As you all know, the O.C. Thursday night Bible study is off and running. This coming Thursday, I will be in our new Essentials series, and my topic will be “Jesus: God With Us.”
Richard Abanes, who is an outstanding apologist and writer, has been in attendance the last two weeks. He recently wrote about what happened last Thursday night.
So, with his permission, I thought I would share it with you.
Theology Without Apology: Greg Laurie – Week #2
By Richard Abanes
” . . . Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35).
* * *
As the worship music continued, I glanced around the spirit-filled sanctuary to see a young couple to my left. They were standing, eyes closed, hands raised, lifting their voices Godward as they gently rocked back and forth, to and fro:
Lord of all creation,
Of water, earth, and sky,
The heavens are your tabernacle,
Glory to the Lord on high . . .
To my left an elderly woman, hair long-since grayed, hands wrinkled by time, sat motionless with her head bowed in reverence to the King of Kings, her lips moving ever so slightly, almost whispering her praises to God:
Early in the morning,
I will celebrate the light,
When I stumble in the darkness,
I will call you name by night . . .
As more saints stood to honor their Lord, and more hands were raised as a sign of humble submission to Jesus Christ, I could see the signs everywhere—God was in this place in a very special way and He was already doing great things:
God of wonders, beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy . . .
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy . . .
So began Week Two of Greg Laurie’s Thursday night Bible study in the O.C. (Irvine, CA). His ongoing series on the “Essentials of the Faith” progressed with an in-depth look at several more attributes of God and how they not only they affect us, but also how we should respond to them as we seek to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Creator.
“God exists,” Laurie began, “and is the Creator of the universe and mankind.”
Then, working from the book of Numbers, chapter six, Laurie quickly recapped his previous week’s teaching on God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, moving seemlessly into preaching a length on God’s sovereignty, which is often a misunderstood attribute of God, if not a forgotten one—especially in times of deep suffering.
“God is sovereign,” Laurie explained. And by sovereignty, he meant that God alone is in control of all that happens around us—the good, the bad, the highs, the lows, and everything in between. God does not need to ask permission from anyone to do as he pleases, the way he pleases, when he pleases, and how he pleases.
For some who may have been present, this was no doubt a difficult truth to hear. But Laurie acknowledged that, giving a heartfelt word of understanding to those facing pain and suffering in their lives—and wrestling with the question: Where is God?
The answer Laurie pointed to, based on Scripture, was right on target: God is with you. Through it all, God is with you. You are not alone. And God is watching and has his reasons for allowing the difficulties we face to come into our lives.
Laurie went on to reveal that suffering can actually be a blessing because “crises produces dependency on God.” And it was obvious that Laurie was again speaking from personal experience. It was not some theoretical, doctrinal position being dispensed from an ivory tower. It was a man of God sharing from his own heart what he himself had to learn about God in the depths of his own despair and anguish.
The teaching moved forward from “God is sovereign” to God is “true,” “holy,” “righteous,” “good,” and “loving.” Most interesting was how Laurie made these attributes particularly relevant to our every day lives by explaining how such attributes of God are to be reflected in us.
If God is true, you be true.
If God is holy, you be holy.
If God is righteous, you be righteous.
If God is good, you be good.
If God is loving, you be loving.
In closing, as always, an invitation was given for those who did not yet know Jesus. The call was for them to step forward and make a faith commitment to him and by grace receive forgiveness and eternal life. Once more, just as it happened last week, there was another harvest of souls as dozens walked to the front of the sanctuary in response to the Holy Spirit’s call upon their heart, and there they prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
God is moving mightily through this new Bible study and I want to encourage everyone to come, bring someone who doesn’t yet know Christ as Lord, be blessed with them at your side, and if led by God, help out wherever you might be needed. I’ll see you at the study!