Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mind the Gap

I like this my first read of this blog and I thought it worthwhile.

Undiluted Faith

Mind the Gap From http://www.selenatheplaces.com/2012/01/mind-gap.html

Spend any amount of time in London and you’ll find yourself trying to get around on “The Tube,” the London Underground subway
system.  Imagine – You and a friend just finished riding the London Eye and are now strolling across Westminster Bridge.  As you both admire Big Ben, your stomach growls loudly, startling your friend and letting you both know that it’s time to eat.  The downside is that you just shelled out £29.50 for your trip on the Eye and seriously cut into your meal money.  You and your friend weigh your options as you get closer to Westminster Station on the other side of the bridge.  Finally you and your friend look at each other and say in unison, “Takeaway!”  You walk into the station to take a train to Paddington.  Moving past other travelers and through the turnstyles you both make your way to the track.  Your stomach…

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Faith of a Child or Apostasy

This is one of those contrast that I tend to find so interesting.  I am not sure if you will but here we go.

I want to start by defining apostasy.  The dictionary defines it as such:

a·pos·ta·sy

 [uhpos-tuh-see]  Show IPA

noun, plural a·pos·ta·sies.

a total desertion of or departure from one’s religionprinciples, party, cause, etc.
In our nation we have many apostates.  Apostates is someone who is in the state of apostasy.  Okay Okay I crossed a line I labeled someone.  The truth is still the truth.  There are many in our nation who have deserted their religion or faith.  They always seem to have a reason.  They can come up with many reasons such as Christianity is a myth just like other myths.  They say if their is a God then why is this world so hurting.  They say that they just can’t live by the standards that Jesus proclaims (what those standards are of mostly misunderstood but that is another post)  so they chose not to.  They say many many things but in the end they have deserted their religion or faith.  That makes them apostates.
This brings many questions the foremost to many is “Can an apostate ever return?”  This is a much debated question.  There are two main arguments that have dealt with this for a long long time.  The first one is Calvinism which simply states that once you make a decision for Christ there is no turning back and you can not become an apostate.  While the other extreme is Arminian where once you have become apostate there is no coming back.  Wesley had a different view that is you chose to become apostate then you can chose to come back under the grace and mercy of Christ.
Here is where I stand on this topic first I think that to be saved we need to make a choice to serve Jesus.
Romans 10:9
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

This is clear that you must confess and believe then Jesus forgives you and saves you.  I think often we are to quick to use sales techniques on getting folks to pray the sinners prayer.  I find that Jesus never did that.  He was hard and not easy.  What he said was so hard that at one point almost all those large crowds that seem to follow Him everywhere left Him and He turned to His disciples and said to them are you also going to leave Me.

        Once that choice is made I believe we are able to un make that choice and turn our backs on Christ.  We can choose to leave Him.  I do not believe that God wants to force folks to serve Him who do not want to serve Him.   Thus the whole reason for Faith and it is not just about believing that God exist (as the Bible says the demons believe and tremble) but it is more about submitting ourselves to His absolute authority.  This is hard pill to swallow.  I have noticed that when someone is first saved it is easy for a bit to follow Jesus and all He wants.  It quickly gets harder though.  Everything starts to go south and life sucks.  So we turn to Jesus and find that we do not get our expectations met.  This is where many people leave and go their own way then becoming apostate.
        If someone makes it through these initial troubles and learn something about living for Jesus and what that actually means and how He has decided to work in someone then the next challenge is often when someone has worked hard doing the correct thing and they expect a reward or recognition from God and they either do not get it or even if they do they find that it falls short.  The reason for this is because in their heart that is what they wanted.  They wanted the recognition or the reward.  God says that is all they will get then.  At this point many people get discouraged and become depressed.  This is hard battle for Christians.   The basic reason is because they believe that Christians should not have these struggles.  This of course is not true.  Read the Bible many great men and women of God struggled with emotions the ups and downs and everything in between.  If they allow this disappointment to continue in time they get discouraged and quit being part of a body of believers and grow cold.  There is often a point after this that they reject Christianity because it did not meet their expectations.  In doing this they also become apostate.
        There are many such instances where someone can do this the questions is there redemption is there a chance to return or a chance to repent or a chance to come back.  YES.
        Now that being said I also think that there comes a point where there is no return.  On both sides.  I mean I think there is a point where someone has made such choices where they will never want to come to Christ and a point where one has such a true relationship with Christ where they will never even think of going back (not perfect but true).   This is a topic for a different discussion. I just wanted to set the stage now I am going to discuss the next part the part about child like faith.  Then I will tie it all together.
        Mark 10:13-16

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them. 

There are many other passages that go along the same lines as this passage.  The basic concept here is believing as children believe.
Let me state an example so that it will be clearer.  When you were a child and your mom said “Do not touch the stove it is hot and you will burn your hand” as a child you believed her.  Even if you still had a desire to do it you still believed.  You did not question is it hot or is she lying to me you simply believed.  Lets take it even deeper now.  When you were a young child and you mother said “I love you.” you believed her.  This was not a philosophical debate in you whether your mom loved you or not.  (I realize that as folks get older they may go through this debate).  The simplicity and innocent core of a child means they trust and they believe with out having to understand without having to have everything explained to them or without having a flow chart on the wall explaining the properties of physics as to why the stove is gets hot and how the heat burns your hand as well as what the next step should be or will be depending on how long you left it on.  All the child needs to know and expects to know is do not touch the stove or my mom loves me.
As we get older we start to add all sort of things and barriers to believing anything told us.  We start to question everything and even, in many cases, throw out all traditional ways for completely new ways.  We oft think that new ways are better simply because they are new.  We have lost the simplicity of children.
Ask any 6 year old and they will tell that most things in life really are black or white, right or wrong, good or bad.  They are blunt about it and they understand.  Far to many adults have lost the ability to take things at face value and believe.
We call this maturing and adult.  We call this good.  God does not in fact He so does not that He says if you can not come to Him as a child does (just believing) then you have no part in Him.  This is tough to swallow for most.  They believe their reasoning abilities should be taken into consideration.  As if they have something to add to the situation.  As humans we want to be more important then we are.  Maybe a better way to say this is we want to do things that are above us like a child does.  Children always want to do things they are not old enough to do and by the time they get old enough to do them they no longer want to they want something else they are not old enough to do.
God says our value comes not from what we do but from Him and Him alone.  That is also a hard pill to swallow.  How are we to set aside our own ideas and our own way of being?  Job answers this well.  After Job’s friends come around and condemn him over and over again based on their knowledge or their wisdom God steps in.  He shows them that they are only mere children to Him.  He challenged them in their understand and no one could stand before Him even Job could not who God found blameless.  The reason is this earth is only a stage to prepare us for the real life that comes once we leave this earth.  The problem is many do not understand this and their life is one that they want and not God.  I think of our time here on earth like a child in the womb of his/her mother.  The child may very well think they are masters of their realm.  They have no idea in anyway what is about to happen.  They could not know.  They have no way of seeing the outside until the outside sees them.  The only clues they could have would be the sounds they hear but they have  no reference so they are not able to tie the sound to anything.  In the same way the earth is our womb and Heaven is real life.  If God had not revealed Himself to us then we would have no way of knowing who He was.  We could not have known that the earth is created or that people have some place to go after our time of growth in the womb.  Even though there are things in creation that scream out Creator with out having the knowledge revealed to us that there was a Creator they would only be like white noise to us.  They would have no meaning.  We are only able to understand them because of revealed knowledge that God gave humanity.   Here comes the problem with this.  Many folks once they are out of the womb they are born into either heaven or hell.  So many like heave but many of those same folks dismiss hell as figurative.  The Bible is clear that both are real.  Our time in this womb of earth prepares us for one or the other.  If we want heaven then we need to believe Jesus like a child does.  Then we can truly start to mature and learn what is real.  Remember the Bible states that this earth is only a shadow of what is to come.  What we see here reflects similarities to what we will see in heaven but is in no real way the same out side of the reflection as in a mirror.
Our own intellect will never prevail our own wisdom will never prevail our pragmatism will never prevail we will never prevail.  The essence of coming to Jesus as a child is just that.  We are still in the womb and anything that is truly enduring and real can only be done when Jesus does it with us.  That is like a child being helped by his Parent to fix a car that the child could not even attempt if he was to do it by himself.
Now I want to tie this all together.  A bit weird putting these two subjects together but I strongly believe they are antithesis to each other.
Most apostates would consider themselves mature and adult while most Christians would consider themselves like little children.  I think the reason apostates become apostate is because they look to God using their own expectations their own reasonings or their own wisdom.  They think they know enough and can reason well enough to figure out God and when they can’t they figure there could be no God and this must be emotional, myth or some sort.  They can not imagine they may be actually wrong.  Think of Job’s friends they could not be wrong, as they sat their accusing Job over and over again.  The sad thing is even Job figured they had to be correct but he knew they were not so he was faced with a dichotomy and was not sure how to solve this problem.  Most apostates are stuck in this same dichotomy but they have decided and they decided that God is not their or if He is He can’t be how the Bible states it He must be aloof and uncaring.  I will not start this argument in this post. I want to stay on how these tie together but I will most definitely do this discussion some time.
I want folks to really think (especially  if you are apostate) why we have such a hard to believing like children do.  This will go a long ways to coming back to God from where ever you are.
I am dangerously close to the magic 2500 words our post should not pass.  I will stop then because I do hope to have someone read all this LOL.
God Bless.

The Three most Holy Days for Christians (part 1 of 3)

There are three days that stand out above the rest on the Christian Calendar.  The first would be Christmas (the Birth of Jesus) the second would be Good Friday (the Death of Jesus) and the third would be Easter Sunday (the Resurrection of Jesus).  I want to take a look at each of these and see how they are pivotal in the Christian world and how each one should be portrayed and why.  I will not make a determination as to which is more important I am of the opinion that they are equally important and are at the top of all history with nothing even near it in importance.

Lets start with Christmas.  This is the time we celebrate Jesus’s birth.  We all realize that He was not born on Christmas day but this is a day that we use today to remember His birth and why He was born.

Matthew 1:18-25 

18 Now the birth of Jesus [r]Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been [s]betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned [t]to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for[u]the Child who has been [v]conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for [w]He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this [x]took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name [y]Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24 And Joseph [z]awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 [aa]but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

This passage give us the essence of what took place.  There are many more passages like this in other books.  The base concept we need to understand as Christians is that Jesus came from Heaven and took residence here on earth.  He did this of His own free will.

Philippians 2:5-11

Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [f]grasped, but [g]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [h]on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ isLord, to the glory of God the Father.

This passage clearly states that by Jesus leaving heaven He willingly took a lower station in life for the express purpose of following the will of God the Father.  Jesus was born into humble circumstances and lived in the same manner the whole time He honored His heavenly Father even to the point of death.

Why is this important?  Why make such a big deal of His birth?  Why not just honor His ever near presence?  All good questions and worth asking.  The point of Christians celebrating Jesus is to recognize His coming.  There are many amongst us now and through out history who have stated that Jesus never existed and that He was made up for the express purpose of supporting Christianity.  There are a number of ancient documents outside of Christianity that support His being born.  Most folks believe He lived even if they do not believe He is God.

The birth of Christ is a big deal for a number of reasons the foremost being that God became man and dwelt amongst us.  God dwelling among us is fantastic in fact so much so many question the viability of this statement.  This is where Faith steps in.  God expect us to have faith and without faith we are not able to please Him.  He wants folks who will make the choice to believe He does not want robots who are forced to serve Him.

I believe we are indeed supposed to honor His ever near presence.  I think we should at all times do this.  When looking at Christmas from this perspective it is important to think of the celebration of His birth as a singularity in time.  A time where God intersects with man in such a way that the entire world changed.  Think of our calendar system for just one example.  Our calendar system is based off of the birth of Jesus.  This singular moment when God became man and came to earth where God lived with us (as in the garden yet different) where God was our friend, confidant, teacher, servant, savior and more.  This is the one key pivotal moment in all of history where the One who started it all who spoke one word and history began is with us.  That is you and me He is with you and me.  It is this reason we celebrate Christmas.  I realize that the date we celebrate is not His actual birthdate but since no one knows His actual birth date it works for me.

The next article in this series will be on Good Friday.

 

Why Jesus had to die (part B)

jesus-on-the-cross-at-sunset

I realize that part A was replete with words and actually said everything that was needed.  I also wonder if I should just leave it as it is.  I think to myself when something is said why expound on it?  Why make it wordier then it need be?  I guess my answers is I think what I am about to say needs to be said as well and since it ties in with what was already said then I guess I am making it part B. (or I just like to read my own thoughts not really sure which)

Jesus had to die because of sin.  Revelations 13:8 shows us that even before the foundations of the Earth was laid Jesus was slain.  In other words even before God made everything that is He knew Jesus would have to die, His only Son.  He did this anyways in order that His justice, His righteousness, all His immutable qualities may be made manifest to all even to the angels and the fallen angels. God whole purpose is that we may have opportunity to have a relationship with Him and live eternally in Heaven.

Lets step back and go to the beginning.  Adam was in the garden of Eden (paradise).  God told Adam to eat anything there except the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said if you do this you will surely die.  The punishment for SIN is death.  God made that clear in the beginning.  The natural question that arises is why put the tree of knowledge of good and evil even in the Garden?  Glad you asked that is a great question.  God did not want people who served Him because they had to He wanted folks to serve Him because they chose to.  The only way to do that is to have an opportunity to choose to not serve God.

The problem is Adam and Eve decided to eat of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now SIN has entered and death came not only to mankind but also to the animal kingdom.  Remember Adam and Eve realized they were naked.  They tried to hide themselves with fig leaves (fig leaves can be rather large) and they hid from God due to their nakedness.  At this point God questioned them and in the end it came to Him killing an animal to make clothing for both Adam and Eve.  Mans SIN affected more then just himself it also affected the animals, the earth and everything that lives.

As SIN goes it grew more and more.  People continued to sin and they offered sacrifices to God to seek forgiveness and to have their SINS covered.  The problem was the sacrifices offered were only putting a bandage on a gaping wound.  It helped but radical surgery was needed and man was not able to do it themselves.  God proved this where He held Jesus back 1000’s of years to give man the chance to serve God and in doing this God proved that man was always going to SIN and that man needed help.

Enters Jesus.  Jesus came with the express purpose to help man fix the broken relationship with God.  He did this knowing He would be the ultimate sacrifice.  The one fix that is permanent and would always satisfy.  In fact Jesus sacrifice did not cover up SIN as the old sacrificial system did but His sacrifice actually took the SIN away.

This is incredible because now we have the ability to go boldly to God and we can do so in a state like Adam had prior to his SIN.

Jesus knew when He created everything that He would have to go through this but He chose to do it anyways.  He knew that His death would be painful and His suffering would be great but He chose to do it anyways.  Creation was created for the express purpose of showing Gods love to all of creation.

Now we have this benefit and look forward to an even greater benefit in the after life.

There will be more in my Systematic Theology section when the time comes.  Stay tuned for more.

The Bible

The Bible or as some say The Holy Scriptures this book (best selling book in all history) is the cornerstone to Christianity’s entire faith.  Christians base all they believe and do off of what the Bible states.   There are many different interpretations of different passages but in the end anyone who is a believer in Jesus falls back on what the Bible says.

The Bible is a compilation of 66 books (some are letters) and they were written by about 40 authors.  It starts at the beginning of time and shows Gods interaction with mankind through out history.  It gives Christian the basis for living their life 

The standard Christian (though not all encompassing) belief is that the Bible is inerrant (incapable of being wrong).   The traditional Christian believes that not only is the Bible morally inerrant but is also historically inerrant.  They use archeology as well has studies of ancient text to prove the historical accuracy of the Bible.   Through out the years there has been much debate within the Christian realm as well as with those outside of the Christian realm about the accuracy and the historicity of the Bible.   Christians think this is important because they base their entire spiritual beings off of what the Bible says.   Christians do have a caveat in the Bible though,  they believe you can never prove everything to an exact science and the reason for this is Faith.   Traditionally, Christians believe that God wants us to have faith so that folks have to make up their own minds and not have something so absolutely proven that there is no need to make up ones mind on what to believe.  

A good illustration would be a chair.  When we sit in a chair we do not have to gain faith to sit in the chair.  We just sit.  We know the chair will do its job.  Even if a chair breaks we do not stop sitting in chairs we automatically believe that the next chair we sit in will work like it is supposed to.    The belief that the chair will work takes no faith.  It is automatic because it is known through repeated generations that chairs work.  There are scientific principles in play that prove that chairs work and we do not need to prove it any further then we have.  God on the other hand does not want folks to have such a way with Him.  He wants folks to have faith and believe.  He has given things to look at and see as evidentiary but not enough to be so absolute as the chair is.  The Bible says with out Faith we can not please God.  The largest piece that God gave everyone for our help in believing is the Bible.

As Christians the Bible has the very words of God in it.  Christians believe that the Bible was wholly (every dotted “i” and crossed “t”) from God.  Christians call this “Inspired Word of God”.   What is meant by the term inspired is that God (using his Spirit) inspires man to write and through God’s ability to control all things in time and space He is able to make sure what is being written stays exactly how He wants it to be.   Christians do not traditionally believe that when someone was writing the Bible that they became robots where God possesses them and makes them write the exact words He wants.   God illumines the mind in order that the writer may be able to write with some understanding (even though it may not be full understanding) what God wants.

This will also be a more in depth discussion in the Systematic Theology section once I start on that.