The Beautiful Truths of Ezekiel 18

Source: The Beautiful Truths of Ezekiel 18

By: Brian G. Chilton | August 9, 2018

Christian leaders are hit with many concerning issues within the modern church. Church attendance is in a state of decline in many areas. Even in the Bible Belt, the culture is becoming post-Christian. As a Christian leader myself, I have had great anxiety over these issues. One of the important truths that has helped me cope is the doctrine of divine sovereignty, realizing that God is in control. Quite honestly, as one can see in Revelation, it may be that God himself is removing the light of many churches from their lampstands due to a loss of their first love (Rev. 2:5).

Yet, another area that I have struggled with is the idea that I, as a pastor, am personally responsible for the actions of others. If a person doesn’t respond to the gospel or if someone has caused issues, I thought that I was responsible for their actions, or the lack thereof. However, I recently came across a wonderful chapter that illuminated many beautiful truths that have brought me hope. Ezekiel 18 teaches three important truths one must remember when ministering in this culture.

 

The Beautiful Truth of Personal Accountability. The first truth that must be considered in Ezekiel 18 is the issue of personal accountability. Ezekiel gives three test cases that notes how God holds each person responsible for his or her own actions.

Test Case #1: The Righteous Man (Eze. 18:5-9). Ezekiel considers the righteousness of a man who probably lives in a sinful area. The man lives according to God’s standards and “does what is just and right” (18:5).[1] The man trust God as he does not commit idolatry (18:6a) and treats others justly (18:6b-8). The man of faith is not held accountable for the actions of the society around him. Rather, God holds him accountable for his own actions (18:9).

Test Case #2: The Wicked Son (Eze. 18:10-13). The son is nothing like his father. One can assume that the father was a good parent. The wicked son has chosen his path. He is guilty of violence (18:10), idolatry (18:11a), adultery (18:11b), and abuses others (18:12-13). The judgment of the son is not the father’s fault. Instead, as Ezekiel states, “Since he has committed all these detestable acts, he will certainly die. His death will be his own fault” (18:13).

Test Case #3: The Righteous Grandson (Eze. 18:14-20). The wicked son has a son who is the righteous man’s grandson. The grandson sees the evil deeds of his father and chooses to live in faith according to God’s laws. This individual is not held responsible for the deeds of his father. Rather, “the righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him” (18:20). No matter where a person comes from and no matter how bad a person’s parents are, God does not hold the child responsible for the actions of his or her parents. Each person is held accountable for their own actions.

Understanding this truth has brought me great peace. We are responsible for getting the message of the gospel out there. We give defenses for the faith. But ultimately, each person is responsible for him or herself. We cannot change anyone. Only God can. So, be faithful in what God has called you to do and leave the results up to him.

 

The Beautiful Truth of Providential Ambition (Eze. 18:23-29, 32). Another great truth shown in Ezekiel 18 is God’s desire for people to be saved. God asks, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked . . . don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?” (18:23) Again in verse 32, God says, “For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death . . . So repent and live!” (18:32). In both of these passages, God shows that he does not take pleasure in judging and condemning anyone. God desires that people repent of their sins and turn to him so that they can avoid judgment. I believe that Simon Peter probably had this chapter in mind when he wrote “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Some may question God’s grace, such as those mentioned in Eze. 18:25-29, but it must be remembered that God does not desire for anyone to be in hell or for anyone to face judgment. Ezekiel 18 makes this vividly clear!

 

The Beautiful Truth of Penitent Acceptance (Eze. 18:21-22; 30-31). The final great truth found in this amazing chapter is that God accepts a person’s repentance. Since each person is held accountable for one’s own actions and that God desires for all to be saved, then it is no surprise that God willingly accepts the genuine repentance of anyone who calls upon his name. If a wicked person genuinely repents from all the sins he or she has committed, God will forgive him (18:21-22). God appeals to Israel and to all people to repent and turn to him

These truths are remarkable and quite revolutionary when properly understood. Some believe that the God found in the OT is a mean, vengeful being. But, such is not the case. The God of the OT is the same God of the NT because he is the genuine God over all creation. God holds each person accountable. Each person will have to stand before God in judgment (Heb. 9:27), including Christians (Rom. 14:10). So, don’t think that you will be held accountable for another person’s actions. In addition, don’t think that God is unwilling to accept your or anyone one else’s repentance. He will because it is not God’s will for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

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(Podcast 8.9.18) Message: “Qualities of a Godly Teacher” (Acts 20:17-38)

Source: (Podcast 8.9.18) Message: “Qualities of a Godly Teacher” (Acts 20:17-38)

The Question of the Shroud’s Authenticity and the Certainty of the Resurrection’s Historicity

Originally Posted at: The Question of the Shroud’s Authenticity and the Certainty of the Resurrection’s Historicity

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 24, 2018

A recent article on Newsmax broke the news that according to a new study, the Shroud of Turin was deemed a fake, most likely originated in medieval times.[1] According to a recent study, scientists used bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) by placing tubes into the wrists of a volunteer to simulate the dripping of blood as well as in the place where the sword entered the side. The experiment did not match the blood stains as found on the cloth. The author of the article appeals to a 1988 carbon dating test that dated the cloth to medieval times.

I am quite skeptical of this test. I feel there are several reasons to doubt the findings and the conclusions in the article. First, my understanding is that droplets of blood were used in this test. Small droplets of blood do not account for the massive amount of blood that would have been lost after Jesus would have been taken from the cross. Second, the Shroud, if authentic, would not have necessarily remained in one position. It may have been that the body would have been repositioned while the blood was pouring out of the body to until it reached its final resting state. It seems that this study does not take that into account. Third, the stains on the cloth have been deemed as authentic AB hemoglobin.[2] Thus, even if the flow of blood did not match identically to the recent test, that the stains are indeed blood, old blood at that, is nearly indisputable. Fourth, the article seems to hold to the authenticity of the 1988 carbon testing. The problem is that the fiber of the Shroud used for testing came from the patchwork used to repair the Shroud in a fire that took place in medieval times. Particles of pollen found on the cloth originate in areas found in and around Jerusalem. Many of those pollen particles date to the first-century.

I do think that the evidence for the Shroud is far more convincing than evidence against the Shroud. However, I want to emphasize that the resurrection of Jesus is not determined by the Shroud’s authenticity. The Shroud would certainly help, but it is not necessary or essential to the case for the resurrection’s historicity. So, how can we know that the resurrection of Jesus took place? Some have proposed an acronym RISEN to explain the evidence for the resurrection.[3] Using the acronym, I’m going to change the terms slightly from what others have used to emphasize the historical evidences for Jesus’s resurrection. I cannot give a full treatment of each detail, but I will provide a brief summary of each.

R         Records of Jesus’s Death and Resurrection. Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection are recorded not only in the Gospels, but there are records indicating this occurrence in the numerous writings of the early church fathers, as well as extra-biblical Roman and Jewish writings.

I           Irksome Details. Some of the details of Jesus’s resurrection are quite irksome and embarrassing for the early church. Why in the world would the early church have claimed Mary Magdalene as the first witness of Jesus’s resurrection when a woman’s testimony was not held in high-esteem? To make matters worse, Mary Magdalene could have had something of a bad past history. This is just the tip of the iceberg considering the irksome details for the early church in Jesus’s resurrection event.

S          Sightings of Jesus’s Appearance. Jesus was not seen just once. He was seen numerous times over the course of a forty-day period. 1 Cor. 15 notes that over 500 people saw Jesus at one time. Seeing that the early creed in 1 Corinthians does not contain any female witnesses and the fact that only men were counted in public gatherings, I think the number is probably more likely around 2,000 that saw Jesus alive at one time.

E         Early Confessions and Creeds. The New Testament is caulked full of early creeds and confessions. Some of the more prominent entries include 1 Cor. 15:3-9; Rom. 10:9; Col. 1:15-20; Phil. 2:5-11; among many others. Some of these creeds and formulations date to within 3-5 months of Jesus’s resurrection (esp. 1 Cor. 15:3-9).

N         Newfound Faith. The transformation of Paul of Tarsus and James the brother of Jesus is legendary. These two individuals were against Jesus and his ministry until they witnessed the risen Jesus. In addition, the church changed some details of their worship in a radical fashion after Jesus’s resurrection. They switched their day of worship from the Sabbath day to Sunday to commemorate Jesus’s resurrection.

 

So, while I am not convinced by the recent test contra the Shroud, I also hold that the resurrection of Jesus stands strong historically with or without the Shroud. No matter what the final verdict turns out to be concerning the Shroud, the resurrection of Jesus is, as far as I am concerned, historically verifiable.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] “New Forensic Tests Suggest Shroud of Turin is Fake,” Newsmax (July 18, 2018), retrieved July 24, 2018, https://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/shroud-turin-fake-jesus/2018/07/18/id/872517/.

 

[2] Kelly P. Kearse, “Blood on the Shroud of Turin: An Immunological Review,” Shroud.com (2012), retrieved July 24, 2018, https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/kearse.pdf.

[3] In example, see Jason Jimenez’s use of the acronym in Jason Jimenez, “Five Pieces of Evidence that Jesus Has Risen,” StandStrongMinistries.org, retrieved July 24, 2018, https://www.standstrongministries.org/articles/five-pieces-of-evidence-that-jesus-has-risen/.

Transitions and Faith in the Fear of the Unknown

Source: Transitions and Faith in the Fear of the Unknown

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 16, 2018

 

This past weekend was difficult. For it was this weekend that I announced my resignation from my position as pastor at Huntsville Baptist Church due to having accepted the senior pastor position at Westfield Baptist Church in the Mount Airy area of North Carolina. I have many reflections concerning this move. However, the greatest reflection that comes to me is the importance in having faith in God when facing fears of the unknown.

I must confess. I am not one who enjoys moving or change for that matter. I am, by and large, like many people—a creature of habit. So, as we face this transition, there is a bit of fear. Fear of the unknown. Such fears raise several unknown questions. What if the people don’t like me? What if I am unable to do the job? What if something happens to me or my family? Fear can be debilitating if left to itself. However, when we face fears of the unknown, we have a powerful tool to combat its effects—faith.

Biblical faith is a trust in God’s abilities and in his character. It is not something that results from an unreasonable belief. Rather, it is built upon a trust upon a knowable person. In this case, that Person is God. So, how can faith combat fear of the unknown?

 

Faith Combats Fear by Trusting in God’s Plan. I have been preaching a series of messages through Acts. One thing that has struck me in this study is the amount of trust that the apostle Paul placed in God’s direction. Paul continued to journey where God led him. For instance, “Paul resolved by the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem” (Ac. 19:21).[1] Even though a riot developed after Paul’s travels through the area going to Jerusalem, God providentially provided for Paul.

Here’s the point that we need to remember. If God is leading us to do something great or to go somewhere distant, we must first make sure it is God leading us, and second, we must trust God’s direction and leadership. If God is in the process, then he will see you through the unknown situations. God knows past, present, and future. We do not. So, we must trust God’s plan.

 

Faith Combats Fear by Trusting in God’s Purpose. God has purposes which we do not always understand. Looking at Paul’s journeys, it may not have made sense to some people for Paul to have gone to Athens. Athens was the intellectual capital of the ancient world. Would anyone listen to him there? Surely, Paul must have wondered about why God would send him there. Yet, after his message given on the Areopagus, some people became Christians including Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris (Ac. 17:33-34).

When faced with fears of the unknown, trust God’s purposes. He may need you to reach people that other people can’t. Even when times do not make sense, trust in God’s sovereign plan.

 

Faith Combats Fear by Trusting in God’s Power. In reality, fear does not come from God. It comes from a trust in oneself rather than a trust in God’s power. Paul wrote to Timothy, a young pastor, saying, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Tim. 1:7). Where does fear arise? True, it can come from Satan. But, more to the point, it often comes from our false trust. When we trust in our abilities, we have every reason to doubt. But, when we trust in God’s power, we really have no reason to fear at all. Consider what Paul said to the Romans, “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you” (Rom. 8:11). Not only do we have the promise of resurrection and eternal life, we have the promise that God is with us and that he will never forsake us. If God is for us, then who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)?

 

Westfield, Huntsville, my family, and I are all facing times of transition. Transitions can bring fear as it leads us into unknown territories. Maybe you are facing a fear of the unknown. Maybe you are facing unknown financial problems. It could be that you are facing health problems for you or a family member. Maybe your marriage has crumbled, and you don’t know how you are going to make it. For whatever circumstances you are facing, don’t let fear strangle your faith in Christ. For he who raised Christ from the dead lives within you if you have placed your faith and trust in Christ. If you are a Christian, then you are an overcomer and serve a God who is already in your future. Cast aside fear and embrace faith.

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

(Podcast 7.5.18) Message: “Ministry Fire: The Role that the Holy Spirit Plays in Ministry (Acts 19:1-22)

Source: (Podcast 7.5.18) Message: “Ministry Fire: The Role that the Holy Spirit Plays in Ministry (Acts 19:1-22)

Did God Create Evil?

Source: Did God Create Evil?

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 3, 2018

After Bible study one evening, a good friend of mine and I discussed the problem of evil. He asked an excellent question, “Did God create evil?” I said, “No, I don’t think he did.” However, my friend objected because he said, “God created everything, so he must have created evil.” This conversation was quite good, and we found common ground by the end of our discussion. This article relates some of the issues that we discussed.

One of the first issues we needed to define was the nature of evil. What do we mean when we say something is evil? He was using the term to define any type of disaster or bad thing. I was using to term to define immoral behaviors, such as torturing babies. How do we answer this question? Did God create evil? In this article, I would like to look at four common tricky areas that need to be dissected in order to answer the question.

 

Ontology and Epistemology of God and Evil. The terms ontology and epistemology are philosophical terms but are important to this area of conversation. One cannot neglect philosophy because bad philosophy often leads to bad theology. First, let me define the terms and how they play a role in this discussion.

Ontology is the study of the nature of being. It deals with how we know something exists. For instance, does a pizza exist? How do we know a pizza exists? These are ontological questions that deal with the nature of pizza’s existence. And oh, how tragic life would be without the existence of pizza!

Epistemology deals with the theory of knowledge.[1] This area deals with how we know something to be true. What is the nature of such and such? To use our illustration of pizza, ontology would ask, “Does pizza exist?,” whereas epistemology would ask, “Is pizza good? Can we know that pizza is tasty?” So, a created thing would deal with the area of ontology, whereas the nature of the thing would deal more in the area of epistemology more or less.

When we talk about God creating all things, we must understand that God created everything that exists including the potentials to do certain things. However, if we grant the existence of human freedom, then God is not responsible for the actions that people take. Yes, God provides the means and conditions that can lead to a person’s actions and God knows the free actions that a person will take, but the person is responsible for his or her own actions.[2] Therefore, God created all things and created the conditions where a person could do good or evil. But, God did not create evil, because evil is not a thing to be created. It is not like a virus or slab of concrete. Evil is an attribute. It is a personal rejection of the good, the good which is an attribute of God.

 

The Moral Character of God. God is thoroughly identified in the Scriptures as being the ultimate good. John tells us that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). Scripture also indicates that God is absolutely holy, which means that he is set apart and absolutely pure (1 Sam. 2:2; 6:20; Ps. 99:9; 1 Cor. 3:17; Rev. 4:8). Since God is the absolute good and absolutely pure, it is false to claim that God does evil. James says that “No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself does not tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death” (Jms. 1:13-15). James answers the question for us in great detail about God’s relationship to evil. God cannot do evil because God is the absolute good.[3]

So, how do we know what is evil and what is good? If you are driving down a highway, you will see a sign that posts the speed limit. In town, the speed limit will most likely be 35 miles per hour. How do you know that you’re breaking the speed limit driving 55 miles per area in that zone unless there is a speed limit posted stating that one should only go 35 miles per hour? The law must exist before you can know if you’re breaking the law. Moral standards must exist before one can know that he or she is doing evil. Objective moral standards come from God. Again, evil is not something to be created. Evil stems from a rejection of God’s moral goodness.

 

Ra’ah, Disaster, and Evil. Let’s face it. Biblical interpretation is tough especially when it comes to the original languages. Some individuals have spent their entire lives seeking to master the biblical languages but are still left with questions. If that is the case, should those of us with less training in the biblical languages not have much more humility when it comes to such terms? I think so.

Often, Hebrew words can take several different meanings depending on context. I remember when taking Greek that Dr. Chad Thornhill would often emphasize context, context, context when interpreting a confusing term. In Hebrew, one such example is the confusion that occurs with the term ra’ah. Ra’ah describes a disaster but it can also be used to describe something evil. Ingrid Faro explains with the following:

“For example, the Hebrew root “evil” (ra’ra’ahr’ ’) occurs 46 times in Genesis and is rightly translated into English using at least 20 different words, and nuanced in the Septuagint by using eight Greek forms (11 lexemes). Yet English-speaking people often incorrectly assume an underlying meaning of “sinister, moral wrong” and interject that into each use of the Hebrew word.”[4]

In Amos 5:3, it is noted that “If this is a judgment announcement against the rich, then the Hebrew phrase עֵת רָעָה (’et ra’ah) must be translated, “[a] disastrous time.” See G. V. Smith, Amos, 170.”[5] Thus, the term ra’ah can indicate a disaster that has befallen a group of people and does not necessarily mean “evil” as some older translations have indicated.

But, doesn’t disaster indicate something evil? If God brings disaster, does that not indicate that God does something evil? No, not at all! God is holy. If a people are unrepentant and are unwilling to stop doing evil, then God is completely justified in bringing judgment. The disaster is not evil if it is due justice. Like a parent disciplining a child or a judge executing judgment against a convicted criminal, disasters are sometimes the judgment of God poured out upon an unrepentant people. I think it was good that the Allies stormed into Germany to overtake the evil Adolf Hitler. Likewise, it is actually good for God to bring judgment as it coincides with his holy nature.

 

Evil Allowed to Permit the Ultimate Good. So, the final question that must be tackled is this: If God is good, then why would he allow evil to exist in the first place? Why would he create a condition where evil could exist? The answer to this is quite simple. God’s allowance of evil is to allow a greater good. What is that greater good? Love. For love to truly exist, it must be free. It must be freely given, freely received, and reciprocal between both parties. God could have created us as robots or automatons. But, that would not provide true love. The ultimate love was given in Jesus, who experienced the horrors of torture and experienced the just punishment that we deserve. He did so that we would have life eternally. The penalty of our eternal punishment was paid on the cross at Calvary. God lovingly confers his grace to all who would willingly receive. His grace is freely offered and is freely received. This kind of love would not be possible if God had not allowed the conditions that would allow evil to exist. A greater good has come. One day, those who have trusted Christ for their salvation will no longer need to worry about evil because evil will be vanquished. The redeemed of Christ will be transformed. We will experience the bliss and glory of the heaven that awaits us. To God be the glory!

So, did God create evil? It depends on what you mean. God created the conditions for evil to exist but did so to allow a greater good which is the free love that is experienced between the Lover (God), the beloved (us), and the spirit of love between the two. Evil is not a thing to be created. Rather, it is a condition that exists when a person or group of people reject God’s goodness and his holy moral nature.

Notes

[1] “Epistemology is the discipline that deals with theory of knowledge. The term can be broken down into epistem-ology (Gk. episteme, “to know; logos, “study”). It is the study of how we know.”[1] Norman L. Geisler, “Epistemology,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 215.

[2] In Ezekiel, God notes that each person is responsible for his or her own actions. “But suppose the man has a violent son, who sheds blood and does any of these things, though the father has done none of them . . . [The son] will not live! Since he has committed all these detestable acts, he will certainly die. His death will be his own fault” (Eze. 18:10-11,13). It is true that God has control over history and the like. But remember, a person is responsible for his or her actions. God’s sovereignty does not negate human responsibility. God does not force a person to do anything. His Spirit may woo a person to receive his salvation, but he will not force a person to do so. Unless otherwise noted all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

[3] The Bible makes clear that God cannot operate in a manner that betrays his moral nature. For instance, Paul writes, “God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Ti. 1:2).

[4] Ingrid Faro, “Semantics,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Am 5:13.

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

Silence and Sovereign Sounds

Source: Silence and Sovereign Sounds

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 25, 2018

During a class on Paul, Dr. Leo Percer noted how people often bombard themselves with noise to keep from hearing the voice of God. As I began thinking about Percer’s statements, I found him to be absolutely right. Some will say, “But if God speaks, everyone will know it.” While that is true to a degree, one must realize that God does not always speak to a person with thunder, lightning, and booms from heaven. More times than not, God speaks to a person in a still, small voice. How ironic! The greatest power in heaven speaks with sweet simplicity. Note three ways how silence helped the prophet Elijah to hear God’s voice more clearly.

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Acknowledgement of the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:9-13). I wish I had the voice of Adrian Rodgers, booming from the depths of a rich, clear, bass voice, a voice that could be heard without a microphone. I am cursed with a soft-spoken voice, one that requires a microphone so that the harder-of-hearing are able to understand what is said. People often associate deep, rich voices with power and authority. While it is true that God sometimes speaks with a thundering voice that roars likened to the voluminous rushing of water down a mighty river (Rev. 1:15), at other times God’s voice is likened to a softly spoken whisper bringing peace and comfort to a troubled soul.

The latter was the case for one prophet named Elijah. Elijah was troubled, as we shall soon see. God directed him to the wilderness, away from the sounds of the city. Elijah was to climb a mountain and wait of God to speak to him. A mighty wind came through, perhaps something comparable to a tornado, but God was not in the wind. Then, an earthquake occurred that shook the feet of the prophet and everything around him, but God was not in the earthquake. A fire then broke out on the mountain, but God was not in the fire. At this point, I think I would second guess whether I should be on the mountain, but not Elijah. He waited for the Lord. Then, God came to Elijah in a soft whisper. Elijah acknowledged the soft-spoken nature of God’s voice.

The trouble with being hyper-busy is that we do not take the time to acknowledge God’s voice. Perhaps that is the reason why some people stay as busy as they do. As Percer said, “When we bombard our lives with noise, we keep ourselves from realizing that Someone else is there.”

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Attention on the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:3-4). Going back to verses 3-4 of the passage, one will note that Elijah was frightened and depressed. Elijah had just victoriously defeated the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He was outnumbered 450 to 1. If Las Vegas had existed then, Elijah would have been called a strong underdog. Yet, Elijah was victorious! God has shown his power through the prophet! The false prophets were met with destruction. Elijah had been victorious, but his celebration was short lived. Ahab and Jezebel wanted his head. Elijah had overturned the political focus on Baal. History has taught us that standing opposed to a ruling political power can be hazardous to one’s health.

Elijah was afraid. This prophet who boldly stood in Yahweh’s name was frightened. He was depressed and suicidal. He wanted God to take his life (19:4). Yet, God told him that he needed to go to the mountain where he would meet the prophet. Elijah needed to get away from the sounds of the city and focus his attention not on his fears but on the Sovereign God.

How do we attempt to solve our depression and problems? Some will try to bombard themselves with entertainment, digging one’s nose deeper into the screen of a tablet, a phone, or the television connected to a gaming system. Others try to solve their problems with the bottle. Others still try to solve their issues with the needle or joint. More likely, people will drown themselves in noise and busyness. Yet, the real solution is to take time with God. Take time to be alone with God. You may find that if you take away all the distractions of life that you will hear God most clearly.

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Acceptance to the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:14-18). Elijah heard from God and he had a clear direction on how he must proceed. Elijah was about to anoint future kings and future prophets. Elijah’s fears subsided. He focused on God. He didn’t focus on his problems, on his presuppositions, or on his station in life. He focused on God and accepted what God had him to do.

Silence allows us to put things into proper perspective. We can hear from God and direct our attention to do what God would have us do. When we are immersed with God’s Holy Spirit and directed to a particular task, we may find that we will have clearer direction than we ever could imagine. A pastor friend of mine will take annual hikes on the Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has told me numerous times that he has a greater sense of direction from God when he returns.

The Deep Quiet Zone at Liberty University’s Library

Let me close with this. In a loud and busy world, it is difficult to settle in with silence. When I was at Liberty University, I took some time to read in the Jerry Falwell Library on campus. The library has three sections: the regular section where people can talk normally, the quiet section where people are allowed to only whisper, and the deep quiet section where no one is allowed to make any noise at all. I chose to read in the deep quiet section. To my surprise, it took me ten to fifteen minutes to be able to focus on the book I was reading because I was not used to that level of silence! Perhaps, we would be much better off if we lived quieter lives—lives not so much that desire to be seen, but to see; lives that desire not so much to speak, but to listen; and lives that no so much desire to be in the limelight, but rather in the background. It is far better to be in shadows of the Sovereign God than in the spotlight of self.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

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(Podcast 6.15.18) Flashback Edition: “From Cambodia to the United States, Part 1” (w. Siv Ashley)

Source: (Podcast 6.15.18) Flashback Edition: “From Cambodia to the United States, Part 1” (w. Siv Ashley)