Which god?    God or god?

“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

Which God Saves Us <site home> Why The Government Can't Save You <section home>

September 10, 2014

As we approach another anniversary of 9/11, I was thinking last night about how we respond to what’s happening in the world right now with the “radicalized terrorists” - people that are followers of what they believe to be Islam - people that do what they do for their view of who god is - essentially people who call out to their god for support.

But - what about us?  What about the Christians in the world?


God hears His people

But - do we say anything for Him to hear?

The big news from the government right now is going to be President Obama’s speech (yes, another one) on what he’s going to do (or not do) about the situation (if he in fact even believes there is one) with ISIS / ISIL / IS.  Many people are waiting to hear what he has to say.  According to the polls this morning - it seems that most people are hoping to hear that he’s finally going to get tough - that he’s finally going to acknowledge that a problem really does exist - that he’s going to do something about it - and that he’s going to protect “his” people.

The thing is - no one’s afraid of the U.S. anymore.  No one believes the government is capable of taking care of its own citizens, let alone do anything in other parts of the world.  Look at Russia.  Look at China.  Look at the Middle East.  Look anywhere.  Look right here at home.

Why is that?

How did we go so far down so quickly?

It’s not a popular thing to say - but let’s go back to 2006 when President Obama said we aren’t a Christian nation anymore.

That’s bad enough - when the leader of a country says something like that.
think about the title of this article -
God hears His people
God heard that!
God heard the words of the person chosen by the people of what had been originally populated by people escaping religious persecution - and now the people of that land willingly chose a leader who didn’t believe that this was a Christian nation any longer.

Like I said -
that’s bad enough.

But - how about this, from an L A Times article of July 31, 2012 -

Evangelical leaders echo Obama, say U.S. not a Christian nation

Yes - God heard that too.

The article is pretty short - so here’s the whole thing:

President Obama has taken plenty of heat in conservative Christian circles for a remark he made in 2006 in which he said that that United States was no longer “just” a Christian nation, but was religiously diverse. Now, it turns out, he has allies for that view: evangelical Christian leaders.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the National Assn. of Evangelicals said that when it surveyed selected evangelical leaders about whether the United States was a Christian nation, 68% said no.

“Much of the world refers to America as a Christian nation, but most of our Christian leaders don’t think so,” said Leith Anderson, the association’s president. “The Bible only uses the word ‘Christian’ to describe people and not countries. Even those who say America is a Christian nation admit that there are lots of non-Christians and even anti-Christian beliefs and behaviors.”

The association said that some respondents to its June survey said, in essence, that “perhaps the United States was a Christian nation, but it is no longer.” Others rejected the idea of that a nation can be “Christian” altogether.


Not that God didn’t already know this -
but when He listens to us -
this is what he hears.

It’s pretty sad.

But it gets worse.


When I saw the quote about -

“The Bible only uses the word ‘Christian’ to describe people and not countries.

I had to check it out.


In the NIV - the word Christian is used exactly two times!


The first of these comes when the Apostle Paul appeared before King Agrippa in Jerusalem.  He was accused by the Jews (Paul was on trial for his life now, having once been a Pharisee - one of the Jewish leaders) and was defending himself before Agrippa (himself a Jew, although not a good one).  The end of his defense appears in Acts 26:19-32 -

Ac 26:19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.  20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.  21 That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me.  22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—  23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

Ac 26:24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

Ac 26:25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.  26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.  27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

Ac 26:28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Ac 26:29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Ac 26:30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them.  31 They left the room, and while talking with one another, they said, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”

Ac 26:32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Clearly - this reference to Christian was by the king referring to himself - an individual.
So far - so good - for the statement that the Bible doesn’t refer to Christians in any way other than people.


The only other example of the word Christian being used in the NIV appears when Peter is talking to fellow Christians about suffering, as we read in 1 Peter 4:12-19 -

Suffering for Being a Christian

1Pe 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.  17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  18 And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

1Pe 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Here - Peter isn’t talking about a country either.  However - neither is he talking about an individual person.  Rather - he’s talking to and about the group of people who were, at that time, called Followers of the Way - and also Christians as a derogatory term that they picked up and claimed for their own.

In this sense - as Peter uses it -
its not about a country -
and not an individual -
but its about a group of people -
God’s people.

Again referring back to the title of this article -
God hears His people -
it’s referring to us!


Let’s return to the Bible -
this time in search of the first time the word “heard” is used in this context.

We find it in Exodus -
at a point where the Israelites have under slavery to Egypt for 400 years.
This slavery happened because the people turned away from God and worshipped false gods and idols.
It’s in Ex 2:23-25 -

Ex 2:23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.  24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.  25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

God heard His people -
groaning - calling out to Him.


This is a common theme -
God’s people turning away from Him -
crying out to Him -
and He rescues them.


But what about today?

There can be no question but that many, many have turned away from Him.

And I don’t just mean non-Christians -
but also those who would call themselves Christians - but really aren’t.

These are the ones whom Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:21-23 -

Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’


Yes - many have turned away.

But -
maybe the larger question is -
how many are crying out to Him?

Many are crying out to President Obama.
Many are crying out to the government.

But how many are crying out to God?

How many are afraid to cry out to God?
Afraid that they’ll be called stupid for still believing in Christianity?
Afraid that they’ll be called foolish for still thinking that God controls things.
Afraid that they end up feeling ashamed about what they said?


As to foolishness - I’d point what Paul says in 1 Co 1:18-2:5 -

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

1Co 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,  23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

1Co 1:26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,  29 so that no one may boast before him.  30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1Co 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,  5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

I wouldn’t worry about feeling foolish believing in and calling out to God.

Would you rather be thought wise for a time - and found out to be foolish for eternity -
or thought foolish for a time - and found out to have taken the wise choice all along?


For those who are afraid to make the wise choice - Jesus had something to say about that -
in Matthew 10:16-36 -

Mt 10:16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Mt 10:17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.  18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.  19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,  20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Mt 10:21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.  22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.  23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Mt 10:24 “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!

Mt 10:26 “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Mt 10:32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

Mt 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  35 For I have come to turn

“ ‘a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

Mt 10:36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’


No - He didn’t say it would be easy -
just that it was the right thing to do.

…..

So - I just listened to the speech.

At the end - God was mentioned twice -
both times asking for blessing from Him.

Not one word about asking Him for help.


Maybe the president -
like others -
believes the only thing needed is to ask for God’s blessing.
If He hears it -
and He does -
then He’s required to do it, right?

Wrong!

Take a look at what God told even the great Solomon, from 1 Kings 9:1-9 -

The LORD Appears to Solomon

1Ki 9:1 When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do,  2 the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.  3 The LORD said to him:


“I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.


1Ki 9:4 “As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws,  5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’


1Ki 9:6 “But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them,  7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.  8 And though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’  9 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.’ ”

God offered - and gave - a lot to Solomon.

But - there was a condition.

And - not unlike us - he failed to follow the condition.

1Ki 9:6 “But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them,  7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.

Sounds very much like America is today.

Other countries and other people have no respect for this country.

What we refuse to admit though -
is what comes in the next verses -

‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’  9 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.’ ”


Rather than turn to God -
we celebrate everything that is objectionable to Him -
we make heroes out of those who defy His commands and spit in His face.

We now threaten those who try to show His love -
calling them haters -
when all they are trying to do is show God’s love -
and save the eternal souls of God’s children who have lost their way?


No - some of the simple “blessings” - they happen to everyone -
as we see in Matthew 5:43-48 -

Love for Enemies

Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

As Jesus said - the rain falls on everyone.
That’s a simple “blessing”.
After all - without it - we’d all be dead.

But the other things -
like being able to have God respond when we call out to Him for rescue -
that requires a bit more than just asking -
as Solomon was told.
And - as Solomon found out -
it’s not just an idle thought - or a recommendation.
It was a requirement.


So where are you?

Are you really a Christian?

God will hear you.

But will He start a rescue operation if you call out to Him?

And that word “you” -
as I have it hear -
it’s not the single person meaning as it was with Agrippa and Paul.

It’s the group “you” -
as in us or we.

Where are we -
the Christians -
the followers of Jesus - in this country?

Are we calling out?

God is hearing us - if we are.

But - as with the Israelites in Egypt -
are we in a position with Him where he’s willing to start a rescue operation for this country?

It took 400 years for them to be ready.

I pray it won’t be that long for us.