One day an employee walked into my office carrying one of my books and said, "You mean God will save the most evil people and I have to go through all this?"
She was disgusted with what she had read and immediately resigned and stormed out of my office in a fit.
Faith that saves
I believe God looks on hypocrisy as more significant than goodness, as illustrated in the life of King David. God sees faith as of utmost importance for salvation, and not how "righteous" you are.
Yet at the same time God demands holiness, sinlessness.
When reading the various passages concerning these subjects in the Bible, the reader could conceivably conclude that God is contradicting Himself.
For some, these kinds of apparent contradictions can keep them from believing God. They have no faith because they are offended by what they see as God's inconsistencies.
Here's another apparent contradiction: Sometimes God allows His saints to suffer. But why would God do that?
Faith and suffering
Paul, in Hebrews 11, wrote about people of faith who suffered greatly. They endured trials "of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisoned: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented ... And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, never received the promise."
God allows His saints to suffer so their faith, during their suffering, can serve as a witness to others.
God, although our loving Father, must permit such misery for an important reason. These sinners are His chosen people. When they repent, God loves them, even though they were the vilest sinners in the past (Ephesians 1:4).
Does this seem contradictory? Since God wants everyone saved, why doesn't He treat everyone the same?
Abraham always obeyed God's voice in faith by keeping His commandments and statutes, along with the Torah (Genesis 6:5). Abraham did all this by faith. This is faith with works, godly works. That is why Abraham is called the father of the faithful.
When people repent of their sins, God always forgives them. If you sin but are sincerely sorry and truly repent from the depths of your heart, God will forgive you.
God always blesses faith with works, such as Abraham had. Faith in God is vital for your salvation.
What about doctrine?
Doctrine, a set of required beliefs, cannot save you. Your righteousness, like Job's, cannot save you. Only faith will save you.
When Job (who was perfect in all his ways) was experiencing the plagues from Satan, he wanted to go before God to plead his case. Why did Job express that desire?
When all of Job's friends tried to make him see he was a sinner, God intervened. It wasn't a matter of sin, for Job was perfect in all his ways. Even when his children frolicked at their birthday parties, Job would make a sacrifice just in case one of his children sinned. Job did not take a chance.
Job was guiltless before the law. So how could he have sinned?
Job lacked true knowledge. Sin doesn't keep you from salvation when you repent. When Job got the point that God knows right from wrong, a conclusion that required faith on Job's part, he said to God: "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6).
It looks like Job was self-righteous. He lacked faith. Unlike Abraham and King David, who had faith, Job's self-righteousness revealed his lack of trust in God.
Saving faith demands total trust in God. Jesus took all the pain or torture and still trusted His Father. That is why Christ's suffering on the cross could pay for your sins (even though others were crucified on a cross as well).
Jesus was different from other human beings. He endured His suffering, without committing any sin, because He knew in faith that God would resurrect Him.
Faith is the greatest gift God gives you. Now you know how important it is. But you still need to learn from the Bible why God says faith is so necessary for salvation.
The Torah, the first five books of the Bible, with Deuteronomy as the fifth of those, became the law. Some believe the Torah is the law. But the Torah didn't contain the law until God added it to it 430 years after Abraham (Galatians 3:17).
The Torah existed for thousands of years before the law. In fact, the Torah began at the time of creation. The Torah became the law when transgression occurred. Sin happened, and the law then became the Torah.
As Israel began its journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites sinned, and God had to add the law.
Why was the law necessary as an added part of the Torah?
Israel lacked faith. The Israelites could not enter the Promised land because they lacked faith. Sin didn't keep the Israelites out of God's property; their lack of faith did (Hebrews 4:3).
Why did they lack faith? Because they had a wrong heart. They didn't have God's heart. They didn't understand the way God thinks.
The real issue
Faith is the real issue, not the transgression. God recognized the Israelites' weakness, which was a lack of faith. So God gave Israel another chance by giving a law that allowed them to become citizens on God's property.
God, from this point, decided He could not permit Israel onto His property unless the Israelites kept the Torah law. If they had had a right heart and had had faith in God, no law would have been necessary. Like Abraham, they could have, in faith, obeyed God's voice when they heard it without there being a need for a law (Genesis 6:5).
A law by definition is a court matter, which includes judgments and curses. A law is not a law unless penalties exist to support it.
Abraham obeyed God's voice in keeping the Commandments because of his faith, without the necessity of a law. Abraham had a right heart, whereas Israel did not. That is what God said about Israel when He gave the nation His Commandments:
"O that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever" (Deuteronomy 5:29).
Another way to describe God's law is "love," a deep, caring affection for His children, even when they have a wrong heart, whether they know better or not (John 3:16).
God gave His law as a command to the Israelites because their hearts were unconverted. This law imposed curses, or penalties, so that the Israelites could catch the vision of what God expected of them.
The Old Covenant law of Moses had severe penalties to keep God's people from sin or, worse, from being a transgressor on God's property. They had a wrong heart, or desire, but strict adherence to the law made them legally righteous. The law was their righteousness (Deuteronomy 6:25).
Love--godly love--fulfills, or completes, the law (Romans 13:10).
God's law is holy, just and good, because God's love generates His laws. Love and God's laws are one and the same.
God writes His laws into your heart and mind through His Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
A true Christian does not need to have God's laws written down to remind him what sin is. God's love miraculously writes His laws into your very thoughts and desires.
A true Christian who has the law written in his heart would never think of lying, stealing or murdering.
"For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
God's seven earthly houses
Seven times God gave mankind an opportunity to dwell with Him on earth. On seven separate occasions God built a house as a place where individuals could prepare to live with Him.
What were those seven houses, and why did there have to be seven of them before God gave man a chance to live with Him?
No. 1: The house of rest
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and everything in God's first earthly house was very good (Genesis 1:31).
Adam and Eve lived with God in the Garden of Eden and could have lived in paradise forever had they eaten of the tree of life.
There was no law (Adam and Eve had total liberty) because they were in the first house, the house of rest.
What was their sin? Their sin was that they missed the mark of life. That is, they lacked faith in God.
Because Adam and Eve lacked faith, God would no longer dwell with them.
No. 2: The tabernacle
God gave His great property to Abraham, who had proven his faith. Abraham had Isaac by a miracle. When Jacob became Israel, the 12 tribes grew to become many nations.
God allowed Israel to become slaves in Egypt. Why was that necessary? Like Adam and Eve, the Israelites sinned. They were afraid to enter God's property (Canaan) because of the people who lived there. Only Joshua and Caleb had the faith.
Not only were the Israelites faithless, they continued to sin. God gave them His Ten Commandments and within 40 days they built the golden calf and worshiped it. God would not dwell with them because they lacked faith and sinned.
This second house was a big tent, the tabernacle in the wilderness.
No. 3: Solomon's temple
Solomon built God's third house on earth. It had to wait for Solomon because David had sinned with Bathsheba, causing her husband to be assassinated in battle. David was a bloody man of war. Solomon, a man of peace, built the third house of God.
But over time Israel again began to lose faith in God and sought her "lovers" (the nations and businesses around her) instead of God (Isaiah 1).
After Assyria took the 10 tribes captive, God had Nebuchadnezzar take Judah captive. Now Israel's lovers took over God's property. This period was known as the times of the gentiles.
No. 4: The second temple
After 70 years God, because of Daniel's prayers, allowed Judah (the Jews in Babylon) to return to Jerusalem to build God's fourth earthly house.
King Herod completed this house of God--the temple--when Jesus lived on earth as a human.
The Jews rejected their Savior, the Messiah. They corrupted the temple, the house of God, by making a business of it. God cursed Judah and this fourth house (Malachi 4:6). Titus destroyed this temple in A.D. 70.
No. 5: Minds and hearts
The fifth house was to be a spiritual construction. Now, rather than dwelling in a physical house, God would dwell in the minds and hearts of those who repented and received God's Spirit.
God desires spiritual worship because God is a Spirit (John 4).
Christians became God's temple (1 Corinthians 3:17). This temple was to be holy by faith through God's Spirit. The Holy Spirit was to lead God's temple (Christians) to all truth (John 1:17).
But, by the end of the 1st century, God's temple, the Church of God, had lost its faith.
By A.D. 325, at the Council of Nicaea, Emperor Constantine took over God's church, Christianity.
At this time the Churches of God were under gentile control. That was why Jesus tells His people in Babylon to "come out of her" (Revelation 18:4).
No. 6: The millennial temple
The sixth house, seen from our perspective, is yet future. It will be built of stone.
The temple will be reinstituted during the Millennium to announce the wedding feast of the Groom and Bride (Ezekiel 40-48).
The law of Moses, the Old Covenant, will again be in force to bring the world to Christ.
The final battle, with Gog and Magog, will take place at the end of the millennial engagement period. This will be a test to see who is worthy.
Jesus will destroy His enemies, and the Great White Throne Judgment will take place.
All will be invited to the wedding feast, both good and bad (Matthew 22). Thus will end God's sixth house.
No. 7: The New Jerusalem
You are ready for God's seventh earthly house: the new earth, on which God will make all things new. It will be the time of the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.
What began in the Garden of Eden will be restored (Isaiah 46:10).
It won't be doctrine or how good you are that allows you to enter God's seventh house, the New Jerusalem. It will be a point of faith: how faithful you have remained to allow God's Holy Spirit to grow in you spiritually.
His Spirit is the only way for you to become holy and guiltless like Christ. God, by His Spirit, will be "all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28; Romans 5:5).
You cannot earn righteousness by keeping the law of Moses.
Trying to please God doesn't give you His righteousness either. Nothing that you as a human can do, none of your works, allows you to dwell in paradise.
Only by faith in God and receiving His Spirit are you made holy. Then, as a gift, God will allow you to dwell in His temple.
Spiritual and physical
Of the seven temples on earth, three have been spiritual and four physical. This final temple of the Church of God is a spiritual place.
The three spiritual temples all come through God's Spirit and are the tree of life. The four physical temples are physical dwellings that require man's works. Every time one sinned by transgressing the law of Moses, some guilty person had to make a sacrifice.
These human works were to lead the Israelites to Christ. They couldn't change the sinner to make him perfect (Hebrews 7). Only faith in Christ could make the sinner perfect, through God's Spirit.
God will make all things new, a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no death, pain, sorrow or crying. This will be paradise restored, as in the beginning, the alpha and omega.
In all of God's seven houses, only faith in Him can save. Each of the first six could not continue because the people lacked faith. It is obvious throughout the Bible that all God wants is for Christians to have faith in Him, even to their death.
God has planned it so He can be absolutely assured that His government will be a continual paradise based on faith. God's love completes the law so all can be holy like Him.
Faith saves! Faith is the proof of your love! It is the only way to guarantee peace.
Most children love their parents. Most parents love their children. Most husbands and wives love each other. God loves you. But He has the power and ability to give you life in paradise, eternally.
You don't have to be a gambler to realize that if ever there was a sure thing this is it!