One Thing About God Bible Study Chapter 5
Chapter 5 – The God I Wish You Knew
This blog series focused on overcoming the 5 most common misconceptions about God; Distant God (far away, not interested), Grandfather God (nice but old and out of touch), Schoolteacher God (someone you need to please and avoid punishment from), Angry/Judgmental God (all about right and wrong), Mystical God (weird, works in mysterious ways, etc.). Your whole Christian life will flow from the image you have of God. These writings will give you a great foundation for a healthy relationship with God.
- Hebrews 5:12
- Romans 5:1
- Romans 3:22
- 2 Cor. 5:21
- Phillipians 3:7-9
- Hebrews 4:15
- Romans 3:20
- Hebrews 13:8
Ch. 5 Outline – The God I Wish You Knew
- Distant God (far away, not interested) – say he’s too busy like SNL
- Grandfather God (nice but old and out of touch) –
- I understand the logic behind this reasoning. The fact that the Bible was written like 2,000 years ago. Society has evolved so it makes sense to people that Jesus’ teachings are no longer relevant to today’s culture
- God is a genius in all aspects of life. At least have the decency to be intrigued :).
- Schoolteacher God (someone you need to please and avoid punishment from) – son or servant mentality?
- Angry/Judgmental God (all about right and wrong) – misunderstanding of why the law was given.
- Mystical God (weird, works in mysterious ways, etc.) – he works in different ways but they can be understood. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. He is consistent. You can know Him, just a matter of giving Him time.
- What are the 5 most common misconceptions mentioned in this section? Do you agree? Any one of those you had to personally overcome in your relationship with God?
- What does eating do for us? Where do we get our strength from in the Christian life?
- What is the meat of the word of God? Why?
- Where does Jesus make His home? How does that make you feel?
- What was the purpose of the 10 commandments?
- Did God come after Adam & Eve in the Garden before or after they sinned? Christ died for us while we were yet what? What does this show us about the character of God?
- How do you determine the value of something? If a drop of Jesus’ blood was still available today, how much do you think it would sell for on Amazon? What does this tell us about the value God places on us?
- What is the main problem in terms of people coming to God? Why do you think that is? How can we help combat that?
- What is the difference between having a son and servant mentality? Which do you relate to and why?
- Is God more like a taskmaster or ice sculpture? Think about how you experience this in your life and share with your group.
Chapter 5 – The God I Wish You Knew
I’ll continue this part of the book talking about God’s character with my blog series entitled “The God I Wish You Knew”. It was the first blog series I wrote.
Part 1: Intro
Being that this blog is called God Needs New PR, it only makes sense that there is a certain perception about God that I feel needs to be overcome and that addressing this topic would be a good place to start. So, the first series will consist of what I believe to be the 5 most common misconceptions about God based on a teaching from one of my favorites Arthur Meintjes:
- Distant God (far away, not interested)
- Grandfather God (nice but old and out of touch)
- Schoolteacher God (someone you need to please and avoid punishment from)
- Angry/Judgmental God (all about right and wrong)
- Mystical God (weird, works in mysterious ways, etc.)
I feel it’s important to start here because your whole Christian life and relationship with God will flow out of the image you have of Him. For example, if you feel He is an angry God then you will not want to hang out with Him and that will obviously affect the time you spend with Him. But if you know Him to be a kind, loving and forgiving God, then will you be more apt to come to Him.
If you are not established in the milk then you will choke on the meat. Another way of saying this would be that I am attempting to lay a strong foundation that can be built upon. Some people in my audience have no Christian foundation at all, which is perfectly fine because then we don’t have to tear down an already existing foundation. My blog will move on to address what I feel is the meat of the word, but I do have many new Christians and those who don’t know anything about the Bible at all in my audience.
So what is the milk and what is the meat? The writer of Hebrews states in Hebrews 5:12, Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness (NIV). Righteousness meaning our right standing with God based upon what Jesus has done for us, not our own works. Once we know of our righteousness, then God can speak to us about who we really are from the proper context.
Here are some scriptures which talk about our right standing with God:
- “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Romans 5:1 NLT
- “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” Romans 3:22 NLT
- “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Cor. 5:21 NLT
Let’s think about the analogy of feeding further to understand the meat of the Word. What does eating do for us? It gives us strength, energizes us, and invigorates us. Where do we get our strength from in the Christian life? Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” Also, Jesus was born in a manger. Contrary to how mangers are portrayed today, they were big stone structures that animals ate out of in Jesus’ day. I believe that was symbolizing to us that this Jesus is who we are to feed on. Feeding is not a one-time event, but something that is ongoing. This coincides with what Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes by hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
I believe the scriptures in Ephesians 6 about the armor of God can give us further insight into the milk and meat of the Word as well. The foundation in this analogy is putting on the Gospel of Peace for your shoes (Eph. 6:15). The Gospel of Peace refers to the peace you have with God. He is saying make yourself ready for life by understanding you have peace with God. It also mentions the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14), which we previously stated was the milk of the word. This protects your heart and the core of your being. It also talks about the sword of the spirit (Eph. 6:17) and the belt of truth (Eph. 6:14) in Ephesians 6. This, in my opinion, would be equivalent to how we live the Christian life. Jesus said He is the way the truth and the life. The sword of the spirit is mentioned as the word of God, which John says Jesus was the word of God made flesh (John 1:14).
Remember what Paul said:
“Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.” Philippians 3:7-9 MSG.
So, the meat of the word is Jesus. Learning of Him, His love, His character, etc. It’s all about Jesus. He is simultaneously the perfect representation of the Father and of us. To think that Biblical teaching must be so technical and complicated for it to be considered meat is ridiculous in my opinion. The gift of a teacher is that they are able to take something that is complex and make it easy for everybody to understand. Don’t let the simplicity fool you. Just because it sounds simple doesn’t mean the concepts behind it are or that the teacher is a simpleton.
I hope this information encourages you to learn more about Jesus and makes you comfortable that this is a place where you will be able to do that whether you’re a beginner or advanced Christian. I also hope that this series helps you to get to know God better and in doing so, it guides you into your right standing with God along with strengthens you in your walk with Him.
Part 2: Is God Too Distant or Busy For You?
The first misconception about God is the idea that He is distant from us; in addition, another misconception is He is too busy for us and not really interested in us. It’s like He just tolerates us but if He had His choice He’d have nothing to do with us at all.
It’s funny because it seems like every Saturday Night Live skit I see with God in it, it seems they depict Him as someone who has no time for us.The problem with this kind of logic is that it is trying to understand an infinite God with a finite human mind. He is omnipotent, meaning He can be all places at all times. It’s something we can’t wrap our heads around.
How do we know He is near us and concerned with even the smallest areas of our lives? Here’s some scriptures for you:
- Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
- Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
- The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. Psalm 145:18
- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
- Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
Ok, so if those scriptures are true, why does God seem so far at times? James says “draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). This doesn’t mean that God is hiding from you, it just means that if you choose to focus on God, you will become more aware of Him. He is speaking to us all the time, it’s just that we are not listening most of the time. Psalm 46:10 says Be still and know that I am God. He is pursuing you and if you’d just stop running, the waves of His love would run into you.
There are several scriptures that actually talk about God making His home in us. I know this might seem weird and even blasphemous to some, but here are scriptures to back it up:
- Jesus answered and said to 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 abode with him. – John 14:23
- to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27
- Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? – 1 Corinthians 3:16
- I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. – Ephesians 3:16-17
Think about this material below paraphrased from Greg Henry:
“God could have lived anywhere. Where did He choose to dwell? In us. Like they say, home is where the heart is. His heart is with us. Home is where you lay your head to rest. God couldn’t rest until he was able to live with us, He wasn’t satisfied otherwise. God has found His rest in mankind. We find our rest in Him. It’s a beautiful thing. It pleased God to be man, it wasn’t like we should say poor Jesus that He had to do that. He is not embarrassed of us. He’s not ashamed to call us His dwelling place. It was his good pleasure to do so.”
Why do people have kids? Because they want to share their life with them. Imagine the best day you had but nobody to share it with. God wanted to share His quality of life with somebody. We are called His children and were created to fellowship and share in His quality of life.
I understand it may be hard for some of you to grasp this concept, especially because of your circumstances and/or things that have happened to you in the past. It won’t always seem like God is close to you. If that is the case with you, and you are having a hard time believing this, it’s ok. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or non-believer. Even as a believer, I lived many years thinking God was not pleased with me. And I heard many times that He was pleased with me, but I needed a lot of convincing. I was very hard on myself.
God knows that you will need persuading in this area, and He takes that responsibility upon Himself. Just ask Him to open your eyes to the truth and how He is persuading you. Let your heart go to rest that God is working in your life. You don’t have to live this life alone and on your own ability. There is a God who is close to you and desires to be involved in every area of your life. He is a gentleman though and respects your free will. He will not force Himself upon you. I pray that you will let Him into every area of your life. It would be the best decision you could ever make.
Part 3: Is God Out of Touch with Today’s Society?
The second misconception I’ll address in this series is that God is like a Grandfather who is nice but old and out of touch with reality nowadays. I understand the logic behind this reasoning; the simple fact that the Bible was written over 2,000 years ago. Society has evolved so it makes sense to people that Jesus’ teachings are no longer relevant to today’s culture.
I think the better way to frame the question is not to ask if God is out of touch with today’s society, but if today’s society is out of touch with God? To that question, I would answer yes. However, that doesn’t mean God is out of touch with our reality.
Hebrews 4:15 says this:
“For we do not have a high priest (referring to Jesus) who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” NIV (brackets mine)
The Message version actually flat out says “He is not out of touch with our reality:”
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.” Hebrew 4:14-16 MSG.
For many people just seeing a scripture like this, even as clear as it’s stated, is not enough for them. No problem. Let’s break it down further then. Why exactly is it that people have this perception that God cannot relate to them?
This is a tough one because many people will say the right things on the surface because they don’t want to deal with the real problems. You must get past the smokescreen to get to the real objections. In my experience, I think many people feel He can’t relate because of the “rules” they think He imposes. It seems unreasonable that He would ask us to keep all those commandments. Surely anybody who understands what it’s like to be a human being would understand that keeping all those rules is impossible right? Exactly. Wait what? I thought you were a Christian? Don’t you believe in the 10 commandments?
Here is what the Bible says about the law (10 commandments):
“For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” Romans 3:20 NLT.
We see here the purpose of the law was not to give us a list of do’s and don’ts to perform in order to be made right with God. It was to show us our need for a savior. The reason these laws were given was because we were getting prideful and started to think we didn’t need God. So God basically said, ok then, let’s see what you can do. The exact response that most people have to the law (throwing your hands up in the air and saying it’s impossible), is the exact response it was intended to have. It’s meant to bring you to the end of trusting in yourself. Unfortunately, religion has misinterpreted the reason for these commandments and makes people think it’s all about obeying these rules and what we can do for God when it’s really all about what He has done for us.
When you understand the purpose behind the law, it will help you understand the character of God more. It’s not that He’s so demanding and unreasonable. He’s just trying to get you to see that you can’t do life in your own power and that you need Him. Contrary to what many believe, Christianity isn’t about behavior modification. It’s about a personal relationship with a living God.
Alongside the point above, another contributor to people thinking God can’t relate to them is that they have this mentality that they are just a sinner or that is the way God view’s them so He doesn’t want to be around them. Well, look at what happened when Adam & Eve sinned in the garden. In Genesis 3:9 we see God calling out to Adam and seeking Him out and this was AFTER they had sinned. Romans 3:23 says that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. God doesn’t see you as some worthless sinner who He doesn’t want to be around.
How do you determine the value of something? How much somebody is willing to pay for it. God was willing to pay His only son for you. To help put some context to this, imagine if somehow somebody still had a drop of Jesus’ blood and imagine if they put it up for sale on Amazon. How much do you think it would go for? Priceless right? Extremely rich people like billionaires couldn’t even afford one drop of Jesus’ blood. And that’s just talking about the value we as humans place in Jesus’ blood. Jesus’ blood to God was priceless. That’s how much God values you.
So, I hope this helps you see that God hasn’t turned his back on society despite our sin and He isn’t trying to impose some unreasonable law system on us. God isn’t the problem. Once we get past this, I think the next logical question is how is a society that is so loved by God so out of touch with Him? Quite simply; pride.
I’m in sales, so I’m trained to try to solve problems. The first step in helping solve problems is getting the other party to see that there is a problem. If they can’t see a problem, then they won’t seek out a solution. The main problem in context of Christianity is pride. People think they are good enough, strong enough and wise enough on their own and that they don’t need God. They don’t see a problem. If that is the case, a solution won’t be relevant to them. It’s not necessarily that there is a problem with them, but if they don’t have God they will perish and not have eternal life. They could have it better, not only in eternity but in this life as well.
So again, the main point in this post is that God is not out of touch with today’s society. As a matter of fact, here is a quote from Graham Cooke that I thought would be a good way to end:
“God is a genius in every aspect of life. At least have the decency to be intrigued.”
Is God Angry With You?
You’ve probably heard people say God is not mad at you, He’s mad about you. But most people don’t believe that. They have been told that God is judging people with cancer, hurricanes, etc. They’ve been pounded by religion that tries to manipulate them and tells them they aren’t doing enough.
Others just don’t want to believe it. They are afraid that if they let God love them that they will turn into some crazy person and/or that He will send them to Africa or something. Also, they are afraid of what people will think of them. One of my biggest fears in becoming a Christian is that I would become like Ned Flanders from the Simpson’s and start saying stuff like Okily Dokily.
If you’re open but need some more convincing, I’ve provided some scriptures below. The other topics in this post will help as well:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Is God Like a Taskmaster?
One of the main reasons people think God is angry with them is because of this idea that religion paints about God being a taskmaster. We live in such a performance-based society that it makes sense for us to think God judges us this way. It’s our default setting to believe that we aren’t measuring up, so we either try to start performing better to earn our right standing with God or we just give up completely. As I mentioned in my previous post, the law was actually intended to bring us to the end of ourselves, but what most people end up doing is giving up on God.
The key to overcoming this perception is understanding the difference between a son and a servant mentality. God calls us his children (1 John 3:1 & 2 Cor. 6:18), however most still think our works are what earn us a place in God’s family. If we can somehow do more good than bad, then maybe just maybe God will have mercy on us and let us into heaven. Hopefully we’ll catch Him on a good day. Imagine if your parents treated you that way. Imagine if your kids tried to earn their way into your family. They don’t have to try to be your son or daughter. That is who they are. Similarly, you are as you ought to be.
Servants are always trying to earn rewards. Sons inherit. You can’t reward somebody with something that they inherit. This comes down to your purpose and why you are here. We were actually created first and foremost to fellowship with God. That is our general purpose. As we get closer to God, He will talk to us about specific things and put a desire in our hearts to do things. The fruit is a result of the root relationship with God. If you are placing the priority on your relationship with God, you can live life from the desire in your heart, not out of obligation. Religion tries to motivate people to do good things from fear of God rather than trusting in God to work in their lives and giving people up to be compelled by the love of God.
God is not trying to get you to shape up and do more work for Him. He accepts you the way you are. The more appropriate analogy would be that God is like an ice sculptor trying to chip away at the lies the world has told you about who you are so He can reveal to you who you really are and you can see yourself the way He sees you. He does not define you by what you do, what you have and what is happening to you.
Part 4 – Does God Work In Mysterious Ways?
We’ve probably all heard people say God works in mysterious ways. I think people mean well when they say it…trying to encourage others who may be going through tough times and what not. There is a scripture in the Old Testament that actually says this (God works in mysterious ways, Is. 45:15 NLT), but I believe it’s a bad translation and not what the original Hebrew really says. Either way, I think it’s important how you define mysterious.
The definition of mysterious is difficult or impossible to understand. If you go by this definition, then I would have to disagree that God works in “mysterious ways”. What I think people mean when they say it though is that God works in different ways than us. That I know is true. I n fact the Bible says that in Isaiah 55:8. There are many principles in the Bible that are completely contrary to what makes sense to us (i.e. die to live, give to get, last is first, etc.). There is a big difference between something being different and something being impossible to understand. A good example of this may be when I go on my mission trip to Costa Rica. Since I’ve never been there, many of their ways will be different to me. However, as I spend time with them and get to know them, their ways can be known to me and I can grow accustomed to them. It’s not like their ways are just mystical and not able to be known at all. The ways of the Costa Ricans can be known, it’s just a matter of making an effort to know them. The same goes for God. His ways can be known, you just have to make an effort to know Him.
A confused mind always says no and someone who is not consistent is hard to trust. I believe the enemy is at work here trying to confuse people about the character of God and the way he operates. If he can get people to believe that God’s ways are finicky, people will doubt if He is trustworthy. If he can keep people from trusting God then he can get them to fall into his trap of self-reliance and all the other side effects that come with it (stress, anger, pride, declining health, poverty, poor relationships, etc.). See how big of a deal this little lie can be?
The truth that will set you free is knowing that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is consistent and He is trustworthy. Time and time again the Bible shows His love for us and how He works. The Bible is like a love letter from God to us, but most people read it like a work order, just looking for things to do. You are bound to be led astray if you do that. That’s like telling God you aren’t interested in a relationship with Him, you just want to be told what to do. The flesh loves a good checklist though doesn’t it? We love to be given a formula that we can then go work in our ability. Our carnal selves will always look for ways to fulfill the desires of our hearts without having to trust God. Your subconscious mind will use the lie that “God works in mysterious ways” as an excuse to continue in your self-reliance because God can’t be trusted anyways. That’s a lie. Now you know.
Going forward your focus is just knowing God. Paul said in Philippians chapter 3 that he counted everything a loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. The way to be able to recognize a fake is to become so familiar with the real, that the fake becomes instantly recognizable. Just like spotting a fake dollar bill is pretty easy for most of us, we’ve become so accustomed to the real thing from so many years of dealing with it, that we know right away if the money is fake. We may not be able to pinpoint the reason why, but we know something is not right about it. Get to know God by spending time with Him, reading His word and listening to good teaching. I have a whole list of teachers I recommend on the resources page of my website www.godneedsnewpr.com. When you do that, what you will find is that you will become persuaded by someone you will come to know as your friend and His ways will no longer be mysterious to you.