he says, “. . . ALL we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord laid upon Him the iniquity of us ALL!” (Isaiah 53:6). In the same way that the sins of Israel were laid on the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement, the sins of the whole world were laid upon the Lamb of God on the cross! Doesn’t that make you want to praise Him, Anonymous?! How great is our Savior!
The salvation of ALL is seen in the books of both the Major and Minor Prophets. JEREMIAH reveals one of the most amazing revelations of universal salvation, or the salvation of ALL, when he says, “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they ALL shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). In EZEKIEL . . . “Behold, ALL souls are Mine . . .” (Ezekiel 18:4). In DANIEL . . . “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that ALL peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him . . .” (Daniel 7:14). In JOEL . . .“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on ALL flesh…” (Joel 2:28). And in MICAH, “. . . You will cast ALL our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). Isn’t that wonderful? O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name, together! The Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to ALL generations!
The New Testament is filled with the concept of ALL (people, things) being reconciled in Christ. There are some passages in the gospels that need to be rightly divided to see it, but the concept is definitely there, as it is in the book of ACTS. For example, in LUKE . . . “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to ALL people’” (Luke 2:10). In JOHN . . . “This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that ALL through him might believe” (John 1:7), and this often-quoted statement of Jesus, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL peoples to Myself”(John 12:32). And in ACTS . . . “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to ALL life, breath, and ALL things” (Acts 17:25). O worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness! God is great and God is good, and He deserves all of our praise!
Certainly, the dominant theme in Paul’s epistles is the reconciliation/salvation of ALL. In ROMANS . . . “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to ALL men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to ALL men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5:18). In II CORINTHIANS . . . “For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ ALL shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22) . . . “Now when ALL things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put ALL things under Him, that God may be ALL in ALL” (1 Corinthians 15:28) . . . “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not ALL sleep, but we shall ALL be changed” (2 Corinthians 15:51). In COLOSSIANS . . . “For it pleased the Father that in Him ALL the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile ALL things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19, 20) . . . “where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is ALL, and is in ALL!” (Colossians 3:11). In I TIMOTHY . . . “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time . . .” (1 Timothy 2:3-6) . . . “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of ALL men, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10), and in TITUS . . . “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL men . . . ” (Titus 2:11). Hallelujah! For the Lord God, omnipotent, reigns!
In HEBREWS, the writer quotes JEREMIAH when he says, “. . . for ALL shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Hebrews 8:11) and also says, “with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for ALL, having obtained eternal redemption . . .” (Hebrews 9:12). And in II PETER . . . “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). There it is over and over again . . . ALL are redeemed, whether or not they know it yet. Many are lost, but they are still redeemed and ultimately will be reconciled. Sing praises to the God of ALL the earth! Worship the Savior of ALL – especially those who believe – for He is worthy of ALL our praise!
All the old fashions are now obsolete.
Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious,
insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free,
mean nothing.From now on EVERYONE IS DEFINED BY CHRIST,
EVERYONE IS INCLUDED IN CHRIST.
(Colossians 3:11 – The Message)
Not only is “ALL” pervasive in the Scriptures, we also find the wonderful word “EVERY” in reference to salvation in both the Old and New Testaments. In GENESIS . . . “Then God saw EVERYTHING that He had made, and indeed it was very good . . .” (Genesis 1:31). In ISAIAH... “I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me EVERY knee shall bow, EVERY tongue shall take an oath” (Isaiah 45:23). In JOHN . . . “That was the true Light which gives light to EVERY man coming into the world” (John 1:9). In PHILIPPIANS . . . “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that EVERY tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). And in the REVELATION . . .“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and EVERY eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And ALL the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” (Revelation 1:7). Worship Him in Spirit and in truth! Worship the Lord of EVERY man and woman and boy and girl . . . the Lord of EVERYTHING! In EVERYTHING give Him thanks and praise and worship and adoration!
“THE WORLD” (THE EARTH/THE WHOLE WORLD)
I don’t even have room here to go, in-depth, into the lyrics to the PSALMS, which include God’s ultimate plan for global salvation through the often-used terms “THE WORLD,” THE EARTH,” “THE WHOLE EARTH,” “ALL THE EARTH,” and “THE WHOLE WORLD.” But we find these phrases elsewhere, as in ISAIAH . . . “With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in THE EARTH, The inhabitants of THE WORLD will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9). In JOHN . . . “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into THE WORLD” (John 1:9) . . . “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of THE WORLD!’” (John 1:29) . . . “For God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into THE WORLD to condemn THE WORLD, but that THE WORLD through Him might be saved” (John 3:16, 17). In II CORINTHIANS…“God was in Christ, reconciling THE WORLD to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19). And, of course, in I JOHN…“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of THE WHOLE WORLD” (1 John 2:22)! If that doesn’t make you want to worship Him, I don’t know what will!
Forgive me for getting so fired up about the Word, Anonymous, but this stuff just makes me want to run through a troop and leap over a wall! If you don’t see it the way I do, I completely respect your position. As a matter of fact, not everyone in my congregation believes the way I do, and I don’t require them to! I understand why some people need the fear of hell to keep them in line…for me, though, Jesus is enough. The goodness of the Lord brings me to repentence.
You said that God is a God of balance…I don’t know about that, my Bible just says God is Love. But I do agree with you that He is capable of delivering wrath…boy, is He ever! God poured out the full fury of His righteous wrath on Jesus on the cross:
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:4, 5, 10).
We are certainly responsible for our actions, and the grace of God isn't a license for reckless living...the wages of sin is death, the way of the transgressor is hard, and we reap what we sow...but nothing compares with the wrath that Jesus experienced in the atonement. Nothing that God could ever do to punish me could compete with or compare to that! That's why I believe Jesus when He said "It is finished".
Anonymous, I wish you could have been in our service this past Sunday. I think if you were at any service at CITN and could see the way that the people honor God and worship Him and love the Word and love each other and come to the alter to make Jesus the Lord of their life…well, I just think that maybe all you would take home from the service is that the presence of Christ was there, and that that was all that mattered. Maybe not.
But that’s the reason for the format change here...for me it’s all about thinking on those things that are true and honest and just and pure and lovely and of a good report. It’s about finding, every day, a reason to declare HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!!
Jesus is Lord!
I just want to take a minute and praise God for His goodness and His mercy that endures forever! It's a beautiful day, and everywhere I look I see evidence of the greatness of God. It's so wonderful to be alive and redeemed and forgiven...and to know that you're loved and accepted in the Beloved!
I hope that this post will direct EVERYONE toward looking for reasons to give God praise, and will not incite the onslaught of a lot of religious rhetoric. If publishing this starts an avalanche of argumentative e-mails, I'll just delete it and go back to ignoring all negative comments. If you disagree with anything I've said, I completely support your right to believe what you want to believe. You don't have to try to convert me because I'm saved and born again, and my confidence in the cross is unshakable. And I'm not trying to convert you...if you don't believe that Jesus wins in the end, it's fine with me. In fact, I bless you...I speak a blessing on you and your family and on "Anonymous" and on all who visit here. Let everything that has breath PRAISE THE LORD!!! ALL WILL SEE HOW GREAT, HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so...if you're saved and you know it say, "AMEN"!
(How Great is our God by Chris Tomlin)