Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Put on Christ

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:2-15

Question of the Day: Would it take a gentle rinse for God to wash away all of your selfishness or a pressure washer? For me, I think that a gentle or moderate rinse would get rid of most of it, but the problem is that last bit. I'm afraid it would take a serious pressure washer to remove that. How about you?

The reason I ask is that I believe selfishness is at the root of all sin. Many say pride is at the root, but I disagree with them except to the extent they mean selfishness. All pride is selfishness and all pride is sin, but not all sin is pride, whereas all sin is selfishness. Why else are we called to die to SELF and live to Christ? Because what comes out of our hearts defiles us, that's why. Pride is one of those things, but they are all "self" and that's why we need Jesus to regenerate us and fill us with Himself. He's the only one who can help us. Only He is perfect.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.  Matthew 15:19-20 a

Most people, at least at some point in their lives, are too proud to acknowledge that they are created beings who answer to God. At the core of it is wanting one's own SELF to be in control.  Some of us spend the majority of our lives denying who we are:  created beings answerable to our Creator.  By denying His existence, we are left with what we really want--to be in charge.  Even when we acknowledge that God exists, very few of us are truly willing to submit to His will in all things instead of exercising our own will.  We think we know what we want and what is best for us, but God's way is better than what we thought we wanted.  Look at the evil that has been done in rebellion against and defiance of God and His perfect, beautiful ways.  This is not the way God designed it to be, and for those who lay down their selfish pride, all will one day be perfect again.  For those who don't, the evil will increase to an unbearable level and will never end.

God has given us evidence of Himself not only in the Bible, but in everything He created.  We know in our hearts that He exists, so why do so many deny it? Because if we have to answer to God, then we have to admit that our ways are not right.  By our very nature what is in our selfish hearts is sin.  Let's look at the definitions of the list of earthly behaviors that we believers are to put to death because they incur God's wrath:
  • earthly: wordly, often implies a contrast with what is heavenly or spiritual.
  • sexual immorality: evil, wrong, licentious, dishonorable, depraved activity involving sexual organs, against God's design for gender and marriage.
  • impurity: contaminated, degraded, corrupted.
  • passion: strong and barely controllable emotion.
  • evil desire: strongly wish for or want something profoundly immoral or wicked
  • covetousness: inordinately or wrongly desirous of wealth or possessions, often those that belong to someone else; greedy.
  • idolatry: extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.
  • anger: a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
  • wrath: vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger.
  • malice: the intention or desire to do evil; ill will.
  • slander: oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed.
  • obscene talk: uttering words that are offensive or disgusting by (God's) standards of morality and decency.
  • lie: a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth
I will add this one that's not on the list, but needless to say stems from selfishness.  Believers are only allowed to boast in the Lord.  pride: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

Besides not wanting to admit and submit to God, most people are also at some point are too proud to admit they can't handle things on their own and that they need God. The center of it is SELF reliance. Needless to say, coveting, greed and stealing are wanting to have for one's SELF what others have. Committing sins against another's person out of lust and/or violence is disregard for the other person's well being in favor of the desire of one's own SELF. Speaking ill of others is a way of feeling more "right" or "better" than they are, tearing them down and building up SELF. Someone who mistreats or disrespects others, especially their parent(s), is valuing their own SELF above them. Lying is often a cover to prevent being held responsible for things done by SELF.

Let's look at another commandment (we are not under the law, but we obey it because we love and respect the One who created it for our good - if we do not believe, then we cannot please God by our actions - faith MUST come FIRST). How about honoring the Sabbath? Most people consider attending worship services to fulfill that these days (although there is more to it). Why don't people go? Because of SELF. They have something in their life that they are doing with that time instead, whether it's work, participating in or watching sports, sleeping, etc. God gives His people rest. Anyone who says they have no choice and cannot make time for God is not trusting in Him and is not putting Him first. He takes care of His own. He can do anything! Feeding, clothing and sheltering His children is not too hard for Him.

Another reason people are not active members of their local assembly of believers (the church, which is not a building) is that they don't want to be exposed to truth that doesn't agree with their own SELF-determined views.  They like to pick and choose which parts of the Bible are applicable to their own SELF. They stubbornly and selfishly "protect" themselves from anything that would upset their self-designed world by staying away from anyone they don't agree with.  That includes pastors who are God's servants to shepherd His sheep and those who are supposed to be their brothers and sisters in Christ.  They can't tolerate people who speak truth that they don't agree with, even when its biblical, but believers are meant to hold one another accountable to the only truth, which is that in the Bible.

"Spiritual but not religious" is a cop out!  It just means that someone a) does not want to make time for gathering with other believers, or b) they do not want to be exposed to any doctrine they disagree with, or c) they do not love their brothers and sisters in Christ as Jesus commanded them to, of which writers of the epistles repeatedly reminded us, or d) they do not want to be expected to give a financial offering out of funds they consider their own (but everything we have is a gift from God and belongs to Him).  Those are just a few underlying reasons, but the fact is that about 80% of professed believers do not even read their Bibles regularly and approximately 50% do not attend worship services.  If the 50% is also part of the 80% (which is very likely), then how will their lives be guided by God?  The Holy Spirit reminds us of what we have already been taught and teaches us so we can understand what we read in the Bible.  There are many supposed "prophets" on Youtube who claim to hear from God directly, but the sad fact is that their desire to be special has blinded them from discerning that the "revelations" they receive do not agree with the Bible and thus, they are false and not of God.

Seek God FIRST. Saying we are obeying that basic command but doing nothing about it is deceitful.  (Faith without works is dead--God wants to be worshiped in spirit and TRUTH.)  And if He is not first, then that is idolizing someone or something above Him! Love God with ALL your heart, mind, soul and strength, more than yourself or anyone or anything. He summarized the rest of the commandments as one: Love your neighbor as yourself--because by doing that the rest will be fulfilled. We can't do ANY of them without setting aside our selfish SELF ("dying" to it inside) and letting Him have complete control. Our new list, to replace the old one above, looks like this:
  • renew: restore, re-establish (our relationship with God), make fresh and new.
  • chosen: selected, elected, favored, appointed.
  • holy: dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.
  • beloved: dearly loved, precious, treasured, cherished, adored.
  • compassionate: feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others.
  • kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
  • humility: a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness.
  • meekness: humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
  • patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
  • forgiving: able to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
  • love: an intense feeling of deep affection.
  • called: invitation to leave former state (in order to follow Jesus), to join assembly with other invitees.
  • thankful: expressing gratitude and relief.
All we are and have is a gift from God. Our purpose is to love, worship, serve, honor, exalt and obey Him. Those are all wrapped up together, not a la carte. And if we truly worship and honor God above all else, then we won't believe others when they lie about Him (even if they "mean well" but are deceived). We'll read the Bible and "side with" the one, true God as He has revealed Himself to us (not the invention of any man), because whoever isn't FOR Him is against Him.

"Being on God's side" includes supporting those who hold to the truth and not supporting those who are against God.  We can't avoid evil altogether, but we can control what we watch on television, which movies we go to, what kind of music we listen to, where we go on vacation (is it a place where they go out of their way to accommodate people who are opposed to Jesus, where they encourage sin in the name of tolerance and freedom?), how high of an importance we place on things that have no eternal value, such as sports (how many sport celebrities live as enemies of Jesus?), what we consider appropriate entertainment and activities for a child of God, whether we are respecters of people (celebrities, again--very few of them worship the one, true God faithfully) when God said that He is not and neither are we to be (and do we "love" our favorite celebrities--more than God?), etc.  Are we quick to distance ourselves from anyone who rocks the boat by refusing to compromise on God's truth?  Do we want to be liked by the world more than to honor God in all we think, say and do?  If we don't think any of this matters to Him, then do we truly believe in Him for who He really is?  Do we actually believe what He said in the Bible is true, applicable to us today, and that He sees all we do and even into our very thoughts and hearts?

My prayer today is that God will take His pressure washer (and help me to bear it despite the discomfort and even likely pain) and cleanse me of every last trace of selfishness. I want to be able to set aside myself and my own comfort the way that Jesus demonstrated for us so that I can do all of His will and only His will. Only then will I be able to truly look forward to the day when He judges me with great joy, with assurance of hearing "well done, good and faithful servant." Only then will people see Christ in me and want to taste and see that the Lord is good for themselves.  What about you?

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  Philippians 3:12-21

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Narrow Door

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Matthew 7:13-14

This is just TOO important to be "too busy" for. PLEASE don't be distracted by the world, enthralled by the same things as unsaved people are, fooling yourself into thinking that you're "good" with God--He CANNOT be fooled. Saving faith results in a changed life, otherwise it is not true faith and it cannot save. (Gal. 6:7-9, Jam. 1:21-27, Jam. 2:14-26) And Christians, STOP calling others who want to live to please God "self-righteous!" We are not meant to persecute each other--the persecution was expected to come from UNbelievers. It's really time for people who love practicing sin to stop calling themselves believers and criticizing true believers who love God and want to do His will instead of their own.

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign youbut they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 1 Peter 4:3-5

The passage at the top continues on as follows (context is SO important!):

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:15-29

And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’" Luke 13:23-27

Wow! Jesus connects entering the "narrow door" with obedience to His commands by those who claim to believe in Him. Does anyone want to accuse Him of preaching works by salvation? (I sure hope not!) It doesn't benefit us to claim to know Him and then not obey Him, and nor does it benefit us to obey His commands, but not actually believe in and know Him. We don't do these works to save ourselves. We do them because we are saved. He is our Lord, unlike those who knocked on the door after it closed and were told that He didn't know them. Works without faith AND faith without works are BOTH useless.

Jesus was not talking about keeping the Mosaic (i.e. given through Moses) Law. He's talking about the greatest two commands. These are the "laws" we are under and are also referred to as "the Royal Law" and the "Law of Liberty" in the epistles.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:28-34

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:8-14

Notice how James' words below echo those of Jesus (his brother) in Matthew and Luke above:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:8-26

James was not claiming that we can do anything to save ourselves. He was saying that empty words are useless! We certainly know that in our everyday lives. If someone claims to love us and yet never follows up their words with  actions, we know they are not sincere (or at least we have trouble believing them, don't we?) If we MEAN what we say, it should SHOW. Jesus said the one who loves Him will OBEY Him.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." John 14:15-27

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:9-14

In America, we have good reason to pay close attention when Jesus warns about how it is almost impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 19:23-26) The rich man loves his riches more than he has a desire to love and please God. He also has everything he needs--he trusts in his own strength and abilities. He doesn't want to give them up or admit that there is something he can't get for himself. Even the poorest person in our country has so much more than poor people in other countries. That is not to say we should try to bring down this country, as if it would be "more fair" if everyone were impoverished. We should all be very generous and help people in need as much as we can, but that is not the point. The POINT is that we are ALL wretched sinners and we ALL need Jesus. Let's not think we can save ourselves with our wealth or strength. Let's not think that we can trust the advice of people who are BLIND to the truth. (Matt. 15:13-14, 1Cor. 2:14)

"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 3:14-22

Let's also NOT PRETEND to believe in Jesus and yet live like unsaved heathens. God can see inside our hearts! (Matt. 15:18-19, Rom. 8:27, Rev. 2:23) We might be able to fool mere humans with our EMPTY confession of faith, but even most people can recognize a hypocrite when they see one. (1John 3:17-18) That makes it all the more unconscionable for supposed Christians to live like the world. Our behavior reflects on our Father in heaven! (Matt. 5:16, Phil. 2:12-16, Eph. 2:10) He has prepared wonderful things FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. (1Cor. 2:9) We obey out of love, BECAUSE we know what our salvation cost our beautiful, victorious, faithful, worthy Savior, and out of RESPECT, because we know how mighty and utterly awesome He is.

How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; but you, O LORD, are on high forever. For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered. Psalm 92:5-9

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Psalm 103:19

We will each be accountable for ourselves. (Rom. 14:12, Heb. 4:13) Saying we thought that "the gate is narrow" meant that looking around us and mistaking the broad path that the unsaved masses are on for the ONE NARROW WAY isn't going to cut it on judgment day. Now is the time to get serious about LOVING God, serving His Son and being READY for His return (or our own personal appointment with Him). (Heb. 9:27-28, Matt.25:10-13)

If the thought that someone would ask you to examine yourself (2Cor. 13:5) and make adjustments if you find your faith in and love for the Lord to be lacking in light of the truth of the Bible is OFFENSIVE to you, then there is most certainly a problem. (Rev. 2:4-7, 3:2-5) This life is short. Anyone who cares enough about your soul to tell you the truth is your real friend. Those who tell you what you want to hear are NOT your friends. (2Pet. 2:18-22, Eph. 4:25, Col. 3:8-10) Let's each humble ourselves and accept correction from our Lord. (Jam. 1:21, Heb. 12:5-11, 1Cor. 11:31-32) There is no place in Christianity for pride, which God hates. What good is it to gain the whole world if you lose your soul? (Matt. 16:24-26)

The Bible vs. The Shack

The Shack is just another psycho-babble book encouraging people to focus on themselves instead of worshiping the one, true God. I have no idea why anyone who has the truth of the Bible would support it or do the same by going to the movie. This one quote from the book is enough to show anyone that The Shack is full of lies, not truth:

[Jesus] paused and grew sober. "Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy."

Hello? Here are some Scriptures to see what God has to say about this:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:3-6

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. Hebrews 13:12-13

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24

“It's only fiction" does not cut it. Is it about God or not? Haven't they renamed Him to their own liking? So it's a book about a fictional God? Then why would Christians want to see it? "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Matthew 12:30-32

Redefining God to be as we think we would prefer to understand Him is WRONG. He told us what we need to know. Adding to it or subtracting is not only unnecessary, but evil. The saying "eat the meat and spit out the bones" is utterly useless. Just stick with the Bible, and there will be no bones to spit out and none to choke on!! If we know and love the ONE, TRUE GOD, then we will not be ashamed of His words that are not fluffy. We will not try to make God into our own invention that is “nicer” and exists only to please US. "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 

God does not need us to revise His holy word, to say it’s irrelevant or inadequate or to “improve” it. Here is what Jesus said about changing the Book of Revelation, for example:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19

The author of The Shack has felt free to have the main character disrespect and question God, requiring an answer of Him, but it would be far better to heed Isaiah, Jeremiah (see Chapter 18) and Job. 

Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? Isaiah 29:14-16

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.” Isaiah 45:9-12

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

Then Job answered the LORD and said, "Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth.” Job 40:3-4 

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6 

If God needs our opinions, or his ways and nature change, then we are all in trouble because then we couldn’t trust Him. Thankfully, this is not the case. He is God and we are not, forever and always. Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father. The broad path leads to destruction, but Jesus is the narrow, only gate. If everyone goes to heaven, then why did Jesus have to die on our behalf to make us right with God? Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, but our sins are only forgiven IF we confess and believe in our heart that He is our Lord and Savior. God does not bow to us; we bow to Him. All roads do NOT lead to God. Only ONE road leads to God, and it starts with humbling admitting we are sinners in need of a Savior. Anyone who thinks they’re smarter than God and can play games with Him and His word is a fool.

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19 

“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. Malachi 3:6 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:1-22 

No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD. Proverbs 21:30 

“Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” Isaiah 45:21-23 

For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:10b-12 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:5-14 

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? Romans 9:20-21 

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:1-12 

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, Matthew 7:13-28 

No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:23 

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. John 5:22-23 

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:8-10

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Psalm 14:1-3 

How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; but you, O LORD, are on high forever. For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered. Psalm 92:5-9 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Psalm 103:19

If "your Jesus" would never say anything harsh, but only lives to please YOU—If He died for nothing because people who claim to be saved can willfully continue to live in sin and people can get to heaven any way they choose—If He would never "exalt Himself" as I have shown the Bible actually says, then PRAISE GOD—you have just received another chance to repent while there is still time, because you have accepted a FALSE Jesus!  God is GOOD!  You just found out in time to get on your knees and ask Him for forgiveness for worshiping an idol, which was your own version (or someone else's, perhaps that of a celebrity you admire or someone who told you what you liked hearing) of Him, instead of who He really IS, as He Himself has had recorded for us in the Bible.  He alone is worthy of ALL praise!  We are here to serve, honor and obey HIM, not the other way around.  Knowing what He suffered for us to free us from the damnation of hell should be ENOUGH for us to give Him everything we have and is or ever will be in us.

Who are these people who are making themselves famous and making a BIG profit telling lies?  God loves a broken and contrite spirit and despises pride, selfishness and greed.  Don't listen to them! Let's examine ourselves continually throughout each day so that our walk will please Him.  If we truly belong to Him, as born again children of God, then we have His Spirit and gifts to use for His glory.  Let's humbly seek to do His will and make His holy name known, starting with our own pursuit of holiness and desire to serve in love.

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!  For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.  But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:1-4  

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.  For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.  For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:6-12

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:9-23  

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.  2 Timothy 4:3-4

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.  For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.  Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”  But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.  Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.  These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;  wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.  It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,  to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.  But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.  And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Jude 1:3-23

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. Isaiah 48:11

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.  He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”  This is what God the LORD says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:  “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.  I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.  See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”  Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.  Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops.  Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands.  The LORD will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.  “For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.  I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools.  I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame. Isaiah 42:1-17  

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” Ephesians 4:1-8 

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;  the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:1-13
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:13-22 

No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead. Pursue peace with everyone, and holinesswithout it no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. Hebrews 12:11-15

With the movie based on the book is coming out soon, I would also like to share this post by a sister in Christ, Sunny Shell, author of the blog "Abandoned to Christ."