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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who Can Tell Me?

"Who Can Tell Me?" is a narrative of a poem written by Pastor Emeal Zwayne of Living Waters Ministry, a partner of Way of the Master. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Foundational Element

"Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness"  (Ecclesiastes 2:13).

The Scripture tells us that God dwells in unapproachable light( I Timothy 6:16), that in Him there is no darkness (I John 1:5), and that when we get to Heaven there will be no need for the sun because the light of God will give us sight (Revelations 22:5).  I love this description of God because it helps to define His goodness and how in His goodness he cannot allow sin to enter Heaven.

Is darkness an element? No! You can only create darkness by removing light. Light is the element. If you sat in a room of pure darkness and then placed a candle in the middle of the room, what would happen? The darkness would begin to dissipate in the presence of the light.

Now let's imagine that you had a room made of pure light. If you could somehow contain darkness in your hands or in a box of some sort, what would happen to the darkness once exposed to the light? It would be completely consumed by the light.

The same can be said about the goodness of God. Evil is not the element, God's goodness is. Evil is what occurs when God's goodness is removed or held back. Although God's goodness is operative in this world, evil occurs because God does not fully dwell in this world. God however is the only cause of good in this world. Every good thing that is or ever was took place because God enabled it to occur.

God is pure goodness and any hint of sin must be searched out. That is why God is also concerned with our thought lives. Imagine if I could take a high-tech recording device that capture all of your thoughts, everything your eyes met, every word that you spoke, and every step that you took over the course of seven days. Then at the end of the week, I took the information and posted it on YouTube for all the world to see. You would be so terrified that you would desire to get as far away from people as possible.

We however, don't have one week of sin before a group of people who can do nothing to your soul. We have a lifetime of sin before a perfect and righteous creator. "And do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell" (Matthew 10:28).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Part 2 of 2: My Redeemer Lives!!!

In my previous blog, I used the conscience to reason out the wickedness of the human heart and to prove that man is not good but in fact evil to his core. Which then covers point number one, the nature of man. In part two, I will now attempt to explain the nature of God.

God is not just one adjective (i.e. wrath filed or loving). God is a combination of many adjectives that harmonize perfectly without any contradictions. Today however I will cover three aspects of God's character: His goodness, His justice, and His love for humanity.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good. If God was not good I would not serve Him, I couldn't trust Him, and morality would be meaningless because there would be no perfect standard to measure it by. God however is the perfect standard by which we must be measured. Too often we attempt to compare ourselves to one another and proclaim how we are better than the next guy, but when we compare ourselves to God we find that we fall incredibly short of His standard.

Therefore God, in His goodness, must see that justice is served. What would you say to a judge who had a guilty rapist standing before him but simply let him go because the rapist said he was sorry and would never commit the act again? Besides he only raped one woman and has been decent to many other women throughout his life. Would the judge be a good judge if he let the man go. Imagine (Lord forbid) if the crime was committed against a family member. God will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:6). God cannot and will not turn a blind eye to our sin. So where does that leave the sinner?

Well you have God's promise that if you've ever sinned (lied, stolen, looked with lust, hated, dishonored your parents, etc.) then you will go to Hell. God will not allow any hint of sin in heaven (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Justice demands that the guilty are punished, but here is the good news. Although we deserve death and damnation, God revealed Himself in the flesh, in the body of Jesus Christ and lived a perfect and sinless life. Thereby becoming the only candidate worthy of paying our fine. No other person can pay your fine, because we all have a fine to pay ourselves, but because god is infinitely perfect, His payment is more than enough for sinful man. Jesus made that payment when He took our place in punishment, dying on the cross and punished under the wrath of God. He then rose from the dead and after being witnessed alive for forty days ascended into Heaven and will judge your soul when you die.

God will credit the payment of Jesus' sacrifice into your account if you will repent (turn from your sin once and for all) and place your trust in Jesus Christ as you would a parachute if you had to jump from a burning plane. He is your only hope and promises to save you if you turn and trust Him. No other religion can offer that. No other religion has even tried. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Isn't that great news?!!

If you have a Bible, open it and read John 3:16 and see if it makes sense to you now.

The Heart of Man (Part 1 of 2)

There are many religions in the world and even some religions that are growing faster than Christianity in some parts of the world. Islam seems that it is growing faster than any religion at this moment and many statistics will even show that it is the world's fastest growing religion. Numbers however mean nothing when it comes to the Truth of the Gospel.  "Though they join hand in hand, the wicked will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 11:21). Truth is truth no matter how many believe in it or choose not to.

I can sum up the whole message of all of the other world religions into one basic statement: You are good or can become good and thereby can earn a reward from a higher power (i.e. Heaven, becoming a god, becoming like god, coming back in a higher form through reincarnation, etc.). Christianity, on the other hand, says something completely different. The Bible tells us that there is none good but God, that we are wicked to our core, and there is no way that we can do anything to please God. It also tells us that we deserve spending an eternity in Hell under the wrath of God for our transgressions and can do nothing to free ourselves, but because God loves us, He has done something wonderful for us to go free.

There is no possible way that anyone can say that Christianity is like any other religion and that we all worship the same God.  So the overriding difference seems to be 1) the nature of man and 2) the nature of God. The Bible says that there is none good but God and that all humans are evil. Either the Bible is right or we are right (or we are both wrong), but both cannot be true. So let's examine the evidence.

How many lies have you told? Too many to count?

Have you ever stolen anything, no matter of the cost? (downloaded illegal music?)

Have you ever used the Lord's name in vein? Using His name to express anything but His goodness is considered blasphemy.

Jesus said that if you so much as look at someone else with lust (sexual desire) you've committed adultery with them already in your heart (Matt. 6:28). Can anyone say that they have never had sexual thoughts about someone?

Have you hated someone or lashed out in your anger either physically or verbally? Have you ever just wished for harm to come upon someone else? The Bible tells us that we are murders at heart (Matt. 5:22; 1 John 3:15).

I just went through five of the Ten Commandments. It doesn't even matter that they are written in the Bible because we have them written on our consciences. We know when we do wrong because our conscience tells us so. Do you still think that man is good?

I will attempt to illustrate the nature of God in part two of this post. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Don't Have a Cow!

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is an animal rights group that has strict guidelines for its members. Let's say that you and I were both members who had never met before. One day we are called to go to our annual conference at which we are placed at the same table. Our personalities spark and a friendship is quickly built. I then ask you to join me for dinner with my family that night and you agree.

Me: "I can't wait to have you over. My wife is a great cook. She butchers the cow right in our back yard with a machete. We use up the hide for furniture coverings. You'll love it.

You: "Excuse me?!" As a member of PETA, you should be ashamed of yourself. We do not promote nor condone your lifestyle. I will not be coming to you house for dinner! Good Bye!

So many of us have run into people that claim to be a part of something bigger than themselves (whether religion or organizations) who have misrepresented that thing and brought shame to what they stand for. In the above illustration, would it be right to throw off your PETA badge and say that it is all a lie and give up on animal rights - or would it be more reasonable to realize that you are the one with the problem?

All too often people are hurt or wrongly offended by the people that claim to represent God and in response they shake their tiny little fists up towards the heavens proclaiming that there is no God because people are evil. The more reasonable response would be to go back to the guidelines and realize that the person who hurt you or misrepresented God was what is called a false convert. He or she has not been born-again by the power of the Holy Spirit. He or she has committed the wrong. Not God. You will find hypocrites everywhere you go. Don't blame God for man's mistakes.

P.S. I love to eat meat, and although I think PETA is a little kooky and we will differ on where to draw the line in defending animals, it is not a sin to fight for the humane treatment of animals. I just think there are bigger fish to fry.