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Would God ever send a lying spirit?
Election -- Does God show favoritism among the unsaved?

Rewards -- Does God show favoritism among the saved?

Would God ever send a lying spirit?

Question
Phoedrus writes - Hello, I found your web site recently and since then I have been blessed to find answers for questions I have had about some verses in the Bible that have been troubling me. Thank you.

There is one passage in the OT that is not clear to me. It is I Kings 22:20 to 23. In verse 22 there is a spirit proposing to lie in the name of the Lord to a prophet. And in the same verse the Lord accepted the proposition. This attitude from God seems to contradict His character that is perfect, where there is no place for lies or deceptions of any kind.

Do you have any explanation for that?
  And the LORD said, "Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?"

So one
{spirit} spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, "I will persuade him."

The LORD said to him, "In what way?"

So the spirit said, "I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets."

And the LORD said, "You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so."
1 Kings 22.20-22
Biblebell's reply
The world likes to think of God as a sort of Santa Claus -- a permissive, grand-fatherly figure.

However, believing in such a distorted version of God is to ignore the plain facts that God has revealed about Himself in His Bible.
   
Yes, God is kind and loving and merciful. Thus, while we were yet sinners, Christ atoned for the sins of those who receive Him.   But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5.8
But God is also holy and just.

God's holiness and justice demand that He judge unatoned sin and sinners.
  I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Lev 11.44a

Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You only are holy.
Rev 15.4a

For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, the mighty, and a terrible God, who does not respect persons nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger in giving him food and clothing.
Deu 10.17-18
God is LONGsuffering, yes. But "long" is NOT "forever."

A person who repeatedly rejects God's forgiveness and God's truths will eventually fill up the cup of God's longsuffering and reach the end of the line.
  The LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever..." Gen 6:3a

[God said...]
the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. Gen 15:16b

Because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke... Then they will call on me, but I will not answer. They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
Prov 1.25-26, 1.28
God will eventually cease to strive with those people who repeatedly reject His forgiveness and truth.

That is, God will TOTALLY give them over to their own evil nature, and FULLY release them to be deluded by the very lies and liars that they repeatedly CHOSE to believe.
  The LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever..." Gen 6.3a

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,
God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. Rom 1:28

They did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. For this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thes 2:10b-12
God does not lie. Neither does He inflict bodily wounds or physical death. He doesn't need to do so. This is a world filled with sinners and evil spirits. All God needs to do is release evil to have its way.

If it were not for God's restraining hand, we would have been destroyed LONG ago.

As shown by verses quoted in this discussion, there are times when God DOES release evil beings to have their way with those who willfully and repeatedly reject His gracious offers of truth and forgiveness.
  [God said...] "O Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send the Assyrian against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, to seize the spoil, to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets." Isa 10:5-6

Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Cor 5:5
In the verses Phoedrus asked about, God sent His prophet, Micaiah, to King Ahab, to council him and exhort him; and to confront him with the truth.

As recorded in the verses quoted alongside, Ahab willfully and repeatedly rejected God's prophet, and denied God's truths.
  Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?"

King Ahab said, "There is Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil."

...Micaiah said, "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd."

...King Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil? ...Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction..."
extracted from 1 Kings 22.7-27
King Ahab rejected and imprisoned God's chosen prophet, Micaiah. Instead, Ahab sought after prophets who would tell him what he wanted to hear, rather than God's truth.

Ahab WANTED to believe lies. Thus, God sent a spirit to grant Ahab's desire.
  Then a spirit came forward and ...said, "I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all King Ahab's prophets."

And the LORD said, "...Go out and do so."
extracted from 1 Kings 22.21-22
Is there a *Point of No Return*?
The events in 1 Kings 22 are not recorded merely to give us history. Rather, they serve to WARN us that God will eventually grant the wishes of a person who willfully and repeatedly rejects His truth.

In the world today, many people vigorously reject God's truth. They
choose to believe lies. They have even gone so far as to enact laws that forbid God's truth from being spoken or displayed in public places.

For such people, the verses quoted alongside clearly state the awesome fact that there IS a point at which God will GIVE THEM OVER to delusion!

They WANT to believe lies, so God in effect says, "Thy will be done."
  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting Rom 1.28

...They did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. For this reason
God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. extracted from 2 Thes 2.10-12
The Bible does not in any way soften the hard facts about God's holiness or the workings of His wrath upon sin.

I am gloriously joyful to be in the hands of my loving Father. I would not wish, however, to be His enemy.

I urge you to read the poem below. It amply illustrates some of the matters we have just discussed. Amen and aloha................
  If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Heb 10:26-27

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Heb 10:31

1- There is a time, we know not when,
A point we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.

There is a line by us unseen,
That crosses every path;
The hidden boundary between
God's patience and His wrath.

 

2- How long may we go on in sin?
How long will God forbear?
Where does hope end, and where begin
The confines of despair?

An answer from the skies is sent;
"Ye that from God depart,
While it is called today, repent,
And harden not your heart."

by Dr. J. Addison Alexander

Election -- Does God show favoritism among the unsaved?

Question
Anon writes - The Bible says that God chooses those who will know and believe in Him - right?
Isn't God being unfair to the people that He doesn't choose?
   

Biblebell's reply

  • It is a Bible Fact that God chooses people to be saved.
  God chose us in Him [Jesus] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will Eph 1.4-5
  • The basis for being chosen for salvation is God's grace -- NOT because of partiality on God's part, or any deservedness on mankind's part.
  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Eph 2.8-9

For there is
no partiality with God. Rom 2.11
  • It is equally a Bible fact that WHOSOEVER believes on Jesus Christ is saved.
  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3.16

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of
God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Pet 2.3-4

Example
Let's assume that there is an epidemic of sickness in a small, isolated village. They send for a doctor to fly in by helicopter.

  • When the doctor arrives he chooses several sick people. He takes them to the village's clinic and cures them of their sickness.
  • The doctor then tells the people whom he has healed that they should go into the village, and invite everyone to come to the clinic and be healed.
  • ALL who come to the clinic are healed. Those who do not come are not healed.
   

Bible Application
So it is with God's plan of salvation...

  • God has chosen some for salvation.
  • God has commanded each and every person whom He saves to go into the world and invite EVERYONE to come to Jesus and be saved.
  • ALL who come to Jesus are saved. There is NO partiality whatsoever. Amen
  [Jesus said...] Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Mt 28.19

[
Jesus said...] Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. John 20.21

God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5.11-12

Rewards -- Does God show favoritism among the saved?

Question
Kristine writes - The Bible says that there will be rewards for Christians when they get to heaven. The Bible also shows that not everyone will receive rewards.

Does this mean that some Christians will be regarded higher than others? Won't that spark envy on some level, and contradict equality?
   

Background
It is quite true that all Christians will one day stand before the judgment seat in heaven, and be judged by Lord Jesus.

  • The Greek word translated "judgment seat" is bema. It is NOT the Great White Throne of judgment where unsaved people will be judged. (Rev 20.11-15)
  • In Bible times, the bema was the name for the Judge's stand during marathon races. It was solely a place for bestowing REWARDS, and not punishment.
  For we shall all stand before the judgment seat [bema] of Christ. ...So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Rom 14.10b, 14.12 [see also 2 Cor 5.10]

According to the Bible passage alongside, the function of the Bema-judgment of Christians will be solely to determine who should receive rewards...

  • A Christian's "fruitful works" are symbolized by gold, silver, & precious stones.
  • A Christian's "unfruitful works" are symbolized by wood, hay, & straw.
  • The judgment exercised by Lord Jesus is symbolized by fire.
  • At the Bema Seat, fruitful works will be rewarded. [The nature of the reward is not specified. Crowns perhaps?? See 2 Tim 4.8, Jam 1.12, 1 Pet 5.4, 1 Cor 9.25??]
  • Unfruitful works will not be rewarded, but neither will they entail loss of salvation. This Key Bible Fact is highlighted in yellow alongside.
 

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.

  • If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
  • If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Cor 3.11-15
Biblebell's reply - an OPINION    
1 Does the fact that our Lord will bestow rewards mean that He regards some Christians more highly than others?

As far as I know, the Bible does not directly and specifically answer this question. Ergo, be very aware that all we can offer is our OPINION. To wit...

All believers-in-Jesus are children of God. We are all joint heirs with Jesus. We are all equally loved by the Father. But we are NOT all the same.

God loves and treats all His children equally, but He does not insist that we all be the same. He enjoys our differences, I think.

It is good to be for us all to be equal. But if we were all the same -- talk the same, act the same, do the same, receive the same -- then heaven and eternity might be a very dull place.
=>2
  2 We are equal in God's heart, but we are NOT the same. Some of us are men. Some are women. Some of us are jolly. Some are more serious minded. Some of us like to "climb up on God's lap" and snuggle. Others prefer a more distant relationship with the Father, even though they love Him just as much. And so forth.

If then God chooses to hold the hand of one of His children who NEEDS his or her hand held, what is that to you or me? We are not loved any the less.

And what if one of our brothers or sisters lovingly desires and seeks God's reward for working REALLY hard in His service? Would we who choose NOT to work hard begrudge our hard-working brother or sister the reward that they so diligently seek?

Moreover, would we begrudge our heavenly Father the joy of bestowing gifts upon whomever He wants, whenever He wants?
=>3
3 NO NO NO! Love is not jealous. In heaven we will AT LAST be free of envy and pride and greed.

Kristine, if you receive a reward in heaven, and I do not, my reaction will not be one of jealousy or resentment. I will rejoice with you. Congratulate you. Enjoy our Father's joy and pride in you.
That is what love is all about!

Every child of God has ALL of the Father's limitless love. Every child of God has ALL of His concern and attention. ALL the time! Everywhere!

What greater "reward" can there be? What more could anyone ask? Perhaps just this -- to stand before Lord Jesus at the Bema Seat and hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Now
that's a reward -- GO FOR IT!
  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Heb 12.1

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philipp 3.13b-14

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