Q & A from “By Faith” Series in Hebrews 11

Q: In your recent message on Abel you said that “God came to us.” But didn’t we go to him and accept him on his terms?  He is always with us from the time that we are born to the time that we die, right? It is just that we have to accept him, right?
When I speak of God coming to us, I speak, first, of the crucial act of Jesus coming to live among us. God “pitching his tent” in our neighborhood (John 1). Had God not sent Jesus to live among us and die in our place as the atoning substitution for sin, we would forever be lost. We did not (and could not) go to God in heaven and try to reconcile the war between him and us, nor were we (or are we) able to bridge the gap that exists between us and God. It is an eternal predicament that only God can solve. He solved that when he took the step of sending Jesus to us as the sacrifice for our sins and not leaving us in our sin. This was the work of God in coming to us when we could not get to him.
Second, when I speak of God coming to us, I speak of the work of the Holy Spirit upon our lost souls when he opened our eyes to the Gospel (i.e., the truth about Jesus’ finished work on the cross). Ephesians 2 says we are dead; 2 Cor. 4 says our eyes were blinded. But God has shone the light of the Gospel into our hearts (2 Cor. 4:6) so that we could see. He has awakened our hearts from the dead and  given us the faith to believe (Eph. 2:8-9) So it was God who came to us in our lost state and raised us up/regenerated us. Yes, we responded to that and experienced conversion – that moment when we “accepted” the Gospel and took our stand on it. But it was God who came to us and opened our eyes, giving us the spiritual capacity to even see/comprehend the Gospel.
When we speak of God always being with us, we need to be careful to distinguish between God being always with us and God being in us. God is “with” everyone in the sense that he is always aware of where they are and in control of them – lost and saved people alike. He is sovereign! Omniscient and omnipresent! But he chooses to reside in those who believe. This is the role of the Holy Spirit – to indwell believers. This is the presence of God that unbelievers do not have. It is God coming to us in a way that lost people cannot access until they believe.

Q: You also stated that, when it comes to the show of church, “nobody is flasher then us.”  What did you mean and why is that so? Is it because we want people to think we’re a “goodie two shoes” bunch?
By “us” I meant, generally, the western American church, and I don’t know why we have this tendency to impress. I don’t think it is wrong to want to put our best foot forward, but there is a fine line between our best foot forward and a false foot forward. Perhaps we do crave the approval of others too much, so we want them to think we’re something we’re not. I’m not sure if I know the WHY question. But I am fully aware of my own failings and tendencies to cover up any sign of weakness or fault, and God warns against that seriously. Perhaps riches and prosperity have trapped us into thinking that we have to at least appear to have it all, all the time. I just don’t know. But I do know this is the battle we all wage: pretense vs. authenticity.

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