SO, SOME THINGS OFFEND GOD TOO!
A FATHER'S LOVE
The Presbyterian minister Paul Dwight Moody, son of the famous evangelist, gave a touching account of how his dad demonstrated the Heavenly Father's loving concern for His children. The incident happened when Paul was only 10 years old, but the influence of that event left an indelible impression on his young life. He wrote, "My father had told me to go to bed, but I misunderstood. I thought he meant after I had finished my conversation with a young friend who was visiting our home with an older person. So I continued talking and having fun. A little later he came into the room again and saw that I had not obeyed him. Speaking with that directness of which he was capable, he ordered me to bed at once. His brusque tone of voice was new to me, and I retreated, frightened and in tears. But before I had time to fall asleep, he was at my bedside. He explained that he had reprimanded me because I had disobeyed him, but this in no way indicated that he didn't love me. As he knelt to pray with me, I noticed that tears were falling down over his rugged, bearded face.
"That was nearly half a century ago," Paul Moody continued, "but I'll never forget the scene. My father had unknowingly awakened within me the consciousness of the love of God. No sermon on the Lord's compassion for His children has cast so much light on that subject as my dad's huge figure sympathetically bending over my bed in the twilight."
We began to realize in our last study, that God has feelings too!!! Not only does God have feelings, but when He deals with us, His creatures, He deals with His feelings and displays His feelings. God really works with His feelings. This is not something that we are fabricating, surmising, interpolating or extrapolating. God has chosen to reveal Himself, in direct feeling words, as a God who has feelings too!
I have found that it is very difficult for most people to see God from a feeling perspective, because of their relationship with their parents or significant others. Even as Paul Moody's concept of God's compassion was molded by the character and behavior of His father, ours too is greatly impacted by the character and behavior of our parents.
It is very profound and yet very sad that many Christians think that their theology interprets their experience, when in fact the opposite seems to be true. Many times, especially with Significant Emotional Events or crises that we have chosen not to acknowledge or deal with, our experiences interpret our theology. A man who had a rigid father will develop a rigid theology. A woman who has been abused, will develop a theology with a disinterested God at the center of it. A child who is abandoned, will grow up and not be able to trust God.
(With that introduction, let's see if we can find out more about the feelings of God?)
We are presently studying the indefatigable, absolute compassion of God. In our last message, we embarked on a long expedition through the uses of various Hebrew and Greek words translated "compassion," "compassions," and "compassionate." We are presently looking at all the Scriptures where the Hebrew word racham (raw-kham'), 7355, is translated "compassion" in relationship to God. After observation and interpretation, I drew from these Scriptures various propositional statements or principles. The particular principle that we are working on is
Principle #1: Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love. He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate.
(As we look at how each of these principles concerning God's compassion is represented in the Scripture, we shall make specific observations in each individual passage of Scripture. Although these observations will, in many cases, include an observation, an interpretation and an application, for the sake of brevity we shall call these statements "observations". We shall number them with a double number. The first number will indicate the principle that is being applied and the second number will indicate the particular observation with respect to that principle. Let's continue our present study with:)
2 Kings 13:23, "But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them and turned to them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them or cast them from His presence until now."
Observation 1.6: God's motivation to continue to show Israel His compassion was based on His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is both interesting and instructive. It was God who instituted the covenant with Abraham and further extended it to Isaac and Jacob. "The Abrahamic Covenant, found in Genesis 12:1-3, is an unconditional covenant. "There are no conditions attached to it (no "if" clauses, suggesting its fulfillment is dependent upon man). The Abrahamic Covenant is also a literal covenant and an everlasting covenant. The three main features of the covenant are: a promise of land, a promise of descendants, and the promise of blessing and redemption." Therefore, God's compassion to Israel is based upon His unconditional covenant with Abraham! This is further substantiated by
Hebrews 6:13, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, `I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you.'"
God's covenant to Abraham was based upon an oath that He confirmed with Himself, since there was no one more holy, honorable, true and just than Himself!
The implications to us are exciting, because He likewise extends His compassion to us on the basis of His own unconditional covenant with us, in Christ Jesus! We find one statement of that covenant in Ephesians 1:3-14. The following statements taken from this passage of Scripture tell us of this covenant:
"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him..."
"In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself..."
"According to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on us..."
"He made known to us the mystery of His will..."
"We have obtained an inheritance..."
"We are predestined to the praise of His glory..."
"We were sealed In Him with the Holy Spirit of promise..."
I know that these tremendous truths are very difficult for some of you to get in touch with.
It's tough to get in touch with God's covenant of love with you when you are a struggling single mother.
It's tough to get in touch with God's covenant of love when you are going through a divorce.
It's tough to get in touch with God's covenant of love when your business is feeling the effects of the recession.
It's tough to get in touch with God's covenant of love when you feel the church has cheated you out of your ministry.
It's tough to get in touch with God's covenant of love when your job situation is shaky.
It's tough to get in touch with God's covenant of love when you are dealing with an aggravating mate.
It's tough to get in touch with God's covenant of love when you are trying to deal with a beligerent child.
It's sometimes tough for me to get in touch with God's covenant of love when I have to deal with a lot of ungrateful, disrespectful people.
But we must not let the difficulty of the task at hand, rob us of the riches of our inheritance in Jesus Christ!!!
Even though from our perspective God's absolute (i.e. it ends in Himself), immanent (i.e. it is naturally inherent within Himself) compassion is conditioned on faith, from God's perspective His absolute, immanent, intransitive (i.e. it is not relate to time or it is eternal) compassion to us is unconditional. Remember, His relative (i.e. it is related or extended to His creatures) or transitive (i.e. it is in time) compassion is conditional.
(Let's go on to the next Scripture.)
Psalm 102:13, "Thou wilt arise and have compassion on Zion; For it is time to be gracious to her, For the appointed time has come."
Observation 1.7: Apparently God has an appointed time to demonstrate His compassion on Zion. God is a loving God, but He is also a timely God.
We often forget that! Yes, He is an eternal God, but He limits some of His workings to the sphere of time for our benefit and His ultimate glory!!! We sometimes read the Bible and exhibit great faith in taking God at His promises only to be disappointed and disillusioned when God doesn't answer to our satisfaction. The problem is not with God! God always keeps His promises - as they are stated in His Word. But our timing may not be God's timing! The problem is often our impatience! The old song says it like this:
"You can't hurry my God,
No, No, you just have to wait.
You have to trust Him
And give Him a little more time,
No matter how long it takes.
You don't have to worry;
He'll be there in a hurry.
He may not come when you call Him,
But He's right on time.
The question is, "Can you trust Him?" If you can trust Him, He is always on time. If you don't trust them then you have to ask the following questions:
"Is He on time right now with respect to my marriage?
Is He on time right now with respect to my single life?
Is He on time right now with respect to my job situation?
Is He on time right now with respect to my position in the church?"
(Let's go on to the next Scripture.)
Psalm 103:13, "Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him."
Observation 1.8: God's compassion is likened to the compassion of a father for His children.
In our society, the compassion of a father is played down in the light of the more tender emotions of a mother. But a Jewish father was extremely compassionate. God likens Himself to a Jewish father.
Every human being is a creation of God, but not every human being is a child of God. To those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, God is truly our Father! Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Our Father!" The apostle Paul says that through the spirit of adoption we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The word "Abba" was an Aramaic word that was believed to mean "daddy." We don't have to be in abject horror of God, but in reverent intimacy we can call God "Daddy!"
(Let's go on to the next Scripture where racham (raw-kham'), 7355, occurs.)
Proverbs 28:13, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."
Observation 1.9: We have already observed that God's relative, transitive, temporal compassion is conditional, i.e. God's compassion is conditioned upon the believer in God, dispensationally, dealing with sin in his or her life. To put it negatively, not dealing with sin in one's life can short circuit or inhibit God from manifesting His compassion in one's life in time.
In the passage of Scripture before us, the specific sin that will short circuit God's compassion is concealing one's sins. Denying or concealing one's sins offends God!!! Therefore God's temporal (i.e. temporary as related to time) compassion is conditioned upon confession and repentance.
Now you are wondering, "How did he come up with the fact that repentance is the condition?" Well, repentance has a number of elements, but the two elements that are highlighted here are (1) keeping short accounts with God; and then (2) forsaking the sins. Both of these actions, with sufficient Bible study, will be seen to be the fruit of repentance.
Repentance is not an additional condition for salvation, but the flip side of faith. Repentance is a decision to turn from sin, based on a correct understanding of the Word of God, with the proper corresponding emotions. One such proper corresponding emotion is godly sorrow. Paul tells us that godly sorrow works repentance and repentance leads to salvation. With respect to saving repentance, the decision is to forsake the sin of unbelief. With respect to sanctifying repentance, the decision is to forsake the particular sin that is revealed to the believer in the Word of God. The fruit of such a decision is seen in confessing that sin and forsaking that sin.
These two fruits can also be seen in the New Testament:
1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
In this passage of Scripture, it is assumed that the New Testament Christian lives in a state repentant state, i.e. the New Testament Christian is always ready to confess and put out of his/her life any sin that the Holy Spirit should reveal to him/her.
The decision, or at least the importance of the decision, to turn from or forsake sin is seen in Acts 14:15. Paul and Barnabas were preaching the gospel at Lystra. During this crusade, Paul, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, healed a man who had been lame from birth. When the multitude saw what had happened, they began to worship Paul and Barnabas as false, Greek gods. When Paul and Barnabas heard what was happening they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd. What they said, i.e. probably what Paul was saying on behalf of both of them, since he was the principal spokesman, is seen in
Acts 14:15, "`Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth, and the sea, and all that is in them.'"
It is not difficult to see that Paul stated for the Greeks the outcome or results of hearing or accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ. The results are twofold: (1) the negative result is turning from idols; and (2) the positive result of turning to the living God. These are the results of heeding the gospel of Christ or can be viewed as repentance from idol worship and faith in Christ.
Before we go any further, perhaps I should define faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is trust in Jesus Christ based on a correct understanding of the Word of God, with the proper corresponding emotions. One such proper corresponding emotion of faith is conviction. The fruit of this decision to trust Christ is public confession of Christ, baptism and a changed life.
Hence, repentance is the negative of salvation i.e. turning from sin and faith is the positive side of salvation, i.e. turning to Christ. If you genuinely have one, you automatically have the other whether you are conscious of their inner workings or not!
It is interesting and shocking to me that any evangelical theologian can dismiss repentance as being unimportant to the Christian life, when saving repentance which is not a work nor a condition for salvation, but a gift and grace of God, a part of saving faith and sanctifying repentance, which is produced in the heart of a yielded Christian by the Holy Spirit, is seen repeatedly throughout the Bible. Here before us is important teaching for living the Christian life. If we want to guarantee the relative, transitive, temporal compassion of God in our lives, we must repent, which is evidenced by confessing our sins and forsaking them.
I believe that many people in our time are short circuiting or prohibiting the compassion of God in their lives through a lack of repentance. The result is a generation of Christians who are not experiencing God's best in time, but who nonetheless cannot frustrate the absolute compassion of God which will be manifested in the ages to come in the New Jerusalem!
Our God, Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love. He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate to us, i.e. those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. His absolute, intransitive, immanent compassion is unconditional, but His relative, transitive, momentary compassion is conditioned upon repentance. Thank God that we know how to regain God's compassion. And praise God that we cannot ultimately frustrate God's will to eternally demonstrate His compassion toward us!
(Now is the day of salvation. Come to Jesus, now!)
Call to Discipleship
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Press, Chicago, Ilinois, 1989, pp. 51-52.