Obedience vs. Legalism

scalesObedience

  • The quality or condition of being obedient.
  • The act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance: Military service demands obedience from its members.
  • The trait of being willing to obey 
  • Conformity to a monastic rule or the authority of a religious superior, esp. on the part of one who has vowed such conformance.
  • Behavior intended to please your parents; "their children were never very strong on obedience"; "he went to law school out of respect for his father's wishes" 

Synonyms – submission, subservience, deference.

 

Legalism

  • Strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit.
  • The doctrine that salvation is gained through good works. 
  • The judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

(All definitions taken from www.dictionary.com)

What does the Bible say?

Legalism is an often thrown about term by Christians today.  The slightest insistence that we must conform our lives to Christ in obedience and tempers flare.  But, what do the scriptures say?  Can we really say we have been saved, if our actions do not reflect our salvation?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  James 1:22

If you love Me, keep My commandments.  John 14:5

Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Acts 5:29

Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:  He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.  And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.  But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell.  And the ruin of that house was great.  Luke 6:47-49

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  Luke 16:10

We have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.  Shall we not much more readily be in subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Hebrews 12:9, 10

The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.  1 John 2:17

Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness.  Ephesians 4:11

Legalism comes about when we do things for our glory, rather than out of love for our Heavenly Father.  As a child, we loved our parents, who disciplined us on occasion, aimed us in the direction to go and loved us.  Because we loved them, we tried to please our parents by doing as they asked of us.  It is the same in our relationship with God.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

Remember…

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  Galatians 2:20

 

31-Days of Prayer For Your Husband

pray for husbandWhat better thing can a wife do for her husband than to pray scripture for him each day of the month! 

1st: That he might become a holy man, a man of prayer, mature in the Lord, growing in his knowledge of the Lord. I Thes 5:23, Col 4:12, Eph 1:18-19, 3:16-19, 6:18.

2nd: That he might grow into a man of integrity, who works righteousness, speaks truth in his heart, does not slander, does no evil, does not take up reproach against friends, honors those who fear the Lord, swears to his own hurt, is unchanging in these things, does not charge interest on loans, and does not take bribes.

3rd: That he might be a man of contentment as seen in Prov 15:16, Phil 4:11, I Tim 6:6-8, and Heb 13:5.

4th: That he might learn to take every thought captive, to not be conformed to the worlds thinking, and to think scripturally. Rom 12:2, II Cor 10:5.

5th: That he might daily seek God with all his heart, walking in the Spirit moment by moment, growing in his dependence on Him. Psalm 119:1-2, Prov 3:5-6.

6th: That he would ever be captivated by my love. Prov 5:18-19.

7th: That he would be a man of courage. Deut 31:6, II Chron 19:11.

8th: That the Lord might give him wisdom to lead his family physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Eph 1:17-19

9th: May he always look at the plank in his own eye before seeing others' sawdust. Matt 7:3

10th: That he might become a called man, not driven, with well thought through and prayed through goals in life. I Cor 9:24-27

11th: That he might be a man of prayer, guarding his heart and mind, puting into practice what he has heard, seen and learned. Phil 4:4-9

12th: That he might stand firm against the schemes of the devil and resist Satan in all circumstances. Eph 6:10-18, James 4:7

13th: That he might grow in spiritual maturity by putting away childish things, cultivating, understanding, striving after the Christ ideal, partaking of the deeper truths of the gospel and overcoming temptation. I Cor 13:11, 14:20, Eph 4:13, Heb 5:14, I John 2:14

14th: That he might make me holy, cleansing me by the washing with water through the Word. Eph 5:26

15th: That he would learn to not depend on his circumstance for happiness but on God alone. Heb 3:17-19

16th: That he would be a man who enters into spiritual warfare. Eph 6:11-12, I Thes 5:8

17th: That he might have new strength in the midst of his busy schedule, and that the Lord might infuse him with His strength. IS 40:31, Eph 3:14-19

18th: That he might have a burden to see lost people come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Matt 28:12-20

19th: That he would be kept from strange women and evil men, and that his friends would be men and women who walk with God. Prov 13:20

20th: That his self image might be a reflection of the Lord's thoughts toward him. Eph 1:17-19, Rom 12:3, Psalm 139

21st: That he might be a man responsible for family spiritual growth. Prov 4:1-14

22nd: That he might not be deceived into unbelief, sin or bitterness. Matt13:8-10

23rd: That he might learn to love as God has commanded. I Cor 13:4-7, Rom 12:8-10, Eph 5:25

24th: That the fruit of the Spirit might be exhibited more and more in his life. Gal 5:22-23, John 15:8

25th: That he might grow in humility and in being a shepherd. I Pet 5:2-6

26th: That he might grow daily in character. II Pet 1:5-8

27th: That he might keep a clear conscience. I Pet 3:16-18

28th: That the Lord might protect him, guarding his course. Prov 2:8

29th: That he might learn to manage his time well. Eph 5:15

30th: That the Lord would put a song in his heart. Psalm 33:3, 40:3, Job 35:10

31st: That he may have a holy fear of God. Psalm 34:11, 111:10, Prov 9:10

This list provided by Pillar of Truth Ministries.

 

Perfectionism – The Rule of Getting It Right Every Time

perfect-cala-lilyThis article was written originally in September of 2009.  Its amazing that writing such an article has led me to where I am today.  I won't say that its not been a struggle.  Laying down my will for the Father's is an on-going battle.  I often don't want to relinquish parts of myself, but I'm realizing the only one I'm struggling with is myself.  The Father won't force Himself on me.  I have to lay down at the foot of the cross and die to my old self of my own free will.  I hope you find something useful in the following article.  Blessings!

Perfectionism or Perfect?

I have been a “perfectionist” all my life and yet, I’ve never gotten anything perfect.  Not one thing I’ve done or said couldn’t be improved upon.  It got me thinking on the difference between perfectionism and God telling us to be perfect.  What's the difference?

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."  Matthew 5:48

He knows that I’m not perfect.  He knows that I cannot meet His perfection in myself, because I’m an imperfect, sinful creature, but He gave me a way to meet that perfection.  He gave me His Son.  I can be perfect in Christ.  In Christ.  When I’m walking in the Way.  When I’m following in the footsteps of Jesus.  When I’m making a relationship with my Heavenly Father and doing what He’s asked, because I love Him and I want to please Him, that’s when I’m perfect in Christ.

This perfection isn’t of myself.  It isn’t even my standards.  In fact “my standards” is the exact definition of perfectionism.  I’m not meeting my standards, my vision of perfect.  But, hello!  I’m not going to see it right.  I’m warped, thanks to Adam and Eve.  How could I ever expect to meet perfection under my own power?

God gave examples of people in the Bible who were considered perfect.

Noah was called a just man and perfect.  Genesis 6:9

God told Abram to walk before Him and be perfect.  Genesis 17:1  And later called him His friend.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says that Christ’s strength is made perfect in weakness.  Meaning our ability to overcome the worldly inclinations, our sin nature, can only be won out thru the Holy Spirit.  Christ residing in us.  No other than that.

James 1:22 – Be doers of the word, not just hearers.

The way to cross the bridge from perfectionist to being perfect, because God is perfect, is simply in my choice of whose standards I’m willing to lean upon.  My standards or His.  Am I willing to do as He has asked of me or am I only interested in my viewpoint?  Am I willing to give over my will to His?

This has been a very difficult lesson for me, for I am a strong-willed individual.  I have always thought I could do whatever needed doing.  Its been the theme of my life since I was very young.  You grow up fast when you have a sickly mother and a very busy (and often self-involved) father.  However, I won’t blame them for my behaviors, my choices.  I’ve been out from under their home rule since I was 16, so I have to face up to the fact that I am not acting solely based on reaction to their choices and behaviors.

I go before my Lord in prayer.  I bring my perfectionistic attitudes to You Lord and I confess them as sin.  I’ve been trying to do things under my own guidance, rather than asking You for help.  I don’t want to continue in that direction, because its getting me nowhere.  Rather, I want to relinquish my life to my Heavenly Father, to do with as You please.  Jesus, take my life and make me holy and perfect, in the Father’s sight.  Make me a living sacrifice.  I give my will to you Lord.  Do with it as You please.  Amen.

Obedience to YHWH’s Will

ObedienceOBEDIENCE

 

Dying to our will,

Living for YHWH’s will

 

 

"The true follower of Christ will not ask, "If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?" Rather he will say, "This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!""  – A. W. Tozer

 

"The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death… we give over our lives to death. Since this happens at the beginning of the Christian life, the cross can never be merely a tragic ending to an otherwise happy religious life. When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther's, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time… death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at His call. That is why the rich young man was so loath to follow Jesus, for the cost of his following was the death of his will. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and His call are necessarily our death and our life."  –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

"We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed."  –  Brother Lawrence

 

"The man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is no true faith present. To attempt the impossible God must give faith or there will be none, and He gives faith to the obedient heart only."  –  A. W. Tozer

 

"The chief thing is, not to know what God has said we must do, but that God Himself says it to us. It is not the law, and not the book, not the knowledge of what is right, that works obedience, but the personal influence of God and His living fellowship. It is only in the full presence of God that disobedience and unbelief become impossible."  –  Andrew Murray

 

"Before we look at how we make Jesus Lord, we need to see what it is we mean when we talk about lordship. To make Jesus Lord of our life means to surrender control of every area of our life to Him. We come under His authority. His authority is supreme over our authority. We start taking orders from Him – we do what He tells us to do. That's what lordship is – Christ reigning as supreme authority over our life. Making Jesus Lord of our life is not something passive. It's not a state of being, it's a state of doing. Those whom Jesus recognizes as His own are those who do the will of His Father in heaven."  –  Keith Green

 

"What is meant by "follow"? To follow signifies that the way I tread and the place where I go are all decided by someone else. We are following the Lord; therefore we have no authority to decide our own path. The body in its relation to the Head can only obey and follow. If we wish to live out the life of the body of Christ we must cover our own head; that is to say, we must not have our personal opinion, egoistic will or selfish thought. We can only obey the Lord and let Him be the Head."  –  Watchman Nee

 

Prince of Peace, Control My Will

I love this hymn, written by Mary Ann Serrett Barber circa 1801.  A beautiful prayer put to music.  Some of her poem was not used in the hymn.  

 

Prince of Peace, control my will;
Bid the struggling heart be still;
Bid my fears and doubtings cease,
Hush my spirit into peace.

Thou hast bought me with Thy blood,
Opened wide the gate to God;
Peace I ask, but peace must be,
Lord, in being one with Thee.

May Thy will, not mine, be done;
May Thy will and mine be one;
Chase these doubtings from my heart,
Now Thy perfect peace impart.

Savior, at Thy feet I fall,
Thou my life, my God, my all;
Let Thy happy servant be
One forevermore with Thee!

12 Awesome Torah Sites

"It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,” says Adonai. “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says Adonai: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, ‘Know Adonai’; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more.”
"This is what Adonai says,
who gives the sun as light for the day,
who ordained the laws for the moon and stars
to provide light for the night,
who stirs up the sea until its waves roar —
Adonai-Tzva’ot is his name."

Jeremiah 31:31-34, CJB

 

12 awesome Torah sites

When I first began to understand that I am part of Israel, under the new covenant, as stated in Jeremiah above, I searched high and lo on the the internet for the best Torah websites.  Of all the websites out there (and I've found alot over the years) here are 12 awesome Torah sites.  These sites share weekly Torah commentaries and/or articles and videos that discuss insights on the Torah.  Hope these are as big a blessing to you as they are to me!

12 Awesome Torah Sites

  1. 119 Ministries
  2. Bmidbar Ministries
  3. El Shaddai Ministries
  4. Emet Ministries
  5. Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int'l
  6. Hebraic Roots Network
  7. Hoshana Rabbah
  8. Lion & Lamb Ministries
  9. Ruach Ministries International
  10. Sheepfold Gleanings
  11. The Barking Fox
  12. WildBranch Ministries

And there you have it, 12 awesome Torah sites that you don't want to miss!  Happy studying!

Love for Israel Series – Hayovel

So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it.”  – Ezekiel 36:35, 36
“You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria…” Jeremiah 31:5

 

love for israel grapes

Hayovel

There is a revelation dawning.  A love for Israel so great that it can be attributed to nothing less than a move of Yah.  There are groups of people who are turning toward Israel with a love so strong its unexplainable, even confusing to others.  Hayovel is one such group.  Started by the Waller family, it has expanded to include several families, with chapters in both the US and Canada.  In addition to the families who are directly involved with the workings of the business, there are hundreds of volunteers.  

Hayovel was created to be a blessing to the farmers of Judea and Samaria.  In their own words, they are there "to strengthen and undergird the often overlooked small independent farmer in Israel through creative networking, education, tourism, and activism.  Our mission is to take an active role in, and educate people about, the prophetic RESTORATION of the land of Israel that is happening TODAY!"

Some of my very dear friends have had the opportunity to join Hayovel in working the land.  Their stories are inspiring, uplifting and exciting.  Each job, whether in the fields or at the camp, is important.  And having heard first hand reports from the the land, my desire to be a part of the work, has grown greatly.  I pray that one day I get that chance.

There are three ways to volunteer.  The larger volunteer opportunity is during the harvest period, between the months of August and October.  There are several time periods a person or family can volunteer for, (2) three-week stays or a six-week stay.  There is alternative stay for those who've volunteered before lasting 10-weeks.  The second volunteer prospect is to help plant.  This job is done in July/August.  The last opportunity is for 'men only', a time for pruning in the months of January-March.  These are also divided into several time slots, the longest being 9 weeks.  For added benefit, they give an idea of the cost of each trip, not including airfare, which can range from $1100 – $1300 round trip.

If your love for Israel is drawing you to want to be a part of something profound, history making, then definitely consider volunteering and getting your hands in the very soil of the land Yah has bestowed to His people!

Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?

woman_crying1If God is all-powerful, He would just wipe out all evil and suffering, wouldn’t He?  If He is loving, He wouldn’t let the innocent suffer.  If God cared about those who followed His Son, He would at least protect them, right?  If He knows ahead of time, who is going to commit evil, He could just remove them before they go that far.

These are hard questions and somehow, the answer is even more difficult.  Not because there isn’t an answer, but rather, because the answer is complex and still partially unanswerable.  But, let me try…

YHWH created the heavens and the earth in the beginning of time.  Genesis chapter one describes the many facets of His creation and at each point, He declares what He has created as good.  Then, at the end of His creation phase, in vs. 31, He steps back and declares everything that He has created (the heavens and all in them, the earth, the moon, the sun, animals and mankind) as ‘very good’.

God didn’t create the heavens and the earth or the first human couple for evil and suffering.  He created a perfect world, with perfect atmosphere, perfect animals and perfect humans.  He created perfect angels to minister to His Kingdom in heaven and on earth.  In fact, the entire theme of the Bible is how God’s plan is to bring a new heaven and new earth in place of this tainted world.  “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  (2 Peter 3:13)

So, how did everything that was originally ‘very good’, have such a devastating outcome as evil and suffering?  What bridged the gap, so to speak?

"Evil is, good or truth misplaced." – Mohandas Gandhi

In order to understand what is evil, we must define good.

According to the Messiah, God is the only measure we have to define good.  “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.”  (Luke 18:19)  David also says this in Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

What are some of God’s qualities?

  • God is holy – Leviticus 11:44–45, 19:2; Isaiah 6:1-3; Ephesians 4:24
  • God is righteous – Romans 2:6-16; Psalm 119:40; Psalm 145:17
  • God is unchanging – Psalm 102:25-27; Hebrews 1:10-12, 13:8
  • God is truth – Psalm 31:5; John 14:6; John 17:3; Romans 3:4; Titus 1:1-2
  • God is love – Genesis 1:31; Psalm 145:9; Mark 10:18; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:8
  • He is also eternal, omniscient, and omnipresent. (This list is by far a complete list of His qualities.)

Good then, is everything God encompasses. This definition subsequently directs us to the classification of evil.  Evil is the absence or perversion of good.  Or in other words, evil is the absence or perversion of God.

This takes us back to Genesis.  In chapter three, the serpent (known later as Satan, Lucifer, the Devil) deceives Eve, by charging that God has lied.  By charging that God was withholding something valuable.  By claiming that Adam and Eve could be gods and that God was keeping them from that reality.

Both partake of the tree that God has explicitly told them not to eat from.  Sin, missing the mark, separation from God and all that He is, was introduced through one man, Adam.  “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”  (Romans 5:12)  This leaves no doubt that we are born into sin.  There is none innocent.

But, how could Adam and Eve have sinned in the first place?  Because they were created with free will.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.” – Anne Frank

What is free will?  Free will is “the power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies” according to wordnetweb.princeton.edu.  If we weren’t given this ability, then, God would have created puppets.  Capable of never choosing Him over another way.  Capable of never really being able to express love, because there is no choice.  I, for one, am thankful He gave us this gift.  However, this endowment carries with it awesome potential of great blessing or great devastation.

We must stop thinking of evil as an entity, but rather a symptom of man’s heart condition.  We were completely separated through sin from YHWH when man chose to sin.  Again, look at chapter three of Genesis.  This choice, made by Adam, set wheels in motion.  Not only was the serpent cursed, but Adam’s life would become full of sorrow, heavy labor and ultimately, death.  Eve would bear pain in childbirth, she would have an unbalanced marriage relationship and she would also die.

Their choice was not solely a personal choice.  Because of that choice, they handed down the curse of sin and death to every individual afterward.  Wrong choices can lead to potentially devastating grand scale suffering, by corruption of ourselves, those around us, those who follow in the future and even natural law.

The three types of choice that bring evil and suffering are:

  • Wrong personal choices
  • The wrong choices of others
  • The wrong choices of past generations

We often make ourselves suffer by choices we make, like when we make bad financial decisions, we overeat, when we pursue someone else’s wife/husband, property or money, we smoke, we drink in excess, we lie or we steal.  Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives over their decision to lie about their giving.

“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.  But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?  Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.  And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.  And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.  And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.  And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.  Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.  Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.  And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”  (Acts 5:1-11)

We can suffer at the hands of others or make other suffer by choices we make.  Some examples would be getting cancer due to second-hand smoke, losing our life or be seriously maimed because someone who drank in excess got behind the wheel of a car, suffering from a robbery or being cheated on or out of something.

Joseph was sold into slavery and was taken to Egypt at the hands of his brothers.  “And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.  And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.  Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.  And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.  And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.  And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;  And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.  And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.  And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?   Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.  Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (Genesis 37:18-28)

We can suffer due to the wrong choices of past generations.  For instance, the FDA continues to approve items that they list as food products or pharmaceuticals, that they know have harmful affects.  War is always something that affects later generations.  Thousands of lives lost, others maimed causing physical hardship in families, birth defects, mental and emotional anguish.  Suffering from past generations has happened through environmental choices.  Look too, at the financial state of the world and the US.  The United States is over 14 trillion dollars in debt, only half of which built up over the first 200 years!  And in the end (or rather, the beginning), we all suffer from the ultimate Adam and Eve’s choice.

To argue that God is either unloving or not all-powerful (or even to go so far as to say He doesn’t exist), we must make the following presuppositions:

  • All-powerful means, God can do anything, even outside His own laws.
  • Eliminating evil and suffering immediately would result in good, without repercussion.
  • God is the ruler of this world.
  • God isn’t doing anything and is letting evil and suffering go unchecked.

“The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe.  When a man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil, there is no reason to be human.  There is no restraint from the depths of evil that is in man.”  Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ

The first presupposition is a difficult one to understand, because we’ve always been taught that all-powerful means the ability for God to do whatever He wants.  However, while omnipotent (all-powerful) means having unlimited power, God chooses how to use that power.

Atheists and agnostics scrabble and complain, tearing at “all-powerful” as if it meant God, who is the God of order, not chaos, would use His power without responsibility.  YHWH does not use His power in ways that would contradict His character.  They are not willing to accept this, because that would mean they’re wrong and from those I’ve personally spoken with, their hearts are hard.  “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;”  (Romans 2:5)

"Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering…. The love of God did not protect His own Son…. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process." – Elisabeth Elliot

The second assumes that God should simply eliminate evil and suffering immediately and that doing so could only result in a good outcome without ramifications.  And He could stop what’s going on right now, at this very moment, but to stop evil and suffering immediately, He has to wipe out all evil.  Even evil thoughts.  Remember what Jesus said in Mark 10:18, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.”  In order to stop evil immediately, He would have to eliminate everyone not saved through His Son, right this minute or eliminate free will, for no one walks about without at least one evil thought.

If YHWH eliminated free will, He has only puppets, not willing on their own to love and serve their master, but rather incapable of anything else.  There would be no joy in His people.  There would be no delight, no honor, no devotion from them to Him.  He created us to commune with Him.  He sought out Adam and Eve in the garden and walked with them.  “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)  He created us to love us.  He created us because of who He is, not because of who we are or what we do.  He also created mankind in His image, so that we could love Him and love others.

The spirit of love is to give.  (1 Corinthians 13:1-10)

God is love.  (1 John 4:8, 16)

God bestows upon us love, the most excellent of gifts.  (John 3:16)

"Sometimes God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves." – Joni Eareckson Tada (The God I Love)

When faced with the third assumption, we are not paying attention to the words of the Bible.  We are not listening to Yeshua himself who said, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”  (John 18:36).

Revelation 12:9 says, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”  Yeshua confirms this in Luke 10:18.

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not…”  (2 Corinthians 4:4a)

Ephesians 2:2, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”

1 John 5:19b says, “and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”

Satan, ‘that old serpent’, offered Yeshua the nations of the world, if only He would bow down to him.  Never once does Yeshua argue that Satan had no right to offer what was not his.

In other words, this world of wickedness, evil and suffering is not God’s but Satan’s.  Man and the earth are completely separated from God.  There are things that must be accomplished before God will once and for all do away with him and this world Satan has created.  And he will be destroyed!  “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  (Revelation 20:10)

Lastly, making the statement that God is allowing evil and suffering to wildly wreak havoc completely unchecked, is without foundation.  The Holy Spirit is here to restrain evil.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  Of sin, because they believe not on me;  Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;  Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”  (John 16:7-11)

2 Thessalonians 2:7, speaking of the Holy Spirit, says, “For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until he who restrains is taken out of the way.”  (Amplified Bible)

Many times, throughout history, God has limited evil and suffering in some form or other.  The flood.  (Genesis chapters 6-8)  The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  (Genesis 19:1-29)  Israel’s exodus from Egypt.  (Exodus chapters 1-14)  Salvation of the nation through Esther.  (Esther chapters 1-10)    Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  (Daniel 3:13-29)

He also limited both by providing us with His written instruction on how to live a life for Him.  And made whole and complete by the Holy Spirit, written on our hearts, if we have accepted His Son as Lord of our lives.  (Deuteronomy 30:15-18; Ephesians 6:10, 11; Philippians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:15-22; 2 Corinthians 3:3)

These are only a few listed in scripture, however, YHWH’s plan from the beginning was to send His Son, Yeshua, to die on the cross, thereby “freeing us from the law of sin and death.”  (Romans 8:2)

What it boils down to, is that man thinks he can do better than God.  He thinks he is god and therefore, doesn’t have to answer to YHWH.  Nor does he believe he must follow the rules that God has provided to guide our lives.  Everything is about self, rather than about Him.  But, breaking God’s laws leads to sin and lawlessness, misery and ultimately, death.  (Genesis 2:17, 3:11-24; Deuteronomy 28:15; Daniel 9:11)

We must remember that we were created by Him and it is not our place to direct our own steps.  This only leads to the destructive course we’re now facing!  “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”  (Ezekiel 18:4)

Jeremiah 10:23 says, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”  (Revelation 4:11)

God deserves to be worshipped and adored.  He is worthy of our honor, praise and love.  We must strive to be more and more like His Son, who did only His Father’s will.

“We must see good in that, in which other men can see none.  We must pass by those injuries that other men would revenge.  We must show we have grace, and that we are made to bear what other men are not acquainted with.  Many of our graces are kept alive, by those very things that are the death of other men’s souls…”  John Bunyan

In the final analysis, even having laid out all that we have discussed here, we must be willing to admit that we will not have a full and complete answer until we meet with the Lord face to face.  First Corinthians 13:12, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

There are some who will never accept this final portion.  Why?  Because this requires faith.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1).  See also Romans 8:4 and 2 Corinthians 4:18.

God is bigger than we are.  He is smarter than we are, as Brad Scott of Wild Branch Ministries likes to say often.  If we are going to understand even a smidgen of His viewpoint, we must have faith that God will take care of everything in His timing.

Revelation 21:4 gives us hope, saying, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”