An “Idol” Mind is the Devil’s Workshop – Part 2

May 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Wade's Weekly Word

John Calvin observed long ago that the human heart, our image-bearing and image-fashioning nature, is an idol factory. In spite of all our learning and scientific achievements, this is no less true today than it was in the 16th Century when Calvin made this observation.

Idolatry is Misplaced Worship

Every human being was created to worship. Therefore the issue is never will a person worship, but what will they worship –someone or something. The central theological structure of the Bible revolves around the ages-long struggle between true faith and worship and perverted faith and idolatry.

Man’s Original Sin was an Act of Idolatry – (Read Romans 1:21-25)

The Bible does not consider idolatry as being just a sin among many sins, but the root sin that nurtures all other sins!

The text in Romans 1:21 reminds us that in spite of their knowledge of the one true God, mankind, as a whole, did not honor, recognize or worship Him, but instead “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images … and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator.” Instead of living for God, man begins to live for himself, or his work, or for material goods.

In the beginning, human beings were made to worship and serve God, and to rule over all created things in God’s name (Gen 1:26­–28). Our federal and seminal representative, Adam, rebelled against God and His design and reversed the original intended order. As a result, man began to worship and serve created things, which, paradoxically, resulted in the created things coming to rule over him.

The first two of the Ten Commandments are laws against idolatry. The Bible doesn’t envision any third option between true faith and idolatry. We will either worship the uncreated God or we will worship some created thing (an idol). There is no possibility of our worshipping nothing. The classic New Testament text of Romans 1:18-25, tells us that the reason we turn to idols is because we want to control our lives, though we know that we owe God everything. “Though they knew God, they neither glorified God nor gave thanks to him.” Verse 25 tells us the strategy for control—taking created things and setting our hearts on them and building our lives around them. Since we need to worship something, because of how we are created, we cannot eliminate God without creating God-substitutes. Verses 21 and 25 tell us the two results of idolatry:

(1)Deception—”their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened,”

(2) Slavery —”they worshipped and served” created things.

Whatever we worship we will serve, for worship and service are always inextricably bound together. So every human personality, community, worldview, and culture will be based on some ultimate concern or some ultimate allegiance—either to God or to some God-substitute.

Individually, we will ultimately look either to God or to success, romance, family, status, popularity, beauty, reason, education or something else to make us feel personally significant and secure, and to guide our choices.

Culturally, we will ultimately look to either God or to the free market, the state, the elites, the will of the people, science and technology, military might, human reason, racial pride, or something else to make us corporately significant and secure, and to guide our choices.

Our English word “worship” comes from an Old English word meaning “worth-ship.” Louie Giglio writes: “Worship is simply about value. The simplest definition I can give is this: Worship is our response to what we value most. That’s why worship is that thing we all do. It’s what we’re all about on any given day. Worship is about saying, ‘This person, this thing, this experience (this whatever) is what matters most to me . . . it’s the thing of highest value in my life.’ And whatever is worth most to you – guess what – is what you worship. As a result, worship fuels our actions, becoming the driving force of all we do.”

Worship is our life in love relationship with God as seen and known in the face of Jesus Christ, being lived and being offered daily to Him. Worship is our lives loving Him, exalting Him, giving Him honor and blessing Him in the easy times, the hard times, joyful times, weeping times, and at all times. It is our showing forth His praise–His excellencies — in every circumstance of our lives.

Worship is so much more than singing a song, more than a dance, more than playing an instrument, more than a once or twice a week event within four walls of a building. Worship is not music, song, sermon, or dancing around. Our worship is our lives presented to our God as living sacrifices each day that we have breath upon the earth and for all eternity.

King Jesus said we must worship “in spirit.” This means that in our human spirit, enabled by the Holy Spirit, we responding to and reflect back to God the worth of His person. We are to worship from the inside out. It’s not a matter of being in the right place at the right time, with the right words, the right demeanor, nor the right clothes, the right formalities, the right activities, the right music, or the right mood.

Worship involves the totality of our being. It is not merely a Sunday activity or a quiet time every day, but an all day attitude and action. Our bodies are temples of the Living God. Every sphere of our lives is scared. Every activity of our lives is to be lived by the power of God, according to the Word of God, for the glory of God! Anything else or less is IDOLATRY!

The bottom line is that we worship whatever we consider has the most worth.

Is the great and first thing – loving God — first, foremost and fully the center of all you are and do? Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Anything else or less is IDOLATRY!

The Three Acts of the Christmas Story – Act 3

December 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Wade's Weekly Word

The Three Acts of the Christmas Story are as follows:

Act One — Through Sin we Lost the Plot of God’s Story;
Act Two — Through the Son we Learn how the Full Plan is in a Person who Fulfills the Promise of God;
Act Three — Through Salvation we Link-up and Live-out God’s Big Glory Story! 

In this study we will look at Act Three of God’s Big Glory Story:

Through Salvation we Link-up and Live-out God’s Big Story!

Matthew 1:21b, “…He shall save His people from their sins”

The little word “save” is one of the most common verbs in the English language. Every day, we all use it dozens of times in association with words like save time, money, fuel, animals, stamps, paper, save our inner cities, save to a disk on our computer work, save drowning people, etc. etc.

When it comes to the Christian faith, however, the meaning of “save” can seem less clear. Many who claim to be saved are not sure how this happens, why it happens, and what its consequences are in daily life.

The word “save” or “salvation” derives from the root of the Greek word “sozo”, which means to deliver, to make whole, to make healthy, to set free.  All of those thoughts are combined in the word “saved” or “salvation.” These terms buried in the word “saved” reveal that until a person is vitally related or brought back into relationship with God through Christ, they are disjointed, unhealthy, in bondage, broken, with no true meaning to their life.

Herb Hodges gives clear and compelling implications found in the term, “SAVE” as he writes: “What a colossal word it is! It covers three vast realities: First, it means that we, as individual sinners, may be delivered (rescued) from life’s greatest peril (sins). Then it means that we, as individual saints, are endowed with life’s greatest provision (“all spiritual blessings,” Ephesians 1:3, and all necessary material benefits, James 1:17). Finally, it means that we, implicated as His individual servants, are included in life’s greatest purpose (we may serve Him on His terms, share all we are and have with others—on His terms, and have total world impacton His terms). All three facets are included in the word, “save.”  Christians tend to misread these facets of salvation, heavily emphasizing the first one, giving less attention to the second, and giving almost no attention to the third. Thus, many (probably most) Christians hold a much distorted view of salvation, and their Christian lives reveal the shortfall.”

Nothing gives the full implications of the word “saved” as the fact that we are brought into God’s Big Glory Story that has untold millions of important players and parts, but only One Star, Jesus.

What is your story? When you tell it does it make the Lord Jesus Christ the Star, or does it make Him sound like a stage hand helping you to success? Would you story sound more like the American version of the gospel that helps you to live the “American dream” – getting a good education, a good job, a good mate, get a couple of good children, get a lot of good stuff – cash, cars, clothes, cabins — a good house in a good neighborhood, occasionally attend a good church filled with good people, take a lot of good vacations, enjoy a good time golfing, gardening, and hunting and fishing, then retirement with good health, so that you can go to a good place called Heaven?

May I suggest to you that if this is the case, your story is far too small, too self-centered, and will never satisfy the reason for your being – that why-am-I-here cry that constantly echoes in the chambers of your heart.

Dudley Hall was on target when he wrote, “The American Dream gospel will not do. It does not address the real problem in the human race. Our problem is not primarily structural, and we are not hurting just because we are uninformed. We are not victims just because we have failed to discover the god within us. We have been affected deeply by sin that separated us from God the Father. As orphans we have sought to make it in the world by our own efforts. We need to be reconciled to God the Father and that could only happen if a true Son took our orphaned condition and gave us his “Son life”. We don’t need to dress up and improve the behavior of spiritual orphans. We need transformation that begins with regeneration, includes reconciliation, and results in healthy sons of God loving and tending his world as he directs.

The shaking that is going on is our Father trying to awaken us from the delusional sleep of idolatry. He is unwilling for us to be satisfied with such little delights. He wants us to enjoy the life that he offers in Jesus Christ. Don’t settle for less. Jettison the collection of ideas and concepts that dilute the passion of his grace.”

I join with Dudley in inviting you to tear up your little script and join the cast of God’s Big Story. When you get saved you will be truly captured by it. In fact, you will be so captivated with it that you will be compelled by love to want to tell the whole world the old, old story of God’s redeeming love. You will begin to understand that everything we do as believers makes sense because it is connected to God’s Big Story, illuminating who we are in Christ, who He is in us, and what our assignments are here on the earth.

Only in the Big Glory Story of life in Jesus and His life in us, do we fit, or find our place!

Paul David Tripp notes, “Only as we see our story enfolded in the larger story of redemption will we begin to live God-honoring lives. Lasting change begins when our identity, purpose, and sense of direction are defined by God’s story. When we bring this perspective to our relationships, we will have a dramatically different agenda. It will take the principles and commands of Scripture and use them as God intended. We will see how each principle, promise, and command finds its meaning and fulfillment in Christ. Separate them from Christ and they lose their God-intended meaning and get hijacked by other agendas.”

Coming to the scriptures, with its stories about leading players like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the nation of Israel, how do I fit my story in with theirs?

How do I fit in Noah’s story? Like Noah, by faith, we have stepped into the Ark of God – Christ. He has borne God’s wrath and judgment. We have been saved, as Peter says, so as by water. Like Noah, but in a far greater manner, we have stepped out into a new world, a new creation. With him we can stake all on the covenant faithfulness of this tough, yet tender God. We can take our stand as new players in the Big Glory Story – seeing history is really His –Story. We see ourselves as part of a New Humanity – a Third Race of the Twice Born!

How do I find and fit into Abraham’s Adventure? Like Abraham, we have heard the sound of His voice and caught sight of His Son (Jesus said in John 8:56, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.) Like Abram, (high father) whose name was changed to Abraham, (father of many nations) our names have been changed because our natures have been changed. Like Abraham, we have caught a glimpse of the city that has foundations, whose Maker and Builder is God. We can laugh at the impossible promise of God, knowing that he is the God who will perform all that He promises. We then can name our spiritual offspring – Isaac, or laughter – and enjoy the trip as strangers and pilgrims on this earth.

How do I fit in and follow in Moses’ story? Our Moses, Jesus, has led us out of bondage from Satan and the world system. He has gone into the wilderness to meet and defeat the enemy of our souls. He has led us, not to Mt. Sinai, as the Law-Giver, but to Himself, as Mt. Zion and the Perfect Law-Keeper. He has cut the new Covenant with Father God in His body and by His blood. This covenant can’t fail and won’t be broken by sinful people, because it’s made with Him, and not them, and now all Father’s dealings with us are in Christ. He has written the Law, not on tablets of stone, but on our hearts, which gives us the desire to both will and do of His good pleasure.

How do I fit and function in David’s story? King Jesus has been anointed and appointed and He won’t be disappointed. By redemptive purchase and royal transfer, we have been taken from the kingdom of darkness and are now in the kingdom of God’s dear Son. We are kings and priests unto our God in a global community that confesses Jesus Christ as Lord of all. We are King’s Kids in Training for Reigning and know that even if we lose some battles, the final war has already been won. Thus we are winners, even when we lose, and failing is something we sometimes do and not who we are.

How do I fit in and fulfill Israel’s story? By grace through faith we have been grafted into the faith-stock of the OT people, recovering our Jewish roots, but living free from the burden of the Law and enabled to keep the covenant with God by the purchase of Christ’s death and the power of His resurrection life now in us via the Holy Spirit. We are true sons and daughters of Abraham.

The hopes and fears of all the years have been meet in Messiah Jesus. As the Israel of God, our offspring will be as the stars of the sky in number, and as fellow members of a holy nation, we can live as royal priest, re-presenting God to man and man to God – telling the Big Glory Story of Redeeming Love!

“SIN” –“SON”-“SAVE”! What a story! Have you found your place in it?

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