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Christian Living

The Mystery of God

If We Can Fully Understand God, Then He’s Not a Very Great God

Some people are confused when they hear about Jesus or read the Bible. Because they don’t fully understand everything, they dismiss him, waiting until everything makes sense. It never will. At least not during our existence here on earth. This is the mystery of God.

Though I want to comprehend everything the Bible says, I know I never will. But that doesn’t mean I should stop trying. In the same way I want to fully know everything about God. Yet in my lifetime, I never will, but I will persist in pursuing him and drawing closer to him each day for the rest of my life.

In many respects, God is a mystery to us. And, for me, the mystery of God thrills me. It’s an allure that attracts me, that draws me to him.

He is the creator, and we are his created. Who are we to presume that we can ever fully comprehend an all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present deity who lives outside of the space-time reality he created for us? See Isaiah 29:16.

Here are some things Scripture says about the mystery of God:

Accept Our Position

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? (Job 11:7, NIV), but then consider 1 Corinthians 4:1.

Love Others More Than Knowledge

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing,” (1 Corinthians 13:2, NIV).

Know the Mystery

“He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:9-10, NIV). Also see Ephesians 3:2-5 and Colossians 2:2.

Declare the Long-Hidden Mystery

“We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1 Corinthians 2:7, NIV). Also see Colossians 1:25-27, Ephesians 3:8-9, and Romans 16:24-27.

Let Everyone Hear the Mystery

“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6, NIV). Also see Romans 11:25-26.

Pray for Missionaries of This Mystery

“Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3, NIV). Also see Ephesians 6:19-20.

Utter the Mysteries

“For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:2, NIV).

Embrace the Mystery of Jesus and His Church

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32, NIV).

Anticipate Being Changed

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, NIV).

Look Forward to the Mystery of God Being Accomplished

“But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished” (Revelation 10:7, NIV).

We don’t need to fully comprehend the mysteries of God. Instead, we should allow them to draw us closer to him. Click To Tweet

Mystery of God

These verses are the starting point into pursuing the mystery of God. We’ll do well to contemplate what they mean and how to best move forward.

We don’t need to fully comprehend these awesome mysteries. Instead, we should allow them to draw us closer to God.

Here’s one more verse: “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Adam Was a Vegetarian

Discover When Our Ancestors Starting Eating Meat

Adam was a vegetarian—really, he was. So were Eve and their kids too. In fact, the next several generations likely avoided meat was well. They all had a vegetarian lifestyle.

How do I know this? After creation, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat any plant or fruit tree for food. Meat was not mentioned as an option (Genesis 1:29).

However, less we conclude that we are supposed to be vegetarian, consider God’s follow-up instructions after the great flood. At that time, God gave all animals to Noah, stating that they would also be used for food (Genesis 9:2-3).

One might argue that God’s original plan was for a vegetarian lifestyle. That is an acceptable conclusion, but it needs to be kept in balance with the also acceptable perspective that meat was given to us to be enjoyed. Both are biblically defensible conclusions.

So, be we herbivore or carnivore, we need to get along with each other. That is even more in line with God’s desire for us then what we eat.

Bon Appétit!

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 9-11 and today’s post is on Genesis 9:2-3.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

What Does the Word of God Mean?

Discover Four Key Things Scripture Says about the Word of God

The phrase “Word of God” appears forty-five times in the Bible, mostly in the New Testament. The book of Acts leads the way with eleven occurrences, followed by Revelation with six.

But what does the Word of God mean?

1. The Bible

Ask people what the word of God means, and many will say it refers to the Bible. Indeed, Scripture reveals God’s written word to us. Penned over several centuries and preserved for us today, its words reveal God to us.

In this way, the Bible is God’s word.

2. The Holy Spirit

In Paul’s teaching about the armor of God, he talks about the Sword of the Spirit, which he identifies as the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). If we assume he’s talking about the Bible, however, we may be off base. This is because the New Testament of the Bible did not exist when Paul wrote his letter to the church in Ephesus.

Since the word of God is the Sword of the Spirit, we can rightly connect these two phrases to see this as God’s spoken word coming to us from the Holy Spirit.

We can conclude that God’s word is both his written word and his spoken word. But there’s more.

3. Creation

In the account of our beginning in Genesis 1, we see that God spoke creation into existence. Eight times the gospel account records, “God said, let . . . ” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, and 26).

In this instance we see the spoken words of God—that is, the word of God—as the source of creation. He literally spoke our world into existence.

This means we have the word of God all around us, all the time. All we need to do to see God and hear him is to look at the creation that his words made.

4. Jesus

When it comes to the word of God, there’s one more consideration—the most important one of all. It’s Jesus.

John, in his biography of Jesus, opens with his evocative, poetic introduction. In this he calls Jesus the Word, that is, the word of God (John 1:1, 14). Jesus came to earth to reveal God to us and to save us. Many of the times the New Testament mentions the word of God, it refers to the gospel, the good news about Jesus.

We see Jesus in the Bible, revealed by the Holy Spirit, and through all creation.

And, by the way, Jesus as the Word, was there at creation—the beginning—when God’s words spoke our reality into being (John 1:1). And Jesus will be present at the end of this age (Revelation 19:13).

Jesus confirms that he is Alpha and Omega, First and Last (Revelation 22:13). Our present reality starts with Jesus, and it will end with Jesus, the word of God.

We see the word of God in the Bible, from the Holy Spirit, among creation, and through Jesus. Click To Tweet

Word of God Conclusion

We see the word of God in the Bible, from the Holy Spirit, among creation, and through Jesus. These are all various aspects of God’s word, but it starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus.

Truly, Jesus is the word of God.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

If God Cares for Every Bird, How Much More Will He Care for Us?

God Cares for the Lesser Things of His Creation and We Are So Much More

In one of Asaph’s Psalms he exalts God for his power, beauty, and perfection. In doing so Asaph envisions what God might say to his people, talking about what is important and what isn’t. God has no need for our animals (possessions), for every creature (everything) is his.

In fact God says that he knows every bird, and that even the insects are his.

God Cares for Birds

Does this idea that God knows every bird sound familiar? Consider what Jesus says in his teaching in what we commonly call “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:25-27). He tells us not to worry, that God will take care of us.

Then he reminds us of the birds. Even though birds don’t prepare for the future by planting crops, gathering the harvest, or storing for the future, God feeds them. He takes care of them.

In the non-winter months in Michigan, anytime I look out my window I see all kinds of birds, often more than I can count. Though I know some species, I can’t identify most of them.

While I have trouble identifying various types of birds, God not only knows each species, he also knows each bird within each specie.

Aside from my enjoyment of watching birds, in the overall scope of life, I give little thought to birds. Yet God cares for them.

Thank you, Father God for taking care of us. Click To Tweet

God Cares for Us

Jesus goes on to say that if his Father will feed the birds how much more will he care for us. As people, we’re the highpoint of his creation. We matter much more to him than birds. God cares for us even more than he cares for the birds.

Thank you, Father God for taking care of us.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 46-50, and today’s post is on Psalms 50:11.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Two Key Advantages of Community

We Benefit When We Share Our Joys and Burdens with Others

When God created us in his image, he put within us a desire for community. Just as God lives in community with himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—he wants us to be in community with him. He wants a relationship with us. He pursues us.

This same internal desire for connection with our creator extends to other people. God designed us to crave community with others too. No one is an island, existing in isolation.

Not only do we find fulfillment when we enjoy connection with God and with the people he created, but we also realize two key benefits from being in community.

Community Amplifies Our Joys

When something exciting happens to us our first instinct is to share our good news with someone else. This may be with family, friends, or our spiritual community—which for many is their church family.

But imagine experiencing something grand and having no one to share it with. Wouldn’t that lessen our elation? Wouldn’t that diminish our delight?

That’s why community is so critical to our emotional and spiritual well-being. When we can share our joys with someone else, the other person celebrates with us, and our joy doubles.

Community Helps Us Bear Our Burdens

In the same way when discouragement or despair hits, we seek someone who will listen, empathize, and encourage. Again, this may be a family member, a friend, or someone in our spiritual community.

This isn’t to dump our problems on another, but to seek support as we go through dark days.

Imagine having no one to talk to when we experience the downsides of life. How dreadful to need to walk through that by ourselves. Wouldn’t this amplify our agony? Wouldn’t this double our despair?

This shows why community is so essential to our overall welfare. When we can share our burdens with someone else, that person laments with us and our burden is cut in half. God created us for community.

May we find community and nurture it. May we contribute to it and benefit from it. Click To Tweet

Finding Spiritual Connection

Where do we find this community where we can share our joys and burdens? Family is a great start, but not all families function as a supportive community. If yours doesn’t, what role can you play to improve relationships within your family?

Next consider friends. This means genuine friends, not social media friends and not acquaintances, but real friends who are there for you through the good and the bad.

If you don’t have friends like this then either seek new friends, or, better yet, strive to offer this kind of support to the friends you do have.

Last is a community beyond family and friends. As followers of Jesus, this should be our church. But if you’re church doesn’t offer meaningful community that will celebrate your joys and help carry your burdens, then it’s time to work to improve the one you have, or, as a last option, to find a new one.

God created us for community. May we find that community and nurture it. May we contribute to it and benefit from it.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Can the God of Creation Control the Sun?

Justifying Bible Accounts Through Human Reasoning Limits God’s Power

As Joshua leads the nation of Israel into the promised land, they defeat Gibeon in a most amazing battle. Though Joshua’s army does its part, God plays an even bigger role.

He orchestrates a hailstorm that pelts the Gibeon army with huge hailstones, killing many of them, even more than Joshua’s army kills.

The Sun Stops Moving

Even more so, Joshua prays for more daylight to enable the fighting to continue. This will allow his army to secure a victory and prevent the remaining enemy forces from scurrying away under the cover of darkness.

Do you know what happens? God stops the sun from moving. Yep. It stays in the middle of the sky for a full day.

Some people read this account and don’t know what to make of it. It seems too incredible to accept. They attempt to explain away God’s power with man-made logic.

The Sun Moves Backwards

However, this isn’t the only time something like this happens. Much later we read about King Hezekiah. He becomes deathly ill and God tells him to put his affairs in order. Hezekiah doesn’t. Instead he prays for more time. God hears his prayer and promises to give him fifteen more years.

To offer proof of God’s power to do as he promised, he makes the sun move backward for a while. Then everything returns to normal. The sun moves forward again and Hezekiah lives another fifteen years (Isaiah 38:1-8 and also 2 Kings 20:8-11).

The God of Creation Can Do All Things

Again, some people try to explain away this incredible story of the sun moving backward. I don’t know why they try to do this. Yes, this is incredible, but so is God.

Trying to logically dismiss these two accounts and place human limits on God’s power doesn’t make sense. If God created the reality that we live in, including the sun and the moon, can’t he cause them to stop moving for a couple of hours or to move the sun backward for a few minutes?

My God can. Can yours?

My God can control the sun. Can yours? Click To Tweet

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Joshua 10-12, and today’s post is on Joshua 10:13.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

In the Beginning, God Created…

Were We Created or Did We Evolve?

How did it all begin? That is, where did we come from? Let’s go back to the beginning.

I don’t intend to end the debate over the beginning of life and our reality. This won’t change anyone’s mind. But I do want to offer something to think about.

As you know, there are two schools of thought on our origin: in the beginning we evolved out of nothing or we were created by enteral God.

Either point of view requires a degree of faith to accept—and for me, evolution actually requires more.  Here’s why:

Follow the theory of evolution backwards, starting with people. Follow them to land animals, to water animals, to plants, to single cell organisms, to amino acids, to a mixture of gases, and so forth. No matter how far back you go, the nagging question is always there: where did that come from?

At some point, there is the inescapable conclusion that something had to come from nothing.

For me, that takes a great deal of faith to accept—seemingly more faith than to simply say that an ever-existing God, living outside of time-space, just made it all.

To me, being created is easier to accept than having evolved out of nothing. Click To Tweet

If the use of the word faith is a bit off-putting, then consider Occam’s Razor, the principle that says the simplest solution is usually the correct one. To me, being created by eternal God who always existed is simpler than having evolved out of nothing.

I’ll go with that: In the beginning God created us, our world, and our reality.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 1-2, and today’s post is on Genesis 1:27.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Personal Posts

Lightning and Life

A few years ago lightning struck our house. It seems most of the energy was safely dissipated via a ground wire, as intended.

Yet some took a variant path, following along the eave trough and blowing the downspout away from the house, before jumping to an unused underground cable and heading towards our prized maple tree.

The telltale sign of the end of its path was mound of dirt over where the wire once was. The height and width of this trail diminished as it approached the tree, disappearing a few feet from the trunk.

I expected the leaves to turn brown in a couple of days. I braced myself to watch my tree die. To my relief, this didn’t happen. The tree lived the rest of that year and all through the next.

A year and a half later, just as the leaves began to unfold in the spring, they stopped growing and turned brown. Within a couple days, my maple tree was dead. The likely explanation was the lightning damaged the root system enough to where the tree couldn’t recover.

We need to do what is good, even when we see no benefits from our wise actions or no consequences because of our unwise acts: we never know what may await. Click To Tweet

Above the ground, the tree looked healthy and alive. Yet, hidden from view was a tree fighting for survival. Though it hung on for eighteen months, it couldn’t recover.

Such it is with life. Every action has ramifications. Yet if the effects are delayed, we can easily assume everything is fine. With an unwise action, the lack of an immediate consequence can lull us into assuming everything is all right and embolden us to repeat our reckless behavior.

On the outside, everything may look fine. But what no one can see—what we may not even realize—is that on the inside we are wounded and moving towards death, be it literal or figurative.

We need to do what is good, even when we see no benefits from our wise actions or no consequences because of our unwise acts: we never know what may await

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Can Free Will and Predestination Coexist?

We Have the Right to Choose, but God Already Knows Our Decision

Some people insist that God gave us free will to make our own decisions, that we hold our future in our hands. Others claim our future has already been set, that God charts our course, with the outcome predestined.

Which is it?

Both.

Creation and the Timespace Continuum

Let’s start at the beginning. Actually, let’s start before the beginning. Before God’s creation.

God is an eternal being without beginning or end. He exists outside our spacetime reality. When he created us and the space we live in, he created time, too. Consider the spacetime continuum. If he made space, he had to make time, because the two are inseparable.

To him there is no past or future. I suppose this means he sees everything as a present, existent reality.

However, our existence unfolds as we move through the time he created for us to live in. Because we are bound by time, we see our future as unknown, something yet to be determined. Therefore, the question of free will and predestination seems to us as an either/or proposition. But to God, it isn’t.

God, who exists outside of time, doesn’t have the constraints we have. Click To Tweet

Our Perspective of Time

God, who exists outside of time, doesn’t have the constraints we have.

Though our minds are finite, and our reasoning has limits, here’s how I reconcile the two. God gives us free will to choose. But he already knows what those decisions are. Because of his awareness, one not bound by time, he knows our future as if it is the present.

What we see as an unknown future, he sees as a known reality. To God our future is foreknown. In essence, it’s predestined. It will happen for us in our future even though it’s in the present for him. It’s known in advance, predestined, because he sees the outcomes of the free will that he gave us.

Though God allows us to choose our future, he already knows what those choices are. Nothing we do surprises him. In this way, our future is predestined, even though we have the free will to choose it.

And since he already knows what will happen to us in our future reality, he works things out for our best (Romans 8:28-29).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Role Faith Plays in the Creation Versus Evolution Debate

For all their differences, both creation and the theory of evolution require an element of faith

In school I learned about evolution. In church I learned about creation. Creation marks the beginning of the Bible and forms the foundation of my worldview, which started as a child from my parents and became an informed decision as an adult.

I’m not sure if creation versus evolution is an either/or consideration, or if there’s a way for them to peaceably coexist. It could happen. But I do know is that either perspective requires an element of faith.

Obviously, it requires faith to believe in an unseen God who created the universe and has an interest in us as his creation.

However, when I look at the theory of evolution in follow its path back to the beginning, I reach a point where something had to come out of nothing. That requires a great deal of faith, too, even more then is needed to accept that God made us and the world we live in.

To me it’s easier to, by faith, except a superior entity who exists outside our time-space reality. In fact, since time and space exist on a continuum, if you perceive God as the creator of space, then he’s also the creator of time. That means he exists outside our time-space reality, which he created as our playground.

On a simple scale, it’s much like you or I constructing an ant farm. We would exist outside our creation, and the ants would live inside it. The ant farm would be the ant’s world, their reality. We would be an entity external to them and beyond their comprehension.

I see myself as a created being and desire to worship the God who made me. Click To Tweet

The issue of creation versus evolution boils down to faith. Which is easier to accept in faith? At its basic core evolution requires we accept that something came out of nothing. Conversely, creation requires we have faith of an entity who lives outside our time-space reality.

Given this, I need less faith to believe in creation than I do to accept the theory of evolution.

Yes, there’s a middle ground, that God created our reality using the process of evolution. To me it doesn’t matter how God created us and our world. I see myself as a created being and desire to worship the God who made me.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.