God's reputation has been terribly maligned. He has been slandered and His credibility has been seriously damaged. As Governor over the entire universe His ability to have the full respect and cooperation of all of His subjects has been seriously undermined. The root cause of this is the issue of our beliefs about His character that absolutely has to be resolved above everything else.
If we do not trust Him at the gut level, if we find it difficult to feel that God is worthy of being honored, if we have doubts deep down inside that He really loves us and is completely committed to giving us life and only life, then God's ability to interact with us is inhibited and it is impossible for us to live in close fellowship with Him. How can two walk together unless they be agreed? This is the fundamental problem of sin. We have been told all sorts of things about God that create fears, doubts and inhibitions about Him that must be dealt with before our hearts can ever fully trust Him.
How can God address these issues, doubts, questions, insinuations and accusations effectively?
How are we to relate to these same things? How willing are we to investigate Him?
There has been a lot of talk among some groups of people for over a hundred years about an Investigative Judgment going on in our time. It has been said that this judgment is going on in heaven and it is strongly implied that it constitutes God and whoever else might be involved, going over the records of each human to determine if they are to be saved in heaven or lost in hell.
I am not going to argue against this belief on the face of it factually. However, there are many suspicious implications about the nature of God in this investigation, His motives for this investigation, the reasons it is taking place and what He intends to do with the outcomes of it that I have to seriously question given what I have been learning in my own investigation of God's character over the past few years. I am coming to the conclusion that maybe God intends for us to begin our own intensive investigation into God's character to do the same thing that it is reported He is doing about us.
Does that sound impertinent? Or does it sound like welcome news? Even relieving in a sense? It has been said that truth is never afraid of close investigation. If God is the ultimate truth then I cannot see how He would become offended at the idea of being investigated. After all, since the core problem of the war going on and quickly coming to a head between Christ and Satan is over who's version of God is to be believed, then it only seems logical that God would welcome, even invite a full investigation into the real truth about all the charges that have been circulating about Him for so long. An innocent person wants nothing more than to be fully exposed in court where all can finally discover that the lies leveled against them were indeed lies and that the real problem was with their accusers and not with themselves. I cannot believe that God feels any differently.
So the strange sounding conclusion that I have to come to is that God is longing for us to judge Him. After all, since the true definition of the word judgment means to expose, to bring into the open all that has been hidden so that it can be fairly evaluated and seen whether it is true or false, then I can only imagine that the passion of God is that He be judged as soon as possible. Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-- to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." (Revelation 14:6-7 NIV) And while His great accuser is eager for us to listen to his accusations about God, at the same time he is loathe to allow us access to the real facts about Him that would vindicate Him and expose the true nature of Satan's accusations.
Paul said that the saints will even judge angels. Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NIV) That means that we were created with the capacity to judge. Of course one of our problems is that many of us currently have convoluted ideas about what judging means. This is no surprise since we have distorted and twisted notions for nearly every word we use in relation to religion.
And that is just part of the problem with judging; for to judge correctly and fairly a person has to not only discover the truth about a person or situation but must also have an accurate working knowledge of the terms being used. If we fail to acquire a better awareness of the real meanings of the words we hear and use, words that either defend or implicate God, how can we expect to arrive at a credible conclusion about what He is really like? This is another major area where Satan, the great accuser of both God and of His children has had great success.
The reason that Jesus came to this earth according to His own testimony was to defend the reputation of His Father and to correct our views of what God is really like. This is also the main reason that He got into so much trouble with religious folks, for their views of God and those of Jesus were constantly clashing. For a few decades after Jesus left this work to His followers the immense power of His testimony combined with the similar testimonies reflected in the lives of all those who came to appreciate and love Him had a tremendous impact on the whole world. This was a mighty threat to the kingdom of Satan and that is exactly what God intended. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
But being diabolically clever as he is, the devil has infiltrated and subverted the church with all kinds of new lies about the purpose and meaning of Jesus' life and death and has successfully distorted and darkened our understanding of even Jesus' testimony. Since then many who have claimed the name Christian have often reinforced many of the old insinuations about a stern, angry God that has damaged His reputation from the beginning. By once again presenting a God who will resort to force, employ fear and intimidation tactics to get His way and a God who reflects the character of His archenemy in some respects, Satan has managed to hijack the Christian movement that Jesus started and has turned it to support his accusations against God.
The tragic history of how the official church throughout the Dark Ages claiming to represent Jesus treated any who failed to see God the same way the church did, is a glaring example of what happens when God's reputation is misapprehended. But since the reformation that has progressively exposed more and more truths about God has spread over the world, many now assume that we have arrived at the fullness of truth and our job now is to simply push this truth into the face of every last person on earth so that Jesus can then come to take us home with Him.
Sounds simplistic? Absolutely. But this has been yet another diversion of the enemy. For again, the real problem is not a logistical one of preaching our doctrines to every person on earth but is rather the problem of how we perceive God in the deep recesses of our heart. As long as we cherish dark views about what God is like in our thinking we will infect others with those mistaken, even damning notions as they are mingled in and temper the good news we think we are spreading. A little leaven spreads through the whole batch.
As I was slowly waking up this morning with a number of dreams pushing me back into sleep, I noticed a pattern in my dreams. I cannot remember any of them specifically, but what I did sense was an urgency about this issue of vindicating God's reputation above all else. For too long the Christian world has focused on salvation being all about getting our skin into heaven, getting saved, escaping the suffering and pain and persecution we may experience here or even escaping the terrors of hell. The focus has mostly been on finding relief and even fun in a better place. This mindset has been the petri dish in which all sorts of teachings about God, about heaven and about salvation has bred myriads of confusing beliefs that has diverted us from the real issues in the battle.
Salvation is not primarily about us but is about God and His reputation. As much as we need salvaging – and there is no question about that – the far greater urgent need is for the Supreme Ruler of the entire universe to have His reputation salvaged so that all who serve and worship Him will not be infected with lies that poison their hearts and divide their loyalties. As long as we cling to any fears about God as our motives for serving Him we cannot come into the perfect love that is necessary to live safely in His presence. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:17-19) As I awoke, I felt an urgent sense that my life needs to become a more passionate witness to the real truth about God's reputation and that anything I can do in cooperation with His Spirit to vindicate His truth is the only thing that is of real importance in life.
Religions of all labels are filled with diversions to keep us distracted from the core issue that sin has created in ruining God's reputation. It is of little use to rehearse these diversions because they are endless. What I want to do is to sharpen my own focus and enter deeper into a genuine love experience with this God who says He loves me with a passionate, everlasting kind of love. I want my life to emanate a testimony that will contribute positively toward the vindication of God, because that must be fully flushed into the open before He can once again be honored and worshiped freely by all creation. Anything less than this is to be used by the enemy for his purposes.
Over the past few weeks which has only been an intensification of a compelling thought over the past year, I have felt an urge to somehow help create some studies that will better explain the real issues of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. So few have any understanding at all of the real issues swirling around in this war and have crazy ideas about what the battle between good and evil is all about. Yet I have found what an enormous advantage it gives a person to be empowered with an accurate awareness of the real nature of this war, the larger view of what is taking place behind the scenes and the history of where it all began and where it will end in the future. Once a person can grasp the bigger perspective, then the smaller details that often seem so large now suddenly snap into their proper place and the little issues that have been blown out of proportion suddenly shrink to insignificance in comparison to the problems God is dealing with.
I have found that keeping the larger view clearly in mind while looking at any and every other issue gives one incredible insight and an ability to sort out what is important and what is less important to focus on. My burden is growing that sharing this perspective with as many as are willing and hungry to really know the truth about God and to know Him personally for themselves, will empower them to also have that same ability to discern between what is good and righteous against what is evil and deceptive. It requires divine wisdom and a connection with heaven for anyone to have this discernment. But what is urgently needed is for practical explanations of the big picture and rearrangement the pieces of religion that have for too long been in confusion. They must be replaced back into their proper context so that they can once again function with real power and potential they once had.
I believe God is Himself becoming urgent in seeking honest hearts who are hungry to know Him, to experience His love, to experience healing of all kinds to restore them to the wholeness that they were designed to live in originally. He want to clean us out and outfit us to become better channels through which He can spread the good news about Himself to ever more people. If I become distracted by insisting on promoting my own ideas while not being careful to let the mind of Christ, the ultimate example of humility and teachableness, be in me, (Philippians 2:3-11) I will be in danger of becoming a decoy for the enemy and a distraction drawing others away from the truth instead of a channel that God can use to draw others toward Him.
Jesus said, and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32 NRSV) In the original language the word for people is not present. Jesus was saying that everyone, no matter where in all of the universe they might exist, would be drawn to Him when the full revelation of God's character would be demonstrated in the life and death of Jesus. The reason we don't see more being drawn to Him today is because too often what we are lifting up is a perversion of the gospel, not the real truth about God that Jesus revealed. The more I come to see the true meaning of Jesus' life the more I find myself drawn toward Him.
At the same time I want to be so transformed myself by continually focusing on the real truth about Him in Jesus that my own life, my own reactions under pressure will begin to better reflect the things I am discerning in the witness of Jesus about God. I have a very long way ahead of me to reflect this with decent accuracy, but my desire is to be used by God to become another successful demonstration of what can happen to a hardened, stubborn rebel when the love and grace of God gets into him.