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What Jesus REALLY Said About Sin

If you’ve ever wondered why your proclamations of the Good News about Jesus Christ are impotent, might I suggest reading this excellent devotional by Oswald Chambers (updated language by James Reimann) about what Scripture reveals as the true nature of sin? 
He states:

Sin is a fundamental relationship–it is not wrong doing, but wrong being–it is deliberate and determined independence from God. The Christian faith basis every thing on the extreme, self-confident nature of sin. Other faiths deal with sins–The Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ confronted in people was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the gospel that the message of the Gospel has lost its sting and its explosive power.

The revealed truth of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took on Himself our fleshly sins, But that He took on Himself the heredity of sin that no man can even touch. God made His own son “to be sin”that He might make the sinner into a saint. It is revealed throughout the Bible that our Lord took on Himself the sin of the world through identification with us, not through sympathy for us. He deliberately took on His own shoulders, and endured in his own body, the complete, cumulative sin of the human race. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…” and by so doing He placed salvation for the entire human race solely on the basis of redemption. Jesus Christ reconciled the human race, putting it back to where God designed it to be. And now anyone can experience that reconciliation, being brought into oneness with God, on the basis of what our Lord has done on the cross. 

A man cannot redeem himself–redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete. And its application to individual people is a matter of their own individual action or response to it. A distinction must always be made between the revealed truth of redemption and the actual conscious experience of salvation in a person’s life.

Rest In the LORD

As Christians, we often find ourselves frustrated with life, not sure of what we should be doing &/or not feeling satisfied with the work we’ve done. I believe this is because much of the work and service we are striving after in life is not actually done in the Spirit, as it should be, but is often done by our own human efforts, whether we’re striving to take care of our earthly concerns, or simply trying to serve God. Either way, when we are striving/working out of our flesh, rather than by the Spirit, we will always be left empty in the end, for as Solomon said often in Ecclesiastes, everything under the sun is a chasing after the wind. 

One of the things I’ve always found quite chilling are Jesus’s words in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Though these words have always haunted me, I think I’m beginning to understand them better lately. It seems to me He is talking about those who strived after God from their flesh, performing all these things by their own efforts, out of the flesh, which is why He says at the end of this pericope “I never knew you, away from me, you evildoers!”  

Instead of striving after God out of our own efforts, we who are His servants ought to perform our service not out of fear or for reward, but out of love for Him who set us free! 

Paul says all our work is for naught if we have not love (1 Corinthians 13:1ff), and I believe this love only comes from a life fully surrendered to the will of the Spirit. Instead of striving to serve God by our own efforts, we should first seek to rest in the LORD, and get to know Him before we can be of any service to God’s Kingdom. 

Once we have rested in the LORD (Psalm 37, especially verse 7), and attained an honest and open relationship with God, I believe the Spirit of God will move us and direct us to whatever service He sees fit for us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. 

Paul tells us to be content in whatever station of life we are in (1 Corinthians 7:17ff), for it is in the daily tasks of life that the Spirit moves us first. After we have proven faithful in the little things, even greater tasks will be accomplished through us (Luke 16:10)! 

Though it is often tiresome work when we are serving the LORD, rarely (if ever) is it burdensome. If we are fully and 100% sold out to Christ, living by the Spirit, such that we have nothing we have not surrendered for &/or to Him (Matthew 13:44-46), then all our service becomes a joy, and not something to be burdened by (Matthew 11:28-30). 

We must all remember to rest in the LORD, and first seek to know Him, rather than binding ourselves up by our own strivings. We must always remain in the LORD and rest in Him, letting the Spirit fill us so that all our work for the Kingdom is an outpouring of the Spirit in us. When we are fully surrendered to Christ, all our words and deeds will be Spirit-led and blessed by God the Father, who produces a harvest that is thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times what we sow (see Matthew 13)!

We Speak, Because He First Spoke to Us

You’d get more accomplished in a single day,

    if you’d simply take more time to pray!

If you’re a Christian, then stop being so busy with the hustle and bustle of this world, and make time to speak to God. Also, and more importantly, make time for God to speak to you, so that you can speak His message, specially and uniquely crafted through you, His special work, His beautiful masterpiece, to be expressed to a Love(agape love)-starved world. 

If you just slow down and make time for God every day, you will get far more important (Kingdom) work done than we ever could if we spent all day rushing from one task to the next, chasing after whichever demand (no matter how silly or serious) our busy lives deem important at the moment, and God will STILL help you accomplish all you need to do in your roles, responsibilities, and duties. He’s the miracle worker, remember?! 

So stop being too busy to pray, for as Bill Hybels’ book title states, we’re Too Busy Not to Pray!

Colossians 3:1-3 NLT

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life and your real life is hidden with Christ in God and when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Painting a picture of Creation

I really enjoyed this video. What Neil deGrasse Tyson calls the most astounding fact about the universe, however, is just one of the many, many, many, reasons to give glory, honor, and praise to God most High.

It was God who set this universe into motion with a plan of such precision and care, that it unfolded into the gloriously diverse mosaic that is the astounding amount of galaxies (not to mention the number of stars and planets within each of those galaxies) in the universe, so that one day, billions of years after the creation event we call the Big Bang, life would be possible on a tiny blue planet in a Podunk part of a smaller galaxy in this vastly, unimaginably ginormous universe, that is nothing compared to the magnitude of the One True God who created it. (here’s a neat chart you should click if you want to compare the sizes of some known galaxies).

GChart1

God knew from the start what He was doing, and before He set a single atom into motion, He had already planned out how He would fine-tune this universe in such a way that life would be possible, and after billions of years, when the time was right, and the planet ready, God set that life into motion, to watch it grow and evolve and flourish for billions more years. Eventually, when the time was just right, God created a man (Adam) in His own image, forming him from the dust of the ground. God then took Adam (whose name means “dust” in Hebrew), and introduced him to all of the vast array of flora and fauna that inhabit this planet, letting Adam name them. After this, God creates Eve from the rib of Adam, and woman was formed. God then calls them to be fruitful and multiply, so that Man, made specially in the Imago Dei, could have dominion over the earth, and this is exactly what they do. That is, until they screw it up, disobey God, and are condemned to death. They are now no longer given access to the Tree of Life, and thus no longer enjoy the gift of immortality, and must inevitably return to the dust from which they came. Fear not my reader, for this is not the end of the story!

God in His infinite wisdom, and in the fullness of time, sent Jesus to take on human flesh, being both fully God and fully man, to show us the Way, the truth, and to give us Life. Christ is to be our atoning sacrifice, and willingly gives His infinite, perfect life, to be an atonement for all our finite, imperfect ones, thus granting us the opportunity to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior, and share in his eternal life. In this way, Christ conquered sin and death, becoming the second Adam who fulfilled the penalty demanded by the actions of the first.

God was in control then, and He is in control now. There is no reason to think a God such as described in the Bible needs to “tinker” with everything, for such a God is too small. No, God, in His infinite wisdom, set this universe into motion with a plan and a purpose, and He infused it with beauty, morality, meaning, and significance, all to His glory. Part of that beauty is well expressed not only in the inter-connectivity of everything in the universe, as Tyson points out in the beginning of the video, but also in the beauty, the precision, the fine-tuning, and the sensibility (that is, the universe is rational and makes sense) found in the universe. He is to be praised for creating such a wonderful world for us, and for leaving these signposts all over the place that point to Him. The evidence that points to a Creator and Designer of the universe are astoundingly apparent to those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear. Psalm 14:1-4 says:

1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?

All our efforts, great and small, will ultimately be for naught if we ignore the Creator and instead worship the created, whatever form that may take. Whether it is science, or sports, or power, or significance, or spouses, or our studies, even religion and our ideas about God, absolutely everything is utterly meaningless without a relationship with the One who imbues meaning, purpose, beauty and significance upon creation. God cries out to us through all these wonderful things in creation. All of Creation calls us to the One who made them all, and who knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb.
So give praise and Glory to God most High, who gave the breath of life to a mound of dust, and in so doing created us, that we may have the chance to know Him in this life, and the chance to not only receive the gift of eternal life, but to offer it to others, if only we will follow Him.

So look upon this video and gander at the galaxies on the chart, and be awed by the Might, Power, and Majesty of a God who cared enough about you and I that He sent His son in Human flesh, to show us to the Way, the Truth, and to give us Life. May we follow in the footsteps of Christ, and die to self so that others may have life eternal with the One True King of all Creation. Bow down in fear of such a wonderful and Mighty God, and lift hands of praise and Glory and Honor to Him who Conquered Sin and death. Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Amen, and Amen!

Exploring Hell Part 1

Recently, I’ve been studying the topic of Hell, and specifically an alternative understanding of the doctrine of Hell know as Conditionalism or sometimes Annihilationism (though both names allude to particular aspects of the same understanding of Hell, they seem to be used interchangeably to represent the same perspective). The Conditionalist view of Hell seems to me to make much better sense of what the Scriptures say are the “wages of sin” and the destiny of the unredeemed than traditional view of Hell does.

While I am heavily leaning in the direction of the Conditionalist view at the moment, I am still open to the possibility that it is wrong and that Tradition is correct. After all, some of the biggest names in the history of Christian Theology have held to the traditional view, and I know these men are much more authoritative on God, the Scriptures, and what they have to say on this topic than I. That said, I also believe that these men are not inerrant, and believe that it is possible they are all wrong, and therefore feel it necessary to investigate the topic for myself.

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Stop Asking God to Fix you

Stop asking God to fix you, because He won’t.

Sounds pretty harsh doesn’t it?

Well, its true.

God is not going to take away that temptation in your life, and He won’t change how you feel about your boss/spouse/friend/parent/other. He won’t take away that guilt you feel because you actually feel that way about them either.

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Examining Eisegesis Non-Academically

Regardless of whether we think we have the whole picture or not, whether we think we have everything (or even just something) figured out or not, and no matter how humble our perspectives are, we all live out our beliefs.  When it comes to specific practical matters, about how the world is, how it functions, our role in that world, our principles and morals, and the plethora of other practical issues we face on a daily basis, we all must live out those convictions, beliefs, perspectives.  There is no uncertainty when it comes to the objective way we interact with the world, and regardless of what we claim, our actions do speak louder than our words.
This means that we all, to greater and lessor degrees, think we have a correct perspective on the way things really are, even if we remain agnostic about some particular issues.  We all live our lives as though certain things are true.  Therefore, even if we know we don’t know something for certain, we still live our lives, conduct our business, speak our words, and perform our actions, dwell in thought, and even react to the world, according to those beliefs, perspectives, ideas and opinions about the way things really are.