Several years ago, my wife and I were on vacation at a small coastal town in NSW. This was early on in my new Christian experience and on a Sabbath afternoon, for a few hours, I had been letter-boxing surplus Signs magazines from the local church. After sunset I was checking our car's oil level (our old Volvo apparently thought oil was for burning along with the fuel). The dipstick handle had broken off long before so I had to hold the handle onto the dipstick when putting it in the tube so I could get an accurate oil level. Wouldn't you know it, I dropped the handle into the dark recesses of the engine bay. It was pitch-dark and I didn't have a torch with me so had no chance of finding it short of blindly groping around in the engine bay; not a great option. At this point, after hours traipsing around the neighbourhood, I was rather miffed at this inconvenience and just wanted to have my dinner. As one does, I started whining and whinging to God that after all the work I had done for Him that day the least He could do is not let something like this happen. After all, it wasn't fair, was it, that His faithful worker should have to put up with this? Well, guess what happened next. About 20 seconds into my childish tantrum I heard a faint clattering and clunk from the engine bay. I was impressed to look underneath the car and, sure enough, there it was on the ground. I had not touched the car. OK, it might have been teetering on an edge or slowly sliding down a slope or through an oily gap or whatever, but what are the odds? Call it a coincidence; most will. I know, however, that it wasn't.
I've long since matured as a Christian and wouldn't behave like that now. I now look back, however, with fondness and joy, at the many instances when God would feed me these little morsels of spiritual baby food in order that I might grow in faith and trust and, eventually, walk by that faith and trust and not by sight.
I'm not there yet, however we're working on it.
I recommend this Gizmodo article; I don't shy away from difficult Bible passages.
The amazing thing is, when you find true reality, and see the big picture, you can actually fit these Old Testament events into that picture; the picture of God, who is love.
Admittedly, a couple are a squeeze, however they still fit.
Believe it or not.
As a start, you'll need to understand that Jesus is actually the God of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Try that on for size...
No, not the Great Disappointment; but something quite devastating to our church's image and reputation. Extenuating circumstances? Complicated and restrictive laws and regulations. Maybe. I don't know all the details. Excusable? Absolutely not. Reputation-damaging? Demoralizing to the lay church member? Absolutely. An exception that proves the rule? I certainly hope and even trust that this is the case.
Even so, a real body blow. But my church is imperfect, like every other.
Reason to leave? No.
Where would I go?
I know that God exists, and the Adventist God, i.e. the God of the Bible, is the only God I can believe in. The only one who makes sense.
We are incapable of loving God unless we can first trust Him. And we cannot trust Him unless we see Him. . .unless we truly see Him as He is, as One who can be trusted because of who He is. All distorted images tend toward distrust and extinguish in the soul the capacity to love God. All clarity of God’s character leads toward trust, which in turn gives birth to love in the soul. This is the most basic of all principles regarding human relationship with God.
Three is the essential numeric value of love. Where there is only one person, love cannot occur. Where there are two, each is the sole recipient of the other’s attention, giving place for self-absorption. But the moment there are three, each recipient of any one’s love must also humbly defer attention to the third party, and each one is the third party to the other two. Pure selflessness can now occur by virtue of the fact that each one must love and be loved with both an exclusive and a divided interest.
If God’s essential identity is traceable to a solitary selfhood—which would be the case if Jesus in any sense had a point of beginning, and if the Holy Spirit does not eternally exist with distinct personhood—then love is not essential to God’s nature. Said more simply, if Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not eternally co-existent, it cannot be said with any coherence that “God is love.”
The pure biblical genius of identifying God as a triune fellowship rather than as an absolute singularity or even as a dualism, is convincing evidence that the Bible is, in fact, the revelation of the one and only true God, whose essential nature is love.
Since my conversion around 7 years ago, I have known the truth of the triune nature of the Godhead (one God in three equal, eternally-coexistent Persons) and how this fits perfectly with God's character.
The anti-trinitarian or non-trinitarian doctrine (AT/NT) purports that the Holy Spirit is not a separate and distinct Person of the Godhead but rather the "spirit" or spiritual presence of the Father and/or Jesus, and that Jesus was in some way the literal "son" of the Father before His incarnation on earth and had "issued" from or was created by the Father at some point in the distant past.
(This doctrine has serious implications for God's character however I've dealt with that elsewhere. I believe this doctrine is a device used by Satan to undermine the truth of God's character and thus further the devil's aims).
A family member had been influenced to believe in the AT doctrine so I was concerned that this person might be led astray in their Christian walk. I had never seen any good come from this doctrine and, to the contrary, had seen division and strife arise through it. Tragically, it has led many good souls away from the true Gospel and has clouded their picture of God.
God's confirmation to me of the truth of the triune Godhead and His revelation of how He views the AT doctrine happened this way:
About two years ago I was driving home from work and pondering, of all things, the appeal of personalized car number plates (not the deepest of thoughts, I admit).
I rather liked the idea of identifying myself as a Christian by including the numbers 777 on my plate (the appeal has since worn off).
7 is God's "number of perfection" and 777 would represent the three Persons of the Godhead i.e. the Trinity; one God in three Persons.
(Trinity is not a Biblical word however it is in common use and its broad meaning is widely acknowledged).
Since the thorny issue of the AT doctrine was in the back of my mind, it occurred to me that a person of the AT persuasion would need to have only two 7s on their number plate representing God the Father and Jesus.
This line of thought led me at that moment to pray for two things:
1. For God to confirm that my understanding of the triune nature of the Godhead was correct.
2. For Him tell me how seriously He regarded this whole AT doctrinal issue i.e. was it important to Him in the overall scheme of things?
Seconds after my first prayer, I heard a low-pitched, rumbling mechanical noise coming from the front left of my car.
Immediately I thought to look down at the dashboard to see if there were any warning lights.
No warning lights, however my eyes were drawn to the trip meter.
My focus was on the trip meter; I didn't register the odometer reading.
The trip meter* displayed these numbers.
"Ok, that fits." I thought. One God, three Persons.
After a few seconds recovering from the slight shock of this, I prayed my second request: "Lord, how seriously do you regard this AT business? What is your attitude to it?"
No car noise this time (there was no detectable mechanical fault), however my eyes were again drawn to the dashboard, this time the odometer caught my focus.
The odometer* displayed these numbers.
They leapt out at me:
One God, two Persons, _________! [fill in the blank].
All this occurred within a few seconds and less than 100 metres.
I could not and would not concoct such a story.
(I would have used 177666 if I'd made it up).
Make of this what you will.
I know that it was not a coincidence.
*Here's a photo of my dash today; I didn't think to take a photo at the time although I wish I had! My son Photoshopped the numbers on the other images.
The true Gospel (the good news) is not about the when of Jesus’ return, it’s about Whom, why and wherefore.
The facts are that Jesus will return and this could be at any moment for any of us because, for all of us, He effectively returns when we die.
As we all know, in this violent and dangerous world, we could die at any moment.....
Are you ready...?
years ago, when I had accepted the possibilty, then the probability, of
the existence of the God of the Bible, I asked Him for two specific
supernatural signs to confirm everything.
It’s too embarassing to say what they were.
This went on for a while; I really pestered God with this request.
I didn’t tell anyone else about the signs for which I was asking.
In the end, He didn’t give me the signs in the way I had asked.
He had my children draw them.
One day as I was walkng past the table where my son was drawing he suddenly lifted up the drawing he was working on and held it toward me.
He had never done that before and has never since.
It was a drawing of the first sign I had asked for.
My son did not know I was asking for a sign.
The other one turned up in a drawing later.
Believe it or not, it happened.
When we are "baby" Christians, and even before we are "born again" but are seeking, God will help us to grow in faith with a silly prayer answered here, a small sign there.
This is our "baby food" and take it from me, when these things happen you will be floored, ecstatic, joyful beyond belief (or at least I was).
Babies need to be spoon-fed with baby food and carefully nurtured in order to grow properly.
It’s the same way with how God grows us spiritually.
It’s terrific fun and can give you great moments of sheer joy and wonder.
At some stage, though, we need to be weaned off the baby food and stand on our own two feet.
It’s been a fantastic journey for me.
As time passes the journey gets more challenging but the relationship is deeper and more mature.
It’s as if God sits back and says "I’m still here, still with you, however it’s time for you to walk by faith, not by sight. I will direct your path however you must go forward on your own initiative" or something along those lines.
There are ups and downs, mountain tops and valleys along the way.
We need to grow and mature as Christians and this means there will be many lessons to learn.
Some lessons are hard, some are relatively easy.
All God’s lessons are necessary, however, if we are to grow in our knowledge of, and relationship with Him.
Some of us take longer than others to learn.
One thing I have learnt, am learning and will continue to learn for who knows how long:
Trust is the key.