A recent Gallup poll shows that 89% of Americans say they believe in God. Another poll indicates that 79% Americans believe in God. What is striking is that the number of believers is down by approximately 25% since WWII (gallup.com).
Could it be that Christianity in America is in decline because we are busier, have many more distractions, our values and priorities have changed? All of the above are true. But these things are directly related to the time we choose to give to the study of the Word of God, which directly impacts who or what we choose to place our trust in.
I believe that if we truly understood the true nature of God, we would find faith easier to obtain, our prayer times would not be waning and we would see the supernatural functioning in our lives to a greater degree. The Bible simply isn’t a book we can skim through on a “devotional” basis and gain a solid understanding of who God really is. Let me explain.
There are many passages in the Old Testament where God is seen wiping out the world’s population. In 2 Kings 1, we see Elijah calling down fire from heaven upon his enemies. In Numbers 21, God sends snakes among the people who were complaining and many of them died.
However, when we turn to the book of Luke, we read something quite different. Jesus intended to go through Samaria, so the disciples could make ready for the Passover, but because He was continuing on to Jerusalem, the Samaritans wouldn’t receive Him. But no worries, James and John have the solution: call fire down from heaven and consume them! “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9:51-55, NIV).
Sounds inconsistent, doesn’t it? Context is so important. We must always read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament and understand that each of these pictures is a true characterization of God; the Old Testament stories of judgment are accurate representations of God, but they are not a complete representation of God. God always acts from the standpoint of grace and mercy.
For instance, when we read the story of the fall of man in Genesis 3, because Adam and Eve sinned, they were banned from the Garden of Eden. The woman would have pain in child bearing, the man would toil to produce a living and they would die. And they did die, but not right away. Adam lived to the age of 930. But why did God ban them from the garden?
Typically, our first thought is that God was punishing them. Examined further, we see that God banned them from the garden so that they would not eat of the tree of life and be destined to live forever in a sinful state of existence. Grace sent Adam and Eve from the garden. God’s plan was to send a Savior at a set time in the future.
I encourage you to read the Bible daily and discover the true nature of God for yourself.
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Rob Granger is Senior Pastor of Faith Harbor Church, a non-denominational church that meets at 10 a.m. Sundays in the Escondido Columbus Hall, 515 W. Valley Parkway. His wife, Becky, serves as Co-Pastor. Videos of Pastor Rob’s sermons can be seen on YouTube by typing faith harbor church escondido ca in the YouTube search box. Visit fhcescondido.com for information about Faith Harbor Church.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Times-Advocate.