Going Beyond Admiring Worship

Admiring Jesus seems to be a great pastime of practically everyone.

Mahatma Ghandi, who through peacful protest and hunger strikes changed the face of India and the world, admired Jesus, and claimed to gear his methods after the Lord’s sacrificial life.

Then Martin Luther King, Jr. patterned his movement after Ghandi’s.

Mohammed admired Jesus, and considered Him a prophet. To this day, Muslims call Jesus a prophet.

In fact, I’ve never met a person who would not say that they admired Jesus, at least until His gospel rips open their heart and separates the real admirers from those who admire from ignorance.

But my real point in this message is not to cast stones at those who are outside the church of Jesus Christ, who are outside the body of Christ, yet claim to admire Jesus.

To The Unbeliever

If you are not a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, if you have not believed in Him as Savior and Lord, I urge you to do so. I urge you to believe the truth that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to be crucified to pay for our sins. And that He rose again from the dead. So that if you believe in Him, you will be saved from Hell, and given eternal life even now, and when you die, you will go to be with the Lord in heaven forever.

That’s the Good News, the Gospel, and if you will believe in Him now, He will indeed save you and make you His child.

To The Believer

But the admiration of the unbeliever is not my real subject here. My subject is the believer, the Christian whose Christian life is stifled by limiting it to admiration and even worship for the Lord.

Within the Body of Christ there is a normal and good thing that we call worship. Worship has been described as giving God His due, to ascribe worthiness to Him, to bow down and recognize and praise Him for all that He is.

And this is right and good and biblical. And at least to some extent, it is incorporated into most meetings of the Church, and rightly so. We sing worship songs, we pray things like, “We worship you, Lord. You are worthy of our worship and so we praise you.”

And this is as it should be.

But sometimes our worship is more of a calculated admiration for the Lord, than love for Him.

And so my real point is to encourage those IN the Body of Christ, to not only admire Him, and worship Him, but to go beyond admiring worship of Jesus, to a new level of loving Him.

There are those believers who have been born again, basically love the Lord, basically know their Bibles, and know for a fact that Jesus is God, that He is good, that He is righteous, that He sacrificially gave His life for our sins, that He rose again, that He is Lord over all, and that He deserves all the glory and honor that He could ever receive.

But with all that born-again admiration, with their cries of “we must glorify God in all we do”, with their exhortations of obedience, obedience, obedience…with all that, I often see a lack of loving intimacy with this admired Savior.

Why is that? I think it’s for two reasons.

1. Many travel in theological circles that are Law-oriented.

They see the Christian life, not primarily as a relationship or fellowship with our Friend and Brother and Savior Jesus, but as a life of rules and regulations. They know Jesus loves them, but somehow think that the degree of that love is dependent on our performance. You will find them emphasizing the verse, “If you love me you will obey my commandments.” But you won’t often see them quoting the verse, “…[nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which Is in Jesus our Lord.”

So some lack this intimate loving relationship with Christ, just because it is considered sort of selfish and distasteful in their theological circles. Sort of mystical, sort of anti-good-doctrine. They use derogatory terms such as “touchy-feely” or “kum-ba-ya around the campfire emotionalism”.

If you are one of these, please keep listening.

2. Many are scarred by a perceived lack of love in earlier times of their lives.

Now, don’t think I’m getting all “psychological” here.

And particularly, if you belong to Category 1, the Law-oriented type, I know the hairs are standing up on the back of your neck at the very mention of our past lives affecting our walk with Christ.

But here is the simple fact: We are fearfully and wonderfully made, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. And when we are born again, and come to Christ, and we become new creations in our spirits…we sometimes still have a lot of renewing of our minds that are needed.

Many times a perceived lack of love, or perceived rejection of some kind by parents, or peers, or a teacher, for example, can make us instinctively feel that we can’t really be loved. And that carries over into our feelings about whether God can really love us. And that can keep us from really having the intimate and loving fellowship with Jesus that we may want to have.

And then sometimes a mis-guided kind of cold-steel theology is piled on to make it even worse. Maybe well-intentioned folks say things like, “You don’t just feel unworthy, you are unworthy. Get over it. You’re a Sinner. You’re a worm and a jerk. Don’t let these Dr. Feelgood softies make you think you’re loveable. Just pull up your bootstraps and start obeying. Bring glory to God. It’s all about Him, it’s not about you, you selfish pig. Start performing, and see if you can bring your level of performance up to where it should be -– in the power of the Spirit, of course.”

And the implication is that if you perform well enough, THEN you might be loveable, at least a little.

But of course it’s all hogwash. If you feel unloved, you feel unloved.

Now please get this:

The only way you will ever feel loved by God, is through understanding from His Word, through the Spirit, that you were loved by Him long before you were “loveable”. And He loves you because He chooses to love you. And there is nothing you could ever do to make Him love you more, and there is nothing you could ever do to make Him love you less.

And it’s because of one thing…Grace.

There is a rest for the people of God, the Bible says, wherin they rest from their works! That doesn’t mean we don’t do works. We will, as God works them in us, and we walk by His Spirit. It means we rest from our works as means of gaining love and acceptance and fellowship with God, with Jesus.

Look at these verses from Romans Chapter 8:

Verse 10, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

Verse 15-16, “…you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God…”

Verses 18-19, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

Verses 28-30, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

Here Paul adds a little logic: Verse 32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

Verses 35-39, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Continue to admire Jesus for all this, of course. And worship Him for all that He has done and all that He is.

But I want to encourage you to go beyond admiring worship to a love for Him that grabs you by the heart and shakes you, and makes you see the whole world through love-colored glasses, because you love Him more.

And how do you love Him more? Simple. Not easy, necessarily, but simple.

To love Him more, you must see more and more how He loves you. See, it’s very personal. You don’t merely admire Him as One Who loves. You love Him because He first loved you. And He still loves you, with a love that never quits, that is never affected by circumstances, that is never diminished by your failures. A love that, when you really grasp it, makes your love for Him threaten to burst your heart. A love that when you really grasp it, makes you say, “How could I NOT overflow with love for this Jesus, and His Father…and my brethren…and even my enemies?”

To love Him more, bask in His love for you. Think on it, meditate on it, marvel at it, accept it.

500 years before Martin Luther’s great meeting known as the Diet of Worms, a poem was written in Worms, Germany, in 1050 A.D. Frederick Lehman was deeply moved by this poem, and it led him to write a hymn in 1917, in Pasadena, California, part of which goes like this:

Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above,
Would drain the oceans dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Friends, He wants to share that love with you today.

Don’t just admire Jesus.

Don’t even just worship Him.

He wants you to be in close, intimate loving fellowship and communion with Him. There is nothing standing in the way. Not even your sins. They are paid for. They are forgiven.

“It is finished.”

Quia Amasti Me, Fecisti Me Amabilem

I took two years of Latin in High School. We’re talking back in the late 60′s, and since there are so few people for a Protestant to practice it on, I’ve forgotten at LEAST 99 per cent of it.

But I still kinda love it, at least in short pithy bursts, like E Pluribus Unum (“out of many, one”).

Anyway, with all the talk in modern times of self-worth, self-esteem, and other psycho-babblic stuff, I was refreshed by a simple statement I recently read by Augustine:

Quia Amasti Me, Fecisti Me Amabilem

Now you Latin scholars are ahead of me, but it’s actually a logical argument called a syllogism, though some premises are missing and merely “understood”.

Here is the simple translation, as speaking to the Lord (Domine):

“Because you loved me, you made me lovable.”

I love that.

Big Time Heavy Theology Alert – "Antinomy"

I’m sorta kidding about “big time heavy theology”.

Really what I want to say in this article is quite simple.

It’s just that it’s so far above our way of thinking that it’s…well, it’s from the mind of God.

We accept it as true, even though it boggles our minds. It goes against the grain of our Earthbound logic, as we sometimes understand logic.

Logic Is Good

I’m not at all knocking logic. Logic is a wonderful gift from God.

In fact, what I’m going to lay out in a moment is actually quite logical. It’s just that logic doesn’t require truth, and so we rationalize untrue things all the time.

For example, look at the following syllogism:

1. All zebras are green [premise 1].
2. That animal over there is a zebra [premise 2].
3. Therefore that animal over there is green [conclusion].

That is PERFECTLY logical…really. But it’s not TRUE. That was Spock’s problem.

So in order to use logic rightly, we ought to begin with TRUE premises. And there are no truer premises than those that come from the Word of God RIGHTLY DIVIDED.

Sidenote: I say “rightly divided” because Scripture can be wildly taken out of context, applied “logically”, and yet end in the ridiculous. Something stupid like combining “Judas hanged himself” with “Go thou and do likewise” (Humorous, but I’m only slightly exaggerating the abuses some use of this kind of “logic”).

God’s Ways and Thoughts

One of the most important Scriptures we should know as humans comes from Isaiah 55:8,9. Here it is:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Do you have a pet? Or have you ever had a pet?

We have a wiener dog. He is not the brightest dog on the Planet (we say he’s nothing but love), but let’s assume for a moment that he is the smartest of all dogs.

Do you think that if I tried to explain to him why we’re leaving him on a Sunday morning to go to church that he would understand that? And not be so unhappy to see us leave, but rejoice that we are going to fellowship and hear the Word of God?

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Why? Because our ways are higher than his, and our thoughts are higher than his. I can’t even ease his mind, because all he “knows” is that he wants us to be home with him. Well, also he “knows” we love him. And he’s pretty happy with that, especially when we come back home.

Now, if you think that is an extreme illustration of God’s ways and thoughts being higher than ours, you’re wrong. Infinitely wrong. God’s ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours that we can’t even comprehend how much higher they are!

And yet He has condescended to reveal some of His ways and thoughts to us, in ways that we can actually understand and react to them.

But here’s the beginning of the point of this article: Some of what God reveals to us appears to contradict itself, but yet He declares that it is true.

Which leads to our direct subject, the concept of the Antinomy.

What Is An Antinomy?

Before defining the concept of an antinomy, I want to make a rather bold statement:

Until you understand the concept of “antinomy”, there is much of Scripture that will elude you or confuse you.

But when you understand the concept of “antinomy”, Scriptures that you never understood will shine with truth in a way that glorifies the Lord Whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours.

Here’s an informal working definition of Antinomy for our purposes here:

An Antinomy exists when we have TWO TRUTHS from Scripture that APPEAR to contradict themselves, yet BOTH ARE TRUE for the simple reason that GOD’S WORD DECLARES THEM TO BE TRUE.

We see illustrations of this in the natural world. A pan of water is water, but clouds are water. To the ignorant that would appear as a contradiction, but we know both are true.

On a psychological level, we may say Hitler was a monster of evil, yet a nephew of his may say he is a loving doting Uncle. Apparent contradiction, yet both may be true (I don’t know if Hitler even had a nephew).

No illustration does justice to a biblical antinomy, however, since no level of truth rises to the level of biblical truth in it’s absoluteness.

Although there are several antinomies in Scripture, I will use one as an example.

God’s Love For All As An Antinomy

The question of whether God loves all men or just some has been a long-standing controversy.

And like many controversies, I believe the problem is in a lack of understanding of the concept of Antinomy.

And so the result of the controversy is almost invariably a twisting of Scriptures to fit one view or the other.

1. The “God Loves Everybody” school reasons, “John 3:16 says God loved the world, the world means everybody, and ‘God is love’, isn’t He, and that settles it.”

Well, I believe that does settle it, but this school of thought often has difficulty, then, in explaining God’s wrath, eternal punishment, and hatred. They usually end up in blaming “free will”, when the truth is that if every person was left to their own “free will” they would continue in their rejection of God, all the way to the Lake of Fire.

2. The “God Does NOT Love Everybody” school reasons, “God couldn’t love everybody and still send them to Hell. Does not Scripture say that God hates the wicked? That God hated Esau, but loved Jacob?”

This idea has been widely spread among Reformed believers through the writings of A.W. Pink in his famous book The Sovereignty of God (a great book overall, by the way). Pink argues that John 3:16, “God so loved the world…”, is referring merely to “the world of the Elect”.

Pink’s argument, in my opinion, is a truly pathetic piece of biblical interpretation, which begins with a premise (God simply couldn’t love the wicked), and concludes with a twisting of John 3:16 which is monumental. Hardly a more simple and clear statement could be made than that God loves the world, and therefore sent His Son.

Why would Pink engage in such twisting of Scripture?

Simple. He did not “get” the concept of Antinomy. He reasoned that the hatred and wrath of God could not co-exist with His love.

But His ways and thoughts are higher than ours and we have to ask TWO honest questions:

1. Does Scripture SEEM to say that God loves everyone? I believe the answer is a clear, “Yes”. God IS love. That’s a reference to His essence. He could not deny His essence.

That’s how in Ezekiel 33:11 we can read, “Say to them, `As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, `I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

If God did not love the wicked, it would make no sense for Him to NOT delight in their death.

Do you see how an understanding of Antinomy can open up your understanding of Scriptures? (This is just one of MANY examples, which space does not permit relating here).

2. Does Scripture SEEM to say that God Hates The Wicked? If we’re honest, we have to say, “Yes”.

But that’s illogical, you cry!

No, it only SEEMS to be a contradiction, but both statements are true. Why? Because God has declared them to be true in His Word!

Puny little man, as J. Vernon McGee used to say, thinks he HAS to figure it out by his own LIMITED thoughts. He must reconcile the two truths by denying one of them, and twisting the other.

This is arrogance of the highest variety, and a denial of the pretty-darn-clear Word of God.

God’s Justice And an Illustration

We might finally ask, then, “How can God send someone to the Lake of Fire if He loves them?

We have to admit we simply cannot FULLY understand this.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t SOMEWHAT understand it, if we understand two seemingly unrelated concepts, Justice and Love.

When a human Judge in a court sentences someone to be hanged for a crime, he is exercising Justice. The criminal, we say, *deserves* to be hung by the neck until dead.

But suppose the criminal is the wife of the Judge, or his son or daughter, whom he loves dearly? Does the Judge abandon his LOVE…or his JUSTICE?

Neither, if He is a good Judge.

He is quite capable of sentencing his loved one to the gallows, with sobs of grief, tears in his eyes, but doing right.

How much more the infinite Creator of the Universe cannot deny Himself as the God Who is Love, who loved the whole world and whose love prompted Him to send His Son, Who in turn declared, “If ANYONE will come to Me, I will in no way cast him out”, and wept over the Israelites who rejected Him.

Who Will Separate Us From The Love Of Christ?

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)

On Sunday, August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines Flight 225 crashed just after take-off at Detroit, Michigan.

155 died, and one lived.

That one who lived was a little 4-year-old girl named Cecelia. The wreckage was so bad, that the authorities thought at first she had not been on the plane. Checking the flight roster, however, and with Cecelia’s own testimony, the following was discovered:

As the crash was developing, Paula Chichan had unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and would not let her go! Nothing could separate that child from her parent’s love…neither disaster, nor crash, nor flames, nor pain.

Such is our Savior’s love for us…

“…that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)