Sunday, January 28, 2007

Does God change His mind?

Have a Question? If so you can either e-mail it to me, at or put your question in our Q & A box at youth group. I will do my best to answer the question in a timely fashion, and many will be addressed on our webpage. Our first question will come from Exodus 32. "In Exodus 32, did Moses change God's mind"?

Malachi 3:6 states, "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob are no consumed." (ESV). Numbers 23:19 "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he shouild change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?"

It is apparent from these verses that God does not change his mind. These are not only obscure passages; Psalm 102:25-27, Psalm 33:11, as well as many in the New Testament such as Hebrews 6:17-18 which speak of God's unchangeable purposes, or the numerous verses which speak of things which have been planned from the "foundation of the world". All of these put together help us to understand that God has revealed Himself as both unchanging in His character as well as unchanging in His purposes."

But what do we make of Exodus 32 (or even Isaiah 38:1-6 or Jonah 3:4, 10)? While God was giving Moses the 10 Commandments the people of Israel began getting a little restless, so they did what we all do--make our own gods. So we see in v.10 that God is so angry with the Israelites that He is ready to consume every one of them and make a great nation out of Moses. (Note: God's intention given the present situation as it exists at that moment). Then Moses prays, he focuses on the honor of God's name, he appeals to God's faithfulness, and pleads with God that He might continue to make Israel His people. Now in verse 14, "And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people", we have our question.

The problem lies in our understanding literally the word "relented" (KJV "repented" NASB "changed his mind" NLT "withdrew his threat"). The word is what we refer to as an anthropopathism (a big word which means "giving God human emotions"). From our perspective and the way that it appears to us God "relents, changes His mind, withdraws His threat", but from God's perspective He is appropriately dealing with changes in human behavior.

If men turn away, if men repent then God will forgive. I see no difference between God's "changing" in Exodus 32 and God's "changing" when a sinner turns and repents. We certainly do not have a problem with God "changing" so as to save one whom moments before He his wrath was upon. We certainly are quick to understand that a person apart from Jesus Christ is "God's enemy" and "has the wrath of God upon him" but as soon as the sinner "repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ" they are saved and the wrath of God is removed and they are no longer considered as an enemy but as a friend. So it is in this situation, "Moses repents (as the representative head of the people), God responds to Moses' repentance and forgives or "relents".

So does God change His mind? No, absolutely not. God is forever unchanging in His character and in His purposes. Yet as Wayne Grudem comments, "God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations". That does not make God unchanging it merely makes Him living.

The real question is this, "Did Moses change God's mind (so as to catch God by surprise) or was Moses' intercessory prayer all a part of God's will and purpose to show His grace?" We will not deal with this question in depth, but for now it is sufficient to ask, "Do you trust God in His Word or not?" God says "I do not change". To hold to a doctrine which says, "Moses changed God's mind" is contrary to what God says in Scripture. He is unswerving in His character and purposes. Moses did not change the course of history, nor catch God off-guard by praying for the Israelites, just as the death of Christ was ordained from the foundation of world, so Moses' prayer was forever in God's plan.

Therefore, this unchanging God is mighty to save! If we had a changing God then our hope would be lost. If He can change in His affections for me (meaning: constantly in response to me--so as to say "I changed God's mind") then He can do so positively or negatively. What confidence do we have then in our salvation as well as in the God of our salvation? Take heart, as God said in Malachi 3:6, his unchanging character and purpose is so that we are not consumed. If he could change then we would be consumed. Take heart that God's purpose is set and He is able to save us to the uttermost. The blood of Christ is still sufficient and ALWAYS will be.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fad Jesus

"We'll never tell [our fans] to do drugs, burn people's houses down, kill people, or worship Satan. I'm really into Jesus Christ, God, all that. I really am a big believer. I'm a Christian. I just happen to have a foul mouth, and I try to make kids laugh. But that's just me. I'm as God made me." Tom DeLonge former Blink 182 guitar/singer.

Our issue is not with Tom DeLonge, our issue is with the mindset that gives birth to DeLonge's statement and the mindset of many other's like him. "I'm into Jesus--but I live my life how I want". Sadly, many are deceived into thinking they have "Jesus" when really it is only "Fad Jesus" that they know. I wonder when DeLonge says he is "really into Jesus Christ" what does he mean by that? Is it the biblical Jesus (that equates obedience with love) or Fad Jesus?

On January 24th we began our mini-series on "Fad Jesus". In case you did not know a fad is defined as a "a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., esp. one followed enthusiastically by a group." Our contention is that in our culture seeds of deception have been planted whereas many are following a Fad Jesus rather than the biblical Jesus.

Last week we dealt with "Superhero Jesus" and "Cool Jesus". Next week we will be dealing with "South Park Jesus" and "Homeboy Jesus". But who are these different "Fad Jesus'" and how do they compare to the biblical Jesus?

Who is "Superhero Jesus"? Superhero Jesus does miracles to please people, to have fun, and to show off his coolness. He probably stems from a misunderstanding of God's omnipotence (all-powerfulness). Since God can do anything and because He is all powerful then certainly He is amazing at football. I bet he an do some pretty great tricks on the skateboard...certainly he would be an amazing dancer...he is sure to have big muscles...and contrary to popular belief he could indeed kick the tar out of Chuck Norris.

But the problem with "Superhero Jesus"? Why is he so dangerous? First of all it is dangerous, because God is all-powerful. Jesus really could have been an amazing football player, or dancer, or skateboarder, or ping-pong player, or he could come down and beat up Chuck Norris. He really could do all those things. But that was not the reason He came. He came to glorify God through redeeming His lost sheep, He came to call sinners, He came to preach the Word and usher in the Kingdom of God. If his goal would have been to set up an earthly kingdom and show off his muscles He would have done that. The problem with "Superhero Jesus" is that he rips us off, it is a shallow excuse and a temporary Jesus. "Superhero Jesus" allows us to settle on a miracle-worker that shows us cool tricks but that we have no part in, He’s a football player that we watch, rather than the person that we love and enjoy. He is the superhero that we like rather than the God whom we worship.

Summary: Superhero Jesus does miracles to please people, have fun, and show off his coolness while the biblical Jesus' miracles are always driven by a purpose (to display that He is indeed who He says He is) as well as compassion.

Who is "Cool Jesus"? "Cool Jesus" is driven by popular culture and the need to be liked. He would have been "Disco Jesus" in the 70's, "Punk Hair Jesus" in the 80's, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Jesus" in the 90's, and (at the suggestion of some our young ladies) "Justin TimberJesus" of the 00's. Whatever is cool at the time that's "Cool Jesus".

Sadly, cool Jesus is probably a product of the church. We have bent over backwards to show that Jesus is cool (or the term now is relevant). However, as Os Guiness says, "By our uncritical pursuit of relevance we have actually courted irrelevance; by our breathless chase after relevance without a matching commitment to faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant; by our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling to the modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance. Our crying need is to be faithful as well as relevant."

And that is the problem with "Cool Jesus". He is only "cool" for a certain period of time. Nobody likes the 50 year old that cruises broadway. Nobody likes Uncle Rico whose living too much in '82. Disco Jesus isn't cool anymore. After time he loses his relevance. "Cool Jesus" eventually loses his relevance and then has to change with the times. But the truth of the gospel is that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change, He will not change. He was powerful to save before the foundation of the world, He was powerful to save in the Old Testament, He was powerful to save when He lived and bled and died on the Cross, when he rose from the grave, He was powerful to save in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, He was powerful to save in 1776 when America was established, and He was powerful to save in on 9/11 when our country was bombed. He was powerful to save when you were born, and He is powerful to save today. He is eternal life and He always will be eternal life. Cool Jesus can’t offer that!

There is much more to be said about "Cool Jesus" but for now let us summarize and note that you can find the complete text of this message at the following link.

Summary: Cool Jesus is driven by popular culture and the need to be liked; while biblical Jesus refuses empty worship, will not take a back seat to our other affections, and even though he is the only source of eternal life he is often rejected.


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