Sure was good seeing you two weekends ago! God is awesome!
I've been thinking more about Obama's speech at Notre Dame, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. I'd love to hear what you think on this. It's pretty long, but if you look over the outline, it'll give you a good idea of what's there.
I. One mistake in logic can take you anywhere.
II. Obama's Notre Dame speech questions our ability to know God, thus rejecting divine revelation through Scripture and other means. Obama said that:
A. We cannot know with certainty what God has planned for us.
B. We cannot know with certainty what God asks of us.
III. God through the Scriptures refutes Obama's statements.
A. We know with certainty what God has planned for us. (Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 1:6, 9-11)
B. We know with certainty what God asks of us. (Overall: Micah 6:8. On abortion: Proverbs 24:10-12. On salvation: John 6:28-29).
IV. Why doesn't Obama understand Scripture on these points?
A. He is relying on man's wisdom instead of God's revelation, and is trying to live without the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2).
B. He does not understand that faith in God is not an antidote for confidence; it is a requirement for confidence. (2 Corinthians 5:5-20, 1 Corinthians 15:13-20)
V. As Christians, we must know the Truth (Jesus Christ), and conquer falsehood.
A. Through the Holy Spirit, we can discern which ideas are of Christ and which are not (1 John 4:1-6).
B. We are to demolish those arguments that set themselves up against Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3 and Ephesians 6:10-18).
VI. We have been delivered from the spirit of this world, and have been given the Spirit of God.
A. The Spirit delivers us from fear. (Romans 8:15. See also John 8:34-36 and 17:23-26).
B. The Spirit points us to God and helps us to understand what He's given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12).
C. Let us never turn back to fear, but run to our Savior and Deliverer. (John 8:32)
I remember Grandpa talking about how fatal a mistake in logic can be. If you make one wrong assumption, you can end up anywhere. I was reading over Obama's Notre Dame speech again. Is it all wrong? No. Is it all right? Ehhhhh, no. I wrote all over it, circling things, underlining things, and scribbling out responses. In the end, though, I don't want to send you a point-by-point assessment of Obama's statements.
The key point to this speech is summed up in a single sentence: "It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own." (That's from the next-to-last page of Mom's handout).
See anything you agree with? I agree with the statement that "His wisdom is greater than our own." As Romans 11:33 says, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!" God's wisdom is awesome. With wisdom He laid out in six days what's taken us thousands of years to scavenge out and begin to marvel at. And that's just the beginning!
Back to the speech. See anything you disagree with? What about these statements?
1) We cannot know with certainty what God has planned for us.
2) We cannot know with certainty what God asks of us.
Basically, Obama has given up on knowing God with any degree of certainty. What do you think? Can you know what God is planning for you? Do you know what He asks of you? Do a search for the phrase "that you may know" in the Bible. Wow! Also, look at these verses: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11). If that's not encouraging, I don't know what encouragement is. Does this mean I know the details of every day of my life, according to God's will. No. But we can know that God has plans for us to be working here, preaching His word, that He's building us up into His church, and that He's going to take us home to Heaven when we die. Those are some pretty awesome plans, if you ask me!
Okay, point two. We cannot know what God asks of us.
Hold it. God has given us His creation, His Scriptures, His Son, and His Spirit to guide us to Him! (See Matthew 22:36-40 for starters). He knows we often get hung up on the details, and that sometimes we claim to not know what the word "is" is. So He makes it simple:
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
It's because God has told us what is good that He can hold us accountable. We can't come to the end of our life and say "You can't punish me! You never told me what I was supposed to do!"
God knows our hearts. He knows where we stand with Him, and what our attitude is toward those who cannot defend themselves. We cannot plead ignorance with Him:
"If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what He has done?" (Proverbs 24:10-12)
What, then, is the work that God has for us?
"Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent." (John 6:28-29)
So, uniting these ideas, what is God doing in us?
"...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus... And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:6, 9-11)
If Scripture was an allergy medication, it'd be more than Claritin clear. The work of God is to believe in the One whom the Father sent: Jesus. Jesus is working in us right now to conform us to Him. Why would Obama ignore such direct and inescapable teaching? Short answer: his eyes may well be blinded to it, because it is spiritually discerned. Long answer: 1 Corinthians 2. I was so struck when I was reading this tonight that I'd like to share this chapter with you. Think about it, and compare it to Obama's words in his speech:
1 Corinthians 2
"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him' - but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ."
Obama professes to know Christ. He stands before God for his statements, and it is to this Master that he will give an account, as we all will. It is not for me to decide where Obama stands with God. But I am required to compare his words -- and every man's words -- to Scripture. Also, since Obama uses Scripture, I need to look at those words in context and understand what the author's original intent was.
Obama's interpretation of Scripture requires scrutinty. Obama quoted a verse talking about living by "faith, not by sight." He used this verse as a counterweight to the idea of confidence. Yes, you should stand as a lighthouse he said, but don't get carried away. We can't actually see what we believe in, so we must be humble and uncertain.
The verse he pulled was 2 Corinthians 5:7. Looking at the context of this verse, I think Obama could not have selected a more fitting passage to refute his own words.
"Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience... For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God..." (2 Corinthians 5:5-20).
Both verses flanking Obama's verse speak of confidence. Living by faith isn't an antidote for confidence as Obama implies. The strength of faith is in its object, and living by faith in a supreme God is the basis of all our confidence. This isn't worldly confidence, the swagger and brag of arrogance. This is life from the Spirit. Because knowing Truth, knowing Christ, is knowing Life. And as we live for Him, we spread Truth to everyone. Think about Paul. Now think about Paul without confidence. Hold it -- where'd Paul go? What would we as Christians be without confidence in God? What if we weren't sure that Jesus had actually been taken out of the grave after the resurrection?
"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." (1 Corinthians 15:13-20).
This kind of confidence only comes from knowing and following the Holy Spirit. When someone tries to inject uncertanity into your beliefs about Christ, step back and ask yourself Why are they doing this?
Remember, just because someone quotes Scripture or uses connotation words like "faith," "humility," etc. does not mean that they are of Christ. (Satan even quoted Scripture to Jesus!) Through the Holy Spirit, we can test ideas and spirits to see what is Truth, and what is anti-Truth (and anti-Christ). I know that there is not just one "Anti-Christ." There are many anti-Christs. Any idea that is set up against Christ is, by definition, anti-Christ.
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." (1 John 4:1-6)
So what's the bottom line? "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3) What are our weapons? See Ephesians 6:10-18. Our number one offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit -- the Scriptures. Notice that our object is not individual people, but the strongholds, arguments, pretensions, and thoughts that hold people captive.
The spirit of this age delights in uncertainty, because uncertain people are often easy to influence, sidetrack, persuade, and discourage. But we as Christians can live by a different Spirit altogether: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" Let's never return to the spirit of fear and slavery. Let's be set free by knowing God and accepting this gift of Jesus Christ: "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." (Romans 8:15 and 1 Corinthians 2:12. See also John 8:34-36 and 17:23-26).
"Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." (John 8:32).
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.