In your Bible reading, do you ever come across something that doesn’t fit into your theology? The margins of my daily reading Bible are full of my comments, references, and a few question marks. The question marks mean that I don’t know God as well as I need to. They say, “Your theology (understanding of God) is too small.” I wonder if we too often pick and choose passages to support our idea of how we want God to be…and ignore others.
One of the passages that became popular (used as a basis of articles, books, and sermons) is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord; ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
The same God gave this message to the prophet (Jer. 21:10), “I have determined to do this city (its inhabitants) harm and not good, declares the Lord …”
In the New Testament we find “God is love” and we also find “our God is a consuming fire.” Now which one is it? Do I base my theology on one and ignore the other?
Most people do. And they have an idol — their own tailor-made god. Of course, the correct answer is “It’s neither one; it’s both.” God has two primary characteristics: love and righteousness. One accounts for God’s goodness (kindness, mercy and grace) toward man and the other, His severity (justice, vengeance and punishment).
The same God that sent the flood to destroy mankind sent His Son to save mankind. The cross demonstrates both His love and His righteousness. It’s no small matter to have an inaccurate understanding of God. It all begins right here: “Thou shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). No other god. Not one you create with your hands, nor one you create with your mind.
Woodland Oaks church of Christ
The Woodlands, TX