Is God really on your side?


““Your people seem to take the Bible seriously,” Eric said. “You think God is on your side?” “It’s more important for us to be on God’s side.”” 1)from “Network of Deception: A Novel” by Spencer E. Moses

“God’s on my side.”  We here this all the the time.  Even from football teams.

I read the book “Network of Deception”, from which the title quote is drawn, a while back.  I’m finally getting around to writing about it now.

It made me wonder, does the Bible ever say anything about God being on our side?  
In fact, does it even say anything about us being on God’s side?

Searching for various combinations of “on God’s side”, “God’s side”, “on your side”, Etc. turned up only two results.

So – here are the results from searching for “on your side” in the NIV –

Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized

Eze 4:1 “Now, son of man, take a clay tablet, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. 2 Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. 3 Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel.
Eze 4:4 “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the house of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. 5 I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the house of Israel.
Eze 4:6 “After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the house of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. 7 Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her. 8 I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege.
Eze 4:9 “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side. 10 Weigh out twenty shekels of food to eat each day and eat it at set times. 11 Also measure out a sixth of a hin of water and drink it at set times. 12 Eat the food as you would a barley cake; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.” 13 The LORD said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.”

And that’s it.

So why do we think God’son our side?

Maybe this passage from Romans?

More Than Conquerors

Ro 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined (see note at the end on predestined), he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Ro 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

OK – the passage does say if God is for us
However, does that mean God is on our side?

I’d say – far from it.

You may remember, from the Great Commission –

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus says He’ll be with us.  Not on our side.

We see God is for us, and with us, but we still haven’t seen God “on our side”.

Why not?

Maybe, because it’s not a question of God being on “our side”.

You may remember this, from 1 John about the difference between God’s love and ours –

God’s Love and Ours

1Jn 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1Jn 4:13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1Jn 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

And then there’s the differences in faithfulness.
This passage from Isaiah is about God (The Father) foretelling some of the characteristics of His Son – Jesus –

The Servant of the LORD

Isa 42:1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
Isa 42:2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
Isa 42:3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
Isa 42:4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope.”

When we compare ourselves to all of the things above that tell us about Jesus, we come out exactly the opposite.  We will do all the things Jesus will not do.  And we will not always do the things that Jesus will.  
For instance, we will falter and be discouraged.  Even if we are “on God’s side” (so to speak), we will falter, become discouraged, and fail Him. On the other hand, Jesus will not falter or be discouraged.  He will continue to try to guide us, so matter how much we falter.

We’ve seen that God loved us first, and while He is faithful and won’t falter or be discourage, we aren’t like that.

However, there is a condition as far as what happens in the end, meaning at the end of our lives.  A major part of God’s love for us is that thing called free will. Part of our free will is the choice to love God or not – to even believe in God or not.

As such, we read this when Jesus is born –

The Shepherds and the Angels

Lk 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Lk 2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
Lk 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Lk 2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Lk 2:16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

And yet, later we read these words form Jesus, during the Last Supper –

Mk 14:23 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
Mk 14:24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”

And so we’ve gone from Jesus coming being “good news for all the people” 
to  which is poured out for many.
Not even most.  But only many.

How is that possible?

Free will.
The choice to do something – or not.

There are all sorts of discussions about which comes first – works (doing something to get God to like us) or faith.
Jesus has this to say about work that’s required by God –

Jn 6:28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jn 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Conclusion

So let’s put all this together.

All of the examples show that we think of being on someone’s “side” as doing something for them – like winning a football game.  Further, something that will make them feel better about us.  
We think we can love God, so He’ll love us back.  That’s backwards.
We say, like Peter did before Jesus was arrested, that we’ll always be on “His side”.  But we aren’t.  We fail.  Over and over.
We think if we do enough good things, God will like us.  But God already loves us – so that’s wrong too.

Truth is – God’s always on “our side”.
He’s on “everyone’s side”.

But it’s not like it’s one of us as opposed to someone else.
Not like He’s going to make the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers.

No – it’s us (all of us) as compared to Satan.

You may remember, I had The Great Commission earlier.  Here it is again, so you don’t have to scroll back up –

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

God is with us – on “our side” in this battle between us and Satan – between good and evil – all the time.

But as we saw with love, with faithfulness, with salvation – we have the free will to refuse all of those things.
We also have the free will to misinterpret all of those things.
We have the free will to decide that if God’s on our side then we’ll be rich, famous, whatever.  And we’ll be discouraged and falter when that doesn’t happen.  Not because God wasn’t “on our side”, but because we didn’t know what “on our side” means.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet – here’s what it means when God is “on our side”.  Here is what He will always do for us – whether we want it or not –

Pr 3:11 My son, do not despise the LORD’S discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,
Pr 3:12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.

and

Rev 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

So the question isn’t whether God’s on your side.
Yes – God’s on your side.
The first question is whether or not you even know what it means to have God “on your side”.
The second question is whether or not you want Him on your side.  Because you do have the free will to reject everything He tries to tell you.

Speaking of discipline, the passage from Ezekiel, way back at the top of this page, were part of God’s discipline for His people.  This was a message the people certainly did not want to hear.

It’s tempting to say it’s a question of whether or not you’re on God’s side.  It’s got kind of a symmetry to it.
But I think that would be wrong.
That would be a case of us deciding how things work.
And God says the way things work is for us to believe in Jesus, the One He sent.  Not for us to be on His side.

We saw, going back to the salvation passages, Jesus coming to earth to die for our salvation,
and us rejecting His offer so that what could have been good news for all people turned into His blood being poured out for many – 
Jesus is the important element in all of this.

If you really have a need to be “on God’s side” – maybe do it by believing in the One He sent – His Son, Jesus.
And know that God is always “on your side”.  And also know what that means.

 


Predestined.  Regular readers will know I do not believe in predestiny – at least the way many people define it – meaning I don’t believe that God chose who would be saved and who wouldn’t be.  If that’s the case, then there’s no free will.  You can read more in this article – The problem of prededstiny.  

Here’s the entry for the original Greek word translated as “predestined” in this verse from Romans –

προγινώσκωb: οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ‘those whom he had chosen beforehand, he had already decided should become like his Son’ Ro 8:29. In Ro 8:29 προγινώσκω may also be understood as meaning ‘to know beforehand’ (28.6).  2)Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 362). New York: United Bible Societies.

I’m also working on another article, to be titled Why can’t it be both which will, if my research comes out the way I expect, propose that some combination of predestiny and free will are not only possible, but likely.  One interesting example would be Jonah.  Clearly, Jonah didn’t want to do what God wanted him to do.  Just as clearly, God wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  Suppose Jonah was predestined?  So what if some people just have to do God’s work in certain circumstances – but others of us have the right / ability to say no, and God gives the task to someone else?  That’s what I’ll be looking at.  If / when I’m done – I’ve made a note to put the link here.


The quote and details from the book are at amazon.com:  http://amzn.to/2cMOIy5

References   [ + ]

1. from “Network of Deception: A Novel” by Spencer E. Moses
2. Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 362). New York: United Bible Societies.

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