Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Friday, April 29, 2011

Is business or government the answer to the economy? - Des Moines Christian |

Is business or government the answer to the economy? - Des Moines Christian |

There seems to be a stirring debate in the media today. For the most part, the main stream media, Democrats, unions, and public sector employees are raging about how big government is the answer to most of our economic problems. Republicans, corporations, and a large portion of the private sector believe that a free-market society is the best way, regardless of the lack of regulations and tax breaks that it gives to big business.

For example, whenever Republicans try to enact provisions to control costs as with the collective bargaining rights, there is typically outcries of how Republicans are out to squash the middle class and give preferential treatment to the rich. An example of this is found at where they report on the Iowa House in Des Moines passing the collective bargaining bill. In this article, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is quoted as saying, “Like Wisconsin, Republicans in Iowa will stop at nothing to take away rights from police officers, firefighters, state troopers, teachers, correction officer[s] and other hard-working Iowan[s].”

This sentiment by supporters of big government is, of course, nonsense. There is public opinion that would support the position that one of the top priorities in government is to get our budget in balance, reduce our debt, and be fiscally responsible. To take necessary steps to bring the budget in balance requires sacrifices from both the public and private sector. Neither should be exempt.

Then there are the Democrats that somehow believe that government can regulate, tax, and spend our economy to economic health and prosperity. With little sincerity in reducing the national debt, our current president and administration looks to increase the national debt limit…again. Some would argue that raising the national debt ceiling is nothing new and is part of the normal course of business for government. While there may be some truth to this, it is difficult to understand how allowing a debt to increase at its current rate is fiscally responsible. For the Republicans part, however, there seems to be a lack of understanding that there needs to be a balance of finding new sources of revenue along with cutting federal spending.

Ideally, however, the best solution would be to have neither big government nor big business. This is where the United States prospered historically, through the ingenuity and resourcefulness of common people working responsibly under the assumption of accountability and risk/reward. Limited government worked well for decades until business got too big and needed reforms. Government needed to step in, along with unions, due to the abuse of power by big business. Workers’ rights, along with civil rights, were being abused, health conditions were deteriorating, and business was becoming so big it was eliminating the competition, thus reducing the effect of a free-market environment.

Now, however, the United States is seeing a rapid rise of big government. With public sector jobs outpacing the private sector and the “so-called” need for entitlements increasing by the minute, Americans are finding themselves looking to the government as the answer to all their problems. And for some, government is the means by where they can live on easy street and live off the taxpayers’ dime.

The big question, however, is what would Scripture say in regards to big government and big business. Surprisingly, the Bible does not have anything to say about either topic. But there are plenty of references to which we can make a conclusion on this matter. The church should be the institution through which people help one another. However, government can play a part where the church is limited or falls short. God’s commands should be considered when dealing with issues within society. Leviticus 25:35 states that "If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you." However, there is another verse that bears repeating. Leviticus 19:15 shows that "we aren't to pervert justice [and we also shouldn't] show partiality to the poor."

There is a Biblical principle that should be considered. Deuteronomy 15:6-8 says, “For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you. If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.” If the United States did business in this fashion, it wouldn’t be in the economic mess that it is in today.

In two blog posts, Naïve and Are We Entitled to Entitlements?, there is much said in regards to this issue of big government and big business. Ultimately, neither is good for society. There needs to be a balance. Until the American people recognize this, neither political party of the Republicans or Democrats will be able to accomplish anything sustainable that will set the nation back on a course to prosperity.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Predestination with a Purpose

Imagine for a moment a linear line, like this one.

At the beginning of this line is Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  At the end of this line is Revelations 22 where the angel, after revealing what the new heaven and new earth is going to look like, is showing John what is seemingly described as Eden being restored, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Considering the linear line above, we can make the conclusion that this is the timeline as we know it.  Now, try to imagine God outside of this linear line.  Picture the timeline and then picture a circle around it, kind of like this.

If you can imagine it, just consider this circle outside of how we would normally view time and space.  The Scriptures give us a glimpse of God as being infinite. But what does that mean? By looking at a few passages, we can see how this statement is supported:

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!

Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.

Many scholars and theologians have concluded that God is infinite and transcendent.  This is an excerpt taken from J.I. Packer found at

Question: "What does it mean that God is infinite?"

Answer: The infinite nature of God simply means that God exists outside of and is not limited by time or space. Infinite simply means “without limits.” When we refer to God as "infinite," we generally refer to Him with terms like omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence.

Further on in that page is this statement:
Because God is infinite, He is also said to be transcendent, which simply means that God is exceedingly far above creation and is both greater than creation and independent of it. What this means is that God is so infinitely above and beyond us and our ability to fully comprehend that, had He not revealed Himself, we would not know or understand what He is like.

As mind-blowing as these statements are, it does give us a glimpse at how great our God is.  This really does tie into what is said in 1 Kings, that even the heaven and highest heaven cannot contain Him.

All of this is brought up to bring about this point.  Again, consider the timeline and also the conclusion that God is outside the framework of the linear line that we consider time and space.  Can it be concluded that God is able to view all of history, from beginning to end, in one instant?  I think so.  Look at the following passage:

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

There have been a lot of commentaries on predestination throughout the years.  Many are excellent descriptions in helping us to understand and explain this passage.  Some are not.  Just this week, however, I came across another blogger whose writings I greatly admire.  She certainly has a gift in this area.  On this particular subject, Alisa provides this perspective:

I imagine that when God created life, His anointing went out like a Charged Body and extended into our world, the Electric Field, stopping at anyone who would receive it. He sent out a call for His children choose to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. Automatically when God sent out this call, He could see the end result of those who accepted the call because He is not limited to time. Those people were the Charges, allowing themselves to be filled with the electricity of the Holy Spirit.

That is such an excellent analogy.  For more regarding Alisa, click on this link to her post on Electricity and Predestination.

Think about this concept for a moment though.  J.I. Packer stated that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.  When viewing the timeline from outside, God can see our beginning and our end.  In fact, Scripture supports this idea as well:

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Proverbs 8:22-31 (regarding wisdom’s call)
22 “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; 23 I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. 24 When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; 25 before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, 26 before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth. 27 I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, 28 when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, 29 when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. 30 Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, 31 rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in humankind.

Psalm 139:13-18 (David’s psalm of praise to God)
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.

If God can see our beginning and end, can not God then see this linear timeline at any point in time and space?  Would it be so impossible for God to then know the decisions that we’ll make before we make them?  Would God then know how our choices will turn out?  So given this information, is it so impossible to imagine this concept of predestination?  This might be simplifying it too much.  In fact, I would argue that it is.  But for certain people who might be struggling with this idea of predestination and having a difficult time understanding how or why God would create human beings with free will that for many will ultimately reject Jesus Christ, this post may help in some small way to understand it.  Ultimately, though, I believe our God is so great and beyond our understanding, that trying to explain away predestination with any simple depiction would be futile.

So let’s let Scripture speak for itself.  When God says that He predestined “those” to be conformed to the image of His Son, we should take that at face value.  Scripture also says in Romans 9:22, “What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?”  Those are difficult passages to come to terms with.  The fact remains is that there are those that God prepared for honor and others for dishonor.  The entire passage in Romans 9 makes this clear:

19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Predestination will always be a difficult concept for our human minds to grasp.  Just as God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts greater than our thoughts, so is predestination far beyond what we can comprehend and wrap up in some nice, little package.

The amazing thing, though, in all of this discussion about predestination is what God has in store for those that He has prepared for honor.  In the passage Romans 8:29-30, Paul says that for those God foreknew to be conformed to the image of His Son, there are two things happening.  One, Jesus is being identified as the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  Jesus receives glory by bringing us into His family and He did that by being the first!  Think about the fact that we’re His brothers and sisters, if of course you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Isn’t it amazing to be given this honor when at one time we were at enmity with God and deserving of His wrath?

Secondly, God predestined us to be called, justified, and glorified.  I don’t know about you, but to me that is humbling.  I know that from our human condition, our sin nature, we are most unworthy of this honor.  But God is calling us, justifying us, and then ultimately glorifying us.  There is a future glory in store for us!  Amazing, isn’t it?!?!  That’s what the passage says though.

But lest we think that we did something to deserve this, let’s remember that this is not about us.  This is about Jesus!  Philippians 1:9-11 says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

So let’s remember, every day let’s live holy lives, pure and blameless, so that when Jesus returns, He will receive glory to the glory and praise of God the Father!  Hallelujah!  Amen!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Regret? Or Opportunity?

Picture by Boaz Crawford at

In the course of life, we all make mistakes that we regret.  For some, it’s a lifetime of regret.  Perhaps you’re someone who can look back over the past 20-30 years and realize that you’ve hurt others or you’ve damaged and severed relationships.  Maybe you’re an alcoholic, struggling to get through the day.  Maybe you’ve lived a life of deception, stealing, and running from the authorities.  It could be that you’re someone who has been convicted of murder and you are or have paid your debt to society.  These are but only a few examples of extreme mistakes people make in life.

What if your mistakes aren’t as extreme?  You can probably look back over your life and think that you’ve had it pretty good.  You probably are saying that there really isn’t anything you can think of that could compare to those that did all those “other” awful things.  But what about telling a “white lie?”  Have you ever promised to be somewhere at a specific time and failed to do so?  Have you at any time borrowed money from someone and forgot to pay them back.  How honest are you when you file your income tax returns?  Do you report “all” the income you received (i.e. gambling, cash you received from helping a neighbor fix his car, etc.)?  All these examples seem small in comparison.  Sure, to human standards.  But do you know that God looks at these “mistakes” in much the same way as those in the “awful” list?

Romans 3:23 says, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”  It’s true.  All of us have sinned against God.  All of us in some way have made mistakes in our lives, whether we see them as big or small.  The fact remains, we’re all sinners.

Romans 3:23, however, is part of a larger context.  Reading the passage before and after, you also see that there is good news.

22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Jesus is in the business of redeeming people from their past…their sins…their mistakes.  First, it’s important to note that we didn’t do anything to deserve God’s mercy and grace.  This is all about Jesus.  Verse 24 shows us that we are justified freely by “HIS” grace.  I wrote more on this subject on a previous post.  To see this, go to Justified.

The other issue, of course, involves who the people are that have been redeemed.  Is it everyone?  The Bible says that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  Doesn’t this say that God “so loved the world?”  So that means everyone, right?  Well, there is a condition.  This verse also says that “whoever believes in Him.”  And believing involves much more than just saying the words.  It also requires faith, which was mentioned in the Romans 3 passage above.  For more on this subject, read what I previously wrote on the post Faith.

The point is is that Jesus provided a way for us to be redeemed.  That means because of Him, the murderer, the adulterer, the thief, and even the “gossiper” can be saved from their sins.  Good or bad, rich or poor, big or small, male or female…we all have access to this hope through Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

However, there is one question that seems to linger.  What about our sin?  Someone might be thinking that “there’s no way that God would forgive the things that I have done.”  The first thing I would say to that is you don’t know how great our God is.  John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Secondly, when you come to faith in Jesus, if you are sincere about repenting from your sins and asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, your sins are not just forgiven, they’re forgotten.

9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

Even when we become Christians, we often think about our past with regret.  Like I mentioned before, some people come from a lifetime of sin.  In some cases, we look back at our youth and think about what a waste our childhood was.  Some people turn to Jesus at an early age in life.  But for many others, like myself, there are several years that go by before we recognize our need for Jesus.  Thirty, forty, or fifty years may go by before we’re saved.   For us, we look at all the bad stuff and wonder why we couldn’t have recognized our sinful state earlier.

I believe there’s something to take into consideration for people like us.  One of my favorite passages, if not my favorite, is Romans 8:28.  This verse says, “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  In this verse, Scripture lays out an important point that we should consider.  God works all things together for good.  Think about that for a second.  Could that mean even my past?  Why not?  All my mistakes?  Sure.  John MacArthur has this to say, albeit only a segment, regarding this passage:

"All things work together for good..." That is absolutely a comprehensive statement. There are no caveats, there are no exceptions. Good things work together for our good. Bad things work together for our good. Neutral things work together for our good. And we talked about those things and we showed how that suffering works together for our good. Struggling with temptation works together for our good. Even sin God causes to work together for our good by overruling it for our present benefit and our ultimate glory.

As I pointed out last time, bad things work for our good, even here and now in this life by teaching us to hate sin, by teaching us to see our fallenness and humble ourselves, by teaching us to desire God, to conform to Christ, to long for the blessings that come to obedience, by teaching us to pray and to be humbled and to help others and to be thankful and to love God's grace and to long for heaven. Even here and now in this life, things that in themselves are bad produce good.

In my estimation, I believe God can even use all the bad stuff that we went through in life to not only benefit our understanding of our sin and God’s grace, but to be a blessing to others as well.  What if you came out of a lifestyle of addiction?  Maybe alcohol or drugs?  Suppose you met someone that is dealing with this same issue?  Who do you think can best minister to this person with an addiction?  A pastor who at age 13 came to Christ and has served God all His life?  Someone who has never done drugs or consumed alcohol?  Or could it be you?  You know firsthand the obstacles that a person faces when they’re considering turning their lives over to Jesus.  You can be that person that could come alongside him/her and witness to them in a way that is personal and authentic.  In that sense, can’t you see how Romans 8:28 fits this scenario?  God uses even the bad stuff in your life to work together for good.

There are obviously some conditional statements made in this passage as well.  We can’t gloss over them and we really should take note.  The condition is , “…for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  These two conditions could be considered the one and the same.  For if you have been called by God by faith to know Him and believe upon His name, He has also given you the ability to know Him and love Him.  C.H. Spurgeon explains this really well (for the purpose of time and space limitations, I tried to narrow these paragraphs down to some finer points.  For more extensive reading on Romans 8:28 by C.H. Spurgeon, please click on the lick above):

We have here the description of a true Christian, and a declaration of that Christian's blessedness. We have him first very succinctly, but very fully described in these words—"Them that love God, them who are the called according to his purpose." These two expressions are the great distinguishing marks whereby we are able to separate the precious from the vile, by discovering to us who are the children of God.

The first contains an outward manifestation of the second—"Them that love God." Now, there are many things in which the worldly and the godly do agree, but on this point there IS a vital difference. No ungodly man loves God—at least not in the Bible sense of the term. An unconverted man may love a God, as, for instance, the God of nature, and the God of the imagination; but the God of revelation no man can love, unless grace has been poured into his heart, to turn him from that natural enmity of the heart towards God, in which all of us are born.

Note the second phrase, which contains also a description of the Christian—"the called according to his purpose." The apostle says that those who love God are "the called according to his purpose" by which he means to say two things—first, that all who love God love him because he called them to love him. He called them, mark you. All men are called by the ministry, by the Word, by daily providence, to love God, there is a common call always given to men to come to Christ, the great bell of the gospel rings a universal welcome to every living soul that breathes; but alas! though that bell hath the very sound of heaven, and though all men do in a measure hear it, for "their line is gone out into all the earth and their Word unto the end of the world" yet there was never an instance of any man having been brought to God simply by that sound.

As I previously mentioned, all of us have made mistakes.  Big or small, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is, “Who are you putting your hope and faith in?”  Jesus or yourself?  If it’s Jesus, then take this opportunity to thank God, worship Him, praise Him, and adore Him.  Whether you were saved at age 9 or 49, you don’t have to live with the shame or regret of the past.  But rather, take this as encouragement that whatever you have gone through in life, God can use it.  God didn’t make a mistake.  He knew exactly what you would go through in your life and He knew how He could use your life experiences to help you in your faith later on and also be a blessing to others.

Now go live that abundant life!

Praise be to God!  To Him be the glory forever and ever!  Amen!