There are many preconceived ideas about God that are wrong. For example, when Pete suffers a tragedy in his life, someone says, “God is punishing him. He had it coming.”
When Mary gets a huge promotion in her work, her parents respond, “God is rewarding her for being such a fine person.” I think one would be hard pressed to find Biblical support for these statements.
From where do these distorted views come? Well, it could have been learned on the street. It may be some of our own logic that has convinced us that right is always rewarded, and wrong is punished.
Is there any way the church can correct some of these ideas about God? If it has caught the attention of the world, how we point people to a God who loves them, whose love is revealed in his grace?
Your church friend is confused about his faith in God. He says, “I went to Mel Gibson’s move, The Passion. The message was clear, and I got the point of the story. Christ had taken the sins of the world upon himself. If we will confess our sins and trust him, we are forgiven. Peter said it well: ÔHe himself bore our sins in his body on the tree . . . .’ It shows us the seriousness of sin. However, I have a problem with someone dying vicariously for me. Works righteousness is much easier to understand. It fits in well with the old adage that there is no free lunch.”
Another person is having problems accepting the Biblical message. She says, “I picked up a copy of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. A quotation like the following catches my eye: ÔThis life is not all there is. Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal before the real production.’ Warren quotes Abraham Lincoln as saying, ÔSurely God would not have created such a being to live only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality.'”
Your friend replies, “I like the idea of life after death. I have lost so many members of my family prematurely. I feel they have been cheated. If there is another life, that will help me to make up for what they have lost here. My problem is, how can I know for sure that there is another life?”
A common confession from one who is seeking God is heard in these words: I am not a Christian, but I would like to be. I am really interested. I would love to believe the message you Christians call the Gospel. I am open. Help me.
There must have been people with the same concerns in Corinth. Paul is giving them some answers to their questions. Those answers come from Paul’s inspired pen, and they can help people with the same questions today. The answers come from God’s revelation.
Listen to these words: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” Isaiah, the Prophet wrote this truth. The Gospel is not a product of the human mind. It comes from revelation.
Paul writes, “God has revealed these answers to us by the Holy Spirit.” You might ask, who does the “us” refer to in this statement? It refers to the Biblical writers. Peter writes, “Scripture never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (I Peter 1:21).
John Stott says, “God is the author of revelation, the Spirit is the agent, and the apostles are its recipients. The Biblical writers proclaim this message and then write it down. It then becomes the inspired Word of God that stands forever. This Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is not to be changed by any person or culture. This is an essential truth for those who are Christian. I cannot understand all that is written in the Bible. It is revelation and not limited to what my small mind can comprehend.”
Now here is the encouraging word for the hearer of the Scriptures: The Word of God carries with it the power to open our eyes and our hearts, and these Scripture passages become living truths. Jesus is God. Jesus is Savior. On the cross He paid the price for my sins. He promises us the assurance of our salvation as his child. The Scriptures, the history books, and our daily contacts put us in touch with people who have been converted from unbelief to trusting Jesus Christ for all that he has promised them. We soon learn the truth of the Bible verse that says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
How can I believe the Gospel? Live with God’s revelation. Your lifestyle may not make sense to some of your friends and relatives. However, it will empower you to live and die as his child.