Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good God...good man

We have all experienced things in our lives that we attribute to the goodness of God because they were blessings and they were good, and we have all experienced things in our lives that were…not so much. They were painful and we wanted them to just end, because not many really desire to live in pain and suffering.
Now you have to know that I’m going to speak to you about how God is present in the midst of suffering….and He is. And you have to know that I’m going to speak to you about how God will bring you through the troubles, but not necessarily take those troubles away from us. But there is so much more to the goodness of God that we must understand and there is so much more to the goodness of man, or lack thereof, that we must also understand if we are to have a relationship with the Creator.
I’m a word guy and I do believe that if we fail to look closely at the original words in the original languages that are used in the bible then we will understand less of what God intends for us and we may miss out on some very good things because of our failure to research properly. I realize that not everyone who is reading the bible has access to the same research materials I do, so that’s why we all get together at church or bible studies to talk about these things.
In the New Testament there are two Greek words that are used for good, Agathos and Kalos. Agathos means good that comes from within and might be used, to describe an intrinsically good person. Kalos describes a beautiful thing or person, one that is morally upright and might do good deeds. And it is important I think that we understand these differences so we can better understand how our relationship with God might be affected. Matthew gives us a good selection of both words. Everyone remembers the story of the rich young ruler;
Mt 19:16-17
16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"
17 So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."
Remember that Jesus told him to keep all the commandments, oh!, and added on that he should sell all he owned, give the money to the poor, and follow Him. The man walked away sorrowful because he had many possessions. All of these “goods” are the words Agathos, which means intrinsically good.
So no one is good except for God. Do you believe that? How dare Jesus say that there is no one good! I must take exception. Well, not really. Here’s an explanation that makes sense to me. And I hope it makes sense to you as well. I know some people who seem to be really good. They do a lot of good in this world and if it were true that no one is good then we are most certainly without hope.
Let’s stay in the book of Matthew but look at
Mt 7:15-20
15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Let’s look closely at this scripture for within these six verses lies a plethora of information. First of all, we must understand that very evil people can look just like very holy people. When Jesus speaks of false prophets, I am quite sure He wasn’t speaking only of those who speak to what is to come but rather those who speak of spiritual matters but are really only materialistic or after other earthly goals. They desire the things of the world and are willing to use the children of God to obtain them.
He said that we would know them by their fruits and I am positive that doesn’t mean that they will or will not have huge ministries or big churches or thousands or even millions of followers. Both truth and deceit can go either way. There are many who are easily deceived and they desire to go along with the crowd and feel good about themselves. That is all that’s important to them. And there are small churches or ministries that may deceive as well.
That should never be. We are all responsible for what we do as far as our own spiritual walk. You won’t be able on judgment day to point to someone else and say, “But Lord, he told me…..” Each one of us must study on our own and if we are at odds with some teaching that is given us, it is our duty to confront the one teaching and say, “Explain why you think this”.
The fruits Jesus told us to look at are not necessarily the works of those who are possible false teachers, for good works may be part of the fa├žade. I work in a lot of disasters and trust me, there are many false teachers out there doing wonderful things for people and that even in the name of Jesus. But the fruit of which Jesus speaks is both the teaching itself and the results of that teaching.
As Christians what we speak should always point to Christ, as Christ always pointed to the Father. The Father brings everything back to us. The most important verse in this section is;
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
There are also two words for bad, one meaning intrinsically bad (sapros) and one meaning ugly or just plain nasty(poneros) So this verse could be read like this: An agathos tree cannot bear poneros fruit nor can a sapros tree bear kalos fruit.
So what we must understand is what makes a good tree and what makes a bad tree. A good tree is one who is filled with the Sprit of God. A real Christian, one who is producing good fruit, is one who is led by the Spirit, filled with the spirit and has a productive relationship with God. One who continually puts others before himself, one who is a servant, who is humble and one who seeks constantly ways in which his time on this earth can truly please God. And foremost it is a person who constantly seeks to find and then do the will of God. For if we are seeking to be filled with the Spirit of God we will be filled with the goodness of God…..and we will become Agathos.
That’s why Jesus said there is only one who is good. If we are not filled with Him and His wonderful goodness, with Agathos then we cannot be called good. And if we cannot be called good, there is but one other option and that is bad. That is evil. That is sapros. And a sapros tree bears poneros fruit. A bad tree bears bad fruit….and what did Jesus say about that?
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Now, please understand that Jesus doesn’t expect everyone who is a believer to be able to stand behind a pulpit and preach or teach and not everyone who is a Christian is expected to go to the mission field and save thousands, start an orphanage, build a part of the new Jerusalem, or even make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. None of that is important if that is not your calling.
What is important is your calling. And all of us are called to at least two of the same things. Love God with all your heart, soul and mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. And if you love God with all your heart, you will seek Him, you will seek his will in all you do.
This ain’t rocket science, but it is much more important than rocket science.
Look at the next verse in this, for it is extremely important to how we interpret what we just read.
Mt 7:21-22
21 "Not everyone who says to Me,'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'
The ones who will enter the kingdom of heaven are the ones who do the will of the Father. He’s explaining that the works you do, whether you prophesy, cast out demons or do many wonders, and ALL in the name of Jesus, if they are not the Father’s will for you, they are all for nothing. The scariest part of the whole thing is the very next verse….
Mt 7:23
23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
We need to discover just exactly what God’s will is for us and then go do it. We need to uncover that mission in our life and get to it. We may not have much time and we’ve probably wasted too much of it already.
Is your life teetering on some difficulty right now? Do you want to make it better? Get in God’s will. Seek Him….not just with words, but with actions. And not later, but right now and do it with some passion. Like my father used to say, “Look like you mean it!” You may think that by coming to church on Sunday and praying a couple of times a week is enough, but if that’s you, you are just playing Christian. Are you ready to get serious? Are you ready to surrender?
God doesn’t want us to be lackadaisical. He wants spirit filled people who are on fire. I feel a move of the spirit happening and I can’t shake the feeling that things are about to erupt into a wonderful demonstration of God’s love and His magnificent power that we will remember forever as when things really began to move in the end times. If you don’t know how to be involved, but want to, ask me, I’ll show you.
Get ready church, to be part of a move of God that will be one of those things that we will loudly proclaim to the Lord when we meet Him and say, “Father, do you remember when I…..? And He will look you squarely in the eye and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter now into your reward.”
You have His word on it.

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