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Weekly Word

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.

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