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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

Let’s Not Forget Who’s in Charge

Good and Evil are Not Equal and Opposite Forces

In Revelation we read about the dragon and the beast, a great battle, and the tribulation the whole world faces.

The Beast

Embedded in the middle of this epic tale, we see a curious revelation. John writes that the beast is given power to wage war against God’s people that he created. John says the beast is given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation (Revelation 13:7).

Who gave the beast his power and authority?

God.

If God can grant the beast power and authority over the world and all creation, then that means God is more powerful than the beast and the forces of evil.

Think about this.

Contrary to what many people think, God and Satan do not exist as equal players in the age-old war of good versus evil. God is superior to Satan. God created Satan, albeit for good. Satan, in his pride, rebelled against God and has fought him ever since.

You see, the battle isn’t fair. God has the upper hand. Satan functions within the limits God places on him.

In the final battle, the victory goes to God. Click To Tweet

The Final Battle: God Wins; Satan Loses

That means in the final battle, we already know the winner. The victory goes to God. Satan loses. Big time.

If we’re on God’s team, we’re on the winning side. And for those who follow the enemy, they’ll lose along with him.

God’s in charge. God is more powerful then evil. Let’s not forget that. When we go with God, we go with the winner.

To him be the honor, and the glory, and the power, forever and ever. Amen.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Revelation 13-16, and today’s post is on Revelation 13:7.]

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

Do You Believe that God Can Raise the Dead?

Jesus Rose from the Dead and So Did Many Others

In Acts chapter 26, the prisoner Paul makes his defense before King Agrippa. Basically Paul recaps key moments of his life and turns his testimony into a sermon.

This must make King Agrippa squirm, because he pushes back, asking if Paul expects him to become a Christian. For the record, Paul does.

However, I want to focus on something Paul says early on in his testimony to the court. Paul asks those present, “Why would anyone consider it incredible that God can raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8). What an interesting question.

If we believe in God and consider him as an all-powerful deity, we can certainly accept that he is able to bring dead people back to life. Most notably he does this for Jesus. And Jesus, who is one with God, raises several people from the dead too.

So do Paul, Elijah, and Elisha, who all raise the dead through God’s power.

God’s Resurrecting Power

Where is this resurrecting power of God today?

Is God still in the business of raising the dead?

God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). Moses and James agree (Numbers 23:19 and James 1:17).

If God doesn’t change and once brought dead people back to life, there’s no reason to expect that he can’t raise the dead now. For some people in our world, resurrection from the dead is normal and still occurs.

Yet other people in our world, namely those in developed nations, dismiss the idea of supernatural resurrections. What’s the difference?

If we’re not seeing people rise from the dead, it might not be God’s fault but our lack of faith. Click To Tweet

We get a hint in Matthew 13:58, which says Jesus—even Jesus—was limited in what supernatural wonders he could perform, because of the people’s lack of faith.

So if we’re not seeing people rise from the dead, it might not be God’s doing, but our lack of faith.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Acts 26-28, and today’s post is on Acts 26:8.]

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

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 Bible Uncovers the Spiritual Realm for Us

We Get a Glimpse into the Spiritual Realm Through Scripture

We live in a physical realm. In our physical world, we experience it with our senses. We see things, touch things, and hear, taste, and smell things. Through our senses, we experience our physical reality.

However, there’s also a spiritual aspect of our existence, which embraces the spiritual realm. Though we can’t tangibly experience this spiritual reality with our senses, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Through the Bible we get a peek into the spiritual realm and can get an awareness of what that implies.

Here are some aspects of the spiritual realm that the Bible reveals to us:

Three Characteristics of God

Through the Bible we can discover three critical characteristics of God.

First, he is omnipotent, which means he’s all powerful, Almighty. Next, we see that God is omnipresent. This means God is present in all places at the same time. He is everywhere, all the time. Third, we see God as omniscient, which means all-knowing. God knows all things. everything.

These words all start with omni. Omni means all. God is all powerful, all present, and all knowing. I like to say that he’s omni God, that is, he is all, all we need. He is everything.

Three in One God

From the Bible we get the concept of God as a Trinity. In the Trinity we have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Yet they are one.

He is three entities, yet one entity. He’s three and one at the same time. Confusing, right? The Bible reveals this to us, and we addressed this characteristic of God in prior reasons of why I love the Bible: reason #2, #3 and #4.

Holy Spirit Power

Let’s focus for a moment on the Holy Spirit. As we’ve already covered, the Bible reveals the Holy Spirit to us. More than that, the Bible also reveals the Holy Spirit’s power.

Though we see the Holy Spirit at work throughout the Bible, he takes center stage in the book of Acts, with close to one hundred mentions. The Holy Spirit also takes part in creation, as covered in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible.

And the Holy Spirit is there as the Bible concludes, taking a central role in the last chapter of the last book. The Holy Spirit is powerful and the Holy Spirit lives in us. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit and then obey what he says.

Miracles and More

Throughout the Bible we read about miracles, of supernatural events that transcend physical realities. Some people make ineffective attempts to explain away miracles through logic, science, or reason. All attempts fall short.

Through faith, we accept the miracles we read about in the Bible as the manifestation of the reality of the spiritual realm.

Angels

The Bible reveals angels and other supernatural beings to us. These aren’t harp-playing cherubs, floating on clouds, with child-like innocence plastered on their face. These are powerful spiritual beings, created by God, who do his bidding and even battle on our behalf.

The Bible reveals that we’ll experience a new life, a spiritual life that continues after physical death. Click To Tweet

Evil

The Bible also reveals another element of the spiritual realm to us. It is Satan, the devil, he exists in the spiritual realm, yet we see evidence of his work in the physical realm. Many people imagine Satan as God’s counterpart, doing battle against each other is equal, opposing forces.

Yet the Bible reveals that Satan is an angel created by God. He later rebels against his maker. God, as creator, is more powerful than his creation. That means God is more powerful then Satan.

Though the devil enjoys a time of authority to cause havoc in our world today, in the end God will win. And he will conquer his enemy, Satan.

Life After Death

Last, the most important element of the spiritual realm that the Bible reveals to us is that we will experience a new life. This is a spiritual life that continues after physical death. Though no one is sure what our life-after-death existence will be like, the Bible reveals to us that it is real.

As followers of Jesus, we can expect to spend eternity with God in the spiritual realm. And then it will all become clear (1 Corinthians 13:12).

We are more than corporeal, so much more. We are more than just a body. Let’s not even consider our physical being first. Instead let’s begin with our spiritual being and build upon it: we are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The Bible reveals the spiritual realm to us. Though it’s hard to comprehend from our present, physical reality, the Bible gives us glimpses into it and what it means.

We must grasp this and accept it, for it is our future. And when we get there, I suspect it will be more real than the reality we currently experience in the physical realm.

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

God Answers Prayer

In my post, The Implications of Omnipotence, I noted that there is nothing that an all-powerful God can’t do, yet, not every prayer is answered—at least not the way we think it should be.

However, before we criticize God, consider:

  • Maybe our request is contrary to God’s nature, such as, asking him to harm another person.
  • Perhaps what we ask would require someone’s freewill to be superseded, such as, to make someone do something they don’t what to do.
  • What if God said “yes” to everything? (Consider the movie “Bruce Almighty” for a demonstration of how bad that would be.)
  • If God answered every prayer every time, immediately solving all our problems, getting us out of jams, and shielding us from the consequences of our actions, God would become our grant-a-wish-genie, literally spoiling us rotten.

When Jesus was teaching about prayer, he noted that even flawed parents know how to give good things to their children, so even more so, our heavenly father will give good things to his children.

  • Just as parents may wisely withhold some things for the long-term good of a child, God will do so, too.
  • Children need chance to learn, grow, and mature, sometimes through failure or disappointment, so too do we.
  • Doting and indulgent parents keep a child from maturing and becoming stable adult. God loves us too much to let that happen.

Sometimes, “No” is the best and most loving response.

However, when it’s in our best interest, there’s nothing God can’t and won’t do for us when we ask. That is his nature; he is omnipotent.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 10-12, and today’s post is on Luke 11:13.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

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

The Implications of Omnipotence

In my post “Omni God,” I mentioned that, among other things, God is “omnipotent.” This means that God possesses unlimited strength and has universal power and authority.

God’s Omnipotence

The word omnipotent occurs in Amplified Bible, but most translations use “almighty” instead, often in the form of a proper name, as in the Almighty, God Almighty, Lord God Almighty. Almighty means having absolute power or being all-powerful.

God is omnipotent, with unlimited power and authority, so there’s nothing that he can’t do—including no prayer that he can’t answer.

  • David said, “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me” (Psalm 17:6).
  • Jesus said, “Everyone who asks receives” (Luke 11:9-10).
  • John said, “We know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

God’s Sovereignty

A related word is sovereign, which means to exercise supreme, permanent authority. God’s sovereignty is not so that he can be malevolent towards us, but to be benevolent. He does not want to withhold things from us, but to give things to us.

God is omnipotent and sovereign, able to answer prayer, so we can confidently ask with the expectation that he will answer (more on that in my next post, God Answers Prayer). Also see “The Implications of Omniscience” and “The Implications of Omnipresence.”

God’s omnipotence and sovereignty reveals that he has the ability and desire to answer our prayers.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Matthew 5-7, and today’s post is on Matthew 7:11.]

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

God is Omni

There are three words that are commonly used to describe God; they all begin with “omni.”

  • Omnipresent: Present everywhere simultaneously
  • Omniscient: Total knowledge; knowing everything
  • Omnipotent: Unlimited power or authority

The three “omni” words reveal truth about God’s character and nature. The prefix “omni” means all, so these words tell us that God is all present, all knowing, and all powerful.

  • If God is present everywhere, then that means he is also right now with you and with me.
  • If God knows everything, then that means that he also knows you and me—personally, completely, and totally.
  • If God is all powerful, then that means he has the power, authority, and ability to answer our prayers.

God’s “omni” nature surely provides something us something to ponder.

[For more thoughts, see my posts in The Bible Blog: Omni God, The Implications of Omnipresence, The Implications of Omniscience, and The Implications of Omnipotence.]

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

Job’s Conclusion

A common lament of Job throughout the story bearing his name is his begging God to answer his pleas. However, it seems that Job (and his friends) are too busy talking to give God a chance. When God does respond, Job’s friends are rebuffed, and Job’s righteousness is affirmed.

Job’s brief reply to God’s discourse is humble and contrite. After acknowledging God’s complete knowledge (omniscience) and total power (omnipotence), Job unabashedly admits:

“I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

With all of our knowledge and assumed understanding of God and his ways, I think that Job’s words are more often an appropriate and accurate posture then for us to assuredly spout our religious opinions (theology) as if they were fact.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 40-42, and today’s post is on Job 42:3.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

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

Omni God

Omni God

There are three words that are commonly used to describe God; they all begin with “omni.”

Omnipresent

Present everywhere simultaneously

Omnipotent

Unlimited power or authority

Omniscient

Total knowledge; knowing everything

The prefix “omni” means all, so the three “omni” words that reveal God’s character and nature, succinctly tell us that

God is all present, all powerful, and all knowing.

God’s “omni” nature surely provides something us something to ponder.

In some translations of the Bible, the word omnipotent is found in Revelation 19:6, but most versions use the word “almighty” instead.  Almighty, in referring to God’s character, occurs hundreds of times in the Bible. 

The other two “omni” words are not directly found in the Bible, but are implied.  Omnipresent is described in Jeremiah 23:23-24 and Proverbs 15:3, among others, while  Omniscient is described in Matthew 6:32, Romans 8:27, 1 John 3:20 and others.

Also see “The Implications of Omnipresence,” “The Implications of Omniscience,” and “The Implications of Omnipotence” for more thoughts on this.

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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