God Remembers

“And God remembered Noah…”

– Genesis 8:1

God does not forget like we forget, but He does remember.

Once a year my wife and I fly from our home in Nevada to visit my parents in New Jersey. When the visit is over, we fly back home. The trip takes about five hours. If the flight is during the day, I like to look out the window to see where we are. Below I see cities and towns and the Appalachian mountains. Later I see the Mississippi river, then the plains, followed by the Rocky Mountains. But when the canyonlands of the southwest come into view, I know soon the pilot will remember to adjust the controls to begin our descent. It was always the pilot’s intention to land the aircraft at our destination, but first he had to fly the plane at cruising altitude for a while before he put that plan into action. It would have been useless to ask the pilot to land the plane early, for then we would not have arrived at our intended destination. In the same way, some time must elapse before God “remembers” and acts to begin a new phase of His plan.

In Genesis 7, God sent the flood to destroy all life on the earth except for Noah and those with him on the ark. For forty days and nights, the floodwaters increased until they covered everything. But it was never God’s plan for the human race to live on a permanent cruise. When the 40 days were over, God remembered Noah by turning off the heavenly spigots so the waters could begin to recede. God said earlier the rain would last for 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:4), and in the fullness of time, He acted to save Noah.

God remembered other people in the Bible, and every time He remembered, He acted in some way to change their circumstance…

  • In Genesis 19:29, He remembered Abraham by saving Lot. In the previous chapter, the patriarch reasoned with God to save his brother from the doomed city of Sodom. When God did so, He acted by sending His angels to bring Lot, his wife and daughters out of the city before it was destroyed. So God remembered Abraham.
  • In Genesis 30:22, God remembered Rachel. Like the other wives of the patriarchs, Rachel was barren. But in God’s perfect time, He acted to enable her to conceive. Earlier in Genesis 21:1, God “visited” Sarah to enable her to conceive, which is another way of saying He remembered her. God also remembered Hannah the same way in 1 Samuel 1:19, 2:21.
  • In Exodus 2:24, God remembered His people suffering in Egyptian slavery. God had told Abraham his descendants would be slaves in Egypt for four hundred years (Genesis 15:13), but only at the end of the four hundred years did He deliver them from their oppressors.
  • In Luke 1:72, Zechariah gave praise to God for remembering His people by sending Jesus to save them. Hundreds, even thousands, of years had passed since God promised to send a Savior, and in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4), He acted to do so.

In each of these examples, God’s people were going through a difficult phase of life. Those who knew the character of God waited patiently for Him, trusting in His wisdom and timing. When we call on God to remember us in our suffering, it is not because we think He has forgotten us (…at least we shouldn’t think that way), but because we desire Him to act now on our behalf. Before He acts, we wait patiently for Him to remember us. But whether we trust Him or not, He will do so and bring us into a new and better phase of life. For a time, life is hard, then God makes it better. Knowing God remembers is the basis of our work and prayers of faith.

For God is not unrighteous, so as to forget your work and the labor of love which you showed toward his name, in that you served the saints, and still do serve them.

– Hebrews 6:10

God does not always act in ways that are beneficial to us. If we rebel against God, He allows it to go on for a time to give us ample opportunity to repent. Just as when God remembers for good, there can be a long period of time before He acts to repay our evil, but eventually He does so if we remain stubborn and refuse to repent.

  • In Jeremiah 14:10-12, after hundreds of years of repeated warnings, God remembered the sin and idolatry of His people and acted to punish them.
  • On a much larger scale, God will soon remember “Babylon”, the great anti-God world system (Revelation 16:19, 18:5). At that time, He will cause her to drink to the dregs the full cup of His wrath.

For good or for evil, you can count on the fact that God always remembers. One of the differences between the righteous and the wicked is that the righteous know God remembers, so when they sin (for everyone sins), they repent, seek forgiveness, and trust in His mercy and forgiveness. But the wicked don’t know God remembers. They continue in sin because they’re unaware of the consequences of their rebellion. They don’t believe God will pay them back for their actions.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

– 2 Corinthians 5:10

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

– Revelation 20:11-15

This is why, in the book of Acts, the need for salvation in Jesus focused on the final judgment rather than where people would spend eternity. The roads to both heaven and hell go through the judgment seat of Christ.

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

– Acts 17:30-31

Of course, everybody sins. Everybody does things that offend God. If God were to remember our sins, we would have no hope. (“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” – Psalm 130:3) But God has provided a way for sins to be forgotten for those who humble themselves and repent. This Way is based solely on God’s remembering Jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice. Jesus’ death on the cross is the sole means by which God forgets our sins.

You can use this fact to your advantage. You now have a choice as to how God will remember you. He can remember you for good, or He can remember you for evil. He can remember you for eternal life, or remember you for eternal torment. Billions of people have gone to hell when they didn’t have to. It takes virtually nothing on your part for Him to remember you for life. All you need to do is humble yourself before Him, repent and put your trust in Jesus, and God will remember you for life. I strongly recommend you choose life.

“…he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

– Acts 10:42-43

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will by no means remember any longer.

– Hebrews 8:12

VoS Second Edition Giveaway

Goodread.com is hosting a give-away for the second edition of my book, How To Gain Victory Over Sin. The give-away is August 19 to 27. You could be one of 10 winners. Click the link below for more information.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How To Gain Victory Over Sin by Andrew Bernhardt

How To Gain Victory Over Sin

by Andrew Bernhardt

Giveaway ends August 27, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

VoS Second Edition Now Available

Cover image for book Victory Over SinThe second edition of my book, How To Gain Victory Over Sin is now available. As with the first edition, this one is free in e-book form from Google Play, Smashwords, or here. Kindle users’ have to pay 99 cents because Amazon won’t let me charge any less. Because the book has more pages, the price for the paperback is a little higher than the first edition, but it’s still pretty cheap ($7).

This new edition contains additional articles on sanctification, plus an appropriate and helpful chapter from Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s excellent book, All Of Grace. The original content has been updated slightly, and as before, there’s an over-abundance of endnotes if you need them.

I also completely redesigned the cover, using imagery related to the book’s dandelion illustration.

Information about this book, and my first book, Seeing Jesus, is available on my books pages.

How To Gain Victory Over Sin – Second Edition

Cover image for book Victory Over SinIt’s been two and a half years since I published my book How To Gain Victory Over Sin. Since that time, I’ve been working on updating and expanding it. The second edition is now virtually complete and I’ve received my proof copies from Amazon to look over. Aside from tweaking the cover and correcting any last-minute typos, the book should be available within a month.

While the first book hasn’t been a best seller (I don’t have a big company doing advertising for me), it has done well. Google Play currently shows a 4.7 star rating, and GoodReads.com a 4.6 star rating. The e-book is free through Google Play and Smashwords. Kindle charges 99 cents over which I have no control. The printed book is 6 dollars. The second edition will also be a free e-book, and the printed edition might go up a dollar since the book is bigger.

Here’s a short excerpt from the second edition…

Two thousand years ago, a couple of missionaries established some churches in what is now central Turkey. The region was then a Roman province called Galatia, and the missionaries, Paul and Barnabas, were on their first missionary journey.

The first city in the province they came to was Antioch of Pisidia. When they arrived, Paul preached the message of justification by faith apart from works of the law of Moses. Many Jews and Gentiles gladly heard and believed the message, but some Jews who didn’t raised a persecution against the missionaries and ran them out of town.

In Iconium, Paul again preached the gospel. As before, many believed, and many didn’t. The Jews who didn’t believe stirred up the people to violence, forcing Paul and Barnabas to flee from that city as well.

In Lystra, they proclaimed Christ to the people again, but the Jews from Antioch and Iconium followed them there and moved the crowds to stone Paul to death. Thinking he was dead, they dragged him out of the city. But Paul survived, and, ignoring the danger to himself, he revisited those same cities, urging the new believers to continue in the faith and endure the persecutions that would result. But it wasn’t long after Paul and Barnabas left the region that the young believers allowed the enemies of the gospel to come in and teach a different “gospel,” and this is where the letter to the Galatians comes in.

The epistle to the Galatians is somewhat unique among Paul’s letters to the churches. It is the only one where Paul did not give thanks to God for his readers. Instead of thanksgiving, Paul expressed his alarm:

I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different “good news”…

This church had some serious problems…worse even than that of the carnal Corinthians. Only in this letter does Paul warn his readers of a curse, and only in this letter does he come close to losing his temper. After all the suffering he went through to bring the gospel to them, Paul was frustrated to see them falling away so quickly. Why was this happening?

When Paul departed from Galatia, he not only left behind new believers, he left behind the Jewish legalists that persecuted him. With Paul gone, they were able to freely attack the churches with the Law of Moses.

But Paul didn’t abandon the young Gentile believers. Having witnessed the same problem in his home church as well, he traveled to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to address this very issue with the other apostles.

Guilt: What To Do With It

Are you struggling with feelings of guilt? Are you ashamed of something you have done recently? Perhaps your whole life has been one failure after another. You’re powerless to do what is right. You can’t stop doing the things you do. While you may have given up a long time ago, there is hope. You just have to look beyond yourself and look to God who already has provided a solution to your problem!

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

– Luke 18:27

When it comes to guilt, you’re not alone. Everyone has done wrong. Some people pride themselves in being ‘law-abiding citizens’, however there is not one person who has not broken God’s law and offended Him in some way. It’s human nature.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

– Romans 3:23

God is absolutely righteous (morally good), but we are not. We may try to do things that please Him at times, but even our best is futile in God’s eyes:

We are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.

– Isaiah 64:6

The problem with the wrong we do is that it cuts us off from God. He cannot look on sin because it goes against His nature, and He will not violate His nature.

Your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

– Isaiah 59:2

The wrong things we do cut us off from God. The Bible calls this separation “death”:

The soul who sins shall die.

– Ezekiel 18:4

For the wages of sin is death…

– Romans 6:23

The short-term consequences are bad enough. The long-term consequences are unthinkable. Unless sin can be dealt with, we will spend an eternity in hell, separated from God forever:

“The Son of Man [Jesus] will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

– Matthew 13:41-42

It sure sounds hopeless. And it would be, except that God still loves sinners…

God loves you!

These are not just empty words. He proved it by providing a way out of our dilemma. Two thousand years ago, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to pay the penalty of sin for you and I. He lived the perfect life we could not live, and then He willingly died a shameful and agonizing death on a cross in our place so that we could live eternally with God!

For when we were still without strength [i.e. without hope], in due time Christ died for the ungodly. … God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

– Romans 5:6-8

Jesus’ death was no accident. It was part of God’s plan from the beginning. 700 years before His birth, Isaiah prophesied about Jesus:

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. … By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. … He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

– Isaiah 53

God did not have to do this. But He loved you and me so much, He sent His Son to pay the complete penalty for our sin. To prove that Jesus’ death was acceptable, God raised Him from the dead, and now Jesus is at God’s right-hand, interceding (mediating) for those who trust in Him. It is His intercession that ensures those who trust in Him will never be separated from God:

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:33-39

Once you place your trust in Jesus, sin no longer separates you from God because Jesus’ blood continually cleanses you from your sin:

The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

– 1 John 1:7

Once you place your trust in Jesus, you are perfect as far as God’s acceptance of you is concerned:

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

– Hebrews 10:14

I have placed my trust in Jesus Christ to save me. You can too. All you have to do to be saved is:

1. Recognize you are guilty before God,

2. Recognize God’s offering of mercy through Jesus Christ’s death,

3. Desire no longer to live for yourself but for God,

4. Ask God to save you, trusting only in Jesus’ work on the cross.

When you’ve had it with the results of doing things your way, try God’s way. Turn your life over to Jesus. He lived the perfect life you could not live, and died to pay the penalty for your sin.

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

– Ephesians 2:8-9

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

– 2 Corinthians 5:21

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 6:23

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

– John 3:16-17

There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

– Acts 4:12

And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

– John 6:40

Saddam and Nebuchadnezzar

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold.

– Daniel 3:1

..and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power … for the glory of my majesty?”

– Daniel 4:30

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; …

– Isaiah 13:19-20a

Here’s an extract from wikipedia that I grabbed several years ago…

“In 1983, Saddam Hussein started rebuilding the city on top of the old ruins (because of this, artifacts and other finds may well be under the city by now), investing in both restoration and new construction. He inscribed his name on many of the bricks in imitation of Nebuchadnezzar. One frequent inscription reads:

“This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq”. This recalls the ziggurat at Ur, where each individual brick was stamped with “Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, who built the temple of Nanna”. These bricks became sought after as collectors’ items after the downfall of Hussein, and the ruins are no longer being restored to their original state. He also installed a huge portrait of himself and Nebuchadnezzar at the entrance to the ruins, and shored up Processional Way, a large boulevard of ancient stones, and the Lion of Babylon, a black rock sculpture about 2,600 years old.”

“When the Gulf War ended, Saddam wanted to build a modern palace, also over some old ruins; it was made in the pyramidal style of a Sumerian ziggurat. He named it Saddam Hill. In 2003, he was ready to begin the construction of a cable car line over Babylon when the invasion began and halted the project.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon

I find it interesting how Saddam, identifying himself as Nebuchadnezzar, sought glory for his kingdom… and then his rule ended. This prophecy may be the main reason the United States ousted Saddam from Iraq.

The article goes on to say UN officials and Iraqi leader have plans to restore Babylon as a cultural center. In 2009 it was opened as a tourist site, but according to biblical prophecy, it will never be an inhabited city.

The Meaning Of Yahweh’s Name

Israel went through a time of slavery in Egypt. God had told Abram this would happen beforehand (Genesis 15:13), but He allowed it to happen anyway. Slavery is evil, but God always has a purpose and is able to bring good to His people out of anything.

Whatever manner God deals with His people, whether through something He does or something He allows, it is always to bring glory to Himself. Glory is simply the revealing of God’s character and nature such that we can understand and appreciate Him better. So to find out why the Israelites were enslaved, we need to ask how God revealed His character and nature through the situation. What do we learn about God from this time?

Remember when God told Abram what would happen to His descendants, He also promised to bring great good out of it? Abraham received many promises from God, but he never saw them fulfilled (Hebrews 11:13). Abraham continued to believe God in spite of this, but I wonder what everyone else thought? Imagine you’re one of Abram’s neighbors – say, an idol-worshiping Canaanite. You hear Abram say his God (of whom you know nothing) made a bunch of promises to him… but years go by and, even though Abram dies, you never see them fulfilled. Wouldn’t you think his God is no different than your god? After all, your god never fulfilled any promises either.

Four hundred years later, God appeared to Moses and said He was now going to act to fulfill the promises made to Abraham (Exodus 3:8). But the Israelites didn’t know God anymore. He was the stuff of legends to them. He hadn’t spoken in hundreds of years. Moses had to ask who God was so he could tell his people (Exodus 3:13-15). It was then that God gave His name: Yahweh (Jehovah).

Exodus 6:3 says God wasn’t known by that name to Abraham, and yet Genesis 12:8 says Abraham had called on the name of Yahweh. This is not a contradiction. I take this to mean Abraham knew the pronunciation of God’s name, but didn’t understand it has a meaning. It’s like knowing someone by the name of Cook, and not realizing he’s a great chef. Abram knew what God’s name sounded like, but he never experienced what it meant. Only later did God reveal the meaning of His name to Moses and the Israelites.

One phrase you see repeated in the Old Testament is “…and then they will know that I am Yahweh,” (i.e. Exodus 6:7-8; 14:4; 1 Samuel 17:47, 1 Kings 20:28, etc). Every time you see this phrase, God says He is going to act to fulfill a promise. So the meaning of the name Yahweh is tied with the God who acts to show Himself real and faithful to His promises. God is the great I AM, and He proves it by keeping His promises.

Abraham never saw the promises fulfilled, but the Israelites did. God revealed Himself to them in spectacular ways. As a result, they came to know God better. They knew Him as Savior, Redeemer, Provider, and One who loves them. They knew His holiness and righteousness through His Law. They experienced both His love and His justice, His blessing and His wrath. They knew He was faithful to His promises – even those made hundreds of years ago. They witnessed His power over nature and man. God was glorified in their eyes AND the Egyptians’ (Exodus 5:2, 7:5, 8:20-22, 14:4) AND the Canaanites (Joshua 2:9-11, Judges 9:24). And the glory was greater because God had brought His people out of what was an impossibly difficult situation. That is the same way He works today. He comes through for us even in impossible situations.

The Israelites’ slavery also had other benefits. It helped the Israelites to understand the relationship they had to their God. God did not set His people free from slavery. He redeemed them to be His own servants. He bought them: they were now His.

As Christians, we are also redeemed; we are now slaves of Christ. We have a harder time understanding the ramifications of this because we haven’t come from a slavery background. Israel knew what it meant, even though they rebelled over and over again. Thankfully, we have a Master is extremely good, and loves us. However, too many of us do not really know the name of Jesus. We hear it all the time, but we’ve never experienced its meaning: “Yahweh Saves.” Let’s use our difficult situations for what they are intended: to know and experience the name of Jesus. He is our Savior, Redeemer, Provider and Lover of our souls. He is holy and righteous. He is faithful to His promises… even those made thousands of years ago. This is the meaning of life.

Heat Maps

…I have not shrunk back from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

– Acts 20:27

hm3

If you’ve watched the news lately, you have probably seen one or more heat maps. A heat map uses areas of different colors to give an overall picture of some kind of statistic. For example, weather reports will sometimes show ocean temperatures in the Pacific to indicate if we’re heading for an El Niño or La Niña. And while technically not a heat map, we’ve all seen recent maps of the United States election results colored red or blue by county. I like heat maps, and it got me thinking of a biblical application.

What if you could view the entire Bible as a map, divided into books and chapters (like states and counties), or divided into topics. How would that map look if it were colored based on what areas you tend to study over the years. Or if you’re a pastor, how would the map be colored based on the subjects of your sermons? Well-studied areas would be red, and little-studied areas would be blue. If you can picture such a map in your mind, would you have large areas of blue because you tend to focus on a few favorite books or topics? Or would the map be mostly red?

Belief Systems

There are basic five states which you can be in relating to the essentials of any belief system, whether it be Christianity, Islam, or even atheism:

Ignorant acceptance:

You can subscribe to a belief system without knowing the details of the belief system. This is not a good state to be in. There are many who identify themselves as Christian, Muslim, Atheist, or whatever without having personally investigated what they believe. Until recently (and maybe still so today), most Americans identified themselves as Christians, but the majority pick that belief system as the default (“I believe Jesus was a good man, and I’m not a Muslim, Buddhist, or pagan, so I guess I’m a Christian.”), not knowing what Christianity is all about.

Ignorant rejection:

You can reject a belief system without knowing the details of the belief system. This is also not a good state to be in. These are those who deny a belief system is true without having investigated what that system teaches. Reasons for denial are subjective: “It doesn’t seem right to me.”, “Almost nobody believes that.”, “Look at how those people behave!”, “I’ve always been told they’re wrong.”, etc.

Knowledgeable acceptance:

You can subscribe to a belief system knowing the essential details of the belief system. This is much better than ignorant acceptance or rejection. It shows you realize the dangers of believing something without any evidence. You may still come to a wrong conclusion on the matter due to incomplete and/or biased investigation, but you are closer to finding out the truth than blind acceptance or rejection.

Knowledgeable rejection:

You can reject a belief system knowing the essential details of the belief system. This is also much better than ignorant rejection or acceptance. Again, you may come to a wrong conclusion on the matter due to incomplete and/or biased investigation, but you are closer to finding out the truth than blind acceptance or rejection.

Compromise:

You can accept some essential parts of belief system and reject others, and you can combine parts of one belief system with another. This is also a form of ignorance and self-deception: calling yourself a believer in something, but not really believing it. You cannot say you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, if you don’t believe the things Jesus said. That is like saying, “I hate hamburgers, but love cheeseburgers. But I prefer my cheeseburgers without cheese.” You can have your cheeseburger without ketchup, lettuce, or onions, but you can’t have it without cheese. Cheese is essential to the cheeseburger. And Christ is essential to Christianity.

The further away you are from ignorance, the less likely there will be compromise, and the closer you will be to the truth.