Monday, March 19, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 7 - God's Regret: Judgment and Mercy

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 11th March 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 6:5-14

What does it mean when the Scripture said “God regretted” (v.6-7)? How should we interpret this difficult passage?

God has made man to have 3 main functions, i.e., king, priest and prophet. As a king, man is to rule over the world as the representative of God. As a priest, man stands between God and nature. As a prophet, man interprets the truth and communicates meaning. In the Genesis 2, man named all the animals. So hermeneutics is the task that has been given to mankind from the start.

After the Fall, our interpretation is influenced by our fallen subjectivity that no longer follows the Word of God. Hence the same thing can have different and even contradictory interpretations for different people. We have failed in our prophetic function.

The term ‘regret’ when used on human beings suggests that a decision has been made out of miscalculation and nothing can be done to revert it. In human sense, regret contains the element of inability.
Hence, it is wise if we learn hard to minimize wrong decisions. A person who tends to make decisions too fast – out of self-confidence and lack of experience – easily regrets. Hence he often feels sad.

However, such human regret cannot be applied to God. We cannot use our created logic to impose it upon God who create logic and surpasses logic. The revealed things are given to us and the secret things belong to God. And in what He has revealed, we need to study very hard to understand well.

God cannot be overly self-confident because He is the Truth. God know everything from start to end so He cannot be wrong. When the Scriptures says God regrets, this term ‘regret’ is a borrowed term to help us understand the depth of the grief of God. God is the God of judgment as well as the God of mercy. God’s regret can be seen as the convolution of these two attributes. It is like two parallel train tracks that run in the same direction but never mixed. These two attributes are always there. But we face God’s judgment or God’s mercy due to our attitutes. When we persist in rebellion, we face His judgment. When we repent, we face His mercy. Hence man is what he reacts before God and our response to God determines our eternal destiny.

When wickedness increases on the earth, God wipe out sinners in His judgment but leaves a remnant who survives the judgment. And there are people whom He has chosed to save eternally, called the elect. The concept of remnant and elect runs through the Scriptures. This has been God’s way of working throughout history to bring out His redemptive purpose.

In the midst of a degenerate world, one man named Noah pleased God. God shared with Noah His will. Vision is God’s sharing of His own eternal plan to a special person (or some special persons) from among His chosen ones by His sovereign pleasure. Then there will be synchronization between man’s heart to God’s heart. Not all will receive God’s vision, only one or a few. But one who receives will later share God’s vision with the rest of God’s people. This is the way God has worked through history to bring His people to be partakers of His eternal plan.

God revealed His plan to Noah and gave him all the detail. Here we learn that we cannot do things according to our own design and need to learn to be patient in following God. Many people are impatient and move out of self-confidence because they are talented and and feel that they are too smart to serve in church. They need to learn to wait on God’s timing and leading.

Receiving God’s calling is not an easy thing but a heavy thing. One has to work very hard and there are a lot of sacrifices to make. Noah had to work hard for 120 years upon receiving God’s calling. God did not give him all the resources automatically but Noah had to work on them. In order to do the will of God, we need to deny ourselves, carry our cross and follow Him.

After 120 years, God destroyed the earth. Romans 2:4 reminds us that God’s tolerance is meant to lead us to repentance. The only reason why we still have time on earth is that we are still given the opportunity to repent. (Personal note: We need to treasure the opportunity before the time is up.)

5 Comments:

At 11:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote:
God revealed His plan to Noah and gave him all the detail. Here we learn that we cannot do things according to our own design and need to learn to be patient in following God. Many people are impatient and move out of self-confidence because they are talented and and feel that they are too smart to serve in church. They need to learn to wait on God’s timing and leading.

Comment:
In this busy world with so much noises. It's would be very difficult if not impossible to listen to God's guidance.
Even when we read Bible or good Christians books, we tend to have nurture our mind rather than our spirit. Try to make sense of our faith.

This might be a bit weird for a Stephen Tong disciple. (which might sound too Charismatic)
Once we have leaders training in my church. ( which is a reformed church)
In first session, the senior pastor asked us to take a verse or a passage and just meditate/pray on it for 30-40 minutes. ( in real life it could be hours, or days or even weeks on same passage or verse). The first 15-20 minutes are just to de-toxicate (from our anxious mind, and worries, selfish thought, etc), then we could better connect to God (listen to Holy Spirit).

The second session was even more radical. We were asked to prepare our heart first, then we were to pray to 2 others whom we not supposed to know first and not supposed to ask what's their prayer request were.
So, by only touching the shoulder or hand, we were to ask Holy Spirit to reveal to us what to pray for that person.

Quote:
Receiving God’s calling is not an easy thing but a heavy thing. One has to work very hard and there are a lot of sacrifices to make. Noah had to work hard for 120 years upon receiving God’s calling. God did not give him all the resources automatically but Noah had to work on them. In order to do the will of God, we need to deny ourselves, carry our cross and follow Him.

Comment:
It's not a fight of flesh or mind, but a spiritual one with faith.
And it's our daily task until we die, to deny ourselves, to carry our cross and to follow Him.
It's to be fight one day at a time. Just as we pray "..give us our daily bread...", we should pray asking God to give us the victory for today.

 
At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a very tough Christian life you are living.

To say that you cannot hear God because of the many outside noises - but isn't the question is He outside of you and trying to shout at you so you can hear - or is He inside you and whispering to you?

If one has to do His work with one's own effort - it is difficult and will always be a struggle. But didn't He promised that He will be with you to help you?

 
At 1:21 AM, Anonymous nobuseri said...

#change to different anonymity name to avoid confusion.

Meditation (to meditate on God's word) and fasting are something if performed with proper attitude will aid in moving our heart in direction God intended to.
( "synchronized our heart to God's heart " , as in the sermon summary )
Those art has been lost in lives of most Christians today.

What those did is, it sharpen our sense to differentiate God's voice or merely human thought or satanic voices.
It should not and could not be used to force God to fulfill our need or completing our plan, though .

Many times Christians were told that if you want to know God's plan just read the bible.
There are 2 extremes:
(1) A person prayed for a while and flip the bible randomly to find the verse that gave him/her strongest appeal. Claimed that it was God's answer.
(2) A person learned the bible systematically, but planned everything intellectually (no difference than the world), then comeback to find the right verse in bible to support his/her choice/plan.

If a Christian really want to know God's plan, one should meditate on His words day and night and patiently wait for God.

Christian living is not meant to be an easy one.
The Spirit is willing but the body is weak. It is true that Holy Spirit will help us.
But Holy Spirit will not take over a person by force.
Instead a person should submit him/her will to be guided by Holy Spirit.
And it is a daily task of a believer until he/she dies.

 
At 8:33 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Yes, I am the second anonymous

Still not clear on why Christian life is not an easy one, is the root cause of the problem because we are trying to live a Christian life, instead of letting Christ live His life through us? Is the question coming back to - do we really believe in God? And do we really believe that He is a faithful God and will do what He promised? Didn't He say : Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world?

It always amazes me that most Christians, in quoting the Bible, always seem to dwell on Romans chapter 7, hardly any dare to claim they have gone to chapter 8 where we are more than conquerors - or claiming the promise that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

Are those verses written for all of us, or are they only applicable to the selected few?

 
At 12:45 AM, Anonymous nobuseri said...

Hi Dan,

I agreed with you, it should be 'that simple'. (Gospel of Jesus is ALL we ever need)
However many times, we Christians just didn't get it, because we were 'too advance'. (too proud due to our high education, social status, influenced from society, etc).


The following article from Justin Taylor's blog explain better:

Quoted from:

Tim Keller on Never Getting Beyond the Gospel


Tim Keller: We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s of Christianity, but it is the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom 1:16-17).

It is very common in the church to think as follows: “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Colossians 1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you—it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32). The main problem, then, in the Christian life I that we have not thought out the deep implication of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel—a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says (on Gal. 2:14), “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine… Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel—seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home