Trusting God for who He is, not what He can do for you

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God?

Core of the Bible podcast #76 – Trusting God for who He is, not what He can do for you

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God?

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust, and how true trust in God does not care for consequences, it only knows what’s true and right and cannot be dissuaded once it is fully embraced.

To help illustrate this principle, we can take a closer look at the story of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego. For those who know their Bibles, the story is familiar.

When the Hebrews are captured by the Babylonians, they are taken captive, and the leading families are held in the king’s palace. The king has set up an idolatrous monument to himself and commanded that everyone in the area pay homage to it at a specific time, or be killed by being thrown into a furnace. These three prominent Hebrews with the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, being Torah-observant, know of course that God has commanded that idolatry is forbidden, and honoring of any other gods is an abomination to him.

Daniel 3:17-18 – “The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”

Their act of defiance enrages the king, and he does indeed throw them bound into the fiery furnace. But, to everyone’s amazement, they not only survive, but their bonds disappear and they are visited by a mysterious angelic individual while in the midst of the flames. The king commands them to come out, and not even their clothes or their hair has been singed or burned.

In response to their miraculous survival, the king, who just previously wanted all people to worship him and his idolatrous monument, now commands everyone to honor the one true God of the Hebrews.

Daniel 3:28-29 – “They trusted their God and refused to obey my commands. Yes, they chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except their own. And I won’t allow people of any nation or race to say anything against their God.”

While there are many fascinating facets to this story, the essence of what it conveys is both practical and challenging. True trust in God does not care for consequences, it only knows what’s true and right and cannot be dissuaded once it is fully embraced. These men were not trusting God to save them, they were simply trusting God regardless of the outcome. This demonstrates that their trust was not in a hoped-for resolution, their trust was in God alone, whatever was to come of it, even if death resulted.

So, this situation begins to draw us toward our application for today: If you are a believer, why are you trusting God? Are you trusting him to save you from the flames of a fiery hell? What if, for his own purpose and glory, there was no guarantee that he would deliver you from that fate, would you still trust in him? What if when you die, you cease to exist; would you still trust in him today?

Now, most of you might say, “This isn’t a legitimate question, since a belief in God assumes a belief in life after death, and therefore you are setting up a false premise.” Well, I guess that’s fair. But if nothing else, then, try to think hypothetically as if there was no understanding of a heaven or hell or promise of some sort of conscious existence beyond this life. Would you still trust in God based on what he has revealed about himself? I believe a real trust in God would say yes. Real trust believes that God has revealed himself to us as the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe and he alone is Sovereign. Because this would be accepted as fact, regardless of any consequence, nothing should be able to dissuade that trust. It should have nothing to do with our personal condition or situation, or salvation, for that matter.

Some might say, why believe in a God who doesn’t give you what you want? Isn’t that the purpose of a belief in God, to gain his favor so you can have things go your way? Shouldn’t we believe in him so we don’t go to hell, so we can spend eternity with him? Those kinds of questions belie an undercurrent of self-centeredness masked with false humility that runs deep in this world, and even within the halls of Christendom, today.

If the God of the Bible truly is God of all, then whatever he chooses to do with his creatures and his Creation is up to him. He has demonstrated he won’t ever go against his own word, so he is not arbitrarily creating chaos at his own whim; however, what specifically occurs in each person’s life and how it fits into his overall purpose is not always clear to us. Sometimes deliverance glorifies him most, and sometimes sacrifice.

Cases of deliverance are still circulated among believers today, especially from the mission fields. What follows is a story that took place in Peru in recent decades. I found this story on a website that includes many different examples of recent Christian testimonies:

Julio, a young lay evangelist, had been threatened by a terrorist group. “You must stop preaching,” they said. “If you do not obey us, you will pay with your blood.”

This terrorist group had taken control of the area where Julio walks from town to town to preach. They had closed the police outstations and governed the region by their own rules. Any individual or group that would not cooperate with them was in danger.

Julio ignored the threats and continued his usual rounds, preaching in the small mountain churches and encouraging the believers. Again the terrorists warned Julio, and again he disregarded the threats against his life. The terrorists were outraged. “Our vengeance will be complete. We asked for your cooperation, and you disobeyed us. Now we will make an example of you,” they said.

A few days later Julio was ambushed and taken to the center of one of the larger towns in the area. A crowd gathered to witness the sentencing. The terrorists hoped that Julio’s fate would put fear into the hearts of Christians and perhaps even result in closing some churches.

Julio was tied to a chair and carried to the middle of the square. Sticks of dynamite were tied to each of his arms and legs. The fuses were lit as Julio began singing praises to God. Other Christians joined him in praise, encouraging him with songs about heaven.

Then came the miracle! Suddenly there was a loud boom as the dynamite exploded. The terrorists thought nothing would be left of Julio. But when the smoke cleared, there sat Julio unharmed and still singing praises to God! The terrorists were shocked. They were so overcome by fear that they ran away. At the same time, all the Christians were saying, “It’s a miracle of God!”

Julio left the square with the Christians. He continued his ministry in spite of persecution. He held firmly to the truth that Jesus gives strength to be courageous when needed.

Christian Testimonies – Protection in Peru (

Of course, the Bible contains stories of deliverance, like Paul escaping from Damascus, or Peter being set free from prison. But it also contains accounts of those giving the ultimate sacrifice for their faith, such as Stephen being stoned to death, or the apostle James who was killed by the sword at Herod’s direction. Just because someone is a believer is not a guarantee that nothing bad or tragic will ever happen to them. It’s all about what serves God’s purposes best, not the individual.

As a testament to this, a common classic work among Protestant orthodoxy is a book titled “Foxe’s book of Martyrs,” first published in 1563 by John Foxe, detailing primarily Catholic persecution of the Protestants. However, it also covers many stories telling of heroic courage and overcoming faith, stories of the grace of God that enabled men, women, and children to endure persecutions and often horrible deaths. To illustrate, here is an excerpt of some stories regarding persecutions of believing Christians while it was still an “outlaw” religion around the year 200 AD.

“The Fifth Persecution, Commencing with Severus, A.D. 192

Severus, having been recovered from a severe fit of sickness by a Christian, became a great favorer of the Christians in general; but the prejudice and fury of the ignorant multitude prevailing, obsolete laws were put in execution against the Christians. The progress of Christianity alarmed the pagans, and they revived the stale calumny of placing accidental misfortunes to the account of its professors, A.D. 192.

But, though persecuting malice raged, yet the Gospel shone with resplendent brightness; and, firm as an impregnable rock, withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success. Tertullian, who lived in this age, informs us that if the Christians had collectively withdrawn themselves from the Roman territories, the empire would have been greatly depopulated.

Victor, bishop of Rome, suffered martyrdom in the first year of the third century, A.D. 201. Leonidus, the father of the celebrated Origen, was beheaded for being a Christian. Many of Origen’s hearers likewise suffered martyrdom; particularly two brothers, named Plutarchus and Serenus; another Serenus, Heron, and Heraclides, were beheaded. Rhais had boiled pitch poured upon her head, and was then burnt, as was Marcella her mother. Potainiena, the sister of Rhais, was executed in the same manner as Rhais had been; but Basilides, an officer belonging to the army, and ordered to attend her execution, became her convert.

Basilides being, as an officer, required to take a certain oath, refused, saying, that he could not swear by the Roman idols, as he was a Christian. Struck with surpsie, the people could not, at first, believe what they heard; but he had no sooner confirmed the same, than he was dragged before the judge, committed to prison, and speedily afterward beheaded.”

The Fifth Persecution, Commencing with Severus, A.D. 192 – Fox’s Book of Martyrs (

These are just a few of the thousands of examples of courageous conviction throughout this single volume documenting these events. Faced with similar circumstances, would you have responded in like kind with these dedicated men and women?

Returning once again to our story in Daniel, what if God had chosen to abandon those three men in the furnace? Perhaps he could have decided that their perishing in light of their undying trust in him would have better served glorifying his name: three martyrs for Yahweh. It would still be a good story and they would still be honored as heroes of the faith. Yet God chose their miraculous preservation as a way of honoring their faith and converting a pagan king. That served his purpose better. Case in point: we’re still talking about the impact of this incident thousands of years later. It is still serving his purpose to this day.

Do you think those three men had stronger trust in God after that incident? I’m sure they were relieved, but to the point I am attempting to convey here, quite honestly, I believe that if they were asked about it, they would consider that an unnecessary, silly question. I believe they would say the point of their preservation was not to enhance their faith, but to enhance others’ faith by demonstrating God’s glory. As his glory was revealed, others came to know him.

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God? Then you are believing in God for what he can do, not for who he is. As believers, we need to remove ourselves from the center of our own faith universe and make sure that we are recognizing and trusting God simply for who he is: God. We need to let him be God, and to unswervingly place our everything: our well-being, our lifestyle, our security, into his hands and let him accomplish his own purpose in his own way. The end result may not look like we expect it to, but it shouldn’t matter. We can be confident it will always be the outcome that best serves his purpose and provides him the most glory.

For me, I believe it would be a fitting testimony to the honor of God to have said about me what was said about those three brave Hebrew men: “he chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except his own.”

We need to check where our trust is truly placed: in our salvation, or in the God who can provide that salvation. Place your trust in God for who he is, not for what he can do for you.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

The knowledge of salvation in forgiveness

When we recognize we are in a forgiven state, we can then operate within that condition in a manner that honors the Creator of the universe.

When we recognize we are in a forgiven state, we can then operate within that condition in a manner that honors the Creator of the universe.

When John the baptizer was born six months ahead of Yeshua, his father, Zechariah, was provided a prophetic utterance by the holy Spirit regarding the work of his newborn son.

Luke 1:76-77 – “And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.”

Zechariah prophesied that his son John would give God’s people “knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins.” What does this mean?

Well, if we look a little more closely at the underlying terms in the Greek text, we can see that a more literal rendering might be something like, “to give salvation knowledge to [the] people of him, in forgiveness of [the] sins of them.” To me, one of the most striking differences is the substitution of the preposition “in” for “through.” God’s people would have “salvation knowledge” in forgiveness of their sins, not through forgiveness of their sins.

This subtle difference is captured in the literal English versions such as the Young’s Literal Translation, Weymouth, Literal Standard Version, Aramaic Bible, American Standard Version, Berean Literal, and the English Standard Version. Almost all other English translations will use the word “through” or “by.”

So what’s the big deal? Why is this significant?

The HELPS Word Studies concordance elaborates:

“en (a preposition) – properly, in (inside, within); (figuratively) “in the realm (sphere) of,” as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside (within).”

To be forgiven is to be in the condition or state of forgiveness. The prophecy states that it is in this condition that one has a recognition, a knowledge and understanding of one’s “saved” state. By contrast, if the knowledge and understanding of salvation must be present first which then provides the vehicle through which forgiveness is provided to the individual, then we are by default limiting forgiveness to those who are exposed to and understand this knowledge. This in essence restricts God’s ability to forgive anyone unless they have the proper and right knowledge.

On a casual reading of this passage, this may not seem like it has any bearing on anything. But let’s run this logic out a little to see where it leads.

What about those who may not have the ability to grasp the gospel message, such as those who are mentally challenged? Does this mean that they can’t be forgiven because they can’t understand the knowledge of salvation? What about infants and small children who have not gained the ability to reason about life and eternity, can they not receive forgiveness?

Interestingly, Yeshua states that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are innocent as children.

Matthew 18:1-5 – At that time the disciples came to Yeshua and asked, “So who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? ” He called a child and had him stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child ​– ​this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes one child like this in my name welcomes me.

Can a child understand all of the complexities that surround the concepts of salvation and forgiveness? Yet, Yeshua says it is this innocence and humility which is the basis of those populating the kingdom.

The crux of the issue determines in a large way how we approach the whole concept of evangelism and outreach. Modern models of evangelism focus so intently on providing information about salvation, trying to convince people of the reasonableness of the gospel message, that we lose sight of Who is it is Who is really responsible for the forgiveness of an individual. Yes, we have to provide non-believers a general understanding of the biblical worldview, but it is not that knowledge specifically that provides forgiveness. It is God, and God alone, who draws people to himself and forgives them.

Yeshua taught that those whom God would call would listen to him.

John 6:44-45 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to me ​– ​”

This misapplication of this “knowledge principle” is one of the main reasons why churches and individuals head down a road of compromise with the world. They start to operate on the principle that if the information is just packaged correctly, more people will get saved. This, in turn, leads to “seeker sensitive” churches and materials in an attempt to reach the widest possible audiences.

It sounds logical and good on the surface, but what it ends up doing is watering down the kingdom message of the gospel to make it more palatable to more people. In so doing, it is robbed of its power by the nature of what it is: a message that is designed by God to set people apart and call them to be holy, not to compromise with the standards and sensibilities of the world.

Paul writes about it this way:

1 Corinthians 1:18, 21-24 – For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. … For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Messiah crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Messiah is the power of God and the wisdom of God…

See, it is not some knowledge of salvation that we need to convince non-believers of; it is foolishness to them. But the message of the Messiah bringing the kingdom of God through the cross, a message of self-sacrifice and renunciation of worldly values, this is the light that shines in the darkness, and whoever will may come.

No, Zechariah’s prophecy, which literally says “you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation in the forgiveness of their sins,” has a much simpler meaning and message. It is that those who have already been forgiven (God’s people) will have a recognition, a knowledge and understanding, of their salvation from everything and all that is opposed to the perfect will of God. That is its simple and beautiful message to those who are forgiven. They will be able to rejoice within the influence of the forgiveness they have already received, having a full understanding and appreciation of all from which they have been forgiven.

When we recognize we are in a forgiven state, we can then operate within that condition in a manner that honors the Creator of the universe; we can be truly holy for the rest of our days.

Luke 1:73-75 – He has given us the privilege, since we have been rescued from the hand of our enemies, to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness in his presence all our days.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

Being mindful and vigilant with the message of the Bible

Not everyone will be receptive to the message of the kingdom. And that’s ok.

In our desire to share the good news of the kingdom with others, we need to be mindful that not everyone will be receptive to the message. This is a difficult lesson, as we may have sincere desires to see those around us come to a knowledge of the truths of God and his kingdom as he has revealed them in the Bible. However, the biblical standard, and the instruction of Yeshua, is that those who are resistant to the instruction of God should be left to their own perceptions.

Matthew 7:6 – “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.

Yeshua used the example of “dogs” and “pigs” not being receptive to the “holy things” or “pearls” being offered to them. The designation of dogs and pigs typically was used of those outside of the house of Israel. We know that Yeshua himself used this imagery in his discussion with the woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon (outside of Israel proper) as she begged him to help her daughter.

Matthew 15:21-22, 24-27 – When Jesus left there, he withdrew to the area of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely tormented by a demon.” … He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, help me! ” He answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

While this type of apparent profiling may be unseemly to our modern ears, the truth of the matter is that Yeshua clearly stated his mission in his day was “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The disciples were carrying on that work as they ministered first and foremost to the Israelites in Israel, and then to those whom had been scattered throughout various regions during the Dispersions which had occurred hundreds of years earlier due to the conquests of Assyria and Babylon.

1 Peter 1:1 – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…
Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

That the message of the kingdom was being shared with the scattered Israelites first was a fulfillment of prophecy; God was reclaiming and regathering his people, his faithful “remnant.”

Deuteronomy 30:4 – “Even if your exiles are at the farthest horizon, he will gather you and bring you back from there.
Ezekiel 20:41 – “When I bring you from the peoples and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, I will accept you as a pleasing aroma. And I will demonstrate my holiness through you in the sight of the nations.
Zephaniah 3:20 – At that time I will bring you back, yes, at the time I will gather you. I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes. The LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 10:21 – The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.
Isaiah 11:11 – On that day the Lord will extend his hand a second time to recover the remnant of his people who survive ​– ​from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the coasts and islands of the west.
Micah 5:7 – Then the remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or linger for mankind.
Romans 9:27 – But Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, Though the number of Israelites is like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved;
Romans 11:5 – In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.

As the door of faith was opened to those scattered among the nations, this also provided the opportunity for non-Israelites, the Greeks and “gentiles,” to also come to God through belief in his Messiah.

Romans 15:8-12 – For I say that Christ became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praise to your name. Again it says, Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people! And again, Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples praise him! And again, Isaiah says, The root of Jesse will appear, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; the Gentiles will hope in him.

The wonder and beauty of the message of the kingdom is that as God reclaimed his remnant from among the nations as he had promised, the door was opened to all to come to the God of Israel in the eternal kingdom. There would no longer be the distinction between Jews and everyone else; all could become one in the Messiah.

Galatians 3:28 – There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:11 – In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

While our enthusiasm in our inclusion among the people of God may cause us to want all others to share in these truths, we must remember temper our enthusiasm with vigilance in recognizing our audience. If we are sharing with those who are unreceptive to the message, we should recognize that they are simply following a pattern that has been evident even from the days of Messiah. We should follow Yeshua’s instruction and not continue to throw our “pearls” and “holy things” before them, and focus rather on those who do have a sincere interest and desire in learning more about the God of Israel.

Acts 10:34-36, 43 – Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, “but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ ​– ​he is Lord of all. … All the prophets testify about him that through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.”

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at