Tag Archives: Jesus

Being Made Perfect Through Suffering (sermon that was preached)

This is a sermon I preached a bit ago.  I wanted to share it please ignore the improper grammar I did not correct it.  I believe the message speaks to trouble we as a world, but even more pointed as THE CHURCH, are going through today.

“Today I want to speak about suffering I want to speak about grace and our need for both.  The question is how do we act in suffering?  Do we accept grace?  Are we willing to follow Christ no matter what?  If the unreasonable is asked of us are we willing to do this?

Suffering is something everyone goes through.  Some go through more than others but it seems that when we are going through suffering no one else can ever understand.  Lets be honest there is nothing new under the sun.  Sorry teenagers we are not able to understand your angst. We were never teens, we never went through hormonal changes and we were never tempted with things that are sinful.  We never had parents who could not understand. And worst of all Our parents had the gall to tell us that we would have to suffer from our own kids in the same way we made them suffer.  Now that is scary.  Teens think about that before you put your parents through anymore suffering.  I learned that lesson the hard way.

Often times we get so lost in our suffering that we are not able to see others and the suffering they are going through.   We often lose perspective.  We get lost in ourselves to the degree we actually get mad at God or even question God’s existence because we do not believe that the suffering is fair or that if God was good we would not go through this.

Lets be honest sometimes the suffering is not fair.  Bad things happen to us to no fault of our own.  It is true sometimes we do not deserve our suffering.  I know an eight year old who suffered through years of molestation by her father she did not deserve that.  BUT sometimes our suffering is fair.  Sometimes we do deserve our suffering.  Have you ever known that person who makes very unwise choices and gets themselves in all kinds of trouble?  I am sure we all have.  Once they get into trouble they go looking for someone to help them.  Someone usually steps up and helps.  Then they are okay for a bit and get right back into trouble again because they just keep making the same unwise choices.  They are suffering a lot due to their own choices.  On top of that those who are helping them are suffering a lot because of the choices they are making.

If you claim to believe that God is who He said He is then does it matter?  I say this because if He is who He says He is then He knows and has allowed the suffering to take place.  He has a purpose for that suffering.  He is trying to accomplish something and this is the only way it can be accomplished.  He needs something from you or out of you or in you and this is the only way to have it done.

Are you willing to accept unfair suffering?  Are you willing to accept a suffering that is on you because of someone else?  Are you?  Are you willing to accept suffering that you have caused yourself?  Are you willing to accept the suffering you deserve? Are you?  

Often people complain that they are suffering but they caused it themselves and they say it is not fair.  Christ suffered.  He did not deserve it.  He did not earn it.  He did  nothing in any way that would justify His suffering.

Are we not supposed to follow the example of Christ?  Are we not to desire to be like Christ?  Are we not to follow the example that Christ shared with us?  

I Peter 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps

Christ who was without sin still had to suffer to be made perfect.  So why do we think we do not need to be made perfect?

Hebrews 2:10 For it is fitting for Him, for whom all things, and through whom are all things, in

bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

I want to bring this to our minds so we can think through this.  If Jesus , who did not sin, had to suffer to be perfected how much more suffering do we need to go through to be like Christ.  Even though He was without sin He still had to be perfected for the purpose of satisfying the offering.  So think of it this way not all imperfection is sin.  I know we often think that all the imperfections in us are sin but that is not true.  Christ’s example is proof of that.  

To understand the concept of Jesus needing to be made perfect and how not all imperfection has to do with sin lets take a look at the military.  When someone joins the military they are sent to boot camp.  The purpose of boot camp is to re-educate someone on how to think how to obey.  If they goof up is that a sin. NO.  If they do not know how they are supposed to act is that a sin. NO.  They are trained this is the purpose of boot camp.  In this way Jesus had to go through training to be prepared for the cross.  Remember He was human he had to learn proper grammar, math, reading and so on.  He was not born with this information.  Was He sinning when he misspelled a word? Or got a math problem wrong?  NO of course not.  In the same way He was not sinning just because He was born not able to die on the cross it was a process.  This process He went through was tough.  It brought a lot of suffering to Him and He learned endurance.  He learned how to endure suffering by keeping in good relation with the Father.  He learned that the more suffering He had the closer to the Father He had to be.  Was it sin that He did not know this?  NO.  How would a 8 year old know this?  It took Him 33 years to be ready to die on the cross.  That was 33 years of preparation for His main purpose death on the Cross.   He suffered through out.  He was our example.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer while delivering a sermon in 1934 entitled “Our God is a suffering God” says this:

“I realize that the concept of our God being a suffering God is to many abhorrent but to me it is beautiful.  It is through suffering that we are able to be made ready for God for heaven for life and for Kingdom building.  How else do we expect to be free from sin free from bondage free from this world and wholly Christ, wholly heaven bound, wholly whole.  Suffering is the vehicle our God has chosen and He is participated in this in that He sent His only begotten Son to  suffer and die for us because of us because of our sin.  Without the suffering there would be no forgiveness no grace no mercy no joy.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man who understood suffering.  He understood what it meant to suffer unjustly.  When he stood up to the Nazis and publicly stated they were evil.  He suffered for that.  He was given the opportunity to leave Germany and escape persecution but chose to stay.  He chose the path of greatest suffering for the purpose of Christ.  In the end he died for his stances but also in the end he gave one of the strongest public examples in the 20th century of suffering for the cross.

There are two types of suffering general suffering and Christian suffering.  General suffering covers all the misery, sickness, pain and death which is part of the human condition.  To some degree we all go through this as did Jesus.   I am sure Jesus had a cold or suffered from allergies or some sort of bodily suffering. General suffering we all partake in is something addressed in:

Galatians 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

General suffering gives Christians a great opportunity to help others…. to show the love of Christ without reservation.

It is Christian suffering we must participate in if we are going to follow Christ.  I understand that to some, what I just said is diametrically opposed to what they believe.  They believe that Christians should not suffer and that if we are truly following God all suffering would go away and the only reason we suffer is because of our own sin.  I hope the fact that Jesus had to suffer did not pass you by.  If Jesus had to suffer what sin caused His suffering.  Let me restate this one more time.  We must participate in Christian suffering if we are going to truly follow Christ.  Remember we just read Hebrews and 1 Peter where it clearly states that to follow Christ we will suffer.

Now I know there are folks who hate what I just said but I also know there are folks who know and appreciate what I just said.  Folks who have suffered both of their own accord and from no fault of their own.  They understand suffering.

What is Christian suffering.  This is simple.  Christian suffering is our participation of God’s suffering at the hands of an ungodly world.  The degree we suffer because we identify with God is the degree we participate with Christ in the suffering He had to endure.

Often we ask why is there so much suffering in this world? Fair question.  Oft though we get the pat answer that it is because of sin.  This may be true but it is easy and does not struggle with the very real problem with pain.  This does not struggle with the purpose of suffering.  The answer of “it is because of sin” does not have any struggle in it at all.

We must struggle we must suffer and we must have an answer when someone ask the legitimate question of why is there so much suffering in the world.  I realize that most people will not be satisfied with the answer.  They may not understand your answer.  BUT if your answer comes from the point of being as a result of suffering then it will RING true and they will know that.  Their spirit will testify as to the validity of what you are saying and then a real conversation will be made possible.   Even though often that question is a smoke screen to the real question they have.  The real problem they struggle with and the real reason they do not want to serve God or admit God.  The real question is simple.  Why has there been so much suffering in my life?  They personalize it.   Once someone gets to the point of personalizing their problems then you have made it.  You  now have the opportunity to use that suffering that you have been through to serve someone else.  To help someone else.  To fulfill your Kingdom responsibilities.

People do not want to get to personal.  If they do they will have to address things that they have buried deep.  They will have to face sins they have done and sins that others have done to them.  They will have to come out of the darkness into the full light of day.  Where nothing can hide.  

There are things in life we want to hide from.  We place it up in the proverbial attic way in the back in a box but it is really never gone.  We always know it is there we always are aware that it has some sort of power over us.   That deep in the recesses of who we are there is some evil that has root and is trying to take over.

What do we do?  We hide.  We deny.  We run.  We pretend.  We ??

We need grace.  What is the purpose of grace? unmerited favor to put it simply.    Grace is not easy it is not  a quick prayer one says that will inturn free them from all things that are bothering them.  With grace comes suffering. With grace comes hardship.  This is why so many run from grace.  They run they hide they try their darndest to keep the status quo.   sooner or later it catches up. Grace brings to the forefront all the darkness (thankfully not all at once) and releases you from it.  This is why it is unmerited favor.  You have not earned this but God gives it to you anyways.  The problem comes when you run from it.  When the suffering comes you turn and hide.  You deny.  You pretend.  You do what you have to do so that you can protect yourself how you think you need to be protected. Eventually though it catches up.

Has it ever caught up to you?  Have you been in the deepest darkest night and there it is?  I am sure you understand what I am saying.  That thing that has power over you.  Could it be a lie you spoke?  How about a lie you live?  How about something sexual you have done or something sexual someone else has done to you?  Could it be pride?   Sin brings suffering true even if it is someones elses sin.  You can suffer for someone else’s sin.  

We come back to grace.  Grace is costly and hard.  Easy grace is cheap and has no value.

Dietrich Bonhoefffer states in his book The Cost of Discipleship:

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

From <http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/29333.Dietrich_Bonhoeffer>

When we understand that last sentence “Costly grace is the Incarnation of God” then WOW our lives are about to change.  We are not able to learn that and stay the same.  We are not able to understand that statement and stay the same we must make a decision and that will either draw us nearer God or we will have to turn our back on Him.  There is no in between with God.

When we understand that God considers grace to be costly so much so that He gave us His only begotten Son to die upon a cross.  The death of a criminal.  The death that you and I deserve not the death He deserved.  He did not deserve any death.  Death came as a result of sin the Garden.  The reason Jesus could not be held the in the grave is because He had no sin to hold Him in the grave.   Christ suffered for us so that we can have grace to be forgiven to be freed to be whole.

Grace is not cheap because God is not cheap.  The work that Jesus did is not cheap.  The cross is not cheap.  The  nails in His hands are not cheap.  The nails in His feet are not cheap.  The thorns in His brow are not cheap.  The stripes on His back are not cheap.  The blood He shed is not cheap.  The hatred that was heaped upon Him is not cheap.  The anger that was heaped upon Him is not cheap.   No friends grace is not cheap and it is not easy.  It is hard.  Hard as nails.  Hard as thorns.   Hard as whips.  Hard as flesh being torn from His back.  Grace is hard it brings suffering.  We must participate in His sufferings to find perfection.  To be made perfect we must live in grace.  The beauty is when we find grace…… we find Jesus is there with us.  He shows us the way the path the center. We were lost and He opens the way.  We were blind and He gives us site.   Suddenly the storm the hardness the suffering is not so bad.  His burden is light His yoke is easy.

Okay friends suffering is a must otherwise we would not grow.   We would not change.   We would not be able to be more like Christ.  In the end our Goal is to be more like Christ.  

Lets switch modes for a moment.  When someone has surgery there is pain and suffering involved.  We find this normally acceptable, because the point of the surgery is to fix us.  We are to be made well through this surgery even though it is painful and will often cause a lot of suffering afterwards.

My point here is that suffering is not always bad.  God uses suffering to refine us and do surgery to our lives both physically and spiritually.  God sees us for who we are and He understands the mess we really are.  In fact He understands our mess more than we do.

C.S. Lewis put it true when he said , in his book The problem with Pain, this:

“I have been trying to make the reader believe that we actually are, at present, creatures whose character must be, in some respects, a horror to God, as it is, when we really see it, a horror to ourselves. This I believe to be a fact: and I notice that the holier a man is, the more fully he is aware of that fact.”

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

From <https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2976220-the-problem-of-pain>

Yes our character is a horror to God.  Sin is a horror to God. Our character is racked in sin and needs to be cleansed thoroughly.  Needs to be completely transformed.  We need to be a new creation. The closer one gets to God the more real this is.  The more we understand the necessity to die.  That there is nothing of myself that is good.   Ouch that is hard. Nothing at all.  Nothing.

Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells with in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

Romans 3:10 As it is written “There is none righteous, not even one;

Isaiah 64: 4-9  ….. for all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away……..

Is there any doubt.  We can’t be good enough.  We can’t please God by being good or by doing good or by any means that is within us.

The degree we suffer is directly proportional to the degree we fight God in this process.  There will always be suffering in our lives there will always be pain in our lives.  The more we fight God as He uses this pain and suffering to change us the more pain and suffering we feel.

I say to you today.  One simple thing.  Let go of it.  Let go of having to be right.  Let go of the pain someone else put on you.  Let go of your hidden sin.  Your shame.  Your lies.  So what if others know.  So what if you are embarrassed.  So what.  Truly they have their own shame and guilt to deal with.  They have their own embarrassments to deal with.  You have to stand before God and be judged.  You have to answer for yourself they are not going to pay your penalty for you.  They are not going to hell for you.  Be Honest, Be faithful, Be Honorable.  Let go of it.  Let it all out.  Do not hold back be FREE,

I say to you today what Joshua said to the children of Israel thousands of years ago.

Joshua 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

God gives this to you today.  Choose make that choice.  No longer sit on the fence but choose you today whom you shall serve.  Do not allow suffering to sway you but grab on with both hands and be excited about what God is doing.

there is an Old Negro spiritual and it makes a simple and pure statement :

Free at Last

Free at Last

Thank my God I am Free at last.

 

Who wants this freedom?”

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The Hate of the Perfect

Okay here is something I was thinking on this morning.  Everybody knows no one is perfect.  Some have better lives than others and there has only been one exception.  Jesus.  He was perfect.  People hated Him.  In fact in John 15:18 it says that they hated Jesus.  When you think on this Jesus was perfect and in being so it only accentuated the imperfection in everyone else.

People do not like to be reminded how imperfect they are especially if the one reminding them is not actually reminding them but showing them by living their life perfectly.  Jesus did not go around telling people they were imperfect. (He did say things like that it was not His main stay)  He went around teaching about God the Father.

Here is my thought on this.  The closer we get to Jesus the closer we get to perfection.  People hated Jesus and they will hate us.  Again if our lives show Jesus then there is little that need be said about the sin in another’s life our living will share about what real life is and that will bread hatred in some and longing in others.  It is our job to harvest those who long and continue to live life in Jesus for everyone else.  The closer we get to that perfection the more we will be at enmity with the world.

Just a quick thought.

John 15:18 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

Outside the camp.

Leviticus 16:27    The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and offal are to be burned up.

Now understand that sin was not supposed to be part of life.  The reason for the remains of the sin offering to be brought outside the camp to burn instead of inside the camp is because sin had to be destroyed.   This flesh of the offering was symbolic of the sin.  Sin had to separated from man so they used to blood (in the blood is life) on the altar then they took the body outside of the camp.  The blood covered the sin so that it was no longer visible (though it was still there).  Then the flesh was taken outside the camp symbolizing the separating of sin from the people.  Then the remains were burned.  The symbol of burning is the purification.  Fire purifies throughout much of Scripture.

The problem of course was sin was not really being removed.

Now lets move forward in time.

Hebrews 13:11-13  For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 

Jesus took our sin upon Himself.  This is why He had to be brought outside of camp.  Sin was not allowed to be disposed of inside of the camp.  More then just taking our sin He became our sin.  In this way our sin was actually removed  not just covered up.

II Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

He did not simply take away our sin He actually became that sin.  So our sin is not ours any more.  It is His.  This is vastly different than what the offerings could do.  The offerings only covered up our sin but underneath all that the sin was still there.  Jesus actually made our sin His and we no longer have it.

That reproach He took.  Think about it the reproach of someone who murdered someone.  How about the reproach of a child molester?  Or of someone who lies or steals?  This reproach he took.   We no longer have it.  We no longer have it because we are not that person any more.

Jesus was wholly rejected by everyone, even those who followed Him.  Society rejected Him.  This had to be.  God the Father knew this even before the creation of everything.

I Peter 1:20  For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you

Revelations 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

He knew even before God created everything what was going to have to take place.  Even before Adam and Eve in the garden.  Even before original sin.  Even before the first molecule was created  He knew.

He loves us so much He did it anyways.

Now I say as did the writer of Hebrews let us go outside of camp.  Let us take up the same reproach.  Let us become part of His company.  A vast company.  A company that is not of this world.  Our home is not here.  Our home is there.  Our home is heaven.  Together outside of camp we stand.  We know that we are not liked.  We know that we are rejected.  They rejected Christ.   They must also reject us.  They do not have a choice.  To be friends of this world is to be at enmity with God.

To be outside the camp is a great honor to bear His reproach is a great honor.  Who am I to dare to partake with my Lord even a small part of His reproach yet…..  Here it is Scripture saying make a choice go outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  In other words partake in the same reproach He had.   What a hard thing to say and even harder to do!

To leave the comfort and the security of the camp.

To be a part of something that all our neighbors are a part of to be a part of something that society endorses.  Easy.  Easy.

Imagine being shunned, ridiculed and hated all because you lived a life that was holy to God and did not sin.  He was rejected.   We rejected Him.  Now we have the opportunity to accept Him to go outside of camp and bear the same reproach as He did.   Will you take it?

Are you willing to bear that reproach?  Are you willing to suffer for Christ?  Are you willing to be rejected by all?  Have you not already been somewhat rejected?  What holds you back?  Go all the way and pick up Christ’s reproach be fully rejected.  This is His way.  This is tough.  This is suffering.

Remember many left Christ because of the hard words He preached.  Will you?   We can not preach an easy gospel since there is nothing easy about the gospel.   If you preach an easy Gospel you do not know Christ.

Again I ask Will you?  Are you going to leave Christ or suffer with Him?  Those are the only real choices.

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

Of course this day is Resurrection day or as we call it Easter.  The reason this day is on equal standing is simple without the resurrection the rest would have been a big waste of time.  You can say this for each of the three most Holy Days.  You are not able to have one with out the other.

The reason we want to celebrate this is to remember, learn and understand the resurrection and what it means.  The first thing it means is He is alive.  It also means He has conquered death so we can believe His promise to live forever in heaven with Him and His Father.  He showed Himself to hundreds of people multiple times.  Can we believe the testimony?  I do when tied in with Biblical prophecy and the rest of the Bible then their testimony lines up and makes sense.  In the end though it is a matter of faith.  The only time there will be proof is when Jesus comes back again or when one dies and stands at judgement.

There are not many who dispute His death only this who dispute whether He ever lived or not. I will not make that argument here though in a future post I will.   The Bible states much about His death and resurrection and I already went over that in part two of this series please refer to that for more information.

His resurrection is now the focus.  In Mark 16:5-7 you will find a simple story of He is no longer in the grave.  The proof is He is no longer there.  He is going to meet everyone in Galilee.  They were told to wait there.  They waited.

Why is the resurrection important?  The resurrection substantiates all that went before.  All the claims that were made by Jesus, being the Son of God,  being sent from the Father and all the miracles He performed.  His resurrection substantiates it all. When He claimed Godhood and when He claimed that we will live forever with Him He substantiated all this by His resurrection.  He empowered the work that went on prior to His death and He led the way through Him dying.  His death shows us the example of honor, humility, restraint, LOVE, grace, mercy, and so forth. By His resurrection we see that all that He went through was not in vain and thus all we go through in this world will also not be in vain. For we will live in Heaven with Him for eternity.  This produces hope.

We have something to look forward to something to make all the pain, all the suffering, all the battles we go through okay.  Not only okay but worthwhile and beneficial.  We now have a reason to believe and work hard towards this goal.  The goal of an eternal relationship with God.   We can understand how what we give up here is nothing compared to what we receive.  In fact in time what we give up here we will not even see as giving up.  How do you really give up something that was not ours to begin with.  The only real thing we have is our relationship with Jesus and since He is alive we are able to have this relationship daily.

Why should we celebrate His resurrection?  Simply to live.

The Three Most Holy Days for Christians (part 2 of 3)

This post is going to go over Good Friday.   The first question is what is Good Friday?   This is an easy one.  Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified read Matthew 27: 33-56 for the story.  The hard question is “Why is it called good?”

The answer is simple yet incredibly hard to accept.   Forgiveness.  That is the simple answer what makes it hard is that Jesus had to die so we could get forgiveness.  So the reason a sinless man was on the cross was exactly because He was sinless.  Our sin needed to be forgiven (so we put Him there) and this was the only way to do that.

In the Old Testament of the Bible God instituted a sacrificial system.  Ancient Israel would sacrifice lambs, bulls, birds and so forth as per the instructions from God.  The reason was simple any sin brought guilt on someone and the penalty of death.  God clearly stated that the penalty for sin is death, due to this God instituted the sacrificial system using the blood of animals instead of our own.  (this is called blood guilt)  The problem with the sacrificial system is the blood of animals did not take away the sins only covered them up.  This allowed God to not destroy humanity because of sin.  This did not solve the problem with sin it only put a band aide on it.  The true problem solver was Jesus.  When Jesus was born this was His purpose and only purpose.  There was  no other reason to come He was to provide a way for true forgiveness of sins and not just a covering of our sins.  This means that when Jesus the Christ forgives us our sins then they are gone.  As far as the east is from the west.  They are remembered no more and God the Father only sees the payment that Jesus made and then looks to us and says welcome good and faithful servant.  (even though some of us are not so faithful He sees us this way anyways)

The reason this day is Holy is simple this is the day Jesus voluntarily gave up His life.  He could have said no.  He could have called down angels and wiped out all the Roman and Jewish cohorts who had Him there.  He could have just walked off the cross and became God in front of everyone and everyone would have believed.  This is not what He wanted.  He wants us to make a choice.  He wants us to have faith. He wants us to live knowing there will be proof other than a personal relationship.  So each person has to find that proof themselves.  Science will never prove nor disprove God.  Philosophy will never prove nor disprove God.  Only in a personal relationship can we find proof that we will ever accept.

I want to address what would have happened if Jesus actually did not go through with it.  Remember in the garden He asked the Father to allow this to pass and lets try something different.  The Father said no.  Now Jesus being God could have done what He wanted to He could have said yes and not have gone through this.  What would have happened.  Honestly, this would have been absolute proof that He was not who He said He was.   In other words God will never be untrue to who He is and thusly even if everything else was just right and in the end He did  not follow through He would not have been who He said.  Thank fully He did go through this.  If He had not we would not have forgiveness.  We would not have someone else pay our debt a debt mind you that we are not able to pay.

Lets tie this together now.  Jesus had to die in fact if you read the Bible you will find that He knew this even before creation was made.  He decided to make creation anyways.  He had love for us even before we were created.  That love was their even knowing what we would do, say, think and so on.  He knew how often we would fail.  He knew how often we would really hurt those around us.  How often we would do things to ourselves that are just wrong.  He knew all this and decided to do it anyways because of love.

This is simply and explanation.  There are hundreds of Bible passages that relate to this and when I get to this section under my Systematic Theology section I will explore this in its entirety.  Thanks for your understanding as to why that is not done here.

Thankfully though the story does not stop there.  Be ready for part 3 next.

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.