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Hey there, I'm Sunny Shell, a wretch saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. I'm married to the most incredible man on earth, who loves Jesus more than he loves me, and we have two precious adult sons.

The compassionately endures me through my metabolic disease (since 2004) that enables me to be more prayerful and careful about commitments I make and helps me to make the best use of my short time here on earth.

If you want to know more about me, click HERE.

God, Where Are You?


About four months ago, a reader emailed me a question. I'm delighted to finally be able to answer this very important question, but also very sad that it has taken me so long to do it. As most of you know, I've been quite ill for some time now and well, my thinking hasn't been clear enough, nor has time been made available to me, in order for me to give proper attention to this reader's question. But I trust our Lord God is sovereign and He has allowed all this time to pass for a reason. With this knowledge, and with the reader's permission to publicly post this answer (while leaving her identity anonymous, as requested), I move forward to one of the things that bring me great joy; exhorting brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ all the more as we see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).

This answer will be saturated with Scripture, as God clearly states that He alone is qualified to answer on His behalf. So I choose to allow God's word to speak rather than share any opinion which may be solely based on my personal experience or from what others have written or spoken. Therefore, please be sure to be like the Bereans and read every Scripture that is noted and test it with the Word of God for yourself, so that your faith is founded only in the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, and not that of any man or woman; as we are all but fallible human beings who worship the one and only perfect and awesome Savior, the LORD God Almighty.
"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. [Acts 17:11]...And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. [1 Corinthians 2:1-5]...but test everything; hold fast to what is good. [1 Thessalonians 5:21]...Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. [1 John 4:1]"

QUESTION:

"My question is about your post concerning the young man who killed some people at a church. You posted his letter, which I read. My question is why, if this person was so desperately seeking God, did He not answer? From his letter, it seems this young man was trying to find God...searching for Him the best that he could. The Bible also says that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21). Wasn't that young man drawn to Jesus (John 6:44); he was certainly crying out to Him?


If one is searching for God, not something to fill what only He can fill, but truly seeking God, isn't that being drawn BY Him TO Him?"

ANSWER:

According to Scripture, God always answers...His children; that is, those who are called by Him and granted the gift of repentance that leads to salvation (Romans 2:4, Romans 8:28-30, 2 Corinthians 7:10).

In order to best understand the answer to this reader's question, we must first search God's word to understand His character; His character as He reveals in Scripture, and not by man's attempt to describe God by limited human logic and reasoning. Once we've done that, then we will be able to better discern what exactly happened to this poor soul who took the lives of many others before taking his own, after "attempting" to "find God".

First, let me share that the LORD our God is most certainly not lost; we are. That is why Jesus said He came for the "lost" (Luke 19:10). We, do not "find" God, He finds us in our wretched and depraved state, saves us from our miry pit of destruction, and puts us in a right relationship with Him (Psalm 40:1-4). Think about it. If God were a god that you had to "find", then that would imply that he is fallible and has a very poor sense of direction. And who would want to worship and follow a god who not only has no idea where he is going, but also needs your help in order to have a relationship with you? Doesn't make much sense does it?

Okay, now that we've got that all cleared up, let's consider how we might best gain understanding of God's awesome and holy nature revealed to us in His word. When we read Scripture, first, we must all be in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit, Who alone can discern the thoughts of God our Father, to help us understand what it is we are reading (1 Corinthians 2:10-13), that we might accurately divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). For the LORD clearly states in Jeremiah 9:24, "but let him who boasts boasts in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love [lovingkindness], justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."

In reading God's word, we too often (especially us women) read it based on our emotions or personal experience rather than on God and His holy and unchangeable character. As we see in the aforementioned Scripture (Jeremiah 9:24), God desires that we understand and know Him, that He is a God who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. We all seem to like the "lovingkindness, steadfast love" part of the LORD, but seem to negate that He is also a just and righteous God who demands that justice be executed and holiness be perfected in everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. Who can stand before such an awesome God? No one, except the man, Jesus Christ the Lord.
  • Note: It is impossible for any human being to be perfect or be found righteous before the sight of God. But God, in His great mercy, compassion and grace, has declared righteous, those He has called...."For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." [2 Corinthians 5:21]

The reader states: "From his letter, it seems this young man was trying to find God...searching for Him the best that he could. The Bible also says that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21). Wasn't that young man drawn to Jesus (John 6:44); he was certainly crying out to Him?"

The key word here is "seems". No one can know with absolute certainty, another person's heart; only God knows.

What we can ascertain is God's nature and how He relates to His creation, particularly human beings. And we do this by how the Lord has reveals Himself in Scripture:
"The LORD passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and fourth generation.' "
~ Exodus 34:6-7
The most amazing thing about this passage is the fact that the LORD God Himself is proclaiming His nature; revealing His very character to His children.

In Psalm 103:8-13, King David echoes this truth, in which the LORD God proclaimed of Himself to  His servant Moses, "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him."

The key phrase in this passage is, "those who fear Him". We'll come back to that in a bit.

One of the most misapplied Scriptures in churches today is that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." [Acts 2:21] to mean that everyone and anyone who merely states their desire to go to Heaven rather than Hell, will be saved and that God will indeed grant them eternal life. But this great misunderstanding is far from being true.

Don't be convinced by my words. Be convinced by God's words:

"though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad -- in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls -- she was told, 'the older will serve the younger.' As it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'

What shall we say then? Is there injustice in God's part? By no means! For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."
~ Romans 9:11-16
It is written in Scripture that only those God has called to Himself will have the ability to "cry out to God" out of a true and repentant heart.

"I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for my sheep [Jews]. And I have other sheep [Gentiles] that are not of this fold . I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd. [John 10:14-16]...You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you [John 15:16]...My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand [John 10:27-29].

Now, let's return to the phrase "to those who fear Him." God repeats this phrase all throughout Scripture, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Here are just a few:

"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them. [Psalm 34:7]...The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. [Psalm 25:14]...Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, [Psalm 33:18]...Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. [Psalm 85:9]...but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love.[Psalm 147:11]...Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed His name. [Malachi 3:16]...And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation. [Luke 1:50]...The nations raged, but Your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding Your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear Your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” [Revelation 11:18]

We know that when God repeats Himself, not only is the point He is repeating vitally important, but we can know with certainty that our merciful, kind and patient God wants us to really "get it".

The reason why it "seemed" like this man was truly "seeking" our God who is not lost, is because he is passionate in his plea. But we must remember, passion does not equal sincerity. If you reread Matthew Murray's letter (addressed to God), in the light of God's word and in the brilliance of God's holy character, you will clearly see that this man was not truly "seeking" God. Instead he was seeking the approval of other people and for someone to come into agreement with his personal theology and way of thinking. In other words, he was seeking false gods. Matthew Murray created idols of the "people of the church" and tried to create them to be the kind of people he thought would accept him, pity him, befriend him and ultimately benefit him somehow.

If you recall, in Matthew Murray's letter, he curses at God, blasphemes His holy name (all, which I blacked out), and drowns his entire letter with tidal waves of arrogance, self-exaltation, and the idea that the world and God owed him something (1 Timothy 6:3-5, 2 Timothy 3:2-5). This is truly not a man who is crying out to God with a broken and repentant heart; because if he were, then his letter would've been filled with adjectives used by "those who fear Him", and not by those who dishonor God, His name and His character.

Matthew Murray was very obviously in love with his sin. And God clearly states that He never listens (not that He doesn't hear, but He doesn't hear and act on) the prayers of such people (Psalm 66:18). Unlike us, God cannot be fooled and He will not be mocked. He is faithful to do all that He has claimed.

Therefore to conclude my answer to this reader's question, I will end with this:
  • The LORD God is absolute when He states that He only saves those He has called (Matthew 24:31). And He is faithful to save every single one of them (John 18:9). Without God's call of salvation on a soul, no person will ever desire God on his own, no matter how much they say they do (Romans 3:10-12); for we know our hearts are deceitful and wicked above all things and only the Lord our God can truly know it (Jeremiah 17:9-10). God is faithful; His character is not dependent on the act(s) or proclamations of men, "What if some were unfaithful: Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar,' " [Romans 3:3-4b]

I believe this last passage of Scripture I will share, perfectly answers what happened to Matthew Murray; tragically, a false convert, who chose to "believe" in a god of the false, watered-down, man-centered gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), that has no power to save a soul, but merely tickles itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4), as the hearer plummets down the slippery slope of destruction (Psalm 73:18-20).
"The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ear toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned."
~ Psalm 34:15-22

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4 comments:

  1. You are an amazing woman, Sunny...I am blessed to know you and look forward to worshiping at the feet of Jesus beside you for all eternity...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Sunny, it's always a blessing to hear from you. The Holy Spirit particularly used this post today to speak to my heart. I read Matthew's letter when you posted it before, but when I read it again today, God chose to reveal things to me that I did not see before - not about Matthew but about myself. There were some things in that letter that reminded me of myself: pride, selfishness, acting self-righteous or better than others. I believe God has been teaching me lessons about the sin of pride and my great need for Him to cleanse me and create in me a pure and humble heart.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Sunny, it's always a blessing to hear from you. The Holy Spirit particularly used this post today to speak to my heart. I read Matthew's letter when you posted it before, but when I read it again today, God chose to reveal things to me that I did not see before - not about Matthew but about myself. There were some things in that letter that reminded me of myself: pride, selfishness, acting self-righteous or better than others. I believe God has been teaching me lessons about the sin of pride and my great need for Him to cleanse me and create in me a pure and humble heart.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are an amazing woman, Sunny...I am blessed to know you and look forward to worshiping at the feet of Jesus beside you for all eternity...

    ReplyDelete

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him." ~ C.T. Studd
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