It was A.W. Tozer who said, ““What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” If we understand God and His glorious Gospel rightly, our world view is changed radically. So many believers live a Christianity that is full of confusion, doubt, and frustration with God. And much of this frustration is due to the fact that a great majority of American Christianity is plagued by a low view of God.
A low view of God is marked by a high view of man. It is the belief that God is in the Heavens on bended knee with a tear trickling down his eye just begging for fallen man to “accept Him” into their hearts. A low view of God places God in the role of a mere beggar and man as the one who is ultimately in control of how eternity will play out. A low view is God would say that man is capable of saving himself by finding the power within to change his mind, clean up his act, and decide to follow Jesus.
Again, a low view of God exalts man and belittles the sovereign God of the universe. People with a low view of God genuinely think that man is innately good. If someone with this view were asked, “Why should God let you into Heaven?” They would reply by saying something like, “Because I’m a good person.” Or, “Because I go to church.” Or, “Because I decided in my heart to follow Jesus.” But do you see the one constant in each of these statements? It is the underlying belief that my salvation is attained by me. Basically, it is the line of thinking that God owes me salvation because I earned it by doing something.
When we have a low view of God, we feel entitled that God would bless us because in our eyes, we think we have in some way earned His blessings.
Here is the danger. A low view of God leads people to feel like God owes it to them to bless their lives because they consider themselves worthy of His blessings. So when life gets rocky for a person with a low view of God, their whole world view is thrown into chaos. If they lose a job, lose their home, get cancer, or experience the death of a loved one, a person with a low view of God will immediately begin to question God in their mind.
They begin to ask things like, “Why would God allow this to tragedy happen?”
Or maybe, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”
A low view of God paints Him as the bad guy in our lives when tragedy strikes. We end up placing God on trial demanding that he account to us for His actions in disrupting our lives. It is to say to God, “I deserve a great life due to my wonderful works, and you failed to live up to your end of the deal.”
When we hold a low view of God, we demand of God that He answer the ultimate question, “God, why did you not give me what I deserved?”
But when a person asks this question, they do not understand the reality of who we truly are in light of who God is as revealed in scripture. The reality is that we are not the center of the universe. The reality is that contrary to what many believers think, we are not the good guys. We are so very depraved in our sinful natures that God describes us as being spiritually dead.
“You were at one time spiritually dead because of your sins.” Colossians 2:13.
We are incapable of saving ourselves from our sin. A proper study of the law of Moses and the Old Testament reveals that God’s many laws were given not to save us, but to show us how wretched, sinful, and inept at even coming close to pleasing Him we truly are. The Apostle Paul described to the Galatians who were priding themselves on their attempts at keeping Gods law that if they were to break just one of God’s laws one time, that alone was enough to damn them.
We’ve not just broken one of God’s laws, we’ve broken them all. Repeatedly. Not only do we commit these crimes against God, but we do not want to turn from them. No one in their flesh even has the power to seek God or understand His ways.
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12.
A pastor once told of driving past a church sign that read, “Salvation, so easy a caveman can do it.” But this is Biblically inaccurate. A more correct statement would be, “So radically depraved and dead in sin was I that it was an utter impossibility for me.” Salvation, only a supernatural work of God could do it!
Consider how John 1:13 speaks of how a child of God is born.
“…children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:13.
We are not Christian because our parents were Christian. We are not Christian because our parents had us baptized as a child. And we are not even Christ due to a decision we made for Jesus. This is what the verse above states. And many people with a low view of God will rail against this. Because so desperately in our flesh do we want to take credit in some part for our own salvation. But the scriptures are clear. We are so corrupt in sin, that our natural flesh doesn’t even want God. And if salvation were left up to the decision of man, we would never come to Him.
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 12:22-23.
Jeremiah puts it very logically. A person born an Ethiopian by birth cannot change his skin color nor a leopard change the spots it was born with. Because it is part of their nature. To change the DNA of a creature would require a supernatural work. In the same way, you and I were born with a sin nature. We are unable to change this. A leopard could not simply decide he did not like his spots and will them to just go away. Nor can a spiritually dead sinner decide to just change the desires of their heart to being loving the righteousness. We are sin lovers and God haters by nature.
I use this example all the time when a person tells me that they decided to live for Christ and walked the church aisle in baptism. If you walked the aisle to commit your life to God, it is only because God first regenerated your heart Himself and saved you in your seat. The only reason you could desire to live for Him is because He first set His affections on you and supernaturally changed your sinful nature. It is because He first loved us that we are even able to love Him.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.
Again, we must seek to obtain a high view of God through our study of Him throughout scripture. So back to the question. When we hit hard times and basically in one way or another inquire of God, “Why have you not given me the blessings I deserve?” It is a dangerous plea to ask God to give us what we deserve.
The scriptures are clear. We deserve nothing but the wrath of God. As Isaiah writes, all of our good works laid before a Holy and Righteous God are as filthy rags. It would be like being arrested for murder and trying to buy your freedom from the judge with a candy bar wrapper. We have absolutely nothing to offer God. We have nothing to bargain with.
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” Romans 11:35.
The Apostle Paul describes our hopeless state before God in Ephesians.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:1-2.
Dead. Disobedient. Living in and for the passions of our flesh. And children who abided not under the love of God, but under His Righteous wrath. That is what we deserved. But God sent His only Son to become our substitute, based on nothing we had done, but based only on His grace and mercy. God slaughtered His Son Jesus so that we may be seen as righteous. The scriptures, after describing us as spiritually dead, do not go on to say, “But some people made a decision to follow Jesus.” Or, “But some people changed their evil ways.”
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5.
God is the giver of life. God is the changer of hearts. God is the savior of the world.
That is a right view of the Gospel. Now let me explain briefly how this high view of God will radically change a person’s world view. Now, when an individual faces the tragedies of life such as cancer or death, no longer can they shake their fists at God and ask the question, “Why have I not received from you what I deserve!” When we understand the undeserved grace of God-given in light of our sin, we can rightly say;
“I deserved Hell, but instead you allowed cancer…..PRAISE GOD HE DIDN”T GIVE ME WHAT I DESERVED!”
“I deserved condemnation and wrath, but instead you allowed heartache….PRAISE GOD HE DIDN’T GIVE ME WHAT I DESERVED!
When we understand that were hopelessly lost and undeserving of God, yet He saved us from His wrath that incurred by our nature, then every tragedy that we face in light of this Gospel reality can be viewed as amazing grace! In light of what we deserved, even the worst of situations can be used as a reminder that God spared us from what we rightly deserved! And it is through holding a high view of God that the Christian can have joy in the Lord even in the most painful of circumstances.
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13.