Questions From Indonesia

Q – Dear Jim

Let me introduce myself. I am a Christian from Indonesia. Actually I am the brother in law of (a man) who wrote to you some time ago. He shared with me your reply to him and I am interested to write to you directly. I have visited to your website and I have been blessed by your articles and also the audio sermons.

Jim, you asked about Christianity in Indonesia. Let me try to give you the brief information about it. The population of Indonesia is predominantly Muslims for about 85% of the whole populations. Christians and Catholics are the second largest community after Muslims. The other smaller community are Hindu (mostly Balinese) and Buddhist (mostly Chinese community). Even though the majority of the populations are Muslims, Indonesia is a secular country and Indonesian Muslims are considered as Moderate Muslims. The law guaranteed the freedom for the citizen to embrace these 5 religions.

Despite the religious freedom we have sometimes we Christian have problems to do our religious duties. It is not easy to set up a new church in Indonesia. There were many cases that churches was burnt down by the Muslims with the reason of not having permit from government to operate. You know to get the permission from the government is very difficult and frustrating. The other thing is the Muslim is now quite sensitive of the “Christianization” issue. They are against the evangelization by the Christians.

For the past 5 years the Radical Islam is on uprising in Indonesia. Some radicals movements has even gone to the streets attacking bars, discotheque or hotels which they suspect is the place for prostitutions. You must have heard of the Bali and JW Marriot bombing. These were done by the Islamic radical groups.

That is a bit about Christians in Indonesia. But apart from that Christians can still live peacefully in Indonesia. They can have good employments, educations or doing good business many of them has good positions in big companies or in government.

Jim, now I have some questions to ask you . Hope you can help me with this.

Do God loves His creations? Do God loves Adam and Eve? If yes then why God did allow the Satan to sneak into the world so Adam & Eve fell to his deadly temptations and this world became cursed? If our God is the God of Love should He protect His creations from the deadly sins as we would do to our children?

Jim – I thank you very much for telling me about Christianity in Indonesia. It is very interesting indeed. I think that we in America take our freedom for granted sometimes. We do not realize the great blessing we have in being able to assemble in churches to worship God and Christ without fear of government intrusion — at least not yet. America is becoming more and more secular and Christian worship is coming under increasing scrutiny and pressure. But, this has always been the way with the Christian Church on Earth. The world will always be at odds with Christ. But, we who love Him will remain faithful because He is faithful. We rest in his unerring and unfailing grace.

I am glad that you have enjoyed reading the articles on our website. I am constantly blessed and amazed at how people around the world have taken to our site. We seek to advance the gospel without compromise, which makes us both loved and hated. 🙂

Now, as to your first set of questions – yes, God loves His creation. But we must be careful not to define God’s love according to our human (and fallen) concepts of what love is or how love must act in all circumstances. God’s primary interest is His own glory. He created all things for His own purpose. And nothing in His creation fails in that regard – everything redounds to the glory of God.

So I would say that God did indeed love Adam and Eve. But, He loved His Son Jesus more. We must remember that the purpose of God was to have a people whom the Son would redeem and take to Himself as an everlasting possession. In order for Christ to fulfill His mission as the Redeemer, it was necessary that mankind fall into sin. However, God Himself could not be the author of that sin. So, God allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve, thereby bringing sin into the world and causing all mankind to be guilty of sin. Therefore, Jesus could come to Earth and sanctify a people for Himself. Satan did not sneak into the Garden of Eden. God allowed and ordained those events for the glorification of His Son. God is in complete control of every facet of His universe, particularly where the redemptive work of Christ is concerned.

When God is finished with Satan, He will put him in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10). God could have placed Him there immediately after he rebelled against God. But, God allowed Satan to continue exactly because Satan served God’s ultimate purpose. When that purpose has been completed, Satan will be bound, judged, and put away forever. Then God will make the “new heavens and new earth,” returning this cursed world to its original state. The only difference will be that every inhabitant of that new creation will understand that they are there as the result of Christ’s atoning work. We will live with God by His grace, not by our merit. And everything will redound to His glory. That’s the plan and it’s a glorious thing to behold.

Q – If our God is the God of Love should He protect His creations from the deadly sins as we would do to our children?

Jim – While it is true that 1John 4 does say that God is love, Hebrews 12:29 also tells us that “our God is a consuming fire.” Both of these statements are equally true.

Let me put it this way: God is love, but love is not God. God is also holiness, justice, purity and the judge of the living and the dead. So, we must not put God into a box labeled “love” and then judge His actions according to our earthly concept of what love is or how love would act. We must not “deify” love. Love is one aspect of God, but it is not the whole story.

What has happened in our modern day is that people have emphasized one aspect of God’s character, His love, above the other equally valid and revelatory attributes of God described in the Bible. Arthur W. Pink’s book “The Attributes of God” makes the point that love is not God’s “primary attribute.” God’s primary attribute is His holiness. Everything else about God flows from that primary characteristic. Consequently, we can speak of God’s “holy love” as consistently as we speak of His “holy wrath” or “holy judgment.”

On the other hand, if love were God’s primary attribute and every other attribute of God flowed from His love, then how could we conclude that God pours out wrath and punishment? Is His wrath motivated by His love? No. However, His wrath is motivated by His holiness. His holy righteousness and justice demand the punishment of sinners. But, His holy grace and mercy provide justification and redemption.

So, we should not elevate His love above His holiness. While it is absolutely true that our God is infinitely loving, He is not equally loving of all people, at all times, in all circumstances. However, He is equally holy in all circumstances, whether that holiness leads to mercy or judgment.

So, to answer your question directly, the fall of man and the redemption of His people serve God’s holiness and eternal plan. If God had protected all mankind from sin then there would be no one for the Son to redeem. And the gracious redemption of fallen sinners serves to exalt Christ, just as all of creation was made for Christ and for God’s glory.

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” (Col 1:16-19)

Q – Regarding the Trinity, is the God the father higher that the God Son? Is the title Father shows that He has more authority over the God Son as I have the authority over my children ?

Jim – I think you are on the right track, here. However, trying to define the levels of authority within the Godhead is a very difficult thing since the Bible does not clearly tell us such things. Still, in the Garden of Gethsemane, we do read that Jesus subjected His will to His Father’s will.

“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42)

Therefore, I would say that the Father has ultimate authority. However, I am quick to add that the Son and Spirit are always in agreement with the will of the Father and they always operate collectively, in full concert with one another.

But, there is another important aspect to this which we will touch on in more detail in a moment. The authority of the Father over the Son is a two-way street. Not only does it demonstrate the power of the Father, it also demonstrates the willing humility of the Son. In other words, Jesus took on a subservient role on purpose. In the ultimate plan of redemption, the wrath and righteous judgment of God had to be propitiated. And, since there was no sacrifice sufficient to atone for sin against an infinitely holy God, the infinitely holy Son gave Himself voluntarily to be the propitiation required by God the Father, expiating our sin and securing our eternal standing before the Father.

This is a great and awesome mystery. But, that’s the paradigm we find in the pages of Scripture.

So, to answer your question more clearly, Jesus took on the form of a servant in order to accomplish the divine plan of redemption. And, in that aspect, God the Father did have authority over God the Son.

Q – Jesus once said that He Himself does not know about the Judgment day, only God the Father knows. Is it correct if I say that Jesus was not in Almighty state while He still live in the earth ?

Jim – Well, this question is intimately connected with what we just discussed. Here is the passage you are referring to:

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matt 24:35-36)

Mark’s gospel renders it:

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:31-32)

As you can see, while the apostolic writers agree conceptually with one another, there is no unanimity concerning the phrase “neither the son.” But, the earliest Greek manuscripts of Mark all include it. So, we must deal with it.

That passage from Mark has caused no end of debate and discussion among theologians for the last two thousand years. Men have wrestled with its meaning and no one has come up with the definitive answer. And I don’t pretend to have a lock on it either. But, I will offer my opinion.

As noted above, Jesus voluntarily took upon Himself the form of God’s servant when He came to Earth. We read this plainly in the book of Philippians –

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil 2:5-8)

In becoming human, Christ necessarily divested Himself of certain divine qualities – such as being omnipresent, or everywhere at once. In His physical form, Jesus was limited to being only one place on Earth at a time, while God the Father continued to be everywhere.

Plus, we read that as a young man Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 3:52) That’s a hard thing for us to grasp. How could God incarnate increase in wisdom? Wouldn’t He already know everything? But, that’s still what the Bible says.

I think what the Scripture is telling us is that Jesus perfected His humanity – living without sin and always doing that which pleased the Father – through experience. As our substitute, He had to be fully human and experience every aspect of human frailty. That’s why the Hebrews’ author writes:

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)

But unlike us natural-born sinners, Jesus accomplished perfection. And as our substitute, He secured our position of acceptance with the Father. But, a necessary part of that plan was the humility of Christ in becoming a servant to the Father, taking on flesh and blood and being human. Hence, there could indeed be aspects of the eternal plan which God did not choose to allow the Son to know in His human state.

Now, that does not in any way diminish the authority or divinity of Christ. Rather, it shows the incomprehensible humility of our Savior in lowering Himself to servanthood for our sakes.

So, when Paul said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” he was speaking of service to others, humility, charity, longsuffering and lowering ourselves rather than exalting ourselves.

And, that’s what I think is shown in Jesus’ declaration that even He did not know the day or hour when the new heavens and new earth would be formed. He is our example of perfect servanthood and humility. He subjected Himself before the Father – – – and so should we.

Q – Do God loves all people or only the elects?

Jim – I sort of answered this above. But, in brief, God’s beneficent love covers all of His creation. But, the love that results in salvation is different from the “general grace” of God that He bestows on all mankind. The love that results in eternal life is reserved only for the elect.

Well, I hope that helped resolve a few things. Again, I look forward to receiving your questions and correspondence in the future. We will pray for the Christians of Indonesia.

Yours in Him,
Jim Mc.