Christian based commentaries and observations.

Quote of Note

Billy Graham's Prayer For Our Nation

: 'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free.
: Amen!'

Who is Jesus


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Predestination and Truth: Seeing Jesus

Jesus was always trying to get people to see that he God incarnate. In the Gospel of Mark we find:
MK 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
MK 10:18 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.
And in Matthew:

MT 16:13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
MT 16:14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
MT 16:15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
MT 16:16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." MT 16:17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

Finally he stood before the Sanhedrin being charged with blasphemy.

LK 22:54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest.
LK 22:63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?" 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.
LK 22:66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 "If you are the Christ, " they said, "tell us."
Jesus answered, "If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God."
LK 22:70 They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?"
He replied, "You are right in saying I am."
LK 22:71 Then they said, "Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.

The Sanhedrin Did not recognize Jesus as their God and Messiah. Perhaps because they did not see him in his garment of glory. They were spiritually blind and could not see it..
Before the same Sanhedrin Paul, full of the Holy Spirit did not recognize the High Priest not wearing is robes. Paul having spiritual eyes saw only rags. I think it was a snub by God saying, "he no longer recognized the authority of the High priest to be the spiritual leader of the Jews. For Christ has been made our High Priest forever. What a turn of events, reversal of position:

AC 23:1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day." 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"
AC 23:4 Those who were standing near Paul said, "You dare to insult God's high priest?"
AC 23:5 Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: `Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.' "

Here we have instances of people people being given revelation of Jesus as God, people being left blind to that same revelation, and finally a man being allowed to see another man the way God sees him.
I recently had an email conversation with a man about predestination. It seems that our destiny is predetermined by according to the disposition of your heart.
And the judging criteria is whether of not we are found to love truth!
Pilate did not believe in truth. He was an everything is relative kind of guy.

JN 18:37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the TRUTH. Everyone on the side of TRUTH listens to me."
JN 18:38 "What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out

Then there are those who just don't want to know truth. These are the types that want to see themselves as a god, master of their own destiny. It is a sin as old as Eve and the Serpent.

RO 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
RO 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the TRUTH of God for a LIE, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.

RO 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the TRUTH and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Finally considering the day we find ourselves in, we know that the end is coming soon, and we struggle to get men to see Jesus. We wonder why some are so vehemently against all things God and true, while others seem to be open discussion. Those that are willing to listen and think, we have hope that they will see the light. To the others we sadly shake our heads and pray for them hardly believing that those prayers will be answered. I think it all comes down to whether or not we love TRUTH!

"The coming of the lawless one (the AntiChrist) will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the TRUTH and so be saved. For this reason GOD SENDS THEM A POWERFUL DELUSION so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.(2Thes 2:9-12)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Talking about the need for Jesus; re written

I heard Ravi Zacharias say that there are 4 basic questions that everyone must answer for him/herself. It occurred to me that this is how we lead others to Jesus. It is always down one of those four thought paths.
It depends on who I'm talking to and what their present situation and education is. I always pray for opportunities and entry points. In this post I'm only going to deal with the "Why do I or should I need Jesus".
Consider that everyone of is made in the image and likeness of God. Like God has three parts (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) , so we have three parts also (body, soul, and spirit). The Spirit is constantly interjecting, speaking, into our soul, thoughts. It is our thoughts that control our bodies.
Each and everyone of us hears from our spirit on 4 topics and I am thinking of adding a 5th. We all need to settle in our soul (mind) questions of Origin, Purpose, Morality, and Destiny. (The 5Th that I am currently meditating on is Love.) I don't think that we get off this Earth without settling those four and maybe five questions. Some people fight death to the very end because they have not yet made their conclusions. All the busyness and noise we put into your lives, to our own peril, is hiding from God and refusing to deal with these subjects.
Consider Adam after partaking of the forbidden fruit. There he was knowing that God was his origin. Glorifying God by tending the Garden and having dominion over all living creatures (including Eve and the Serpent) was his purpose. Not eating of the fruit was his mandated morality. And eternal life was his destiny, unless he ate of the fruit; then destiny would become death. He allowed the serpent to question God's word placing deadly ego and doubt into Eve' s soul. He allows her to think it, reach out and take it and eat it, then he also eats of it.
Suddenly Adam is faced with conviction and a slightly different set of issues; Origin (God), Purpose(his diminutive responsibility), Morality (the one forbidden sin) and Destiny (his impending death).
As conviction gives way to guilt he hears the footsteps of God walking in the Garden. Instead of confronting his origin, admitting he failed in his purpose, asking for forgiveness for his lapse of morality, and trying to re-establish a destiny of life, he tries to cover his guilt with fig leaves and hides from God. He didn't want to deal with the issues. He ran and hid from the confrontation.
One cannot hide from judgement. No matter what you do to ignore it it will still come. God says, "Where are you" Adam says, "We were afraid and naked before you" And dishes the blame out on Eve. She in turn not wanting to own the guilt passes the buck to the serpent. Nobody wants to own guilt. We all point the finger which only proves our sin.
God shed the blood of an animal to make clothes: a COVERING for their sin. The cost of Sin is death and the animal represented a substitute. God promised to provide a sacrificial substitute which will REMOVE their sins and reestablish them in a destiny of life. That promised sacrifice, for removing sin, was God's Son Jesus.
Now when talking to someone about the need for Jesus, and his payment for our sin, each of the big four issues is an entry point. By talking to someone about these issues forces them to deal with them.
When you talk about Origin of mankind by ready to debunk or cast some doubt on evolution (read a book on it). The simplest way is to take it back to the big bang. "Where did the matter at the beginning of the big bang come from" The evolutionist can only go back to "in the beginning Dirt"! We go to Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the dirt"! Not one human on Earth has looked up at the stars and not wondered where we came from and how we got here. "Fearfully and wonderfully made in our mother's womb", "We were on his mind before Earth's frame was laid". "In the beginning was the word (Jesus) and the word was...and we have seen him...and known him and he is Jesus.
Purpose is general and specific to each of us. Our general purpose is to glorify our creator. Our specific purpose is the use of our special gifts and talents that bring glory to him. We need Jesus and his forgiveness to bring glory to God. And we need Jesus to begin a relationship with God that will eventually lead to learning our special purpose for which we were individually created and called into the body of Christ. It is in this relationship and obedience where happiness is and internal peace is found.
Morality is a special subject to attack. An argument that cannot be countered goes like this. Moral Absolutes exist, and God exists, or no moral absolutes exist, and God does not exist. A Moral Absolute is a truth placed in the conscience of all humans irregardless of upbringing or association that we all know to be true. It follows that if all humans have this inborn law then there must have been a law Giver: God
Example: Grotesque mutilation and murder of a newborn innocent child. What non-evil purpose can be attached to such and act. Can you cause the infant to give up secret information, submit to your authority, serve you, can its torture bring a positive advance to mankind? What good thing can come of it.
Every human being of every place and people on earth knows it is wrong to kill or torture an infant. Anyone who denies that that would be wrong is lying to themselves and you. We all know it because it has been placed in all of us by that unseen force known as "God of Love". We sense that which is detestable to him without ever being told. A child will often do something in secret, hiding some small sin, without ever having been told it was wrong. He knows it inherently
Now since God loves us he has given us his written word which reveals not only his commands but also his character which is the Christian's basis for morality. We must all decide what our basis for morality is and where it comes from. There is one big plus to Christian morality though and that is Jesus. Without Jesus it is impossible to be and live a moral life. We must have his forgiveness. Since "...all have sinned..." we all must deal with that guilt and impending destiny of death. We read into the word "guilt" the words "punishment is death" and the Spirit of the unsaved person testifies guilt and death to their soul. This is met with much uncontrolled emotional energy depression , anger, etc. and we don't want to hear it in our souls. The Spirit is heard the loudest when we are bored. Boredom is actually the edge of meditation. When we are bored our bodies and minds are not being externally stimulated. In this state our Spirit is able to get through. The Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God"! What the unrepentant do is jump up and go look for some excitement to drown out the voice of God. In other words they HIDE. Where do they find this excitement? In more Sin! Sin is exciting. The problem is that more sin leads to more guilt, which testifies death which clashes with their self image as immortal self proclaimed gods. They are forced and compelled to escalate their particular chosen drug/sin to sooth the pain of their conscience. Paul said, " all the members of my body are at war with that which I know I ought not to do" (paraphrased) and "Who will save me from this body of death. Thanks be to Jesus Christ our Lord" You see repentance and acceptance of Christ breaks the cycle of sin, guilt, pride ego (repeat).
Ever one argues that they have to give up this and that to be a Christian. They cannot see how or why they would want to do that. They don't understand that liberty is in Christ. They see it the other way around because they don't see or know how they are in fact the slaves; slaves to destructive sin. Show them their slavery and the way Christ liberates and lifts off the weight of guilt that no one wants to own.
The last issue is Destiny. Everybody wants to know what is on the other side of life. Jesus answered that when he rose from the dead. And offers it to us free of charge. The destiny of the Christian is to pass from life to Life. "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". Most important only with Christianity is there an absolute promise of eternal life in paradise with him. Every religion in the world is based on earning (working) their way into heaven. With Christ it is a gift. Religion is man trying to make himself good enough for God. Christianity is God making Man good enough for himself. Everyone on Earth is counting on either themselves or Christ for their eternity. Make them see "All their righteousness is like filthy rags". And also Hebrew's says, "It is appointed unto man, Once to die and then the judgement"Once means no reincarnation, we get one chance.

I said above that I was thinking of adding a 5th big question and I did. I posted it September 20, 2007. I have included it here together with it's inspiration.

Love the Fifth Great Question
In my post "talking to others about Christ" I quoted Ravi Zacharias as listing four great questions of life. He says that, "each person must at some point in life answer for themselves these four great questions". The questions were; origin, morality, purpose, and destiny. I realized that since only the Bible satisfactorily answered each on of those question that each one of them was an entry point for talking to others about Christ. I also mentioned in that post that I was thinking of adding another question to that list of four biggies. My fifth great question is LOVE. What are you going to do with love?

Love in itself must relate to the other four questions and is answered most satisfactorily by the Bible. The Bible is called by Christian and non-Christian alike, "the Book of Love" Remember the song, "Who Wrote the Book of Love?" There you have the ORIGIN question. What passes as "love" or a "loving act" brings up the question of MORALITY. If The Theory Evolution is based on survival of the fittest, then what is the PURPOSE of a love that causes the strongest to sacrifice themselves to protect the weakest? It takes no love whatsoever to make offspring it does however take loving sacrifice to nurture them to adulthood. Finally there is always the question of DESTINY in love. The couple in a relationship ask. "where is this 'love' relationship going? Will it last? Is it real? What happens to this relationship after we die? All responses to the above questions are shaped by the respondent's view of God!

The Bible says, "...God is Love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God"(1John 4:16). If God is Love then it follows that love comes when God gives a part of himself to another as a gift. (If it is not a free gift then its not love.)
The one who receives God's gift of love must now decide what to do with it. Here are the options:
1) Seek it out, dwell in it, enjoy it, and give it back to God (love God). The result here is the love multiplied and sent back from God. Thus a relationship is established with God. There is then also and overflowing: to much love to contain. We must share it, there is no selfishness allowed in love. To succumb to love is to die to self and be made alive in Christ.

2) Give the love to another person. The result here is when the cup is poured out it is refilled by God with the same measure that it was given out in. The new receiver of the love must now also decided what to do with the love that was given to them, because, "Love continueth"(never fails, never stops 1 Corinthians 13.) They might return it to the giver and a relationship is established.

3) Taint the love with selfishness use it to enslave another for selfish purposes. This person perverts love, abuses it, and tries to keep it manageable. It is the same way they think of God. They what a humanized, manufactured, manageable God, one that can take down off the shelf and use when needed. In this case the love grows cold. "In the last days, do to increased wickedness, the love of many will grow cold.

4) Reject the love, deny its author, and call it a genetic weakness, a result of DNA. This person runs from love so as not to give up self on the throne of the heart. Sometimes this person rejects the love because of feelings of guilt and unworthiness The result is death of the spirit, leading to death of the wretched soul, and finally merciful death of the depleted body.

There may be some possibilities that I have not investigated but, in each case what a person does about Love is what they believe about God, and influences their answering of the other four big questions of life.

George Herbert understood that Love was a drawing card from God to pull humanity closer to himself when he wrote "Love bade me welcome"

Love Bade Me Welcome

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

-- George Herbert