“God Is Everywhere” ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Satan before the Lord
Satan before the Lord (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I should climb up to heaven, thou art there; if I sink down to the world beneath, thou art present still. ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX )

A puzzle here in David’s words and in the oral rendition of the story of Job – God is everywhere! We imagine God is incapable of being in the presence of evil, but that is obviously not so. Yes, He turns from His Son at the Cross when all the sins of the world attach themselves to Jesus; but God is found even if we climb to the heavens or descend to the realms of death and hell. That the Lord comes into the presence of the Enemy, Satan is evident in the beginning moments of the story of Job.

One day, when the heavenly powers stood waiting upon the Lord’s presence, and among them, man’s Enemy, the Lord asked him, where he had been? Roaming about the earth, said he, to and fro about the earth.Why then, the Lord said, thou hast seen a servant of mine called Job. Here is a true man, an honest man, none like him on earth; ever he fears his God, and keeps far from wrong-doing. Job fears his God, the Enemy answered, and loses nothing by it. 10 Sheltered his life by thy protection, sheltered his home, his property; thy blessing on all he undertakes; worldly goods that still go on increasing; he loses nothing. 11 One little touch of thy hand, assailing all that wealth of his! Then see how he will turn and blaspheme thee. 12 Be it so, the Lord answered; with all his possessions do what thou wilt, so thou leave himself unharmed. And with that, the Enemy left the Lord’s presence, and withdrew. ( Job 1: 6-12, KNOX )

God’s ability and willingness to be in the presence of the Enemy is nearly as difficult to understand and accept as His ability and willingness to suffer and die. God is engaged with death and evil. To think He is not is to misunderstand Him. God does not create death and evil; but He allows both. In so many ways, He uses both. Why?

Some would say, “To manifest His Power.”

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“How Few There Are” ( Matthew 7:13-14 KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Straight And Narrow Road
(Photo credit: Bradley.Johnson.)

Jesus warns “few there are that find it.” The ‘it’ He mentions is “life.” Apparently, according to Jesus, the many find death easily; without trying. Why is that? Perhaps because death is our natural state; we are, indeed, in a state of perpetual dying. Jesus says,

Make your way in by the narrow gate. It is a broad gate and a wide road that leads on to perdition, and those who go in that way are many indeed; but how small is the gate, how narrow the road that leads on to life, and how few there are that find it!

Jesus says the way “that leads on to life” is difficult to find. The gate is small; the road is narrow. He implies this way is hidden. What makes the way to life so hard to locate? What makes the gate small? Why is the road narrow?

Perdition – hell, the underworld, death, punishment – is a broad and straight path. “And those who go in that way are many indeed,” says Jesus. The way to hell is an easy road to find because we start out on it, right from birth. We walk along with others, vaguely or painfully aware of its ultimate destination – our deaths. Some of us know that death is eternal; others do not. The gate to the other path is not obvious, according to Jesus. Rather, that path is small, narrow, hidden.

Who opens the eyes?

I think Paul tells us quite clearly that God the Holy Spirit enables the few to find the way to life. Why those few? An impossible question with an improbable answer – God selects. He is under no obligation to show mercy, but He does.

Such a hard Word. Paul responds with:

14 What does this mean? That God acts unjustly? That is not to be thought of.15 I will shew pity, he tells Moses, on those whom I pity; I will shew mercy where I am merciful;16 the effect comes, then, from God’s mercy, not from man’s will, or man’s alacrity. 17 Pharao, too, is told in scripture, This is the very reason why I have made thee what thou art, so as to give proof, in thee, of my power, and to let my name be known all over the earth.18 Thus he shews mercy where it is his will, and where it is his will he hardens men’s hearts.19 Hereupon thou wilt ask, If that is so, how can he find fault with us, since there is no resisting his will? 20 Nay, but who art thou, friend, to bandy words with God? Is the pot to ask the potter, Why hast thou fashioned me thus? 21 Is not the potter free to do what he will with the clay, using the same lump to make two objects, one for noble and one for ignoble use? 22 It may be that God has borne, long and patiently, with those who are the objects of his vengeance, fit only for destruction, meaning to give proof of that vengeance, and display his power at last;23 meaning also to display, in those who are the objects of his mercy, how rich is the glory he bestows, that glory for which he has destined them.

24 We are the objects of his mercy; we, whom he has called, Jews and Gentiles alike. [Romans 9: 14-24, KNOX]

“You Too Were Chosen Out” ( Ephesians 1: 3-14, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Recently I’ve had more difficulty with the idea that some will spend eternity in hell. Always bothered me that a god with infinite power to save would then allow some to perish. I know there are Christian sects ( cults? ) that believe all will be saved. After all, God so loved the world – the whole world, it seems. Yet, the Word clearly teaches the reality of a hell, of an eternal separation from God.

I also believe the Word teaches that God ultimately is the one who decides. This is so obvious to me I find it hard to understand how others push against this truth. God chose Abel over Cain, Joseph over his brothers, Abram and Sarai over every other couple ( and this despite their age! ), Moses over Pharaoh, Jacob over Esau, Mary over every other young woman in all of human history. That God chooses specific individuals is clear. Yes, I hear you. You argue that God chose these people for specific tasks. I argue God just chose them, period.

Paul writes so eloquently of God’s sovereign desire to save.

3Blessed be that God, that Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself. He has chosen us out, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to be saints, to be blameless in his sight, for love of him;marking us out beforehand (so his will decreed) to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ. Thus he would manifest the splendour of that grace by which he has taken us into his favour in the person of his beloved Son. It is in him and through his blood that we enjoy redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. So rich is God’s grace, that has overflowed upon us in a full stream of wisdom and discernment, to make known to us the hidden purpose of his will. It was his loving design, centred in Christ, 10 to give history its fulfilment by resuming everything in him, all that is in heaven, all that is on earth, summed up in him. 11 In him it was our lot to be called, singled out beforehand to suit his purpose (for it is he who is at work everywhere, carrying out the designs of his will); 12 we were to manifest his glory, we who were the first to set our hope in Christ; 13 in him you too were called, when you listened to the preaching of the truth, that gospel which is your salvation. In him you too learned to believe, and had the seal set on your faith by the promised gift of the Holy Spirit; 14 a pledge of the inheritance which is ours, to redeem it for us and bring us into possession of it, and so manifest God’s glory.

We are God’s possession. We have the promised Holy Spirit. We are washed clean and blessed by His Son’s blood. We are chosen out from before the foundation of the world to be saints!

Everything is summed up in Christ, all things in heaven and on earth.

“A Puzzle” ( Galatians 6:7-8, WYC ) by Carley Evans


English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded ...
English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded woodcarved relief by Martin Vinazer (* 1674 in St. Ulrich in Gröden; † 1744) signed MVF (MV Fecit) Deutsch: Gefasstes Holzrelief des Martin Vinatzer gezeichnet MVF (MV Fecit) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Puzzling, yes? The Word of God teaches us two things which appear to be opposed. We are taught that God can not be scorned; that if we continue in sin, we pay the ultimate price – we die eternally, in corruption.

Roman Catholics get around this puzzle by teaching that some sin is minor – deemed venial or ‘easily forgiven’ – and does not lead to corruption while other sin is major – deemed mortal or ‘deadly’ – and will lead to eternal death, i.e. to damnation of the soul.

The bulk of the New Testament seems to teach, on the other hand, that sin is sin – that all sin leads to corruption. The problem then for mankind is what to do about sin. In Romans 7, Paul speaks of his woe – that the good he wants to do he can not do. He asks who will rescue him from his body of sin and death and then praises God that it is Christ who secures that rescue.

Yet, here in his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul warns that sin somehow hasn’t been nailed to the cross with Jesus.

“Do not ye err, God is not scorned; for those things that a man soweth, those things he shall reap [for why what things a man soweth, also these things he shall reap]. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh he shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the Spirit, of the Spirit he shall reap everlasting life.”

Then there are those who claim that Christians – if they are true Christians – never sin. I presume this belief is to reconcile themselves to the many scriptural passages that imply that if a Christian commits a sin, then God can not be in his or her body. After all, a Christian is the temple of God the Holy Spirit. How can a holy God dwell inside an unholy thing?

Yet, Paul speaks of the deeds done in the body that are unworthy of God burning off as the Christian passes from life into death and from there into eternal life – the mortal being swallowed up by the immortal, so to speak. In these passages, Paul implies that Christians do indeed sin. We makes mistakes, yet we are saved though as through fire.

Sometimes, I imagine Paul himself struggling to fully understand the good news. The good news that we are saved while we are still sinners, that God loves us so much that He considers us His friends while we are still His mortal enemies.

Why would God die for us while we are dead in sin, and then turn away from us because we fail? I can’t imagine. I don’t think Paul was able to imagine that, either. Instead, he reminds us that God’s love for us is higher and deeper and wider than anything we have ever known; that Jesus Christ does for us more than we will ever understand while we remain on this earth.

“The Door Of The Sheep” ( John 10:7, 9-10; WYC ) by Carley Evans


Walled garden
Walled garden (Photo credit: recursion_see_recursion)

Several doors exist to a legendary walled garden. The wall is massive, taller than any you’ve seen before. Behind the wall is a pasture filled with wildflowers and massive trees with golden waterfalls and still, sweet water lakes. You’ve not been inside yet, but you know the garden exists; you hope it does. Here on the outside, the grass has long died and dust kicks up from the ground into your eyes. The odor of the dead surrounds you, and you want to escape.

All the doors in the walled garden speak – very strange. All tell you they are the only way into the garden. Only one door stands open, however. This door has a Name because it is a Person rather than a thing. The other doors shout or whisper, “You must find the key and hope it fits.”

But, the open door says:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. I am the door. If any man shall enter by me, he shall be saved; and he shall go in, and shall go out, and he shall find pastures. A night thief cometh not, but that he steal, slay, and destroy; and I came, that they have life, and have more plenteously.”

“Eternal Life” ( John 17: 3, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“This is eternal life: that [we] may know You, the only true God, and the One You send — Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) I’m always a bit bewildered that people don’t seem to realize they are in hell. Obviously some people are extremely aware of being in hell — their circumstances make their condition painfully obvious. For others, however, this earth has many pleasures — its natural beauty is one of its best attributes. Of course, we owe that entirely to the Creator. But, after the fall into sin by Adam and Eve, we — in our natural state — also find ourselves in trapped in hell. Remember the angels usher us out of the garden of Eden and bare the way back.

Jesus reveals God to us. As we accept Him as God — that is, Lord and Savior, Healer and Coming King — we are ushered out of hell and into His kingdom. Because we remain on this earth for a time, we may be very aware of the trappings of hell around us. But, we are not of this world. We are foreigners, waiting for our full inheritance, our heavenly country, as the author of Hebrews writes.

Knowing God is eternal life.

“Satan’s Song; God’s Answer” ( Isaiah 14: 12, ESV ) by Carley Evans


Lucifer, called ‘Day Star, son of Dawn’ and functioning as one of God’s great angels, decides at some point in his service to the Almighty to seek to “ascend above the heights of the clouds; [and to] make [himself] like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14) Lucifer’s pride and haughty spirit goes before his fall. (Proverbs 16:18) Since the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind reflects Lucifer turned Satan. Truly, mankind is made in the image of God, but our reflection is now of Satan, not of God.

God the Holy Spirit says to Satan, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who lay the nations low! But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who makes the earth tremble, who shakes kingdoms, who makes the world like a desert and overthrows its cities, who does not let his prisoners go home?’ ” (Isaiah 14:12,15-17)

And, we are Satan’s prisoners. We are his prisoners until and unless we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. “For God so loves the world, that He gives His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God does not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already.” (John 3:16-18)