Archives
Tag Cloud
: Mothers Abandonment Abomination of Desolation Abortion Abraham’s Bosom Abuse Accounting Activism Adoption Adultery Affection Affliction Afterlife Alliances Altar America Angels Anger Anointing Apologetics Apostasy Armor of God Ascension Ashamed Atonement Authority Baal Babylon Bad Baptism Betrayal Bible Bitterness Blasphemy Blessing Blessings Blindness Boasting Body of Christ Bondage Book of Life Borders Born Again Bottomless Pit Bride of Christ Bridegroom Calling Capital Punishment Celebration Character Childbirth Children Children of God Chosen Christ Christian Life Christians Christmas Church Civil Disobedience Clay Cleansing Comfort Commands Communion Community Comparison Compassion Complacency Complaining Conception Condemnation Conduct Confidence Conflict Conformity Confrontation Confusion Connection Conscience Consequences Contentment Conviction Cornerstone Correction Cost Counsel Courage Covenant Coveting Creation Creator Crisis Cross Crowns Crucifixion Culture Curse Darkness David Day of the Lord Death Deceit Deception Decisions Defense Delegation Demon Demons Denial Dependency Design Desolation Destruction Devil Direction Disaster Discernment Disciple Disciples Discipleship Discipline Discontentment Discouragement Disease Disgrace Disputes Distraction Diversity Divine Division Doctrine Double Fulfillment Doubt Drought Drugs Duties Duty Earth Earthly Earthquakes Easter Edom Education Elders Elect Emmaus Emotions Employment Encouragement End Times Endurance Enemies Enemy Environment Environmentalism Equality Equipped Eternal Eternal Life Eternity Evangelism Everlasting Life Evil Evolution Exaltation Exalted Exclusion Excuses Exorcism Expectations Eyes Failure Fairness Faith Faithful Faithful Servant Faithfulness False Christs False Doctrine False Gods False Prophet False Religion False Religions Family Famine Fasting Father Fathers Favoritism Fear Fear of the Lord Feasts Feasts of the Lord Fellowship Fig Tree Finances Fire First Coming First Resurrection Firstborn Flesh Flock Folly Foolishness Foreigner Foreknown Forgiveness Fornication Forsaken Foundation Freedom Friends Friendship Fruit Fruit of the Spirit Fruitfulness Future Gentiles Gentle George Wood Giving Glorified Body Glory God God’s Word Godliness Godly God's Will Good Good Shepherd Good Works Gospel Gospels Government Grace Gratitude Great Commission Greatness Grief Growth Guilt Hades Hardship Harvest Hate Hatred Healing Heart Heaven Heavenly Hedonism Hell Help Herod Hidden Holiness Holy Holy Spirit Home Homosexuality Honor Hope Hopelessness Humility Husband Hypocrisy Idolatry Ignorance Image Immanuel Immigration Impossibility Incarnation Individuals Indulgences Inheritance Injustice Inner Battle Instructions Insults Integrity Intercession Intermediate State Israel Jerusalem Jesus Jewish Temple John the Baptist Joy Judas Judgment Judgment Day Judgments Justice Justification Justify Key Keys Kids Kindness King Kingdom Kingdom of God Kingdom of Heaven Knowledge Lake of Fire Lamp Law Lawlessness Leader Leaders Leadership Leftism Legalism Leprosy Lies Life Life-Span Light Like-minded Lord Lost Love Loyalty Lust Lusts Luxury Malachi Manipulation Marriage Martyrdom Martyrs Mary Master Materialism Maturity Meditation Men Mentoring Mercy Messiah Metaphor Millennium Mind Mind of Christ Minister Ministry Miracle Miracles Mission Mocking Money Mothers Mystery Nations Natural Gifts Naturalism Nature Near-Far Fulfillment Necessities New Covenant New Earth New Jerusalem New Man New Testament Obedience Obstacles Obstructions Offense Old Man Old Nature Old Testament Omnipresence Omniscience One Mind Outcast Pagan Pain Palm Sunday Parable Parables Paradise Paranormal Parenting Passion Passover Patience Patriotism Peace Peer Pressure Pentecost People of God Perception Perfect Persecution Perseverance Persistence Personal Testimonies Perspective Perversion Pestilence Peter Pharisees Philosophy Piety Pilate Politics Poor Position Possession Possessions Posture Power Praise Prayer Preaching Preparation Pride Priority Privilege Prodigal Promise Proof Prophecy Prophet Prophets Protection Protestant Reformation Proverbs Providence Provision Punishment Purgatory Purpose Questions Racism Rapture Reason Rebellion Rebuke Reconciliation Redeemer Redemption Refuge Regeneration Rejection Rejoicing Relationship Relationships Reliability Religion Remember Remnant Renewal Repentance Reputation Resolve Rest Restoration Resurrection Revelation Revenge Revival Reward Rich Riches Righteous Righteousness Rights Riot Risk Rivalry Robbery Roman Catholic Church Rule Sabbath Sacred Sacrifice Saint Salvation Sanctification Sarcasm Satan Savior Schemes Science Scripture Seasons Second Coming Secret Seed Seek Self Self Control Self-centered Self-Control Selfish Ambition Self-Righteous Servant Servant-Leadership Serve Service Serving Sexual Immorality Sexual Sin Sexuality Shame Share Sharing She’ol Shepherd Sickness Signs Signs and Wonders Simplicity Sin Sincerity Singing Singleness Sinners Slavery Sober Society Sojourner Sojourners Son Son of God Son of Man Sons of God Sorrow Soul Source Sovereignty Speech Spirit Spirit Realm Spirits Spiritual Spiritual Battle Spiritual Birth Spiritual Death Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Growth Spiritual Rulers Spiritual Warfare Stewardship Strength Stress Strife Stumbling Block Submission Suffering Supernatural Supper Surrender Syncretism Tags: Patience Taxes Teacher Teaching Tears Technology Temple Temptation Temptations Terminal Illness Test Testimony Testing Tests Thankfulness Thanksgiving The Curse The Day of The Lord The End The Fall The Grave The Holy Spirit The Law The Way The Word The World Theology Throne Time of Visitation Times of the Gentiles Tithing Tongues Tradition Tragedy Transfiguration Transformation Traps Treachery Treasure Tree Tree of Life Trial Trials Tribulation Trifles Trinity Triumphal Triumphal Entry Trouble Trust Truth Unbelievers Uncertainty Unity Unpardonable Sin Utopia Value Victory Vigilance Vindication Virtue Virtues Voice of God Volunteer War Warning Warnings Wars Watching Water Baptism Water of Life Weary Wicked Wickedness Widows Wife Wineskins Wisdom Witness Witnesses Women Word of God Word of the Lord Works World World View Worry Worship Worth Wrath Yahweh Yeast YHWH Yoke Zion

Weekly Word

Tuesday
Jun072011

When did my little angel become a devil?

The initial beauty and joy of a little child is always spoiled by the eventual "sprouting of horns" that will happen.  The phrase "terrible twos" is used to reference that period of time in which the child has gained enough physical mastery to begin to assert its own will, and rather demonstrably, I might add.  Babies and toddlers are, in general, focused only on their desires and how you can meet them.  It has been pointed out in many different places that no one has to teach their kids to be selfish.  No, that comes naturally to them as well as other vices like lieing, forcible taking of toys, violent behavior towards other kids, tantrums, etc...  

This reminded me of the animated Disney movie, "The Incredibles."  It is about a family of super heroes who are fighting against an evil villain.  Although they defeat the villain's evil plan, the villain gets them back by kidnapping their little baby, "Jack-Jack."  As he is gloating over the fact that they are too late to stop him, the little baby begins morphing into various things like fire, heavy metal and lastly he turns into a devil and begins beating and biting the villain.  What seemed to be a nice, innocent, helpless baby turns out to be more than a handful for him.  No matter what name we are going to give it, it is abundantly clear that man has an inner bent towards self at the cost of others.  Even if we are to say that a baby cognitively doesn't know any better, the problem still remains that universally children display selfishness, not selflessness.  How can that be if they are born innately good?

To say that they are influenced to hurtful behavior (sin) is to beg the question.  If it was their parents, siblings, and or society that influenced them to embrace sin (at whatever level) then who influenced the parents and the others?  Of course the answer has to be other people prior to them.  We cannot infinitely regress backwards and have also answered the question.  If men are born innately good and are just influenced to do bad things then someone somewhere had to start it all.  However, before we follow that thread, ask yourself this.  Is it really reasonable to explain all bad behavior as having been taught or modeled?  The two year old that takes a toy from another toddler and hits them on the head with it was taught this?  It stretches credulity to claim all bad behavior cannot ultimately be the fault of the child.  Let's look at what the Bible has to say about this.

Sin is a universal problem

In Romans 5:12-19, it starts out by establishing that all people are sinners.  However, we are pointed back to Genesis chapter 3 where the fault of this problem is laid at the feet of Adam.  Whether you believe in an initial, created, ancestor named Adam (which is a generic word for man) or not, the Bible and modern intellects actually say the same thing, however, at different times.  Modern man says that people today are basically good but can be influenced to bad or evil.  If we were able to remove all evil influences then men would no longer act in evil ways.  I would challenge you to ask yourself if it is possible to remove all evil influences in this world without becoming evil yourself.  The Bible says that man was initially good.  But he was influenced to embrace evil by an outside influence.  Ever since that time, man has been born with a bent towards selfishness and sin.  Initially the world was "very good" with no problems.  Into this "Eutopia" comes the temptation to choose self over the top of God.  In these passages sin is spoken of in a way that almost makes it sound like a disease.  Through one man [Adam] sin entered the world.  But sin wasn't the only thing that entered the world, it has a natural and spiritual consequence of death.  Man was not originally mortal, but became so by rebelling against the Creator.

The affects of this rebellion were not just in the area of legal standing.  The separation from God changed how man functioned spiritually.  But something happened to man physically as well.  In Genesis 2:17 God told Adam that if he ate from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil he "would surely die."  Literally it is "dying you shall die."  Notice the phrase implies immediacy and process.  It is what we see today that even as we live the processes of aging can be compared to dying.  When I am young there is more growing happening than there is dieing.  But cells are dieing everyday.  As I grow older growing eventually comes to a stop and repairing also slows down.  At the same time the dieing of cellular tissues increases in rate.  Eventually this leads to death.  Something physical immediately changed in Adam that is called "dying."  Adam passes on both physical and spiritual traits to his children.  They too are born into a process of "dying you shall die," and they also are born spiritually bent toward sin and separated from God.

Sin is not merely breaking the law

In Romans 5 the Bible goes on to explain that sin is not just a result of the law.  In fact the law is given so that man will see that he is a sinner.  It is easy to think and say, "I'm a good person.  The problem is that there are too many laws.  The laws are bad not me."  Now when you are dealing with the laws of mankind it is true that sometimes "bad" laws are passed and no country has 100% good laws.  But even with that said, laws basically funtion as a societal discussion on what  is generally accepted as good and bad.  This discussion can't make me do good or bad things but it can dredge up things in me that I didn't realize I had. It is easy to think of myself as patient and law abiding, but when I am late for work and driving over the speed limit to get to work, do I see myself as the problem or do I blame everything else including the laws?  Have you ever had people swerve in front of you in the middle of rush hour traffic only to slam on the brakes and almost cause an accident?  Laws do not create sin, they only attempt to define sin.  Thus before Moses received the Law from God, mankind existed in a state where all manner of evil things were going on and the world functioned in a "might makes right" age.  Eventually God had to not only judge mankind, but also lay down a law.  This was first done generally with Noah and then far more explicitly with Moses and Israel.

So, God's law clearly and accurately defines sin for us so that we might discover the true depths of sin's tentacles in our hearts.  Psalm 51:5, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (NIV)

Jesus came to be a better Adam

Romans 5 goes on to contrast the first, natural man, Adam to the first, spiritual man, Jesus.  Because of the offense of Adam death entered the world and all mankind suffers its effects.  The judgment that came from the one offense condemns everyone.  Death reigns over mankind like a powerful tyrant as all grow up to personally embrace sin.  Jesus is, in a sense a 2nd Adam.  Where the first Adam failed and brought us into slavery and suffering, the second Adam succeeds and gives us freedom and eternal life.  The opposite of Adam, Jesus' one act of righteousness and grace causes grace to overflow to many (whosoever will).  Also, out of many offenses, came grace to justify sinners before God.  Lastly, in Jesus new life is made to reign over and in those who have been made righteous by God.  Jesus begins a new "race" of spiritual men who are able to rule over death through Jesus.  In Jesus we do not fear death nor shrink back from doing the right thing because of death.  Also, even when we die God has guaranteed through Jesus' own resurrection that he will overrule death's hold on us.  A day of resurrection is coming when all who are in the grave will hear the command of Christ and come forth into resurrected bodies.  Those who put their faith in Jesus are also reconnected to God by his Spirit.  We are able to connect with God by his Holy Spirit and receive comfort and direction.  2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (NKJV)

When we ignore God's law, we actually take ourselves and our society ever closer to the time in history when each one did what was right in their own eyes.  It is a time of anarchy and power struggles as a "might makes right" attitude dominates the scene.  Before the Great Flood the world was an extremely violent place as competing views of what is bad and good clashed.  We see this today as societies fall apart and the rule of law and order ceases to function.  Perhaps you are reading this and thinking about the parts of God's law that you disagree with.  To you it seems so logical to say, this can't be good. Therefore either this is all made up or God is bad.  Either way I don't have to listen to him.  But think about it this way.  If we really are bent towards selfishness and bad to some degree or another, then it stands to reason that there will be some "good" things that we don't like.  Precisely because they point out the parts of evil that we like.  Which seems more probable to you?  Are you innately good or do you have a nature bent towards some areas of sin?

 

You can listen to this sermon here.

MP3-When did my little angel become a devil?

Tuesday
May312011

Would the world really be better off without Christians?

An idea that is growing in acceptance every day is that Christians are all bigoted, sexist, homophobes and the world would be better off without them.  Granted, most who think or say this kind of thing do so passively.  It represents what they truly believe, but they would never think of trying to "get rid of Christians."  That said, there are some who expouse such beliefs with vitriole and fervour.  These will make statements that are no longer passive but quite active.  "Those Christians want to go to heaven?  Then we ought to send them there."  I don't want to get into the prevalence of either the passive or the active in this group.  Rather I want to honestly ask if the underlying basis of these statements is true.

In an issue like this that can be highly emotional, it is easy to cherry pick the evidence in order to make your view emotionally favorable.  However, I believe this is intellectually dishonest and only leads to me feeling good about the delusion I think is true.  When one looks at history with as unbiased eyes as possible (believe me, I understand that can be a quagmire) it is hard to argue against the statement that Christianity radically affected the course of what we call the Western world, but mainly refers to Europe and America.  It would be easy to go through history and pick out leaders and groups under the banner of the Church that have lived very sexist, bigotted, and homophobic lives not to mention a whole batch of other things.  But to be fair we could find many examples to the contrary.  I think it is more valuable to go to the source of Christianity, and its founder, Jesus.  Jesus taught and commissioned several men who were to serve as his voice in this new group, the Church.  Then we can better understand the impulse that is behind Christianity, which is far more important than analyzing side currents and dead water that are not a part of the main stream.  I will not restate arguments that have been stated far more eloquently by others.  For some good reading you should check out Dinesh D'souza's What's So Great About Christianity, 2007. 

The Law and Christianity

Many Christians do not understand the relationship between the Old Testament Law of Moses and believers in Jesus, much less those who reject Christianity.  So we need to respond with some grace in this issue.  Many people like to point to laws in the old testament of the Bible and challenge, "Do you believe this is the word of God?"  Though Christians do believe that the Old Testament is the Word of God, they do not believe that it should be enacted as the law of America.  I realize some groups within the Church do advocate this, but my point would be that they do not properly represent the main thrust of Christianity and I will do so by going back to the first century when this all began.

In Galatians 3 one of Jesus' apostles (men commissioned metaphorically to build the Church) explains to Christians how they should view the Law of Moses.  Paul draws on an analogy that would have been readily understood by most in his day.  It is that of a child who is tutored in the home until he comes of such an age that he can work with his dad in the family business as an adult son who will one day inherit the family business and estate.  In this passage Paul explains that Israel is the young child and the Law of Moses was the tutor.  Now think about your time in school.  Teachers often have rules and deadlines that are not necessary from the stand point of merely learning the subject, but they are necessary from the stand point of preparing the child to function in the adult world.  Thus the deadline is quite artificial, but it serves to teach a child diligence and nip the inherent procrastination that sabotages the dreams and plans of many a man.  Such is the Old Testament.  We can cherry pick passages in the Bible and say, "it is against reason to think that this is Truth."  However, when you step back and look at the Law of Moses as a tutor then more and more things make sense.  God did not send the law to teach how to have a perfect society, rather he sent it so that Israel would recognize Jesus when he came.  Jesus was the ultimate teacher, their Messiah who would lead them into their adulthood.  Don't get me wrong.  The Law was good in the same sense that a pipe wrench is good.  It helps when it is used properly for the right job.  The law taught Israel just how sinful they (we all) really are.  It taught them the true predicament in which they were stuck, unless God did something to help them.  Even the Old Testament testifies to the fact that it is the Word of God, it also testifies that the law is pointing to ultimate truth so that we can understand it when it comes.  King David says it this way in Psalm 51, 

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; 
   you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit; 
   a broken and contrite heart 
   you, God, will not despise."

Yes, sacrificing an animal is a crude, reprehensible thing that no rational modern person would think we should do.  However, its function in the Bible was not to be the final word or ultimate truth about how our sins and faults can be dealt with.  It was so that we could understand what Jesus was doing when he let himself be crucified on a cross.  Bloody? Yes.  Shocking and horrific?  You betch ya.  I think that is God's point.  We just don't believe our sin is that bad.

Another example would be slavery.  Does the Bible teach slavery?  No!  Slavery was a part of the economic system of that day.  The Old Testament limited and restrained the universal practice of slavery.  Would such a practice be less or more in history if it were not for Christianity?  The Law came into a world that had divided along many different social distinctions (Race, Gender, Age, etc..).  It came to prepare intellectual children for the coming ultimate truth of the Jesus.

Welcome to Adulthood

Back in Galatians 3:28 Paul points out many of these old social distinctions and tells Christians that they should no longer remain divided over them.  He was not saying they were not real and had no differences, but that they should no longer be divisions among us.  We should not be divided by race, but neither should we pretend like there are absolutely no differences among races.  We should not be divided by gender, but neither should we pretend that there are no differences between the genders.  In the New Testament false prophets and rebellious children are no longer executed (secret: they more often than not weren't even executed under the Law due to the fact that Israel disregarded God's Law quite frequently).  However, being a false prophet or a rebellious child are still serious things that if not dealt with by the individual will lead to an eternal death.  So Christians are able to embrace the Law as good, not because we want to enact a sacrificial system in America, but because we understand it is the tutor.  We are adults now that Jesus has given us the ultimate truth.  We no longer need to follow the instructions of the tutor.  However, we do need to remember the principles that it has taught us.

Christians are not to live by the old social distinctions and filters like most of the world does.  We are to love every race, respect every gender, help every age, etc...  Our actions for another should have nothing to do with these distinctions.  The only distinctions that ultimately matter is whether or not a person has put their trust in Jesus.  Even in this distinction, Christians are not to divide and hate those who do not trust Jesus.  Rather we are to love them and lay our life down like Jesus did in order to win them over to belief in Jesus.  It was a radical concept that is still reverberating in the world today.

Most arguments against God or Christianity by atheists will point out things about God and say, "How can a loving God allow evil in the world."  But we must recognize that this is a distinctly Christian question.  The Romans and Greeks didn't struggle over how the gods could allow evil in the world.  The gods were often the source of the evil.  It was Christianity that taught our Father in heaven is actually Good.  Sure this raises thorny issues, but to argue in such a way is to undermine your own argument.  I'm not saying that proves Christianity is true.  I'm am saying that if Christianity had never happened the world would be in far worse shape with far baser questions on our mind.

It was the commands of Jesus and his apostles that commanded Churches to drop racial hatred.  It was the commands of Jesus and his apostles that directed men and women to work together as complimentary equals.  It was Jesus and his apostles that raised the value of children and the elderly, and the barbarian up to the civilized.  It was Christianity that came alongside of the poor, sick, orphaned, and widowed and said these are valuable; we must help them.  All are equal before God, is not the mantra of the Romans or Greeks.  It is the radical idea of Christianity that brought a world of little Hitlers that worshipped strength, erotica, and death, to its knees.  It is interesting that in today's world we see the resurgence of the pagan mindset.  

Are we headed back to a time when life was not sacred, but cheap?  Are we headed into times when the fetus is aborted, the young is abandoned, the gladiator is glorified, the peasant is abused, and the powerful are worshipped and exalted?  Are we not nearly there?

Homosexuality

I've left this for last because it is something that even the New Testament condemns as sin.  However, this does not mean that Christians are homophobes.  No where are we told to fear homosexuals.  Rather by extension of the General command to the specific we know that we are to love them.  Love does not mean agreement nor acceptance as virtuous.  A Christian should in no way speak hatefully, nor act abusively toward someone who self-identifies as a homosexual.  But neither should Christians be bullied into declaring this lifestyle as virtuous.  Homosexuality is seen as a severe sin, not so much because of its sexual nature, but because of its rejection of the obvious created design.  God is the creator.  You may reject that Jesus is God.  This is an intellectual disagreement.  But when a person so rejects the obvious truth of created design, you are left with no rational ground upon which to appeal.  This kind of choice destroys the very foundation of Truth because it exalts the will of the individual over the top of all evidence to the contrary.

This is why Christianity can never equate homosexuality with the civil rights issues of slavery.  They are not the same thing.  In fact white people were doing what homosexuals do, when they exalted their will over top of the evidence that black people were not subhuman, but every bit as much human as them.

I do not mean this as an attack against those who are in the homosexual lifestyle or have inclinations in that direction.  Rather, it is to help us see that Christianity is often condemned by the very virtues it created.

Monday
May232011

Why Christians are still here.

If only Christians would actually listen to Jesus.  You may not be a shocked that the rapture didn't happen on May 21, 2011, as Harold Camping said it would.  However, are you shocked that he had support from an apparently large number of people?  By now we shouldn't be.  Harold Camping is a false teacher at best and needs to quit pushing his mathematical schemes for the consumption of believers who are weak-minded.    Instead of the boy who called wolf, we have here the old man who cried shepherd.  Though Harold may be done with his predictions this will happen again.

The sad thing here is that the world looks on and scoffs at the fact that Christians actually believe that Jesus will come back from heaven and judge the earth.  I know there are some groups within Christianity that have so "spiritualized" the meaning of the Bible that there is no future prophecies to happen.  But true Christianity has always held that there is a day of judgment set for this world.  When people predict a date for Christ's coming and then fail, it encourages unbelievers in their rejection of the Bible's claims.

Romans 2:21-24 "You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For 'the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,' as it is written.” (NKJV)

Watch and be Ready

Believers need to quit jumping on every wild prediction concerning prophecy that comes along and start listening to Jesus and the Bible.  If I were to sum up Jesus' take on his own second coming it would be this, "“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."  (Matthew 24:36 NKJV)  For the rest of that chapter and also chapter 25, Jesus continues to harp on the fact that believers will not know the time of his coming.  He warns them to be ready so they won't be caught off guard.  Harold Camping will say that he is not contradicting the words of Jesus, but in the end he is.  It reminds me of Eve in the garden, "Did God really say...."  Did Jesus really say we wouldn't know the day or the hour?  Somewhere along the line Mr. Camping's exalted view of his Biblical knowledge became detached from Jesus.  He was more confident in his own calculations than the Bible and more importantly Jesus.

Harold is right about one thing.  Believers should not be caught by surprise.  Not because they have the date, but because Jesus has warned and even commanded us to live our lives in such a way that we are always ready for his coming.  We see this supported again as Paul speaks to the Christians of Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.  Paul tells them they shouldn't be caught by surprise.  However there is no prediction of a day nor a indication that God will reveal to them the date before it happens.  The reason for this is because Paul is not writing about his ideas and thoughts.  He is giving them the world of the Lord Jesus.  

So what does it mean to be ready and watching?  Well it doesn't mean trying to determine the date through mathematical gymnastics.  Nor does it mean selling all your possessions and moving to a compound in Montana, California, or wherever, and sitting on a hill looking into the sky.  In the parables that Jesus taught on this subject is always about those who are doing the work of the master versus those who quit working for the master and start doing what they want.  Paul adds the metaphors of being awake and being sober.  You can't go to work if you don't get out of bed and if you show up drunk you will be a danger to yourself and others and you won't get your job done.  Being ready is living this life awake to what God wants us to do and sober about our actions each day.  So what do we watch?  We watch and guard over our own soul and its faith in Jesus.  The temptations of this world can draw us away through our own lusts from being faithful to the task that Jesus has given us.

So what is our task? 

  1. To believe in Jesus as the Son of God, means of removing our sin, and the Truth of God. John 6:29
  2. To love and encourage other believers. John 13:34
  3. To proclaim Jesus everywhere we go and make disciples of those who believe. Matthew 28:19,20

A Day of Judgment is Coming

Harold Camping has not proven the Bible wrong.  Rather, he has proven himself to be operating proudly in his own flesh.  The Bible warns us that there is a day of Judgment set for this world.

Acts 17:30-31, "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (NKJV)

2 Peter 3:5-7, "But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly." (NIV)

Peter warns that scoffing at the idea of a judgment will be quite common in the last days.  They reject any evidence of a global flood, not because it doesn't exist, but because their lusts demand so.  The earth and the heavens are reserved for a fiery judgment.  Just because it has been 2,000 years doesn't mean it will never happen.  In fact, I find it interesting that Peter mentions that to God a 1,000 years is like a day and his patience means salvation to more people.  Sceptics like to cherry pick verses and say the disciples thought Jesus was coming in their day.  The truth is they knew that he could come in their day, but they also knew from Jesus parables that it would longer than most would think and that they would be tempted to quit believing.  Why would Peter mention a 1,000 years being the same as one day to God?  Primarily because the Holy Spirit led him to do it, but also because he knew it could be beyond his life.  He was actually following Jesus' words.  He was watching and ready.

Are you watching and ready?

 

Monday
May162011

Crutches are for the Weak

No one likes to be weak.  We want to be as strong and healthy as we can be.  This natural inclination came to the surface as modern man began to question and reject the spiritual realm.  A famously quoted line of Karl Marx is that religion is the opium of the people.  If you read the context of that quote you will find that he didn't just see religion as a drug like influence, but that the reason mankind has embraced it is precisely because of suffering.  Religion is a sort of crutch that weak people use to "protest" against the suffering found in this world without doing any real thing about it.

Modernists point to suffering as the greatest problem of all mankind.  If the world could be rid of religion than it would be able to scientifically defeat all the sufferings of both individuals and mankind, one by one.  And clearly, over the last two hundred years the scientific method has proven to be quite effective in increasing mankind's power.  But has it really decreased suffering?  For every person who doesn't have to do their laundry at the local creek or river, we can point the increased ability of modern weapons and the sufferings they cause.

With the hindsight of several centuries, many have come to question the origianal premise of modernism.  Can science really explain and fix everything?  Is there no spirit realm?  If Modernists see the material world as the only Truth that has claims upon mankind, then Post-Modernists are those who have come to believe that Truth has no meaning outside of the individual.  Modernists reject all religions, and Post-Modernists may seem to as well, but the reality is that they reject the notion that any one religion has all the truth.  Thus they embrace none, but are open to all.  What matters in the end is what I believe is true, no matter where I find the truth.  This change in many people could be seen as a response to the disillusionment of the promises of science.  Science can do great things, but it can't tell us whether we "ought" to do them.  The same discovery that creates great amounts of energy can also kill great amounts of people.  In fact, in order to remove all suffering, we have basically signed up to the task of making the human race "God."  If all suffering is to be removed, then so must death (immortality), so must ignorance (omniscience), and so must weakness (omnipotence).

The Bible highlights the sufferings of mankind, but it does not present suffering as the greatest problem of mankind.  No matter what term we give it, the Bible points to an original state in which mankind had no suffering.  Suffering was the result of choosing a path different from the Creator.  We can call it Sin, Rebellion, Enslavement to Evil, etc...  But no matter what it is we who have brought suffering into this world.  To say that religion is a protest against suffering is actually a half truth.  According to the Bible, mankind had an original understanding of the events of our "Fall" and the suffering that was its consequence.  Over long periods of time, the reasoning of individuals that were not satisfied with these explanations developed many different kinds of religions.  These religions have similar concepts precisely because of man's early unified experience.  Over time they have expanded and become in some ways very different, but always pointing to similar problems.  So Marx is partially right.  Most religions are the "genius" protest of groups of people against suffering.  But they often end up creating more suffering or dodging the question.  Marx has not canceled out a Creator and the spirit realm.  He has only pointed to a straw man to dodge the question. 

We have not suceeded in getting rid of God.  We have only pledged ourselves to take his place.  So get ready for the war of the gods because modernists would make humanity god (a kind of Borg existence), but post modernists reject this notion.  Humanity is not god, I am. 

The Bible cautions us against these errors.  In 2 Peter 1:20-21, Peter tells us that Truth is not up to the interpretation of the individual.  Now this can be seen two ways.  On one hand no individual can tell all others what is truth, but on the other hand neither can each individual determine truth for himself.  Now understand that I am not talking about the small truths that science is discovering (impartially so).  I'm talking about ultimate reality.  Both of these methods fail because all individuals have a "sin" problem.  The Church has often failed because it has forgotten this truth.  The Church did not reason its way into the teachings of Scripture, they were brought down from heaven by Jesus, Revelation.  Whether it is the Pope of Roman Catholicism (one telling the others what to believe), or the 600 million little popes of Protestantism (my own private interpretation), Scripture rejects this kind of thinking.  Christians are to approach God's word as simply that, God's word.  How dare I twist the words of the Creator to mean what I think they should mean?  Or how dare I force people to adhere to what I want those words to mean?

Everything hinges on Jesus.  If he was not who he said he was then we have nothing ahead of, yes increasing mankind ability to enjoy life, but also our ability to cause suffering.  Jesus was God miraculously inserting truth into this lost world.  In 1 John 1:1-4, the disciple John, talks about how they didn't dream these things up.  They actually touched, talked with, walked with, and witnessed the amazing proofs of who Jesus was.  Jesus did miraculous things.  Yes, a miracle does not mean something cannot ever be scientifically explained, but it is the miracle of the time and coincidence.  Jesus was not doing parlor tricks, many of which scared them half to death.  But the ultimate proof was his death and resurrection.  Jesus was executed by Roman soldiers who expertly and cruelly put him to death in a very public spectacle.  After his resurrection, Jesus appeared many times to his disciples over the next 40 days.  He even appeared to over 500 people at one time.  He then ascended into the sky before their very eyes.

Now you may reject such experiences, but if these 500+ people were to be brought before a court today, it would be impervious to the kinds of attack that would use psychosis as its answer.  The truth is that we all lean on something.  Karl Marx and others who reject the spirit realm and a creator think that they are removing the crutches, as if they are now leaning on nothing.  The reality is that they are now leaning upon themselves and their own reasoning.  Perhaps on a grander scale they are leaning upon humanity's ability to become god itself.  Either way, they too are walking with crutches.  Life is impossible to live without faith in somthing.  What are you leaning on?

1 John 2:15-17, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."  Love here is the idea of holding on to something unconditionally.  I will never let go of it.  If you are leaning on things of this world, man's reasoning, wealth, pleasure, science, and even friends and family then you need to realize that these things cannot hold you up forever.  Only God can save us from falling without recovery.  Only God can deal with the problem underneath our sufferings, sin.

Blessings.

Page 1 ... 91 92 93 94 95