The Great Battle for God

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The Great Battle for God

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Our world is going through many unsettling and confusing changes. The Middle East is in crisis with nations at war. Islamic extremists outdo themselves in brutality and threaten to overthrow both Europe and America.

Europe is in crisis. Russia steadily extends its influence and power as it modernizes its military forces. China is likewise expanding its power and pushing its influence and control over regions once protected by the United States.

America is being pushed back in its historic role as a global military, economic and political superpower—while within American culture we see the traditional roles and rules of marriage, family and sexual identity going through radical redefinition.

What does it all mean? Where is God in all this? And what is He doing in today’s world?

A time of change and upheaval

You and I can both look around and know something major is happening. Our world has turned a corner and entered a time of change and upheaval. I honestly think we are standing at a moment in history like that of one of God’s prophets—Habakkuk, who looked around at his time and his world and wondered as he saw scenes that unnerved him.

You are created with the potential to become a divine child of God sharing in the glory Jesus Christ has through His resurrection. Your life today takes on greater meaning than you could ever imagine because of this truth!

He saw wars among the nations and individuals. He saw social inequity and evil on a scale that greatly upset him. Justice for the people had been perverted. Anger and violence were rampant. The world was in turmoil. His nation, Judah, a people who felt they were “one nation under God,” was threatened. Everything was changing, and for the worse.

As Habakkuk prayed about what he saw, God answered him by saying: “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it” (Habakkuk 1:5, New Living Translation, 2013).

Those words from God match up to what we see today. Each day I watch and read the news about events around the world. I read three papers a day on my smartphone and catch news reports from around the world on the Internet. Each night I watch at least one nightly newscast. I’m a news junkie. Like you I see a dangerous world.

And I am troubled.

I’m troubled in the sense that I grieve for the people who suffer from injustice, war and random acts of evil. I’m troubled, but I don’t despair. I haven’t lost hope for mankind and our future.

Let me tell you why.

God’s plan and purpose

I know that God has a purpose for human life. All life exists here by the act of a Creator God who designed and planned and then brought it into existence by His divine will.

From one man God created all the nations of the earth. He has set these nations in their places and determined their rise and fall on the world stage. He is guiding history to His planned conclusion. The events of our world today—what we see in our headlines from the Middle East, Asia and Europe—are progressing according to His plan laid down before the foundations of the age.

When I study today’s world from the overview laid out in the Bible, I find it amazingly accurate. I take hope in realizing that what’s happening was foretold. I know that there is a God who stands watch over the nations of the earth and that His purpose is being brought to pass.

Notice what God tells us about His plan and purpose in Ephesians 1:

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes . . .

“God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth . . . and he makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ephesians 1:3-11, NLT).

What’s the purpose?

I read this passage quite often to be reminded that history has a purpose. Yes, even the evil and suffering that people and nations have experienced are for a purpose! I look at the news and see the same pictures you see—things that make me sad and angry.

When natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes and famine strike without warning, it’s hard to imagine what people must suffer through. Your heart goes out to them, and you know there’s little you can do. Through relief efforts we might supply money or goods to help if we’re able. At length, nations rebuild, and life goes on.

Then we look at the unimaginable suffering that war and human wrongdoing inflicts on other innocent victims. Nothing pains me more than to see refugees fleeing from armed soldiers storming into a city or country and uprooting whole populations.

By myself, I can’t do anything about suffering on that scale. Yet I see it like you do. And frankly, it’s enough to make people wonder about this life and whether there is a God who knows and cares about people. Religion tries to provide answers, but sometimes religion itself gets in the way by being a chief cause of strife among people. It’s no wonder that through the ages people have given up on religion or God as they see the problems facing people in the world!

But look again at Ephesians 1:4: “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (NLT).

God’s enduring love for mankind has been in place since before the world was created. The reason this planet exists is because God loved mankind and planned a setting where He could create beings in His image. And the reason for this? Because God wants to share His glory with others in a family setting throughout eternity. His means to accomplish this in Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice and life we can be holy and without fault in God’s eyes.

This is God’s purpose. It is the single most important piece of information you should know. So why do you not hear this today?

The battle over God

Let’s face squarely this fact. A battle is being fought today to remove God and the Bible from all public discussion. In spite of the truth that religion still thrives in America and other parts of the world, there is growing public and cultural pressure to erode the knowledge of God in the public mind. God is being systematically dismantled in modern popular culture.

There is a reason for the ongoing problems in our world. It’s that we do not acknowledge nor fully understand God. Without proper recognition and understanding of the true God, the world will see strife and suffering without end. This is the crux of the problem in our world.

But this is a battle that has been fought for thousands of years, though it will not succeed. Ever since Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of God in the Garden in Eden, people have challenged God’s guiding presence in the world He created.

The good news is that God’s eternal desire to share His glory will be realized. No human or spiritual obstacle will prevent it. Notice again from Ephesians 1:10 what God says: “And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth” (NLT).

We are approaching that time. God’s plan, His great eternal purpose to share eternal life, will be fulfilled. Everything in this physical creation will be brought under the authority of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is wonderfully encouraging and comforting. God is in control. Life is not just random. The suffering and uncertainty of life is not all there is.

Coming to know this begins with understanding God—who He is and what He is.

Mankind refuses to accept God

But the knowledge of God is not well received in many places today. Let’s read what the apostle Paul said about this in his letter to the Romans:

“But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (Romans 1:18-20, NLT).

As Paul demonstrated, we human beings have every reason to believe that God exists. A detailed and long look at what science knows about the universe inspires awe and wonder and realization that it could not exist apart from special creation by the great mind and act of God. Many scientists admit this obvious truth when they look at the heavens and see the immense scope and design of creation.

Yet atheism continues to grow in numbers and influence. In our day, like that of Paul, people will go to great lengths to deny God.

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:21-23, NLT).

Here the Bible shows mankind’s obstinate refusal to worship God in truth. Idolatry in the ancient world took the form of stone, clay and wooden idols that could neither see, hear nor speak. Our modern world has idols of different forms, not the least of which is man himself. We worship ourselves, our powers, intellect and abilities more than we do God.

Reaping what we have sown

Paul continues: “So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:24-25, NLT).

One key truth of the Bible is that God has given this world over to its own ends. He allows human beings to go their own way in religion, government, philosophy and culture and to choose from both the good and evil fruits of physical existence.

This is why we have seen the huge swings in human progress through the ages. Today we have created a marvelous global world with the greatest achievements of science and technology. We’ve made great strides in lengthening and improving the quality of life. We live in the most prosperous period of human history. Yet the condition of mankind’s spiritual dimension exposes flaws that could quickly escalate to the point that human existence would be threatened with extinction. Spiritual truth is sadly lacking.

“That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved” (Romans 1:26-27, NLT).

The biblical definition of marriage and family is being challenged before our eyes. With each passing year, morality is redefined, and even people who profess faith in the teachings of the Bible are willing to accept behavior and lifestyles the Bible defines as sinful. In fact, “sin” has all but disappeared from the discussion of morality in the public realm!

When Scripture says “they traded the truth about God for a lie,” you must understand this impacts the deepest spiritual truth about God. God is building a family. Through the human creation God is reproducing Himself.

“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful . . . They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too” (Romans 1:28-32, NLT).

This description of the first-century world of Rome is remarkably similar to that of ours today. What is unnerving to consider is this: Paul here describes a completely pagan world that did not know the God of the Bible—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We might expect such a world to develop, apart from Christianity or without the aid of revelation from the Bible.

But look at our modern “Christian” culture today. It mirrors in many ways the first-century pagan world of Rome! We still live in a pagan world like Rome, but with modern conveniences!

The “civilized” Western world is on a path desperately trying to push God out the door, along with the Bible. It is at the heart of what we see in today’s ongoing culture wars. The question comes down to whether we will accept God into our knowledge and life and base our lives on His Word.

All-out assault on the family

What do we need to understand in all this? We look at our world and realize we can’t do much about the large problems. But we can do something about our own lives. We can begin to get a handle on the challenges we face. We begin by understanding the purpose for our lives.

I mentioned earlier that the traditional view of marriage and family is being radically altered today. Marriage and family has been under attack for a long time on multiple fronts.

The sexual revolution of the 1960s broke down cultural norms. The birth control pill allowed for immorality without consequences. Immorality led to rising rates of divorce. In the 1970s abortion became a legal right and fact of life.

The twin sins of immorality and divorce have had a devastating impact on marriage. Long before the rising tide of same-sex marriage of recent years, the family as God intended had been severely eroded.

All of this has served to hide from us the true purpose for our lives. Man is created in the image of God to become like God through a resurrection and change to a completely new existence—one of eternal life as divine spirit beings.

I know many of you feel you are a child of God and look on Him as a Father and desire a spiritual relationship with Him. Not to take anything away from your concept, but your Bible reveals much more about that than you have ever been told or thought!

When you look at what the Bible actually says about why you were born and why God has put mankind on this planet, it is unbelievably astounding. It opens your mind to another dimension of understanding that will utterly change your life!

This biblical truth is so amazing, and yet people who have read the Bible all their lives and try very hard to live by what it teaches don’t fully grasp what it really says!

“You are gods”

Let’s look at a few foundational thoughts from your Bible that show in unmistakable terms why you were born and the purpose and meaning of your life.

John 10 records an occasion when Jesus was talking with a group of Jews who thought they understood their own Scriptures. They accused Him of blasphemy and wanted to stone Him for claiming to be the Son of God (John 10:31-33).

Jesus challenged them in John 10:34-36 by quoting from Psalm 82:6, which says, “You are gods”—applying to other human beings. He further told them to look at His works and believe that they might know that God was working in Him, in the flesh, on earth. Christ had come as the Word of God, and the Father worked in Him and He in the Father through a divine process that was opening the path of salvation for all humanity (John 10:36-38).

Here in this little-understood passage Jesus shows us the core truth of the salvation process and how we might have eternal life and live forever.

Jesus was the Son of God come in the flesh as the Son of Man to live a life of perfect righteousness. He came as the Lamb of God to die so that mankind might be redeemed from sin to God. And He came to be resurrected back to spirit life at the right hand of God to show us the way to salvation and that you and I might have the hope of eternal life and live forever in the family of God.

By saying, “You are gods,” Jesus was not making a light statement. It was profound. It is life-changing when you consider what it can do for your life today!

It means you and I can become a son of God. And to be a son of God means ultimately a full, divine member of God’s family—nothing less!

“What is man that You are mindful of him?”

The book of Hebrews shows us more about what God is doing as a Heavenly Father. It tells us that He “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2).

Jesus Christ’s inheritance is far above the angelic realm. He has inherited all things and today sits at the right hand of God. Jesus was God and became flesh to become a Son of God that we might share that glory and honor with Him. Angels never had this distinction. Human beings are created for a different purpose—you were created to inherit salvation.

Hebrews 2:6 asks a key question of God: “What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him?”

The writer, here quoting from Psalm 8:4, is asking, “What is man?” Why should God have any concern or interest in this lump of physical existence called man?

Why would God be interested in your life or mine? Do you ever ask that question? Sure you have! You’ve wondered what this life is all about. You’ve likely asked if there really is a God and whether He knows you. We especially ask that in the dark moments of life—when we’re frustrated or angry with the hand life has dealt us.

Hebrew 2:7 goes on to begin to answer the question, continuing to quote from Psalm 8: “You have made him [mankind] a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands.”

Mankind is created in the image of God, which is different from angels. Human beings have been set over the earth. We are here to use this life to prepare for another greater life in God’s family forever!

Hebrews 2:8 continues, “But now we do not yet see all things put under him . . .”

Just as Jesus Christ has inherited all things and sits as Lord and Master today, there stands before each of us the invitation to join Him in this inheritance.

Hebrews 2:10 continues, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

Did you catch that? God is “bringing many sons to glory.” Jesus Christ is the perfect captain of our salvation, and with His help we can be sons of God!

You are created with the potential to become a divine child of God sharing in the glory Jesus Christ has through His resurrection. Your life today takes on greater meaning than you could ever imagine because of this truth! Here is the purpose for your life. Here is the meaning of life. Here is the great mystery revealed!

“The whole family in heaven and earth”

We see this astounding truth confirmed in Ephesians 3:14-15, where Paul writes:  “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named . . .”

The Father and the Son are a family, and they are bringing other children of God to glory, to share in that family name and existence. That is why the family—the biblical definition of family consisting of one man and one woman, bearing children and raising them to adulthood in a loving, nurturing family—is so important to mankind and the preservation and progress of human civilization.

To alter this design and purpose by any means—immorality, divorce, same-sex marriage or any other human design—hides from mankind the purpose and intent of human life. That is why we see so much social and cultural distress today. That is why life, even your life, can seem chaotic and confusing!

But you can do something about your life. You can find out more, and you can begin to live your life according to God’s will and intent and begin to reap the blessings.

If you really want to understand why the nations are in turmoil and why the news headlines report so much unrest, injustice and evil, then you must get this picture in your mind. God is measuring the nations and the people of the earth, and we are coming up short.

We are living in a time of history when major events and trends are reshaping the world prior to a day when God will intervene to reveal to the world the fullness of His glory and His plan!

This is a time for you to consider your life in relation to the great God and His eternal plan of redemption for this world. It is time for each of us to consider our lives before the presence of God. It is a time to align ourselves with God—for you to let Him be the God of your life in a time of judgment.

God will bring judgment to this world. When He does, the great battle for God will be resolved. God will win and His truth will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea!

God speed that day, and may He help you better understand His purpose for your life!