Category Archives: Basic Christian Beliefs

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.

Advertisements

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.

Who is God? (per the Bible)

My series, Basic Christian Beliefs, is written for those who are Christian but do not have the basic concepts down. They can learn as well as those who are not Christian but would like to know the basic concepts of Christianity.  I am trying to keep it simple and basic.  I do love it when folks ask questions or comment on something (as everyone does) but disagreements I am saving to when I am done with Basic Christian Beliefs and into Systematic Theology.  That will be fun.  This article is going to be short.  I will write one much more in depth on who God is in the Systematic Theology category.  I want to paint a picture of the basic concept of who God is.

In the Bible you will find that God has many names usually reflecting attributes of Him.  They use these different names largely because they thought His name (I Am) was to holy to use flippantly.  So they came up with a more generic name God and they added to that many descriptives.  The essence of who God is on the basic level is simple.

Gen 1.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

We see God as Creator of everything.   John 1 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  We believe that with out God nothing was made that is.

1 John 4:8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

We believe that God is Love.  He is the embodiment of  what love is.  Please read 1 Corithians 13 to see how God defines what absolute love is.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5  “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

God wants a personal relationship with us in fact he wants one so much that He sent His only son Jesus the Christ to earth to die for us.  John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

In other words God has gone to great lengths to create an opportunity to have a relationship with us.

Matthew 26:28  for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

God forgives.  In fact each time we take communion we remember His forgiveness.  We remember the sacrifice that His son did so that we are able to get forgiveness.

How we as Christians view God is He is not bound by time in fact He is outside of time and sees all of time as one piece and can interact with it as He wills (He created time).  Through prayer we are able to know God and interact with Him on a personal basis.

I know this is short please if you have any questions or comments leave them.  This topic could and has filled many a book consider this the cliff notes version.  Thanks all and God Bless.

Jesus (?) Part B

I am going to continue directly where I left off.  If you have not read part A of this article it wont make a lot of sense to you.

 

Verse 6

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To [j]fall on Him.

Even though we have all done wrong, we have all blown it, He has taken upon Himself the only option for giving us a chance to get back into a good relationship with God the Father.  Sin must be dealt with before we are able to get back into good standing with God the Father and this is what Jesus did by taking the “iniquity of us all to fall on Him”.

Verses: 7 & 8

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the [k]living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

The suffering continues.  It is very disconcerting to even read about it but it is a reality that we as humans must all face at sometime.   We are forced to eventually face the cross and deal with it either in this life or the one to come.

Jesus kept humble.  He did not complain that He was innocent and that He did not deserve this.  He allowed them to lead Him like an unknowing animal to be killed.  Even though He knew in fact He knew so well that even before the earth was made. He knew by making the earth He would have to go through this.  He did it anyways.  The punishment was ours and He took it.  This is big.  The beat down he took was horrific.  He died after someone put three very large nails through his hands and feet then raised Him off the ground so gravity continuously pulled Him towards the earth.  That alone had to make the pain intensified by the mathematical value of gravity. (not a math guy here)  What I am saying is it was bad.  Take a moment and visualize to yourself what Jesus did in order that we may have a good relationship with the Father.  He planned this from the beginning.  He knew that mankind would not last long with out sin and yet He still made us and went through all this.  This is love.

Verse 9

His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

He died with men who were rightly wrong and deserved their punishment.  In fact while all three were there on crosses the other two even stated that they deserved it.  One in fact realized Jesus did not.   Even though He died the death of a criminal He was honored by the burial of a rich man.  This happened because He was not violent nor was He a liar.  There are none of us who can say that.

Verse 10-12

But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, [l]putting Him to grief;
If [m]He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His [n]offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the [o]good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the [p]anguish of His soul,
He will see [q]it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out [r]Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

This is intense.  Jesus was pleased to do this.  He knew what it meant.  His Father was also pleased to do this even though He also knew what it meant.  It meant that by doing this many will enter the kingdom of Heaven that otherwise would have no way to do so.  Jesus gave us this opportunity to get to Heaven by taking our punishment from us and putting on Himself which allows us to find true forgiveness.  The kind of forgiveness that means one day when we stand before Him on judgement and He says “Well done good and faithful servant” He will not remember our failings.  He will look on us with great love and joy.  He will show us mercy and grace and allow us to reside forever in Heaven with Him.  This is what His 33 years on earth did for us.  I like the part of this passage that states “He poured out Himself to death”  that means as already stated He did this completely voluntary.

Now I want to look at the John passage in chapter 5.

Verses 16 & 17

16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

The ruling religious elite of the day did not like what He was doing.  He was healing on the Sabbath and this did not work with their rules that they put in place.  They called healing someone from a horrible disease as work.  They hated Him.

In reality they hated Him because He had true power and they did not.  He did not flaunt it nor push for a higher position in society.  He did make money from it nor did he take favors for it.  He was altogether doing it for the sole purpose of honoring the Father God in Heaven.  This irked them because they wanted people to believe they had the only way to Heaven instead He taught that He was the only way to the Father and thusly to Heaven.  This claim was backed up with power.  The kind of power that healed people, that set people free, that changed lives and made things better for the everyday person not just the elite.  In fact most of the elite would not follow Him.  This shows what is in the heart of humans more often then not if it is not in my best interest I will have nothing to do with it.

Here Jesus claims to be equal with God.  When He claimed to be working on the same level as Father God that made him equal with God.  This was unacceptable.  That being said I understand why it was.  Israel had a bad history with worshipping other gods and it cost them dearly.  They did not even come close to that any more and any one who did was either killed or ostracized.  The problem at this time is not that they were concerned with someone worshipping another god it is they were concerned that Jesus was who He said He was.  This scared them more then anything.  They did not want to lose their power and having the very Son of God in their midst would do exactly that and it did exactly that.  Within a generation their power was diminished.  They figured if they could kill off the Son then they would be good but that is the problem Jesus knew they had to kill them off.  He knew this even before He came.  So they had the wrong effect.

Verse 18

For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

Since Jesus equated Himself with God the Father they now added another straw to the camels back.  In other words that just set them off all the more.  They had it.  How could this man do this.

I have said all I mean to say at this time.   Jesus claimed Godhood with the Father.  He claimed to be the one who fulfilled he prophecies that were given out hundreds of years earlier.  The real question is what do we as humans say to this.  We have to if we do not say something now we will have to on judgement day.   Judgement day is too late.  There is no chance then your decision must be while you are here on earth.  Please if you have any questions please ask. I will be happy to help.

Jesus (?) Part A

Okay, here is a biggie Jesus or “Who is Jesus?”  This is one of those questions that has volumes upon volumes written about it and by far better folks then I.   My intention here is not to answer all the arguments people have about Jesus nor is it to convince you who Jesus is it is simply to explain who the Bible says Jesus is.  This is not a hard task but at the same time the task is one of the more difficult task I have had to do for I am making a representation of who Jesus is and I do not wish to get this wrong.  When you have completed reading this post I do not expect anyone to agree with me just to understand so if you do not understand please feel free to leave a reply and explain any questions you may have.

I have decided to look at Isaiah 53 for my text about who Jesus is.  I will also use John 5:16-18. I am going to take it section by section and explain what the Bible is saying about Jesus.

Isaiah 53

1. Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender [a]shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should [b]be attracted to Him.

Take verse one here “who has believed” that is one of the problems most did not believe and even those who did were wrong in their assumptions.  Jesus came into this world lowly and unassuming.  He was not the best looking guy and he did not stand out in a crowd.  There was no majesty in Him that made people say look the savior of all mankind.  In fact His own disciples did not understand until after His resurrection and after He explained to them what had to happen.  Often when we look to our leaders we want them to present a certain way when in public.  We want them to speak persuasively and to be charismatic.  This was not His way.  He was not attractive to people in anyway physically or publicly.  This would only detract from His true purpose.

Here it gets more intense:  verse 3.

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of [c]sorrows and acquainted with [d]grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Wow how powerful is that.  He was literally despised and folks forsook Him because of the message he brought.  He came to “turn the world upside down” and those in power did not want this. They wanted the status quo or if there was going to be change it needed to benefit them and the change Jesus wanted did not benefit their purpose.  Think of someone who is full of sorrow and truly knows grief.  How often do you want to be around them?  People avoided Jesus because the truth He spoke made people examine themselves and most of the time when we as humans examine ourselves we do not like what we see.  We want to hide from ourselves.  How much more do we want to hide from someone who makes us see ourselves for who we really are.  People despised Him because he did not allow them to put Him in a box.  Folks were not able to mold Him into the way they thought He should be but He molded them in the way He knew they needed to be.   There is little esteem in that kind of work.

Remember when He was on the Cross only a handful of women stayed with Him (and John the beloved) and everyone else had abandoned Him.

Verses 4 & 5

Surely our [e]griefs He Himself bore,
And our [f]sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
[g]Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was [h]pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our [i]well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.

These are tough verses.  The concept of what he went through here is so painful and in many ways disgusting that most people can not contemplate it long.  His purpose for coming to earth was to become the payment for all the wrong doing we have done.  Even more then that He came to earth to heal us both mentally and physically.  When He takes someones sorrows He replaces it with Joy and when He takes someones griefs he replaces it with peace and a sureness that all is okay.  When Jesus was on the Cross before He died even God had to look away from Him.  The reason for this is because God can  not look at wrong doing.  If He does He will destroy everything.  This was the reason for sacrifices in the Old Testament.  The blood of the animals provided a covering of protection for mankind.  Now Jesus came and while on the Cross He became our wrong doings.  He did not just represent them on the cross but he actually became them.  This is a tough concept.  He had none of His own wrong doings but He took all ours and when that moment happen God the Father had to look away.  Even Jesus cried out “My God My God why have you forsaken Me.”  Jesus was in the depth at that moment not knowing where the strength was going to come from to finish.  Faith and knowing God the Father pushed Him on.

The punishment He took.  The whip on His back the very large thorns crunched into His scalp these are the things that paid the price for our healing.  We are able to go to Jesus and seek healing from Him because of this.  Because of our wrong doing He was stabbed through His side and the chastening we deserved was dumped on Him.  He suffered terribly and for nothing He did Himself.

So far you are seeing a bleak picture of who Jesus is.  This is true.  It does not stay this way.

Please stay tuned for Part B with the rest of this article.  It was too long so I had to shorten it.

 

Charity

This is one of those post that I think I will come up drastically short.  I am not really sure where to even start.  I guess we can start with an explanation.  When I say Charity I do  not mean giving money to the poor or giving your time to a non profit though that is part of Charity.  I mean Agape or in English Love.  I chose the title of Charity because I think it has a greater descriptive strength then the word love has in our day.  In todays modern society love is weak and valueless but in Gods society it is the ultimate strength.  Nothing can break Charity nothing can hinder Charity or even slow it down.  True Charity comes only from God and when He fills us with His Charity we have power to change the atmosphere around us and thus the lives around us.  We have the power to give that Charity to others.  Remember when we forgive people on our their sins our heavenly father is sure to forgive us ours.  Forgiveness is an act of Charity it is not Charity in and of itself.  There is one passage in Scripture that most folks know 1 Corinthians 13.  The chapter on Charity.  (A side note prior to getting into this passage I want to say my normal version of the Scripture I use is New American Standard Version.  I do use other versions when I think they are more descriptive of the original so today I will be using the old fashion King James Version.)

1 Corinthians 13

King James Version (KJV)

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

My hope in posting the whole chapter here is that you will read it out loud in its entirety twice.  This will allow your brain to relearn it and see it from a fresh perspective.  I think if the greatest of the is Charity then we  must spend the most time on Charity.  We should dedicate ourselves to its understanding.  Remember 1 John 4:8 God is love.  If God is love and even in the King James version they would use the word love mostly in fact but here in 1Corinthians 13 God chose to use the term Charity instead of Love and that for a purpose.

We talk as if we want to be more like Christ more like God.  This is our goal but where is Charity in this.  We cant be more like God until we have His charity in us.  Remember what the scripture you just read out loud twice (really do this stop reading and go back and do this) God does not care if we practice all the spiritual gifts, if we give all we have to the poor or even if we are martyred for the Faith it all means nothing with out Charity (Agape).  Remember God is Agape.  How long are we willing to suffer?  Are we willing to be kind even to those who we do not like? Do I envy the car the house the children the spouse the life of someone else?  Am I able to happy for them with out it bugging me?  Am I selfish, easily angered, a show off?  These things are directly against Charity.  Charity requires us live different to die and be reborn anew.

Charity gives true life.  Charity allows us to live in what is real not in our own head of what is real but what is truly real.  Remember Charity never fails and who is Charity (Agape) well 1John 4:8 states “God is Agape” Charity = Agape so God = Charity.  Simple math.  If we want to be more like God (like we regularly proclaim) then we need to live 1 Corinthians 13.