“Rightly Handling the Word of Truth”

This is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

1 John 1:5, 10

Questions like “What is the origin of evil?” are things that the great theologians of the past, present, and most likely future have spun in circles trying to answer. And I’m not going to answer that now, although I could spin in a couple of circles to argue my opinion myself. Instead I want to point out how we should go about thinking about questions like this one. Or how we should not go about it.

To just attempt to answer certain biblical questions, we need to start with truth. As Christians we believe the Bible to be true, right? So, in searching the truth about anything, we must absolutely start with the truths we already know. There are just some things, or actually a lot of things, that the Bible makes crystal clear. When it comes to Scripture, there is no room for questioning what it means in things such as:

  • God’s goodness (1 John 1:5, Psalm 136:1, Psalm 107:1, Mark 10:18)
  • His character (Isaiah 30:18- Justice, 1 John 4:8- Love, Revelation 4:8- Holy)
    • Obviously these are not the only characteristics, they are merely sufficient examples.
  • Salvation by faith alone through grace alone (Romans 4:22-25, Ephesians 2:4-9, Acts 16:31)
  • Christ’s death and resurrection (Matthew 28:5-6, 1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

And these are just some of the core things that the Bible teaches us without a doubt. There are many more that would take me days to list and hours for you to read.

When there is a doctrinal or theological question that we are trying to answer, as believers we need to start with the Scripture that we know. If we come up with an answer or opinion that in any way contradicts what we already know about who God is and the truth in the Bible, we need to stop and look harder. Because if there is a contradiction in the truth, it isn’t truth anymore. There may be difficult things to understand, but there cannot be a contradiction. We cannot say that God is fully good without darkness in Him, and then claim that He is responsible for orchestrating evil. It does not line up.

Our answers or interpretations must match the truth in the Bible. We do not mold the Bible to fit our opinion, fact, logic, or human understanding. We apply logic, fact, and wisdom to the passages using truth we already know. If you find a contradiction, figure out why, don’t just shrug and move on.

So with this said, I will again emphasize this: never, EVER attribute something to God that would be considered despicable even to a fallen human being. If we can take that attribute, apply it to a person, and say that it is sin or evil, then it cannot be attributed to God, because, as we’ve established, God is holy, pure, just, loving, and GOOD.

Hm, I suppose I did sort of get a little into an argument about the origin of evil… Just didn’t mean to. I’m not saying I know it, I’m just trying to talk about how we should reason, not necessarily all the details of what we should conclude.

Frankly, if something is not explicitly clear to us, we need to give it the backseat to those things that are. If we know that God is good, other things need to line up with that. If we know God is holy, the rest needs to line up with that. We must not put a perfect God on our level in His attributes. He is perfect, we are not. This is not like Greek mythology, in which gods act like people, have petty arguments, are imperfect, sometimes downright evil, but have more power. That is not our God. Our God is holy- set apart. He is perfect.

We sing “He’s a good, good Father,” and “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” but do we really mean it? Do our thoughts, arguments, and doctrines match those words? Do we turn to the solid truths of the Bible before getting into arguments about doctrinal details? Know the truth. And then use it to learn. Don’t just chuck it to the sidelines while going off on a tangent.

While I do not agree with him on all points, Augustine said it well when he said:

I now tried to discover other truths, as I had already come to realize that incorruptible is better than corruptible, so that You must be incorruptible, whatever might be Your nature. For no soul ever has been able to conceive or ever will be able to conceive anything better than You, the supreme and perfect Good… But seeing the superiority of the incorruptible, I should have looked for You in that truth… For there is no way in which corruption can affect our God… for He is God, and what He wills is good, and Himself is Goodness, whereas to be corrupted is not good.

(Confessions, Book Seven, IV)

In this Augustine got to the heart of truth-seeking: the character of God. If something we are attributing to God goes against his incorruptible and good character, then the attribute cannot be true. We know God is good, so to say that He is evil is illogical, and a contradiction.

This is how we should go about our study of the Word and God. We need to know the clear truths of the character of God, and when we do the rest will fall into place, as long as we continue to focus on the important truths that are outlined for us.

Trying to figure out the “origin of evil” is not a bad thing, nor is trying to figure out every prophecy in the book of Revelation. But we need to be founded on the core truths of who God is, who Jesus is, and who we are in Him, and then we will be able to “rightly divide the Word of truth.”

If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him;

if we endure, we will also reign with Him;

if we deny Him, He also will deny us;

if we are faithless, He remains faithful-

for He cannot deny Himself.

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

1 Timothy 2:13-15

Let us not get into quarrels about words, but let us rightly handle Scripture.

Let us give grace in every circumstance, whether we agree or not, but let us be firm also in our foundation. When it comes to the truth, we must be immovable. Give grace, but stand strong and know the truth.

give grace,

Linds

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Victory through Grace

Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

1 Cor. 9:26-27

This verse has been one of my daily reminders this year. After one of my church’s pastors preached on this for New Years, I wrote it down and stuck it on my wall. So for all sorts of things, I can remind myself of the why to it all.

Perhaps you are like me, and you need to know WHY you are doing something for it to get done. Like today, I was trying to do math conversions for microbiology. Things like figuring out dilutions, and finding the original sample concentration of CFUs- fun stuff. But the thing is, my brain doesn’t run on equations. For every equation, I need to know why. Why does it work that way? Why am I even doing this? Once I know why, the rest becomes simpler. Or at least bearable.

Every day, situations present themselves that require me to remember why. In school, I have to remember that my why for being successful is to become a nurse like I know I’ve been called to. In working out, my why is to be healthier to accomplish more. And because it will be worth my time in the end. And in resisting temptation, my why is in order to finish the race strong, to not be disqualified in the end of the prize, to be closer to my God. 1 Cor. 9:26-27 is pretty much the ultimate why to everything we are called to as Christians, both generally and individually.

Each day has it’s temptations, it’s failures, it’s struggles. Believe me, I know. But when I start to think why it may be worth it, these verses answer every question.

This passage is like a promise to me. It brings about the concept of possibility. Failure happens, but victory and finishing the race is possible. We run to receive an imperishable prize. We are not aimlessly fighting, we are not aimlessly running. We do not do this to achieve a cheap earthly prize like gold or silver, but to receive the imperishable. We run to remain qualified. Not of eternal life, but for the prize and blessing of the gospel. Paul writes these verses after explaining the sacrifice he makes for the sake of the gospel and his witness.

I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

1 Cor. 9:23

It is the blessings of the gospel that we run for. Obedience results in blessings over and over throughout the Bible. Works can never be enough to receive salvation, but our works are not in vain. When we obey, we receive the blessings of the gospel. When we disobey or fail, just as an athlete gets back up after a bad day of training, we get back up and find victory in the grace of a new day. Which thankfully is one of the blessings of the gospel- grace to mess up.

So what happens when we don’t obey? When we don’t run to obtain the prize? Well, sin hurts. Fear hurts too. It hurts our relationship with God, and sin can physically harm us. We miss out on the blessings that can be obtained through obedience. The natural consequences of our sin catch up with us. Note again that consequences don’t always refer to eternal consequences. The only requirement for eternal life is to believe or trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. But there are physical consequences to our sin. So when we don’t walk in victory through grace, when we don’t act on the why for each moment, we don’t obtain those same blessings.

Finally, I want to reemphasize the promise that our efforts are not in vain. We do not fight the air, we are actually fighting. So keep going, even when it feels like you are swinging at air. Do you know how dissatisfying air punching is? Try it, then hit a punching bag. When I did that, these verses made a lot more sense.

I encourage you to read the whole passage in 1 Corinthians. Remind yourself each day that it is not in vain, and victory is possible through Christ.

Thanks for reading!

give grace,

Linds

 

Little Random Thoughts

I know it’s late, but this is me sitting at my desk taking a break from studying so that there will be a post up before Monday is over. Admittedly it is last minute, hectic, and half-thought out. Ok, maybe not even half-thought out. I don’t know what to say or how to say it, so I’m simply going to bullet-point my thoughts to form a semi-cohesive blurb.

  • Learn to love even the worst aspects of what you do, or else daily life becomes miserable.
  • Inflammation causes a ridiculous amount of problems.
  • Singing always helps. It is a good idea all the time.
  • When in doubt, coffee.
  • pH and K levels are very particular. Don’t mess those up.
  • Colorful pens make life much more enjoyable.
  • So do new friends. And old friends.
  • Stress causes a wealth of health issues. Nursing school = gain stress while learning about how bad stress is.
  • God is still good.

Ok, maybe this was not worth reading, but thank you for taking the time to read it anyway.

I’ll leave with one short, last thing.

Remember on your most hectic, last-minute, exam filled days that God’s grace is still present. So walk in it.

Longer post to come next week.

give grace,

Linds

The Mercy of Broken

A couple of years ago I heard something scary. I learned that I was about to be broken. Sounds a little stupid, a little dramatic, but it’s true. And I brushed it off, saying it wasn’t a sure thing, but then… yep, there I was, broken and a mess. There’s a lot more detail, but it isn’t important.

So, as I felt better, I accepted that the brokenness was good. I didn’t know why, but I knew it was good. I became more mature, and in the end I learned how to have a little more faith. But I still didn’t understand why, I just knew that if it was what God allowed to happen, it was ok.

And then I learned something. First off, I knew I dug that hole for myself. I was a stubborn, obnoxious human. So God did not cause my brokenness, I did. This is truth. We cause our problems. I knew that, I just want to make that clear so no one mistakes my next comment. God simply used my brokenness. My mistakes, my pain, my denial was all redeemed. I pulled, and pulled, and pulled, BUT GOD used that. So know this truth- God is NOT the author of evil or brokenness. He is the Healer, the Light, the Love, and the Life. He does not orchestrate evil or sin. We push, we pull, because in His sovereignty He chose to give us choice. He could change it, but He gives us the option to choose Him in love. Why? Because as my father would say, “He does not want robots.” Never accuse our good God of evil.

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

1 John 4:8

“For everything created by God is good

1 Timothy 4:4

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”

Psalm 136:1

Point being through all this, God is not to blame for our wrongs. I am fully responsible for my mistakes and brokenness. BUT GOD does not leave me or you there. He uses our mistakes and our brokenness just like he used Joseph’s brokenness, David’s brokenness, Paul’s brokenness, and Peter’s brokenness, just to name a few.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

This brings me to the next point- I am content. In fact, I can smile and rejoice for the brokenness that taught me a little more about how faithful our God is. He is truly good, and ever faithful to us. Trusting Him gets a little bit easier each time I realize just how patient He has been, and how much He saves me. Not just once, from eternal death, but daily from myself.

My brokenness was a mercy. It sounds backwards, because I said and say again- He saves me daily from myself. But sometimes He allows me to make a mess, to go my way, and to wreck things a little, because I am just that stubborn. This too is His mercy. He shows me through this just how faithful He is. When we are faithless, He truly remains faithful. He shows His mercy in many ways, and at this point, I can honestly say that I am thankful for being broken. Being broken made me realize that I don’t got this. I don’t have it as together as I thought, and I need to work on a lot of things. There are things that used to matter that now don’t. I have a long road to maturity, BUT GOD is bringing me closer to Him a little bit every day, even through my brokenness. So yes, even when I feel like I’m having the worst day ever, God saves me.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…”

Ephesians 2:4-5

So in our brokenness and weakness, God’s mercy and grace is revealed. His power is revealed. Y’all, I can not stop smiling this week. A year ago this week I could barely bring myself to fake a smile. Now I cannot stop. I hope this encourages you today. God takes our hurt and mess ups to bring about the best. Trust Him. He is truly good. His grace is enough.

give grace,

Linds