June 26, 2014
By Fred T. Balbuena
Everything in heaven and on earth had a beginning. Their beginning is caused by God who created all things. The book of Isaiah declares, “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18) This act of creation then proves that God is eternal. Bill Bright says “Before He spoke the first work of creation, time did not exist.” He existed in eternity, which differentiates Him from everything He created. He is not bound to time. Thus, all history is but a little speck within eternity. This is how Abraham described God as he experienced His faithfulness after making a treaty with Abimelech in Barsheeba. “[I] planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God’” (Genesis 21:33). Given that God is the originator of everything, there is nothing that can bring an end to His existence. This is the attribute of God clearly in view when Moses prayed to Him which was recorded in Psalm 90. Moses prayed; “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Palm 90:1-2). When Paul wrote to Timothy, he thanked God for His patience. Paul said, “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:16-17).
The Bible clearly requires us also to believe that God created the universe out of nothing. The common Latin phrase used to describe what creation teaches is Ex Nihilo. This means that before God began to create the universe, nothing else existed aside from Him. In other words, the word “nothing” does not imply some kind of existence, as some philosophers have taken it to mean. Ex Nihilo means that God did not use any previously existing materials when He created the universe. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Psalm 33: 6 and 9 also tells us, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.” This means that God simply said the words and everything came into being instantaneously and orderly.
The difficulty which people commonly ask regarding creation is twofold: “Who made God?” and “How can God make something out of nothing?” In any case, the Bible says God is eternal. He was not made nor did anything cause Him to exist. Only the universe had a cause, which is God. He is the one who caused everything to exist and “God does not need a cause because He had no beginning.” The New Testament affirms this truth from several sources. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” The words “in the beginning” are identical in the original language to the opening words in the Old Testament, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is not an accident. What John is doing here is telling us who Jesus is and what He did. Jesus is eternal God, and He created the universe along with the Father. Therefore, the words “in the beginning” mean, before there was any created matter or beings, there was the Word, the Son of God. Jesus Christ was the Father’s agent, or Word, in the creation of all things. Jesus our Savior, our Lord, our Friend—is our Maker.
My main purpose in addressing these topics is simply to encourage you to hold onto the promises of God at this present time and for our final destiny. As the writer of the book of Hebrews says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Let us put our trust in the wisdom and power of our Maker. Let us set our hope in God who knows all things and who has the power to bring about His good purposes in our lives according to the power of His grace. Let us cast all of our cares upon God, “for nothing will be impossible with Him.” (Luke 1:37) He promises that He will sustain us in distress and in all calamities in life as we depend on His power and grace.
 Bill Bright, God: Discover His Character (Orlando, FL: NewLife Publications, 1999), pg. 35.
 Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), pg. 262.
 Ravi K. Zacharias and Norman L. Geisler, Who Made God?: and Answers to over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), pg. 25.
June 21, 2014
By Fred T. Balbuena
One of the spectacular truths we observe in God’s act of creation is the personal nature of God. He is a personal being because He speaks.We see this nature directly from Genesis 1 where we read that God speaks as the first human beings were created. God said, “Let us make man in our image.” This is absolutely crucial to our understanding of the nature of God. The God we know today and whom we believe, talks. As DA Carson says, “He has personality and dares to disclose Himself in words that human beings understand.”  He is not an impersonal power, a product of someone’s spiritual imagination, an abstract force, a spirit that is hard to define, nor is He absolutely unknowable. In other words, He communicates and we get to know Him based on what He says about Himself. Francis Schaeffer drives this idea by saying, “God is there and He is not silent”. Therefore, under the rubric that demonstrates God as a personal being is a display of Him communicating as a way of creating the heavens and the earth. God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). That is how powerful God’s word is. He just spoke the words and everything came into being.
We might wonder, however, whether God truly spoke some words in creation since no else could hear Him. But that is not true, He was not alone. There is an indication of the existence of a plurality in the personhood of God which we observe before the creation of man. He was communicating and indicating how human beings should be created to other Infinite Beings. The “Word” who is Jesus Himself was with God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2) This “Word” is Jesus who, “Became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God was definitely not alone before creation. The Son of God and the Holy Spirit where coexisting with Him before the foundation of the world. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” The Spirit of God was hovering over the water. He exists in relationship with the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This is exactly what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he wrote, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17). The Father is eternally in exists with the other persons in the Godhead. Jesus said, “Father… you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Jesus was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1-3) There never was a time when the Father was alone, was not talking to anyone, or denied of fellowship. God’s love for the Son was seen in the very act of creating.
And now, let us speak to him through our praises, thanksgiving, prayers, and petitions. Let us bless his name and ask him to continue to speak to us through His Word. At the same time, let us implore that the Holy Spirit would light up our minds so we understand what he says for our own good. God does what he says he will do when we call upon his name. So let us pray that he would grant us strength in weakness, firmness in the storms of life, joy in suffering, patience in the midst of oppositions, and love when we are maligned or criticized for the hope we have in the appearing of Jesus Christ. Never relinquish asking God to give us understanding when he speaks. His word is what we need the most. It’s the fundamental source of abundant life and daily renewal. Essentially, it’s our dependency and satisfaction in what God says that glorifies him the most in our lives. Here’s a familiar song that echoes this truth.
Speak, O Lord by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend (2005) © Thankyou Music CCLI#2444699
Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.
Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow’r that can never fail—
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.
Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us—
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.
 D. A. Carson, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010), pg. 20.
June 19, 2014
By Fred T. Balbuena
What we do with our lives or how we spend our energy and resources betrays what we supremely value. If we value the admiration of others then we spend a lot of time and energy in creating and revealing areas of our lives that would impress others. In a similar way we hide those areas that are not very impressive. If we value success we engage in activities that lead towards this idea. Most of us want to do something that highlights our worth. One of the reasons people get depressed or disheartened is when we lose a sense of worth in who we are and what we do in life. Thus, we work so hard to make sure that what we are engaged in consistently lines up with everything that is extremely important to us. What we usually give ourselves to is definitely the power that directs our decisions and lifestyle.
We notice in 1 Corinthians 15 these words of Paul, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”(ESV) He gives this admonition to the Corinthians at the end of his letter wanting them to stand firm in their faith and to never give up on their pursuit towards sanctification. They needed to hear it once again at the end of this letter since they had gone through all sorts of moral, social, marital, and theological challenges in their church. We at present also need to hear these words as we think of our own situation. This is not because our circumstances might be similar to those of the Corinthians. What we might be dealing within our own church is not comparable to what they went through. On the other hand, the message is relevant for us. Many of us are not resilient against the desires and passions of the world that promise a sense of joy and worth. If we honestly search our hearts, we might discover that we are constantly giving ourselves to what we value. Some of these “values” are short lived and devastating. While we want our lives to count for something wonderful, to have meaning and purpose, these “values” don’t consistently lead us there. This is what Paul marvelously tries to address in this brief sentence.
Always Abound with Work That Counts for Christ
When our hope of the resurrection is clear and certain we will have a great motivation to be abounding in the work of the Lord because we know that nothing we do is in vain. The words “always abounding” (NASB), “always give yourselves fully” (ESV) are very important words here. It means to overdo it or to go beyond what is necessary. It is not the idea of just doing enough to get by. The idea here is to do the work of the Lord wholeheartedly, to overflow in it. The way to work “the work of the Lord” is to go to the very edge of our limits. Of course, reasonable rest is important and necessary. But what Paul is saying here is that the believers should be constantly doing more work for the Lord, not less. This is the way our lives count towards something invincible. This is the path towards satisfying joy and sense of worth in life.
Do you know that these words are counter cultural? What we often hear are words such as “take it easy” or “don’t work too hard”. We tend towards the ease of the flesh. We tend to not want to overdo it. We say, “it’s tough; it’s stressful.” Paul’s point here is not to ignore relaxation. His point is, don’t be afraid about overdoing the work of the Lord. We only have one life to live, so don’t waste it. We can go beyond your physical and cultural limitations knowing that what we do for Christ will not be in vain. We can go to the limits, or to go the extra mile, and to the extremes of our capacity in working for the Lord.
The Work of the Lord
If we truly embrace our mission statement which says, “We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples in Jesus Christ,” we will abound in the work of the Lord until He returns. We will resolve within our hearts to overflow with a desire to make the worth of Christ known in all of our activities, our professions, our engagements and in the way we use our resources. There are souls to reach and ministries of every type to be accomplished. Therefore, every Christian should work uncompromisingly as the Lord has gifted each one of us. We are to abound in the work of the Lord with our money, time, energy, talents, gifts, bodies, minds, and spirits. We should be investing in nothing that does not in some way contribute to the work of the Lord.
Nothing that is Done for Christ Will Be in Vain
Every good work that believers do in this life has eternal benefits that the Lord Himself guarantees. “Behold, I am coming quickly,” Jesus says, and “My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Rev 22:12). We have God’s own promise that our toil (labor to the point exhaustion) is not in vain for the Lord. So, don’t just do enough to get by, but always abound in the work of the Lord. The resurrection of Christ guarantees our own resurrection. At the end of this momentary labor for Him we will be given glorious bodies that will never fail. So, let us abound in the work of the Lord. Put your hope in God. Trust that our work for the Lord, if it is truly for Him and done in His power, will succeed. It will bring about what God wants to accomplish for His glory… and our joy.