Thursday, November 27, 2008
Nothing could beat that picture of thanks giving. Or could it? Is there something even better that could come to mind when the word thanksgiving is spoken? What does the bible say about it?
The bible has many many verses discussing giving thanks. Some are simply commands to give thanks. But there are also those that tell us how, when, where, and why to give thanks.
Psalms 100:4, Colossians 1:12, Colossians 3:17, Colossians 3:15, Colossians 4:2, Hebrews 12:28
How to Give Thanks
Psalms 28:7, Psalms 105:1, Psalms 147:7, Isaiah 12:4, 2 Corinthians 4:15, Ephesians 5:20
We are to give thanks by making known to the nations what God has done. We are to call on the name of the Lord and sing songs of praise in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our thanksgiving should overflow.
When to Give Thanks
Psalms 30:12, Psalms 119:62, Ephesians 5:20
We are to give thanks always and forever. This is emphasized Ps. 119:62 where it tells us to give thanks at midnight. If we are commanded to give thanks at midnight we can know that 'always' is literal. We are to give thanks at all times of the day. This might be confusing to some, for how can we always be thanking God and do other things as well? Though we can not be constantly saying thank you, we can be in a constant state of thanksgiving. One void of grumbling and complaining.
Where to Give Thanks
Psalms 95:2, Psalms 100:4, Psalms 35:18, Isaiah 12:4
We are to give thanks while we stand before God. As we enter His gates, and as are in His courts. And while in the great assembly. If we left it there it would seam that as long as we were not at church or worshiping God is some way, we are 'safe'. We don't have to worry about being thankful. That is why Is. 12:4 is so important. It tells us that we must also give thanks where the nations can see us. That means at school, where peer pressure is overwhelming. On the Job, where fellow employees are watching and may well be critical. Anywhere and everywhere we are, we are commanded to give thanks.
Why to Give Thanks
Psalms 7:17, Psalms 75:1, Psalms 106:1, Psalms 107:1, Psalms 107:15, Psalms 107:21, Psalms 107:31, Psalms 118:1, Psalms 118:21, Psalms 118:28, Psalms 118:29, Psalms 119:62, Psalms 136:1, Psalms 136:2, Psalms 136:3, Psalms 136:26, Isaiah 12:4
We should give thanks because we serve a good, righteous God who's unfailing love endures forever. He is our God and his name is near. His laws are righteous. He answers us and has become our salvation. Isaiah 12:4 tells us why by the phrase, "what He has done". Now of course it is impossible to list all that God has done. His works are to numerous for us to count. I would, however, like to highlight a few. Some that are rather obvious and should be enough of a reason to give thanks even without all the rest.
God creates life.
God preserves life.
Luke 2:4-7, John 19:30, Matthew 27:57-28:10
God redeemed life.
Those are just three out of many things that God has done to deserve our thanks. But they alone are awe inspiring and should cause us to give thanks. We must remember what He has done. If we forget, we will cease to be thankful.
So what are you going to do this Thanksgiving? Are you going to think about the feast you'll be eating with family and friends? Or will you put yourself in the spirit of giving thanks, reflecting and contemplating what God has done for you. This is the true reason for the holiday. We as Christians have just lost site of it's true meaning and once again allowed the world to influence our outlook on life. Let's start something old and again appreciate this day as it was meant to be appreciated. And when they day is over, don't stop being thankful. We are called to be thankful everyday of the year, at all hours of the day.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The back cover of The Divine Comedy says, "Dante is the greatest of Italian poets, and his Divine Comedy is the finest of all Christian allegories". What is meant by this statement? Are Dante's writings a source of Christian theology? Can he be trusted as a proponent of Biblical teaching? Does his writing portray a worldview parallel to the Bible? As Christians, it is important to understand the meaning behind what people say and write; everything must be tested against a sound Biblical worldview before it should be accepted as fact. Because Dante's work is considered by most to be accurate Christian theology, it is especially necessary to test it against the truth of God's word. The first, and most logical comparison to make while testing Dante's accuracy against the Bible, is the views on life after death, this being the topic of The Divine Comedy.
According to the Bible, what happens to man after death?
Hebrews 9:27 - Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
Romans 14:10b - For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.
Romans 2:2 - Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.
After death, man must face judgment. All men will stand before the God's judgment seat and there God will determine based on truth where they shall spend eternity. Those found washed in the blood of Jesus will spend eternity in Heaven with God. However, those that have not accepted God's gift of eternal life will spend eternity in the anguish and torment of Hell. What of Dante? What do we know of his view of life after death?
The fact that he wrote a three part book describing in great detail what happens to man after death indicates that he must have thought a great deal about it. The question is, what is it he thought? In his allegory, Dante describes ferrymen. One of the ferrymen ferried souls to Hell, and the other ferried them across the sea into Purgatory. The souls which had died without faith in God were taken to Hell where they would be led to the level equated with the atrocity of their sins; whereas the souls which had died in God were taken to the shores of Purgatory where they could pay for their sins. According to Dante, heaven could only be attained after the climb of Mount Purgatory was complete. Dante's belief in Purgatory brings the sufficiency of Christ's death into question.
Is Jesus Christ’s death on the cross totally sufficient to pay for the salvation of all of mankind? Must anything be added to it to complete it?
John 14:6 - Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 19:30 - When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Titus 3:5 - he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Ephesians 2:8 -For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
Jesus is all sufficient. Jesus death is in fact the only thing equal to the price of salvation. When he died, salvation's price was paid in full. There was nothing left to be done. Jesus said Himself that all was finished and complete. Because of His mercy, He did it all. Christ left nothing for us to do, not even our faith is our own. Mankind is completely deprived and must remain in complete dependence on God. What did Dante think about Christ’s death and human dependency and reliance on His finished work?
Dante only saw Christ's death as the first step toward salvation. In his view it was the first separating factor between Heaven and Hell. However the death of Jesus Christ was not the end of the journey toward Heaven, instead it was only partially sufficient. His death did not pay the price of sin. Sin was paid for by each individual in the climbing of Mount Purgatory. For each sin, a time and punishment was allotted and there was no escaping it. Christ's death did not ensure that the 'saved' souls would spend eternity with God. Even though they were in heaven, the levels of heaven were separate. Dante’s heaven was not the heaven described in the Bible. Dante seemed to indicate that there was still separation from God in heaven. The worse a sinner you were in life, the farther you resided from God in heaven. These are just the start of the flaws in Dante’s work.
It would be far easier to let Dante’s work rest in peace, but flaws in theology can never go unnoticed. One of the biggest mistakes Dante made was the mixing of Christian and classical thinking. Specifically, he mixed the ideas of the Greek and Roman philosophers with those of the Bible. In writing an allegory supposedly based on Biblical theology, Dante did not make good character choices. His choice of Virgil, a non-Christian poet, as his guide through the afterlife was especially unwise. Similarly, for readers not grounded in the Bible, the many references to Greek and Roman deities can be confusing. The mixing of Greek, Roman, and Christian thinking gives the reader a sense that each perspective is equal.
Along with his overuse of classical thinking Dante also dwelt far too much on the figure of Beatrice. In his work she was the guide through heaven. He saw her as a moral paradigm and one of the threefold images of divine grace. He spent an inordinate amount of time lingering on her character, though he relayed only a few distinct details to us in his repetitious descriptions. He gave her more credit and attention than he did God. In doing so, he was setting her up as his god.
The underlying problem with Dante's work is the removal of God’s significance in our lives. By raising man to God's level and refusing to give glory where glory is due, he undermined the finished work of Jesus Christ in our lives. Twisting the Bible to fit his own beliefs, and mixing it with classical thinking caused him to lose touch with what was really true. As Christians it is important to be mindful of truth so we do not fall into the same trap. Through critical reading and the testing of everything against scripture, we can stay strong in our faith and not be swayed by everything that comes our way.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Death is a subject pondered by all at some point or another. Some await it with trepidation. Others are fascinated by it's mystery. And then there are those that try to simply not think about it at all. But all have thought on the result of death to some extent.
Is death the empty beginning to nothing? Is it the end, with nothing on the other side? Or is it just the passing into another form? Will we live again on this earth creature befitting the behavior of our previous life? Is there a Heaven or Hell? If there is, how do I know which will be my future home? The list of questions goes on. Do we as Christians have answers to these questions? The answer is yes. We can be completely calm about death. We don't need to fear the unknown because it's not an unknown. We have the answers in the Bible.
Jesus gave us glimpses of what heaven will be like in His parable about Lazarus and the Rich man. Luke 16:19-31
The first thing to notice about these two men is their status on earth. The rich man was just that, rich. He was dressed in fine linen and spent every day in the luxuries that accompanied one of his wealth. Lazarus on the other hand was a beggar. He was starving and ready to accept the scraps from another man's table. Talk about losing you dignity. On top of that, his body was covered in sores and these sores were licked by dogs. A pretty miserable situation. Now, you are most likely sitting there thinking "What on earth does this have to do with death?" Verse 22 answers that.
Luke 16:22 - The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried.
"Ok? So what? What are you trying to get at?" Simply this, EVERYONE DIES!!! That's right. No sugar coating. It doesn't matter how rich or how poor you are, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE! Now that that's settled, we can really get down to business. What lies on the other side of that unspeakable abyss we call death? What happened to these men who lived such different lives?
The rich man, after death, entered Hell, where he was tormented. Lazarus, however, was carried to Abraham's side. The rich man seeing this former beggar pleaded with Abraham and in his pleadings he gave us a small peak at what Hell is like. He calls for Lazarus to put water on his tongue which is in agony because of the fire. From this small request we learn a lot. There is fire in Hell. The fire causes agony. There is thirst for those who dwell there. And no water is available to quench this thirst.
How does Abraham respond to the rich mans cry? He reminds him of the good he received in his life and the bad Lazarus received in his. He then tells us something about the passage from Heaven to Hell. It is inhibited by a great chasm. There is no passage from one to the other.
So how did Jesus answer the question"'What happens to man at death?'. In the glimpse that He gave, He showed two possibilities. Heaven, and Hell.
Heaven:What is it like?
Psalms 33:13-14, Matthew 6:9, Acts 1:11
Heaven is God's dwelling place.
John 14:1-3, John 17:5, 24, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17,
A place is being prepared for us in heaven.
2 Corinthians 12:2,4, 2 Corinthians 5:1-8
While only God knows all that is in store for us in heaven, we do know that it will be more wonderful than anything we can imagine. We will be clothed with heavenly dwellings.
Psalms 23:6, Revelation 21:4
Heaven will be without tears, pain, and suffering. It is an eternal home of goodness and mercy.
Revelation 5:6, Revelation 14:1, Revelation 22:4
The Lamb (Jesus) will be enthroned, and all who are saved will be with Him and His father's name will be on their foreheads.
Jeremiah 30:22, Ephesians 2:7, Ephesians 3:9, 1 Corinthians 2:9
That which God has prepared for His people is incomprehensible.
Hell:What is it like?
Matthew 25:41-46 Revelation 20:11-15
Those who's names are not found in the book of life will be thrown into the eternal lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.
Matthew 8:12, Matthew 13:42,50, Matthew 22:13, Matthew 24:51, Matthew 25:30, Luke 16:23, 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, 2 Peter 3:7, Jude 7, 13, Revelations 20:10
Hell is an eternal fire of burning sulfur which is enshrouded in the blackest darkness. It is filled with weeping and gnashing of teeth because of the great torment. There is no water to quench the thirst of those dwelling there. But worse than all these torments is the separation from God.
What does the bible teach about the resurrection?
Psalms 49:15, Psalms 71:20, Hosea 13:14, John 5:25, John 6:40, Acts 24:15, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 1 Thessalonians 4:16
All will be raised from the dead and taken to God for judgment. Those that have believed in Christ, however, will be raised first. God has ransomed us from the graves power and it no longer has dominion over us.
When you add all this information together you get the answer to the question, 'what happens to man at death'. First, all shall be raised from the dead and taken to the judgment seat of God. There He will judge all men and send them to their eternal home. Those that are redeemed by the finished work of Jesus Christ will spend eternity in Heaven with God. Those that are without redemption will be spend eternity in the fire of Hell.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"I just don't understand! Why did this happen to me?"
"Either God must not be all-good or He is not all-powerful."
"If a righteous, holy God created the world, where did all the ugliness come from?"
"How could a good God exist in light of all the misery in the world?"
Questions such as these have plagued man kind for nearly as long as there has been man kind. Man has struggled to understand. He has looked for answers. But only those that look in the right place have been successful in finding what they seek. There is only one place where answers can be found. That place, is the Bible.
Psalm 25:8, Psalm 33:5, Psalm 34:8, Psalm 119:68, Psalm 145:7, Isaiah 63:7, Jeremiah 33:11,
Nahum 1:7, Matthew 19:17, Romans 2:4, Romans 11:22,
In summery, these verses tell us that the God of this universe, the one and only God, is a God of abundant goodness, righteousness, uprightness, justice, kindness, compassion, tolerance, patience, refuge, night, and love that endures forever.
Well, that right there can lead to more of the same questions above. "How can a God like that be in control and yet evil and suffering are so rampant?" or "Is God the source of evil and suffering?"
Genesis 1:4, Genesis 1:10, Genesis 1:12, Genesis 1:17-18, Genesis 1:21, Genesis 1:25, Genesis 1:31
If all that God created was good, then He cannot be the source of evil and suffering. So what is? Did God create man as a robot without the ability to make moral choices, or is he a free moral agent?
Genesis 2:15-17, Jeremiah 35:15, Ezekiel 33:11, Hosea 6:1, Matthew 22:3, Luke 14:17,
2 Corinthians 5:20, Revelation 3:20,
Man is not a robot. He has the ability to choose right or wrong. So what did he choose? Is he the cause of evil and suffering?
Genesis 3:6, Isaiah 43:27
Man chose to disobey God. This was the first sin committed by man. What was the result to this sin?
Genesis 3:16-19, Romans 5:12-13, 1 Corinthians 15:21
The result of sin, is the evil and suffering that so prevails in the world around us. And since the sin was committed by man, the cause of evil and suffering is man. Well, what about the omnipotent God that is supposedly in control? Does God have enough power to stop evil?
Job 42:2, Psalm 115:3, Psalm 135:6, Isaiah 43:13, Habakkuk 3:6, Matthew 19:26, Mark 14:36,
Luke 1:37, Revelation 19:6
Yes, God has enough power to stop evil. Nothing is impossible with Him. Well, then why doesn't He destroy evil?
Genesis 6-7, 2 Peter 3:3-13, Lamentations 3:22, Ezekiel 33:11
You ask, "Why doesn't God destroy evil?". I say, do you really want Him to? The last time God destroyed all evil, He did it by destroying the entire earth by a flood. He will destroy all evil again. When He does it then, He will consume the whole earth with fire. It is only because of his love that we are not yet destroyed. He is patient with us and is giving us more time to come to Him before the whole world perishes.
But that's not the end of the story. God did do something about evil. He sent His only Son to become sin for us, that we might become righteous.
2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:12, Psalms 69:20-21, Romans 5:8, Luke 19:41
As Christians, how should we respond to suffering?
Job 42:5-6, 2 Corinthians 1:9, Hebrews 12:5-6, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, 1 Peter 1:6-7, Hebrews 3:17-18,
James 1:4, 1 Peter 4:12-13, Philippians 3:10-11, 1 Corinthians 11:20-32, 1 Peter 5:10, John 9:3
As Christians, when we see suffering we should let it remind of several things. How lowly we are. How much we need to rely on God to raise us up. If it's a punishment for something we have done, we can be assured that God truly loves us. It reminds us of what Jesus went through for us. We can be sure that it will bring us to a more mature state if we let it. We can have the knowledge that Gods work might be displayed through our sufferings. And we will remember the grace that God has bestowed upon us. This is the Christian response to Suffering.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
What is the basis of ethics and morality?
This question is a very important one. Today, people are trying to eliminate the line between right and wrong. Or they say that everyone has their own right and wrong. They claim it's all a matter of opinion. This is a chaotic view. But if it's not correct, on what grounds does a person decide right from wrong? What does the Bible have to say?
Deuteronomy 32:4 - He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.
If God is upright and just, and his works are perfect, then He must be 'a' paradigm. A foundation of what we call right and wrong. But is He the only one? Is it possible that there is more than one basis for morality?
Matthew 19:17 - "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
Mark 10:18 - "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone.
God is the only being that is good. He is the only one that can, in His own person, define good. Therefore, all that is moral has it's foundation in God. He is the basis of ethics and morality. As David Quine puts it; "Because His word is the exact expression of His character, God Himself is therefore the standard." God is the standard, therefore we must know God in order to know right from wrong. God made Himself known to us through his word, the Bible. So we must constantly study the Bible and learn from it what God calls right and wrong.
We have been given a map to life. If we know the map, we will know what our lives should be like. And we will not have to sit and wonder if what someone says about ethics and morals is true. So get out your map and start studying, and discover where the line between right and wrong really is.
Friday, October 3, 2008
What is the essential nature of man?
What is man? Is he anything more than a mere animal? If he is different from animals, what makes him different?
Genesis 1:26-27 tells us the distinguishing factor, setting man apart from animal. Man was made in the image of God. The image of God? What does that mean. It means that, unlike animals, man can think. He doesn't run on instinct. He can make choices, reason, have preferences, have motivations, etc. All the personal attributes god processes, man also has because God gave them to him.
When God created man, He created him to be righteous.
Genesis -God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
The Hebrew word 'tob' used in this verse, translated in the NIV as 'good', can refer to quality as well as to moral goodness.
Man was righteous, never having sinned. But God didn't want a bunch of automatons. So He gave man a choice. The ability to obey or disobey. And then He gave them a rule. Just one, not that hard to keep track of and obey, right? Unfortunately Adam and Eve found it to hard to obey. They broke Gods one rule and imediately, things went wrong for them.
Seperation! Everything began to separate. First, the relationship between man and God was severed. Genesis 3 tells us all about mans becoming separated from God. It let's us know that the intimate relationship previously shared was gone and Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. Man was also separated from
Genesis - The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
The passing of blame here signifies the beginning of mans' separation from other men. Here they are no longer united. They now have an 'every man for himself' attitude. Thirdly, man became separated from nature(animals, plants, etc.).
Genesis - And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel."
Genesis 3:17b-19 - "Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return."
So because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, all of man kind would now be sinful.
Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned
But that's not the end. God did not turn His back on the people he created. We have not been deserted to live our despicable lives with no rescue. God chose to save us from our unrighteousness. Now of course, unrighteousness must be punished. So the only way to save us from our unrighteousness is by way of punishment. But God declared that the only punishment equal to our crime was that of death.
Romans 6:23a - For the wages of sin is death
So someone had to die in order for our sins to be payed for in full. And not just someone. It had to be an innocent party. For if the person paying the price was sinful, it would be what he deserved and would not be able to save himself or anyone else. So an innocent person had to be found. Unfortunately.......
Romans 3:32 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
There was not a single member of the human race that could be the sacrificial lamb. So God, out of His love and mercy did the unthinkable. He sent His only son to the earth, and allowed Him to be taken and killed by men. Jesus Christ became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. This allowed us to be once again united with God.
Romans -19 - But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Being made righteous by Jesus' death, we are no longer separated from God. But just as Adam and Eve were not robots, we also are not. We can still choose to sin. And our nature is still inclined toward sin. So at this point, man's nature is evil. Unlike the common teaching of today, man is not 'basically good'.
The essential nature of man is evil. He is still in the image of God, but he lacks all attributes related to righteousness. But now, he has a way to escape from that evil that resides in him. God has provided the way.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Genesis chapter 1 and 2, and 5 verses 1-2 give us a detailed description of the universe's origin. They tell us that God created the universe out of nothing. He formed it in six days and then declared it good. Some people(Christians, not non-Christians), however, don't like to think of this as literal. They claim that, yes God did create the universe, but He used evolution to do it. The six days talked about are figurative. They refer to six passages of time. Well, I believe that if this was the case, the rest of the bible would give us some evidence to back it up.
Gen. 2:7 - the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Gen. 2:19 - Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
Ps. 33:6, 9 - By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
Ps. 148:5 - Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
Isa. 45:18 - For this is what the LORD says—
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited—
"I am the LORD,
and there is no other.
Ez. 28:13 - You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
Heb. 11:3 - By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
All of these verses definitely support Genesis' literal meaning. Evolution doesn't even make sense in light of these verses. I mean, think about it. If God is all powerful, when He spoke things into existence, why would it have taken billions of years to fully form the way her wanted it. But Genesis 2:19 is the one that makes it the most clear. Evolution is based on the idea that each living creature evolved from another living creature, that evolved from another living creature, that evolved from another living creature, that evol..........Genesis 2:19 states that all the beast of the field and birds of the air were formed from the ground. There was no evolving from one to another. But then it goes on to say that God had the man(Adam) name them all. According to evolution, man wasn't even around during the lives of some of the creatures that have lived in the past and are now extinct. This can't be true if he named each and ever one of them.
So, through studying the entire bible, we can see that the first chapter of Genesis can be taken literally. God created the universe in 6, 24 hour, days. He spoke it into existence with no starting point except for his own ingenuity. He didn't google the recipe for creating man from dirt. He already know how.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
What does the bible have to say about this? Let's take a look and see.
"In the beginning God......." Genesis 1:1
The first verse of the bible tells us that there is a God. So, what is he like?
Duet. 6:4 - Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
James 2:19 - You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
These verses tell us that there is only one God.
Gen. 1:26 - Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
Gen. 11:7 - Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
Isaiah 6:8 - Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
Matt. 3:16-17, John 15:26, 1 Pet. 1:2
In these verses God uses a plural pronoun which seams to indicate that there is more than one.
Mat. 28:19 - Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
This verse gives us the three separate beings of God.
John 1:18 - No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
John 17:11b - Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
John 17:21 - that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
John 17:22 - I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one
While God does have separate beings they are part of the same person. Though this is hard to rap our finite minds around, it's what the bible says so we can be sure that it's true.
Gen 1:1, Gen 1:31, Ps. 33:9, Isa. 44:24, Isa. 45:18, John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16-17, Heb. 11:3, Rev. 4:11
God created all things.
Neh. 9:6 - You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
Ps. 36:6,7 - Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.
7 How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
and fills the hungry with good things.
Ps. 121:8 - the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Heb. 1:3 - The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
The father sustains all things. Jesus, being the exact representation of God's being has the same sustaining power.
1Chron. 29:11,12 - Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
Is. 45:7 - I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.
Dan. 4:35 - All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: "What have you done?"
Ro. 11:36 - For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Eph. 1:11 - In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
Rev. 19:6 - Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
God is a powerful ruler. He is over everything. Everything belongs to him.
Mat. 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Mat. 10:29 - Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
1 Pe. 5:6,7 - Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
God care about us.
Now, this is just scratching the surface of Gods character and attributes, but covering them all and giving each justice would require more than just a single post. It would require an entire blog dedicate to the topic. So for now, I'll just sum up what we do have.
There is one Godhead made up of three individual persons. The father, the son, and the holy spirit. Some kind of way, they are united into one, while still maintaining there uniqueness and identities. As humans we can't really fathom how this is possible but we can accept it as true because the infallible word of God says that it is. God created all things that are in existence. But He didn't create them and then leave them alone. He is here, sustaining all things. Being the creator of all things, He is the ruler over all. Everything belongs to Him. And, on top of this all, He loves and cares about us.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
A world view is the thing through which you see everything in life. It is like tinted glasses. The color of the glasses effects the colors you see in the world around you. It's your outlook on life. Everyone has a world view, even you. You may not know exactly what it is but you have one non the less. My reason for posting on the subject is to hopefully help you understand the importance of developing a world view, the importance of knowing what your world view looks like, and the importance of being able to recognize what other peoples world views look like.
So, how do you know what your world view is? It's not always easy to analyze yourself and what you believe. After reading Answers for Difficult Days by David Quine, I came to the conclusion that the best way to discover what you believe(what your world view is) is to answer a few questions. 7 to be exact.
- Is there a God or gods? If so, what is He like?
- What is the nature of the universe- It's origin?
- What is the essential nature of man?
- What is the basis of ethics and morality?
- What is the cause of evil and suffering?
- What happens to man at death?
- What is the meaning of history?
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Do we really understand what it means to pick up our cross and follow him. I don't think most of us do. And if we do, we forget far too easily. We all need constant reminders of what it really means to be a Christian. So what does it mean to carry a cross? What did Jesus really go through when He died on a cross? Well, though I'm not a bible scholar or expert on the subject, I have some thoughts on the subject.
First, when we talk about what Jesus did for us, I think we always start at the wrong place. Yes Jesus death was a huge sacrifice but that's not the beginning of what He went through. He brought Himself low enough to become a man. Do you honestly understand what that means? Well, ok, I know that we can't fully understand it, but do you have even a glimpse of it's meaning. The distance that lies between the greatness of God and the lowliness of man is unfathomable. Yet He humbled Himself and became a man. Why? All for love.
That's not all though. The story is just getting started so take a seat, you'll be here for awhile. Jesus, who is God, became not just a man. He became the son of poverty. He was among the poorest of all mankind. He was born in a stable to the betrothed of a carpenter. He was a nothing. A nobody. He lowered himself from position in heaven to become a nobody. Why? All for love.
Then, when He grew, He started His ministry. He was God, He could have made all bow before Him. Did they receive him? No! They hated His teachings. They hated His rebukes. They hated His perfection. But most of all, they hated Him. After all the miraculous signs and wonders, they turned away and became an angry mob. They wanted an end put to Him. They were determined and they found a way. They took full advantage of the Roman custom of crucifixion. Three men were to be crucified for being thieves. (The Greek word stasiastes used to describe them in Mark 15:7 translates insurrectionists or revolutionaries.) These men weren't just common thieves. They were people trying to over throw the Romans and give the Jews the freedom they longed for. The Jews knew that in Roman custom, they could get an exchange. They could get Barabbas freed and have Jesus take his place. For the Jews, Barabbas modeled a better Messiah than Jesus. They believed the Messiah would free them from the Romans and set up an earthly kingdom. That was what Barabbas strove to do so he seemed pretty appealing. Jesus was handed over the Romans by his own, chosen people. He could have fought it. He could have stopped them. But He didn't. Why? All for love.
Now for the crucifixion itself. When we think crucifixion, we usually think something like this right?
Can you see it...........
Jesus, God's own son, is in the garden praying. We see Him, crying out to His father. Suddenly, we see lights. Soldier come into view. Anywhere from 600-6000. We watch as they take Jesus away like a common criminal. What can we or the disciples do? We are helpless. We try to find out what's happening. We can't get into the Sanhedrin but we hear that Jesus has been accused of speaking blasphemy. We then see Peter deny his Lord, who he claimed to love. When Jesus is brought before Pilot, He is found innocent. But the Jews aren't satisfied. They want his blood. Pilot gives then a choice. Barabbas can be set free, or Jesus. The roar of the crowd is almost too much to bare. It's deafening. They choose Barabbas.
The soldiers take Jesus to the Praetorium and strip Him. They place a scarlet robe on Him, give hHm a staff to take the place of a scepter, and then make Him a crown of thorns. The thorns on this crown where not little rose thorns. They were about as long as your little finger. The crown was fitted to Jesus' head snugly so that the thorns went deep. Now that they have him "dressed like a king", they mock him. Bowing before him, they hailing him as king of the Jews. They spit on Him and took his staff from Him and hit Him on the head with it again and again.
Let me step back to the present for a moment to ask a question or two. Have you ever seen someone who has been beat up? Do they have a face like that of the Jesus pictured above? Or are they misshapen, bloodied, even unrecognizable? Just some questions. Now let's go back to the scene we left.
After they have mocked Jesus, we see the the soldiers take Him to be flogged. The Roman implement for this treatment was whip consisting of leather thongs that had bits of stone and broken bone attached. It was very effective. When the flogger lashed out with it, the hard sharp bits would embed themselves in the flesh of the flogged person. When the flogger pulled back on the instrument it would rip the flesh. By the time someone was done being flogged, they would not resemble a human being anymore. Our Lord went through that for us. Isaiah 52:14 prophesied this by saying:
"Just as there were many who were appalled at him —
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness"
After He was flogged beyond recognition, He was taken away to be crucified. We follow closely and see a man name Simon given the task of carrying Jesus cross. When we arrive at Golgotha along with the rest of the crowd, we watch as the three prisoners are offered wine mixed with gall. We are not surprised because this is the custom. It is given to ease the pain of crucifixion. But as we watch, we see that Jesus refuses to drink it. He is taking our places and dieing, and He won't even take this rudimentary form of pain killer first.
When he is at last nailed to the cross and raised up, He is mocked by the entire crowd. In horror, we find that we too are shouting insults at Him. We have pinned Him to that cross and the hammer is in our own hands. Everyone in the crowd is holding the same hammer. They can't see it in their hand, but it's there. Darkness covers everything. We hear Him cry out to His father in heaven. He is mocked again. Then He gives up His spirit and dies.
Ok, back to the here and now. Were you able to see it? Did the trip in your imagination show you what Jesus really went through for us? I hope you at least have a more realistic idea of what took place in order that you might be saved from your sins. So, let's look at that picture of Jesus death again shall we.
Still look like the Jesus that we hear about in the bible? Not to me. The man in that picture has gone through nothing compared to the Jesus that saved me from my sins.
Don't worry, I haven't forgotten my original topic. I was just leading to it. So from what was said above, what do you think it truly means to take up your cross and follow him? It's not an easy decision, choosing to follow Christ. The road will be tough, painful, exhausting, and we will all want to give up at times. But the reward is everlasting. And we can rest in the knowledge that no matter what we go through, Jesus Christ has endured much more. So much more that you can't even compare our suffering to His. So no, following Jesus isn't easy in the worldly sense. But it's easy when you think of all that He has done for you. Picking up our crosses is the least we can do to show our appreciation.
So, who's joining me. Who's ready to stop living the Christian life of daisy chains and meadows full of butterflies, and exchange it for the life that seeks after God, no matter the cost?