Why Does God Take So Long?

I often hear Christians bemoan how long God takes to do stuff. This is especially so when it comes to the salvation of someone we love. It’s a hard thing to see someone head the wrong way. Why doesn’t God stop them?

There are many cliched Christian answers to for the “why does God take forever” dilemma:

–God’s timing is not our timing. There must be a reason why He is not intervening.
–God is eternal. A day with Him is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. We’re only impatient because we’re temporal.
–God works in mysterious ways.
–God’s word does not return void. They will be saved in God’s time.

Although some of these answers have kernels of truth, none of them rightly address the issue.

Most, if not all, of these answers approach things from a Calvinist perspective:

God does all the saving; people do nothing.
People are not saved because God doesn’t save them.
Therefore, we blame God for their unbelief. What is He waiting for?

The true answer to this dilemma is found in many places in the Bible, but perhaps most explicitly in Isaiah 30:18:

And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

Isaiah 30’s context is about Israel waiting on God to bring judgment. They wait for Jerusalem to be elevated and peace to come, for all their promises to be fulfilled once and for all. Right now, however, as Isaiah writes these words, they are suffering.

They are waiting on God to fulfill His word. So, what is He waiting for? Why is He taking so long? Let’s get this thing going!

Isaiah wants them to know why God is taking forever to bring His judgment: He’s waiting for them to repent so He can be gracious! Isaiah 28:21 says judgment is God’s strange work. God would rather wait for people to repent than to wipe them out in impatience.

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
–Isaiah 30:15

The word “return” is the word for “repent.”

When you stick the whole chapter together God is reminding a questioning and impatient people that they are the problem!

If they return to Him, He will be gracious. He says that to them all over the place through the prophets. He’s holding off on final judgment so more may repent. That’s called GRACE.

As they are waiting for God, God is waiting for them!

Perhaps our impatience with God has more to do with our stupidity than God’s slackness in keeping His promises.

When it comes to finding fault, start with people and never throw the blame on God. We’re the idiots in this scenario.

My Heavenly Body

Right before Thanksgiving, I fell on the ice. My weight landed entirely on my left hip bone. It swelled up and was bruised and ugly for about a month.

In fact, it still hurts. I stirred something up in there the other day and have been limping ever since.

I’m getting old.

It’s discouraging. I had plans involving physical movement coming up that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do.

Life is hard enough without physical problems getting in the way. To top it all off, I’ve always had bad eyes and they aren’t getting any better.

Having to admit you can’t do stuff anymore is not easy. I’ve witnessed many people handle this decline poorly. I’ve also seen others handle it with grace and patience.

I honestly want to be in the patient and gracious group!

But boy howdy, I’m already struggling to do that, and I aint even that old yet!

We’re all dying. Few deal with that fact, but it stares us in the face daily.

Death is a release; the process of death is miserable.

Right now we’re in a temporal, physical tabernacle. A temporary dwelling place for the soul.

The Believer has the hope of resurrection. Our bodies will be made spiritual and eternal, no longer a temporary tabernacle, but an enduring temple.

I look forward to that day. I hate tents. I like good, solid buildings! Bring it on!

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven
–2 Corinthians 5:1,2

What I Do With My Sin

For many years I struggled with what to do with my sin.

In an effort to not implicate my teachers entirely, I will at least say that what I heard was that my sin should largely be ignored.

Yeah, you shouldn’t sin, but if you do, move on.

I believed that my old, sin nature has to sin, there’s nothing you can do about it. My new nature can occasionally do good, but any effort to do good was bordering on, or crossing over into, legalism.

I believed that my old nature sins but can’t confess, because the flesh can’t do anything good. My new nature, which can talk to God and could potentially confess, has nothing to confess because my new nature doesn’t sin.

Therefore, sin should be avoided as long as I don’t apply any effort. Effort might just be the flesh doing self-righteous works that are actually bad. When I did sin, I should forget it, claim grace, and move on without guilt or remorse.

I believed that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” meant that I shouldn’t feel guilt.

The problem that always crept up though is that I did feel guilt for my sin! Then, since I wasn’t supposed to feel guilt, I then felt guilty about feeling guilt!

I was left in a constant state of tension:

1) I knew I wasn’t supposed to sin, but I also knew I wasn’t supposed to do anything to stop my sin for fear of being legalistic.

2) When I did sin I felt guilty, which I wasn’t supposed to do because of grace, which made me feel more guilty.

Again, I don’t know if this is what I was taught, or if this is just what I believed I heard, but it’s where I was for many years.

It was not fulfilling. It was annoying, confusing, and frustrating. It also prevented any sort of sanctification, growth, or victory over sin. It merely left me feeling helpless, pointless, and defeated.

Then I decided to drop my understanding and start over.

I decided that if I sinned I would confess. I decided that if I were tempted I should do things to resist the devil and stand in the armor of God. I even began fasting to bring my body under subjection.

Guess what? It’s working! It also helped me feel better about the whole situation and set me free from many fears I had invented.

There was a clarity and it led to growth. I looked at the verses that talked about the Gospel’s power at work in me, about the Spirit’s provision, and the crucifixion of the flesh.

I didn’t approach this through legalism or trying to impress God. I approached it as a guy who was tired of sin, guilt, confusion, and turmoil.

I’m not perfect. I can say with Paul, “I have not yet apprehended.” But I am growing and I am overcoming many sins that have long tripped me up.

By no means is battling sin easy. There’s never a time where it’s automatic. But there is patience, experience, and hope that increases through the years.

This is my personal experience and should not be taken as authoritative, infallible advice from on high. But my approach is based on Scripture and seems to be working.

So I shall continue to fight the fight!

7 Warped Doctrines That Make Sin Acceptable

Sin typically only bothers us when someone else does it. Our own sin lost its ugliness long ago.

Although not true for all, this is the view of the majority about sin.

One would think the Church would help people see their sin. But typically the Church fosters judgmental Pharisaism more than holiness.

Most church-goers don’t think their sin is a problem. Here are some doctrinal justifications that lead to this view:

1. Grace forgives all sin, so it doesn’t matter if you sin.

2. Your old nature did it, it had to happen, nothing you can do about it.

3. God doesn’t see you. He sees Christ’s righteousness.

4. Love covers a multitude of sin.

5. Baptism guarantees your entrance into heaven.

6. If sin is a problem, you can work it off in purgatory.

7. We’re justified by faith, not works; therefore it doesn’t matter what I do as long as I believe.

Although some of these doctrines have elements of truth, if they make you view sin as not being a problem, you’ve warped those elements of truth.

Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Love does cover sin, and it also patiently teaches and chastens. We are justified by faith and not works, and faith brings with it the power of the Gospel that makes us sons of God and equips us to every good work.

Sin is bad. We’re not supposed to do it.

Don’t ever lose sight of that simple idea.

Theology takes simple issues and makes them confusing so we can use our confusion as an excuse to do what we want.

Don’t do that.

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
–1 John 3:7

Church Is Largely a Sham

Many Christians would rather feel holy/spiritual/righteous/good than actually be holy/spiritual/righteous/good.

Church becomes a place that makes sinners feel better about themselves without addressing their sin.

Since sin isn’t addressed, people go home and sin. Then they feel bad because deep down they know sin is bad. They feel guilty.

What shall we do with the guilt?

Ooo, ooo! I know: Let’s get together and sing happy songs and exchange happy thoughts until we all feel holy/spiritual/righteous/good again!

Awesome! All the guilt goes away. We all feel loved and fulfilled. All ready for a new week of sinning!

This goes on week after week until finally the person just gives up. They know the whole thing is a sham. Church practice shows that sin isn’t that big of a deal anyway. I did my time. God loves me, the church has told me that for years, so, I’m out.

On the flip side, there is a minority of churches out there that actually address sin and tell people to knock it off. They preach Scriptural sermons that talk about the Holy Spirit’s work in the power of the Gospel to set people free from sin’s bondage.

Most people leave those churches because that’s legalism don’t ya know?!

People want to feel good about being bad. The Bible is too real for such an approach though.

When a person is supposed to feel bad; Scripture makes them feel bad. When a person is supposed to feel good; Scripture makes them feel good.

Church largely makes people who are bad feel good, and people who are good feel bad. It tells people “Peace, peace” when there is no peace.

Satan is a deceiver. His job is to make people who are not saved feel like they are, and make people who are saved feel like they aren’t.

If you put 2 and 2 together here, you’ll perhaps think I am saying that Satan is running the majority of churches in the world.

You would be correct.

The Boring Option Is More Than Likely The Right Option

While running the other day I listened to a podcast from Freakonomics about the guy who invented Index Funds.

Mutual Funds are operated by active managers–guys who buy and sell stocks for you. Each time they buy and sell there is a cost. In order to pick stocks that will earn enough to overcome the costs, one has to be incredibly lucky.

Approximately 2-3% of all mutual funds get enough profit to cover cost!

So a very smart guy came along and invented the Index Fund. Index Funds do very little buying and selling of stocks. They buy successful companies listed in Stock Indexes like the S&P 500.

They buy and hold. They let the stock market take over and, on average, they outperform mutual fund managers’ abilities to pick stocks. They also, because they don’t buy and sell much, have very low cost.

Why don’t more people invest in Index Funds then?

Because active, aggressive Mutual Funds are more exciting. You’re doing something! You’re going place! Your betting big!

Index Funds are boring. Nothing happens. They just sit there and wait for forever. Boring.

One thing I’ve notices in life is that the long, boring solution is usually the right one.

Keep this in mind when the Bible repeatedly tells us to be patient, wait on the Lord, and be eternally minded.

No one does this because it’s boring. Nothing happens. It’s more cool to talk about your plans and your machinations and your X-treme, Radical, Revolutionary, Awesomest Faith Everness.

Think of the OT people who got impatient and how it cost them: Abraham not getting his son on time, Jacob and Rachel not getting their son, and Saul not waiting for Samuel.

God is eternal. He takes a long time. Be patient. Wait for Him. Watch out for the itch to DO SOMETHING! More than likely, you’ll just lose.

Wait. Be patient. Slow down. Do the right, boring thing. In the end, you’ll reap a huge harvest.

Confusion Breeds Dependency

The US tax code is a mess. It’s one of the more complicated things on the planet, even more than DNA at this point.

Efforts to simplify the tax code have repeatedly been shot down. Leading the resistance are accountants!

The US legal code is increasingly complicated. Lawyers don’t seem to mind.

Professional investors want you to be confused by the markets and dividends and bonds and stocks. It’s too much, just give me your money and I’ll invest for you (for a fee).

Football rules are becoming more complicates. We can’t even tell what a catch is anymore. Outcomes of games are determined more and more by referees.

“Keep It Simple, Stupid” is one of those phrases you hear in life that makes sense, yet why do so many do the exact opposite?

The more complicated a thing becomes, the more people in authority get power. Confusion breeds dependency.

Kids are largely confused by life, so they hold tight to mom and dad. As soon as kids start learning and thinking they know everything, kids push away.

To thwart kids leaving, lots of parents freak their kids out and make life confusing. This keeps the kids home and over-protective parents happy.

Theology does the same thing. The Church has routinely made theology complex. We’re told the Bible is too hard for us to understand.

You would think the Church would get busy teaching people how to use the Bible. You would be wrong.

The Church wants you confused, because your confusion means their job security.

I have read many catechisms and doctrinal statements that are way more confusing than anything I’ve read in the Bible!

Anytime you see confusing doctrine come out of a place, or the promotion of a secret key that unlocks the mysteries of the Bible, know that you’re about to enter an authoritarian religious structure.

Cults are notoriously confusing. They confuse and keep their people infantile. Cult leaders need your dependence. They need you to think you need their secret insights.

The best teaching makes the complex simple. That should be the job of every pastor. Instead, the church is overrun with leaders who make the confusion worse.

Unfortunately, the church doesn’t mind: that’s how they make money.