CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The God of Israel

Jul 1, 2019

“I the Lord do not change.” We find that statement in the Old Testament – in Malachi 3:6. The New Testament affirms the same truth. For example James 1:17 says this: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Thus what we learn about God and his ways in the Old Testament is what we find in the New. Consider this as an example: The same God who had a covenant relationship with ancient Israel has a living relationship with Israel Folau.

However, the people of God in the Old Testament generally failed to be a light to the nations and share the truth of God with others. In contrast, the Christian rugby player has sought to humbly share truth with those who do not know God. Yahweh had wanted Israel to be a blessing to the world, and he wants his people today to be the same.

That in a nutshell explains why Israel Folau did what he did and said what he said. He is obeying God, loving others, and seeking to share biblical truth with them. Izzy has simply done what all true Christians have done for the past 2000 years – he has shared the gospel with the lost.

He has been evangelistic – he has shared the evangel, or good news. All genuine Christians do this. There is nothing strange or unusual about it. And it is a love for the lost that spurs believers on in this regard. Because they love God, they share his love for those who do not know him. They take seriously basic biblical truths such as the reality of a lost eternity for those who are not reconciled to God.

Christians like Folau simply adhere to basic beliefs that Jesus taught. Chief among them is what we find in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

They also believe what Jesus said just two verses later: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” That is a good summary of the gospel.

Lest you think I or Izzy may still be getting this wrong, let me offer a few more verses. They all speak to the essential need of repentance and receiving the gospel. Consider three individuals who should know all about this: John the Baptist, Jesus and Peter:

Matthew 3:1-2 John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Mark 1:14-15 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

We are all lost sinners, under the just condemnation of a holy God. But Jesus took the punishment we deserved by dying a cruel death on the cross, so that those who turn to him in faith and repentance can escape hell and live with God forever.

That is tremendous news – terrific good news. How could any Christian not want to share that with everyone? It is unloving to not share the gospel. Joe Carter just recently wrote about Gay Pride Month and the Christian response. He echoes my thoughts:

We do not love our neighbor when we tell them they can continue to engage in unrepentant rebellion against God. We cannot continue with the “go along to get along” mentality that is leading those we claim to love to destruction. If we truly love our LGBT neighbors, we must speak the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31). We may have to accept the fact that those who have fallen away may not ever return, but we shouldn’t lead them to hell because we are too craven to tell them the gospel requires repentance. We must choose whom we will serve. Will we love our neighbors and stand with the only wise God, or will we hate our LGBT friends by allying with the foolish idol-makers of LGBT Pride Month?
www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/lgbt-pride-month-became-religious-holiday/

Quite right. And that is just what Israel Folau has done. He cares enough about lost sinners – including homosexuals – that he has a passion to share that good news with them. All Christians should have this passion. All Christians are to be evangelistic. Missions and evangelism are a core part of our faith.

Yesterday I wrote on this very matter. I mentioned how half of all millennial Christians think sharing their faith is wrong: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/06/30/there-is-no-proclamation-free-gospel/

And another recent report has found that half of all Protestants have not shared their faith in the past 6 months.
www.christianpost.com/news/over-half-of-protestant-churchgoers-failed-to-share-the-gospel-in-the-last-6-months-lifeway.html

Hmm, maybe this explains why some Christians are hating on Folau: they feel guilty about the fact that they are not evangelising, so they lash out at those who do. This reminds me of the story concerning the great evangelist D. L. Moody:

One day a lady criticized D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord. Moody’s reply was “I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?” The lady replied, “I don’t do it.” Moody retorted, “Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

People like Folau are simply doing their Christian duty. And they are motivated by a love for God and a love for the lost. This is what Christianity is all about. The Apostle Paul even put it this way: “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

So our God does not change. He has always sought to have a people for himself, and he has always expected his people to be a light in a dark world, sharing with others what they themselves have found. The God of ancient Israel is the God of Israel Folau, and all those who love the Lord and seek to share the gospel.

The great preacher and evangelist Charles Spurgeon spoke much on this matter. Let me offer some of his powerful and inspiring thoughts on this:

“Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.”

“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!”

“I have endeavoured to speak as a dying individual to dying individuals.”

“God save us from living in comfort while sinners are sinking into hell!”

“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

“I will not believe that you have tasted the honey of the gospel if you can eat it all to yourself.”

“You were not saved that you might go to heaven alone; you were saved that you might take others there with you.”

“If we had to preach to thousands year after year, and never rescued but one soul, that one soul would be a full reward for all our labour, for a soul is of countless price.”

“Lost! Lost! Lost! Better a whole world on fire than a soul lost! Better every star quenched and the skies a wreck than a single soul to be lost!”

“If you really long to save men’s souls, you must tell them a great deal of disagreeable truth.”

And that last quote sums up this whole saga with Israel Folau. Of course the gospel is disagreeable to sinners. It is offensive to them. Paul could speak about the “offence of the gospel”. Telling arrogant and defiant sinners that God is not pleased with them and they are headed to hell unless they repent is not what they want to hear.

But it is what they need to hear. Thus I will always side with the God of Israel over against all the carnal Christians and armchair critics who condemn true believers who share their faith, while they never do anything to reach the lost.

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13 Responses to The God of Israel

  • The Shouting Down of Free Speech
    Peter Wales – Quadrant

    It doesn’t matter whether you agree with Israel Folau or not. If you have ever posted anything on social media anyone could disagree with or find offensive, or ever said anything in any gathering that an over-zealous employer could claim had potential to bring his or her business into disrepute, eventually the mob will come for you.

    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2019/06/the-shouting-down-of-free-speech/
    PS
    Bill – Your article title, “The God of Israel” is a great theological declaration!
    (and it was the bloke named ‘Joyce’ who initiated this episode)

  • In God’s eyes, the very best of man is like filthy rags. Man’s righteousness is short of God’s glory.

    God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. – Psalms 53:2-3

    The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds. – Jeremiah 17:9-10

    Many self proclaimed Christians think they are goodies goodies because they avoided the big sins like murder, rape, steal etc… Does not non Christians also don’t do that?

    What then is the difference between the Christians and non-Christians?

    No matter how little or big the sin, the outcome is death.

    A boat with big leaks will sink faster than the boat with small leaks, but eventually, they all be at the bottom of the ocean.

    Do you know that you go will to hell if you lie? Yes, most Christians think its just a minor sin.

    The cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8

    Jesus said all liars go to hell. This means those who tell white lies, blue lies, black lies whatever lies will go to hell.

    Sin is the condition of the heart. It is not what you don’t do or do.

    For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, slanders. – Matthew 15:19

    Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20

    God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7

  • Leprosy is a disease that cause the body to lose sensitivity, and so one might cut himself without knowing, and this, body tissues, limbs get damaged and rot away, and the end is death.

    Two years ago I had a “leper” moment. I was in for a root carnal. After the operation, I was hungry so I made myself a sandwich. After a few bites, I saw blood drops on the dinning table. I then realised I bit my lips without knowing because my mouth was all numbed. So I proceeded to finish my sandwich in front of a mirror to make sure I do not bit on my tongue or lips again.

    This experience prompt me this question, am I living with spiritual leprosy?

    Am I living in sin and so number to sin that my spiritual body is being eaten away and I don’t even know it?

    Thank you the Holy Spirit who woke me up to this truth.

    Standing in front the mirror like is reading His words. This keeps me in check.

    For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. – James 1:23-24

    I believe many of us are living with leprosy and we don’t even know it.

  • Wow – what a challenge! Once again, Bill, thank you!

  • John Miller, the argument that we must not say anything that might incite hatred and even violence against homosexuals, I find problematic. In Britain they have a new Commission for tackling extremists – those whose words can be deemed to incite hatred. But who can say whether a look or refusal to applaud and celebrate homosexuality had not been the cause of the Orlando massacre? Christians were deemed to be the culprits. Anything but a positive acclamation and standing ovation for all things queer is deemed to be inciting hatred or causing gays to commit suicide.

    Your link above contained this quote: “If someone is whipping up hatred against another person or group, it does not matter whether that takes place in an auditorium or a phone booth. If speech is intended to cause deliberate harm to others, and is foreseeably likely to do so, then society not only has a reasonable interest in imposing restrictions, but a responsibility to do so.

    I have gay friends. The best man at my wedding, my best friend at the time, is gay and is a supporter of the re-definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. I have gay family members. I would be distressed and angered if anyone suggested they were less worthy than others, or somehow less human, and that it was therefore appropriate to hate or exclude them.”

    By all means include one’s gay friends or relatives in a both private and public events, but if they are verbally or tacitly promoting their sexual predilections. If they are sending out the message that their same sex attractions are natural, normal and healthy, that it would be highly offensive to suggest that they change to being attracted to the opposite sex and that we must all go along with this, then I for one would not include them . Paul talks about excluding a couple from the church who were engaged in incest.
    Moreover when it comes to corrupting and grooming little children, my policy would be to be put the fear of God in homosexual teachers. I would not advocate such drastic measures as throwing gays from roof tops but a range of proportionate and humane disincentives to flaunting homosexuality should be used, starting with gentle admonishment through to more serious punitive measures for those who are determined to be out and proud. But for this to happen we would need a completely different breed of politicians who were prepared to re instate laws that are based on the Bible, as were over fifty years ago.

    David Skinner UK

  • Inspiring read Bill. Thank you. I am also inspired Saturday after Saturday by the faithful Christians who turn up to evangelise the streets of Melbourne, exalting the Saviour before a sea of people passing bye the tables. In the current spiritual environment I’m surprised the city still ‘tolerates it.

  • Rugby Australia would’ve welcomed Israel Folau back with open arms — if only he’d coerced a younger, less experienced teammate to sandpaper the ball…. !

  • David Skinner

    Yes, I agree with what you said. What struck me in the article was that we have to be prepared as, “eventually the mob will come for you”.

    Preparing for that threat – James 1:3 – should encourage us even further to proclaim the gospel. – Mark 16:15

    Regards

    John

  • Personally I feel time is short, hence my concern for those I love who are blissfully unaware that anything is wrong. They haven’t noticed the great falling away from the Way, the Truth and the Life, or even looked up to see how the skies have changed, unaware of encroaching moral murkiness. It is important that God’s people, Israel and the Gentiles in the fullness of time, shine their light. As in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the day of the Son of Man (Luke17.26)

  • A very timely piece. The sooner people wake up and realize there is not a different God in the Old Testament the better. Yes the God that we worship is the God of Israel – He is the almighty God and He will not remain mocked for long – especially when His bride is being continually harassed and attacked.

  • Yes John the enemy has been at the gate for a long time, but as Gay Pride Parades grow in number every year ( I believe there are over a hundred this year in towns and cities in Britain alone), the populace will no longer be able to avoid them.

    At gay pride parades Children are taught to shout obscenities and blasphemy against Christians and Christ, with impunity. They are free to offend and incite hatred against us by their profanities, obscene insults encouraged by paramedics and police
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sWaTGLmppg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyj1qhj4WPY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWqb6ArKQdo

    At these parades Jesus Christ is mocked and blasphemed against by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyAniqEkxz4

    Hunky Jesus Contest (Slide to 14 minutes 45 seconds)

    London Gay Pride 2017

    All this is condoned by our Prime Minister, Theresa May, the established churches and the Royal family.

    David Skinner UK

  • I wonder what happen if the gays dressed up as Mohammed and not as Jesus in that video?

    I think the politicians, the communities, the anti-terror groups would yell abuse.

  • The part about warning sinners reminds me of a OT verse about if the enemy comes and the watchman does NOT blow the horn to warn then the people blood is on his hands and his life will be required. but if he DOES blow the horn and warn he will be blameless in any resulting deaths. If we doesn’t warn the loss of these souls will be on our head. If they won’t warn one could fairly accurately say they are not of christ and their soul shall be required of them for leading other souls to hell.

    Lord Lord have we not eliminated pregnancies (abortion) in your name have we not ended the suffering of the old and enfeebled (euthanasia) in your name, how we not brought the Gospel of Love and Tolerance to to the masses in your name, have we not told people of your sugar daddy quality’s and your genie like attributes giving whatever is asked for all in your name, have we not enacted revenge on those who tortured and murdered your son and done so in your name, haven’t we preached to them that you are concerned with ends not means thus as long as the come to you, no matter what they call you, it doesn’t matter how?? Begone I never knew ye Ye who work iniquity!

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