Monday, August 25, 2008

God’s Love- Is it Really Unconditional? – Part 2

If you haven’t read the first part of this post then I recommend you to first read it. Otherwise you will not get the whole picture of what I am talking here. So read it first here
http://tinkuthompson.blogspot.com/2008/08/gods-love-is-it-really-unconditional.html

So in my last post I tried to raise my concern over the repeated use of the word “Unconditional Love” by people to make people feel better and make them realize that God loves them irrespective of whatever they do. I received some comments both positive and negative about it. Even I had some discussion with few people about it. You can read some comments by an Anonymous person who has sharp disagreement with what I have written. I respect his zeal and appreciate the effort he has put in writing all those comments. So I decided to write a Part 2 giving clarification on certain aspects so that no one will misunderstand me.

Again I want to stress that God is Love and God loves every person in the world. His love is so great that He gave his son Jesus Christ to die. But use of this word unconditional in a wrong way is the concern I have tried to raise here.

You talk to a person who is running away from God thinking that God will never accept him because of his Sin. It makes sense in that case that God loves you irrespective of what you have done. You can repent and God will accept you. There are lots of articles written for and against the subject as to whether God hates sinners or not. You can do a search and read some of them to get a better understanding.

But my concern is against the use of this term to point to the fact that sin is not an issue with God. Your past, present and future sins are already forgiven, God has no issue if you commit sin, you don’t commit sin just to keep Satan away etc. If you are a person who have never heard these terms being used by preachers then chances are that you will hear about such things very soon. It’s a fast spreading teaching. It’s already there in America and if you are in any other part of the world then you may soon hear things like this. I know many people who subscribe to such ideas and teach people about it. If you carefully see then you will find that all these concepts actually hide behind the concept of Unconditional love understood in a wrong way.

Anyone who has listened to these types of teachings will understand and agree to what I am saying. So from the point of view of a person who is growing in his spiritual life, this word in wrong sense can create an issue. The question is why should I need spiritual growth since God’s love is Unconditional to me? Why should I need any spiritual discipline in my life? It will ultimately lead to a dangerous concept of liberal Christianity. It’s no wonder that it’s already being reflected and seen in many places. Concept of Casual Christianity is growing not only in western countries but also in other places. We have already reached a time when it has become difficult to find any difference between Christians and non-Christians. I agree that exceptions are always there but the radical difference which was reflected through the first century church and believers is lost to a large extend. We all need to take the blame for that. When I write this blog, I am not excluding myself from that list. There is a need of true revival. What we need is not another emotional revival but a revival which will change the life style and make us radical in our life style for the world to see Christ through us.

If our goal is this then I don’t think we need to just highlight the word unconditional to attract people. The reason is that a spirituality which takes man’s responsibility away completely and puts everything on God alone is not true in itself. Word of God has lot of condition set for different things. No one can deny that. If a person has to be saved then he has to believe in Jesus Christ.

So we have to careful with the use of this term. If we use it then we have to make sure that we explain both sides. In this post I don’t want write more as it will go out of scope of this post.

Let me remind one things- My failures or weakness, let it be spiritual, should not force me to believe things differently to accommodate and justify my failures and weakness. I should submit myself and pray for God’s grace and help in overcoming everything and leading a victorious life which is pleasing in the sight of God. Hiding behind concepts like unconditional love to justify my weakness or lifestyle or my preferences is dangerous. If I am not able to follow something which Bible asks me to follow then I should not take the cover of unconditional love to justify my actions in the site of God as well as other people.

I hope things are clearer now. If not then you can write to me and I will be more than happy to elaborate more about it.

So even though God’s love is not conditional, it’s simply not unconditional in the sense that it forces God to agree to all my actions and ignore my sin. God’s love does not take away his righteous judgment and holy anger against people who don’t do his will.

Numbers 14:18
'The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.'

Nahum 1:3
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

Romans 2:5
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

May God Bless You!

Monday, August 18, 2008

God’s Love- Is it Really Unconditional?

In the beginning let me admit one thing. If you don’t read this carefully, there is a chance that you will misunderstand.

Have you ever heard the word “Unconditional Love” being used again and again from pulpits by preachers to make people understand the love of God? They base this concept on the basis of few verses which at times they interpret in a way to fit their own idea. For example Ephesians 3:19
“and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. “

Do a search about this word "Unconditional" in your Bible. Can you find this word anywhere in reference to God’s Love?

So what does this mean? No matter what I do, God still loves me. Yes, when I was a sinner, God first loved me. When we were yet sinners, God showed his love towards us by sending his Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins.

Now there is some danger of over emphasis of this word unconditional. I want to bring it out.

Paul Brownback, in his book The Danger of Self-Love, tells it this way:
"... by unconditional love we are speaking of love on the basis of being rather than doing. One implication of this teaching is the place of grandeur that it gives to the human being. I am lovable just because I am human; therefore being human, in and of itself, regardless of what I do with my humanness, must have some sort of independent value or worth. It is by itself a sufficient claim to respect and esteem" (p. 66).

In human society it can mean to give and to expect unconditional love from one another with no strings attached. While unconditional love and acceptance supposedly promote change and growth, they make no requirements. But God, who is love, requires change and enables his children to grow in righteousness.

God’s love to us is great and is available to us by grace. We cannot gain it by doing some rituals or we cannot simply earn it. There is no work of human beings which will be good enough to earn this love. So does that make God’s love “Unconditional”?

Now let’s see a famous verse i.e. John 3:16-
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

So in this verse there is no work demanded from people to be saved but there is a condition- Whoever believes. It is simply a condition to be saved.

God loves us but the use of the term “Unconditional” gives us altogether different picture. Did Jesus really talk about Love of God in an “Unconditional” way in human sense?

See John 14:21 ‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

What is this verse saying? Can you see any condition in that? You see it yourself.

Now let's look at the story of prodigal son found in Luke 15. This is used by my many people to explain God love as Unconditional. Is it really a story of unconditional love? Did the father go out seeking the son and support him for his foolishness of going out of house? It is true that the father waited patiently for his son to return. If the son would‘t have ended up in trouble and returned back to his father with repentance then what would have happened? This story reflects God’s love, mercy, long suffering and forgiveness. Can you see the concept of unconditional love of God anywhere in that story?

So if you purely think of God’s love as unconditional in the sense that God ignores all your actions and loves you then there is some problem with that thinking. The father forgave his son who came back and repented. So what does that mean? God so loved the word. It is true. But there is Justice and righteousness also in God.

If it is Unconditional Love then why did Jesus preach the sermon on mount teaching people how to conduct their life? Why did he ask people to be born again? Well if it is fully unconditional then I think every human being will be saved on the simple fact that they were born in this world and God loves them. Otherwise how can that love be called us Unconditional. If it is unconditional then there should not be anything attached to it. You do what you want. That will lead us to the universal Salvation concept. Then there is no need to preach the Gospel.

So can we suspect that this phrase is used by enemy to deceive people and give a different, wrong and false idea about the God of Bible? Yes that’s the truth. Few days ago I was in a meeting where a young man who has been taught this lie stood up and said that “God doesn’t care about my Sin. God loves me.” What a terrible lie. God loves him but God hates his Sin. I am not sure if that is clear to that young man.

This dangerous concept is in sharp disagreement to the Justice of God found throughout the Bible. Any person who reads the Bible with an open heart can easily understand that God of Bible hates sin and he punishes sinners. He loves everyone. That's why He gave His son Jesus Christ. Some may argue it’s the Old Testament and old covenant. You can look in the New Testament also. Bible has many instructions as to how to conduct our life. Read the Gospels or the Epistles, you will see it. Almost every book of New Testament has practical exhortations regarding how a man is suppose to lead his life in this world. Can we hide behind the word “Unconditional Love” and do what we want. It will deceive many if it is understood in a wrong way.

I did a study and research about this subject and found lot of things about it. This phrase is not found in the Bible. This is a buzz word used by enemy to promote casual and easy going Christianity. The results may not be evident now but a time will come when things like this will start reflecting on churches. What’s the message the young people in the churches are getting? They already they have so many pressures to go behind the things of this world. On top of that these type of teachings which does not focus on the whole picture will lead many to be deceived. Let me quote few verses I found on a website here. Read for yourself and think about it.

Jer. 5:12-13 (NIV) "They have lied about the Lord; they said, 'He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.' The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them..."

Jer. 8:6-9 (NIV) "I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. No one repents of his wickedness, saying, 'What have I done?' ...My people do not know the requirements of the Lord. How can you say, 'We are wise...' Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?"

Jer. 23:16-18 (NIV) This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise me, 'The Lord says: You will have peace.' And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, 'No harm will come to you.' But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?"

Jer. 23:21-22 (NIV) "I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds."

Lam 2:14 (NIV) "The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading."

Luke 3:7b (NIV) "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?"

John 3:36 (NIV) "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Rom 2:5,8 (NIV) But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed... For those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Eph 2:3 (NIV) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

Eph 5:6 (NIV) Let no-one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

1Co 2:13 (NIV) This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

2 Tim 4:2-4 (TCN) Proclaim the Message, be ready in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, encourage, never failing to instruct with forbearance. For a time will come when people will not tolerate sound teaching. They will follow their own wishes, and, in their itching for novelty, procure themselves a crowd of teachers. They will turn a deaf ear to the Truth, and give their attention to legends instead.

Heb 13:9 (NIV) Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.

I may sound strong in this. May be negative to some people. But I want you to read these verses for yourself and carefully examine.

Let me tell one more thing so that no one will misunderstand me. I strongly believe God is Love. I know I am saved by grace. It’s by the mercy of God that I am alive and what I am. But..

God’s Love- Is it Really Unconditional?

May God Bless You!

Video Messages Update

All the messages of Dr.Muralidhar and Dr.Stanley is upload in gospel-link.com. The link is :-
http://www.gospel-link.com/Video_Messages.aspx

I encourage all of you to see those videos as some have solid teachings in it. I you want those videos in better qualify then contact me. I have those in High definition also.

May God Bless You!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

False Teaching - Audio Message Update

I have added 10 audio messages to gospel-link.com site. The Link is http://www.gospel-link.com/MP3_Messages.aspx. They are in MP3 format. 4 Messages are of Dr.K.Muralidhar preached at Minnesota. Other 6 messages are of Dr.R.Stanley. 4 preached at Minnesota and 2 of them preached at Chicago. I would recommend all of you to listen to them as they have some solid and sound teachings.

We are living in times when so many wrong and false teachings & teachers are flourishing like anything. As I read the Epistles of Paul, Peter, John etc, I am sure this was a problem even during their time.

Some messages of Dr.Stanley is against some of the false teachings. He speaks on subjects like Deception, Different Spirit, Different Gospel etc. I will be adding the video of these messages very soon. I will update once its done.

Read these verses:-

1 Timothy 1
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

1 Timothy 4
1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

1 Timothy 6
3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

20Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.
Grace be with you.

May God Bless You!