Sunday, April 22, 2012

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 4c

This is a continuation of my study and review of The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight by Dan Phillips. Scripture quotations are NKJV unless otherwise noted. Block quotes in italics are from the book and are used with permission.

Previous posts covered the central truths of God's love and His holiness. This post will cover a third central truth: God is Wise.

God Only Wise

Because of our sinfulness, without God's love, His holiness, in isolation, would see us condemned to eternal punishment. God can't tolerate sin and sinners and still be God.

          "But God's love gives us a glimmer of hope.
           Perhaps God, in love, could look for a way
           to deal with our plight without compromising
           His holiness. But working out something
           of that magnitude -- dealing with sin as the
           catastrophic offense that it is, while accom-
           plishing and applying some sort of rescue
           and restoration -- would take a degree of
           intelligence and wisdom that we can only

God embodies that sort of wisdom. Dan cites Romans 16:27, which reads, "to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ -- to Him be the glory forever! Amen" (HSCB). I Corinthians 1:24 describes Christ as "the Power of God and the Wisdom of God" (AMP), and Isaiah 11:2 says of the Holy Spirit: "...the Spirit of wisdom and understanding..." (AMP). God, alone, is the source and originator of wisdom. He is not "a wise God" or "the wise God"; He is "the only wise God.

From Genesis 1:1, we see God's wisdom in the creation story. He created everything perfectly from the beginning. God's knowledge is immeasurable, and His wisdom -- knowing how to interpret and apply that knowledge -- is likewise immense and immeasurable. God knows everything and He knows what everything means because He created and rules over everything.

          "...[W]e have neither the right nor the ability
           to redefine the universe, since it is a created
           universe, and since every fact has a value
           assigned by the Creator. Including us. We
           have neither the right nor the ability to
           assign meaning to the universe. Its Author
           is the one who assigns definition and meaning.
           At best, we discover and uncover that meaning."

Dan ends chapter 4 with the following question:

         "So how does God's wisdom combine with
           His holiness and love to have any impact
           on us in our plight?"

Which leads to chapter 5, which will be covered in the next post(s).

Personal Thoughts

This chapter, covering the attributes of God was both reinforcing and eye-opening for me. It's one thing to "know" (on a surface, "I-know-because-I-was-told" level) God is loving, holy and wise. When those attributes were explained, however, it really made me think about my own view of God, how small we are in comparison, and how our supposed goodness and wisdom are anything but. I can appreciate why we need a Savior.

Coming up next...

God's Rescue Operation Outlined

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Falling off the Face of the Earth...

...and blogging from outer space (not really).

My review and study of TWTG will resume shortly.

These past 7 (!) months have been an adventure of ups, downs, coasting along, and lots of introspection, not to mention that my trusty 6.5-year-old Windows XP desktop computer finally gave up the ghost.

The ups: Hubby has been working pretty steadily since the end of October. We've decided to take responsibility for our health and have changed our way of eating. My younger brother (who is disabled) has moved in with us for the summer (at least). Our oldest daughter turned 18. :-)

The downs: We still haven't yet gotten our permanent dwelling moved (finances prevented it last year, weather is hindering it currently). I suffered through a brief battle with depression (much better now). Hubby's grandma passed away 9 days shy of her 92nd birthday. Our oldest daughter turned 18. ;-)

After taking stock of my personal situation, I've made the decision to get myself and my family healthy, to live more simply, and to trust that God will continue to provide. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but things are moving in the right direction. :-)

Since my computer died, the only way I can post is with my Android tablet and Blogger's app (yeah, I know...FirstWorldProblem), so the formatting may not match previous posts. That said, I'm looking forward to continuing the study, and I apologize for the long hiatus.

Have a blessed day! :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 4b

This is a continuation of a series studying "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. Note: Block quotes in italics are from the book, and used with permission. Scripture quotations are NKJV unless otherwise noted.

In the previous post, we covered God's holiness. In this post, we'll look at the second central truth in chapter 4: 

God is Love

We do not know God rightly if we do not know that God is love. We see God displaying His love in His goodness and mercy from the opening pages of Scripture.

God's love isn't mere emotion or cheap sentiment. His love moves Him to act. It overwhelms barriers, smashes obstacles and topples powers. Dan proposes a definition of God's love:
As an attribute of God, love is that motivating excellence which moves Him to plan and act to accomplish what is for His greatest glory, and what is for His people's highest good.
 In other words, God's love is for Himself first. This idea is offensive to many of us. Don't we all think of people who love themselves first as selfish? Isn't selfishness sinful? Well, for anyone else, it is sinful. But God isn't like us.

 Here's what Dan has to say:
Love defines. A person is defined by his loves...God is the infinitely majestic one. Whom or what should God love above all? What worthier object of His love is there than Himself? What object of affection does God have that is worthier than God Himself? After all, God's laws flow from His being, and His prime law is to love God with our all, then to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40). We are to imitate God in our love (Matt. 5:44-45; Eph. 5:1-2). If we are to love Him first, can it shock us to learn that He does the same? If we were to love any creature more than God, it would be idolatry for us. Would it not be the same for God?

God is the center of the universe. He is the sum and essence of perfection and beauty. No one else is deserving of that kind of love, because no one else is God. Period.

Dan highlights 3 truths:
  1. God can no more not love, than He can not be God; however, we must remember...
  2. God's love must be a holy love, since all of God's attributes glow with His holiness; and
  3. God's love always and necessarily and rightly has Himself as its first object.
Why This is World-Tilting

We tend to view God as though He were just like us, but  Isaiah 55:8-11 reads, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

Personal Thoughts

This section of chapter 4 is also a lot to chew on. It is pretty shocking to think that God would put Himself at the top of His "Love List", but if we take the time to consider what the Bible says about Him, it makes sense. God's self-love isn't selfish love. As a defining characteristic, it stands to reason that because God is love, His love would start with himself and flow out toward us. His command to us is to love Him first. I include myself when I ask, "Is God first on my 'Love list'?"




A new installment of the study is coming, most likely tonight.

I have been dealing with depression for a long time. It seems as though I take one step forward only to stumble five steps back. This past month has been one of stumbling back.

I'm working my way forward again. Prayers are requested & always appreciated. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 4a

This is a continuation of a series studying "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. Note: Block quotes in italics are from the book, and used with permission. Scripture quotations are NKJV unless otherwise noted.

As with chapter 3, I will cover chapter 4 in parts. There's a lot of "meat" to "chew on". :)

Part Two of "WTG" begins with Chapter 4, "The God Who Plans". Dan opens the chapter by having us imagine a scene in an operating room, with a major surgery underway. He has us wonder why such a large-scale operation is necessary; what catastrophic condition requires such drastic measures. He segues into a vivid accounting of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying. Dan writes:
"It is nighttime. Before us, we immediately recognize the figure of Jesus Christ - but we are seeing Him as no one has ever seen Him. This man who has stared down thousands of hell's foulest demons without blinking, who has shut up storms with a curt word of command, who has reduced the human powers to babbling, loose-bowelled nonsense - is falling down in horror, and He is pleading with His Father."
 Dan goes on to recount Christ's arrest, trial, crucifixion and death. He doesn't go into excruciating detail, but he doesn't really gloss over the realities, either. His descriptions, while brief, strike the right balance of delivering the facts without going overboard into horror-movie territory. 

Why was Jesus' death on the cross absolutely necessary for the recovery and redemption of man? From what ruin were we saved, and was it really that bad? 

We've learned that by our sin nature, we're dead, doomed, helpless and completely disinterested in seeking a relationship with God as God and Lord, and our own efforts to improve our situation often makes things worse. We must have a biblical understanding of God, to Whom we must give account. 

What Kind of God is God?

The living God of the Bible is described repeatedly and emphatically in moral terms, in language bristling with that element we hate in our postmodern culture: value judgments.
 Dan singles out three of God's traits, the first of which we'll look at in this post. 

God Is Holy

Holiness is a central character trait of God. Isaiah 57:15 reads, "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy." By saying God's "name is Holy", Isaiah is saying that holiness is a fundamental defining trait of God. It is essential to His moral existence.

Holiness is the only attribute of God that is declared in threefold repetition. In Isaiah 6:3 we find seraphim  crying out saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" 

God's holiness will also never change. Revelation 4:8 reads, in part, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come." God was holy, God is holy, and God will always be holy. His holiness must not be isolated from His other attributes, however. Rather, God's holiness describes His other attributes. His love is a holy love. His goodness is a holy goodness, and so forth and so on. 

There is no "God is holy, but"; there is only "God is holy, and."
What, then, is holiness? The basic idea of holiness is separation, apartness, transcendence. God has no rival, peer or equal. He is lofty, removed from mankind and His name is Holy.

God is self-existent, dependent on nothing for His being, unlike everything else. He is independent of creation. By contrast, all created things are dependent on the sustaining work of God the Son, even to the atomic level. Colossians 1:17 says, "And He [Jesus] is before all things, and in Him all things consist."

Dan offers several illustrations of the impact of God's holiness to help us understand. The first illustration is Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush. Moses was told to take his sandals off because the presence of God made it "holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). It was set apart from all the other ground because God's presence was there at that moment.

The second illustration is that God set apart the seventh day as a day of rest because He rested (Genesis 2:3). He later told Israel to set the seventh day apart from the others (Exodus 20:8). 

The third and probably most detailed illustration Dan gives is that of the tabernacle. The description of the tabernacle can be found in Exodus 26. 

What makes all these things holy isn't their physical attributes or any magical qualities. They are "holy" by virtue of their association with God.

God is the original; He is the definition; He is the source. God naturally possesses holiness by virtue of being God. Holiness is not conferred on God, or achieved by Him. He is holy because He is who He is. He is 'the Holy One of Israel.' When we give Him a holy place as Lord in our hearts (Isa. 8:13; 1 Peter 3:15), we add nothing to Him. We are only crediting Him with being what He is in truth.
 In the OT, when anyone is in the presence of God, they are overwhelmed by His holiness. Likewise, when Peter got a brief glimpse of Christ's nature, he was driven to his knees, unable to bear His presence. (Luke 5:8). 

Personal Notes

In our finite minds, it's difficult to grasp God's holiness. We tend to make God "one of the guys". He's not just like us, and we tread on dangerous ground when we try to make God fit our ideas of how we think He should be. That's why it's so vital that we read, learn and understand Scripture. 

This first part of chapter 4 was much easier to read through than it was to try to summarize. :) I strongly encourage you to get a copy of the book (links are at the beginning of each post, and at the right-hand side of the page). As I said at the beginning of this post, there's a lot of well-written "meat". What I've written here is the equivalent of bacon bits, but I am learning as I write. :)

Coming Up Next...

The next post will cover the second Central Truth: God is Love. 

Have a blessed day!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Brief Interlude

To be honest, I'm not sure how brief the interlude will be. Maybe we'll all be surprised. :)

I realize it has been 2 weeks since I posted an installment in the study series. I haven't given up on this project, however. It's something that I feel I need to do, and I am still enthusiastically endorsing the book. I do have a husband and two daughters who also require my attention, so the last couple of weeks have been spent taking care of them (and it's a joy to do so). :) To those who have been following my little blog, I thank you for your patience. :)

My family and I have been through many trials over the past 6 years, and I've come to realize that even when things look bleak, we are blessed. Sometimes, especially when one is in the middle of circumstances, it's difficult to see the point of the trials, and it's difficult not to worry. I've had to ask forgiveness for worrying many, many times, but God has seen us through every valley and strengthened us. He is worthy of all praise, and I am very thankful.

Just sayin'.


The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 3c

This is "Part C" covering chapter 3 of "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips, and a continuation of my study series on the book. Block quotes in italics are from the book and used with permission. Bible verse quotations are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part 3a is here. Part 3b is here.

Dead Like Me

The apostle Paul vividly depicts our natural condition in the book of Ephesians; chapters 2 and 4 specifically. We learn just how bad things were for us, thereby revealing how grand God's salvation through Christ really is.

Ephesians 2:1-3 reads, "And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins in which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God's] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind." (Amplified Bible) 

Dan explains it in plain English:
Paul says that we are dead. Not "resting". Not "pining for the Fjords". Not "getting better". Not "only mostly dead". Not merely sick and weak, though we are that (Rom. 5:6; 8:3). Dead.

Death has no degrees. It is an absolute. If one is dead, that's it. That's how Paul describes our spiritual condition. The Greek word for "dead" means DEAD. All are spiritually dead, bereft of the blessings of God, unable to extricate ourselves from the grip of sin. Sin not only makes us behave badly, it makes us think badly (remember the distorted lens of the heart [mind] in part 1?), and we don't even know it. Without Christ, we are hopeless, helpless, shut off and cut off.

Dan paints a scene, asking us to imagine walking into a morgue. We have an elixir that will bring the dead back to life, but those in the morgue have to get up and drink it. No matter how persuasive we may be, freely offering this life-giving elixir, the dead won't respond. Once again, I'll let Dan speak:
My point: If there is to be a rescue operation for us as children of Adam, aimed at bringing us to anything like God meant us to be, it has to overcome not only our sin and depravity, but the fact that sin makes us utterly uninterested in the solution. In fact, we would be repelled by it.
Proverbs 4:23 reads, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life."

Jeremiah 17:9 reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?"

Ephesians 2:1 reads, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins" 

Romans 8:7 reads, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be."

John 6:44a reads, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him."


The way we see ourselves and the way God sees us are exact opposites. We see ourselves as basically good, or at least having good intentions, lively and living life. God sees that our hearts are desperately wicked and that we're spiritually dead. That sounds like the worst news ever! There is a solution, which will be covered in the next chapters of "The World-Tilting Gospel".

Personal Notes

Reading this section of chapter 3 was a real "light bulb moment" for me. Knowing that because of sin, man's heart is wicked, and that man is spiritually dead, how is it possible for him to want to seek God? Do the dead "choose life"? It is just as impossible for those who are spiritually dead to "choose Christ" as it is for the physically dead to choose to stand up and start breathing again. 

Quite frankly, I was on the fence as to whether we choose or are chosen. In my Bible reading, I couldn't ignore the verses that indicate that it is God who chooses us, and those that say that no one seeks God. But I also felt that maybe it was a case of "God knows who's going to choose and who won't."  Dan's explanation makes sense. Dead is dead, whether it's physical or spiritual, and it's God who brings life. We don't have the capability in and of ourselves.

Coming Up Next

We'll be moving on to Part Two of "The World-Tilting Gospel", where Dan asks, "What Has God Done for Us? The Eternal Plan Conceived, Predicted, Executed."

God willing, it won't be two weeks before the next post. :)