Thursday, October 9, 2008

Part 2- Too Many Differences

Please read part 1 below first. Thank you.

Now, my third point. In the section which mentions the Testimonies of Faith, they talk about the the central creed of Islam- There is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is His messenger. The letter then goes on to mention scriptures from the Qu'ran which talk about people’s souls- as depicted as having “three main faculties”- being the mind or intelligence- for understanding the truth, the will, which is made for freedom of choice, and sentiment, which is for loving the good and the beautiful.
Again, no talk of the Christian testimony-which is preaching the Gospel of Christ- they refuse to believe in the Christ as He is- and they will not tolerate any preaching of the Christian message to anyone of the Muslim faith- so much for allowing for freedom of choice.

In conclusion, I have to say I know there are many Christians who come off sounding holier than thou- some who seem to be intolerant of everything, and each and every one of us makes mistakes. I’ve never hid the fact that some of my biggest mistakes, some things I am not proud of have happened since I was born again in Christ. I will continue to try and allow the Holy Spirit to work in me and allowing good things to be produced, but until the time I reach heaven- I will still fall every now and then, as all of us will. There will be times where I could help someone in need, but didn’t, care for someone who was sick or hurt, but didn’t, give to someone one who needs extra, but didn't- but I will always try to do what I can, when I can- because I can- because of Christ. Most Christians I know would gladly give the last of what they have- whether in time or money or sweat- to help people in need. We will always attempt to share the Gospel of Christ with others, we will always try and help people understand what sin is, and how to receive grace and forgiveness- we will always do for the least of these- because we see Christ in them. To me, that shows that we Bible believing Christians are already loving our neighbors as ourselves- whether our neighbors are in down the street, in a shack in the poor part of town, in another city ravaged my natural disasters- or whether they are on the other side of the world- people made in the Image of God- even if they don’t believe in Him- but they are in desperate need of love, or comfort or shelter or food- we will be there- loving them as we would ourselves.
As for the men who wrote this letter- I pray that they are sincere, but given the history of the Islamic faith- and even in recent times such as Gaza in Israel- where peaceful land transfers are met with katusha rockets and suicide bombing attempts- I just have to wonder what they have up their sleeves. After all, Mohammad offered the people of Mecca an offer of peace and friendship- but when they didn’t convert- they were invaded by Mohammad’s army. It happens through out history of Islam- a chance to convert, disguised by peace- but met with force if not accepted.
I will never torture or kill, murder or maim someone who doesn’t believe what I do. I would though, rather place my trust in One who died for me on the Cross at Calvary- rather than a man who started a new religion based on power and might of a sword-

I will post more on differences of not only the Muslim religion, but of other religions and cults as well in up coming posts.

Too Many Differences

This is a previoiusly written blog entry by me, which was posted in my AOL journal, No Apologies. It concerned a letter last year which was given by some Muslim groups to many Christian leaders around the world. I'd like to re post it here because it explains some of the differences between the Muslim faith and Bible believing Christianity. I will go into further details at a later time, but since AOL is closing down the journals, I felt the need to re post this. Here is Part 1.

There was a letter written by a large group of Muslims - addressed to Christians- mainly to leaders such as Pope Benedict, Archbishop Rowan Williams of the Church of England and others.
This letter is
seen by some as a beginning dialogue for beginning of peace between the world’s 2 largest religions- a gesture made by Muslims . They are asking Christians to come join with them- to find commonality between Islam and Christianity, in order to attain peace for the rest of the world.
Sounds good doesn’t it? To many people- even some in the Christian community, this sounds like the start of a real solution to ending so much of the world’s problems, to where we all can live in a peaceful world, free of terror and war, free of persecution- replaced by a harmonious utopia. Again- sounds pretty appealingto most people.
Now, I have always prayed for peace- always wanted peace, but I have to tell you, this letter really disturbs me. After reading it a few times, seeing many things that are written, and how they are written- points to something ominous. Something that many non Christians, and even many more liberal and social minded Christians would not understand, who see this letter as something so promising- that could really lead to world peace and unity.
What has been done here though- Muslim groups have put the onus on Christians to accept this “offer” or we will look like we are war mongering religious fanatics- who want nothing to do with peace.
For those who do
read it (and I suggest highly that you all do), you should be aware that it is written in a very tolerant manner, very benign, especially as it would appear to those who hold no particular religious views, or those who are not “Biblically” inclined. It will seem very sincere in it’s “why can’t we all just get along” message, but to those who have studied the Bible- who believe and know that it is God’s Perfect Word, to those who know even a little about the Islam religion, it does have dangerous and threatening undertones. Please let me explain:

The title itself seems harmless enough- “A Common Word between Us and You”.
The whole premise of the letter focuses on the fact that Islam and Christianity (and always in brackets including the Jews) have 2 main similarities, that if we focus on those, we can come to agreements and tolerance. These similarities being our love and devotion, worship and reverence for God, and the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Again, this all seems very true and right- and I do agree that if we could all love our neighbors- and show love and respect, all would be well with the world.
The reference that the Muslims use in their recognition of God, taken from the Qur’an, includes the saying, “”We shall worship none but God, and that we ascribe no partner (or in other verses- He has no associate). They use this quote more than 14 times in 15 pages. They also use Biblical Scripture- mostly taken from the Gospel of Mark when Jesus says, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One…” when talking about the greatest commandment to love God with all our hearts, all our soul and all our mind. The phrase “The Lord is One” is used more than 5 times.
To me, this way that Muslims are denying Jesus as the Son of God- God in the Flesh- the Second Person of the Godhead- Jesus the Christ- by denying the main message of the Christianfaith- that Jesus came to take on the sins of the world- and that all who believe in Him will be saved- that IS Christianity. Without Christ, without His redemption of the world- without His sacrifice, without the cross, without His resurrection from death and victory over evil- we have nothing. To continually mention these few verses over and over again is the Muslim way of saying they are right in their worship of god- because they are worshiping One god- Allah. They deny all scripture of
Jesus being the Lamb of God- they deny the Holy Spirit – they deny the triune nature of God- claiming that we worship Three (only they confuse things by thinking we worship God, Mary- the mother and Jesus the Son). So in this letter, the way that they say these same verses over and over again, they are mocking the core – the very essence of the Christian belief. The Qur’an states that Jesus is only a prophet- one of the great ones of course, but Muhammad is the greatest and last of all. That God would never have one of His prophets die in a humiliating way as on the cross, and that God being all powerful and mighty- would never have a son. This contradicts the very words of Jesus- and the words of the Holy Bible scriptures.

Do you believe in theScriptures? Do you believe that they are inspired by God? If you hold the Holy Bible in any kind of esteem, as so many other religious groups seem to do- for example, Muslims see the truthfulness of the Pentateuch, they believe in the Psalms and they obviously hold Jesus in some regard as to include him as a great prophet. Why then, would someone who believes some of it to be true- see the rest as corrupted? To me, if any religious scripture can be corrupted- it is Not truth. Period. The Holy Bible is not corrupted- it is the same as it was when it was first written. One of the greatest discoveries- the dead sea scrolls attested to the fact that the scriptures found in those caves were the same as what was written in the Bible of the time they were found. These same scriptures I might add, that were around before Muhammad was even born. SO, if the Bible was corrupted as Islam claims, then the scriptures would be changed or altered. They were not.
If Muslims accept Jesus as a great prophet- yet deny His own claims, then they have a pretty dim idea of who deserves to be a prophet- if Jesus was a liar or a nutcase for His claims- yet the Muslims still hold him in high esteem, one would also have to wonder about their greatest prophet Muhammad- who by his own admission, wondered if he was possessed by Jiins (demons) when he received “messages”.
The Bible is explicit in it’s revelation of the trinity, but one has to read and re read with guidance of the Holy Spirit to understand. There is evidence of the Persons of God in the very beginning in Genisis, where the Hebrew word Elohim which is singular, yet is used in plural form. The whole Old and New Testaments point to a unique Godhead, that is a unity of three Persons in One God. To many people, the whole idea of the
trinity is so confusing- as it was to me too. Just because it’s a bit confusing for our mortal minds ot get a handle on, does not mean that it’s a doctrine of demons as somany claim. This is a very poor example, but the closest thing I can think of to explain it. Take me for instance. I am one person. I am Carolyn. But- I am Carolyn the daughter, Carolyn the Wife and Carolyn the Mom. I have three main “personhoods” but am One person. Does that make sense? It is much the same, only way huge, in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. There is only One Almighty God, but there are three “personhoods” in Him.
If you read the account of Jesus when He is Baptized, you see the triune nature so beautifully illustrated. When John Baptizes Jesus, and Jesus rises out of the water, the Spirit of God came in the form of a dove and rested on His shoulder- then a voice came out of the clouds and said, “this is My Son, and with Him I am well pleased”. God the Spirit, God the Son and God the Father all in one scene if you will. There are many passages like this throughout the Bible.

OK. Now onto the next part of this letter. These Muslim men are claiming to want for us to come together, in our similarities of Loving God and loving our neighbors as commandments of God- and that it is through us that justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of loving our neighbors.
Did you hear that? Freedom of religion. I have to wonder if these men can really say that with a straight face. The freest nations to practice any desired religion- any religion that someone wants to practice- is only found in Christian nations- that is The United States and somewhat in other western countries. The nations where
persecution is rampant, were people are tortured, put to death, murdered and imprisoned are …. Predominant Muslim nations! I ask you to name me 1 Muslim nation on the planet where Christians or other minority religious people are treated with respect, are allowed to worship freely and publicly, and are included as prominent members of the society. There isn’t any Muslim country that is this way. From Indonesia to the Philippines, from Saudi Arabia to Iran, Sudan, Eritrea, even the so called more liberal nations such as Qatar and Kuwait here is still laws of some form or another- banning open Christian religious practices.
From kidnapping and murders in the Gaza strip, to stoning and imprisonment in Iran. To the suicide bombings in Israel and Lebanon, to the quiet removal of Assyrian Christians in Iraq- there is no peace for any other than the Muslim. And just how well do some of these nations treat their fellow Muslims? I know that in many places, such as Syria and Afghanistan, it is against the law for women to work outside the home- even when she is a widow. If she is a widow, she must have her children go to work to earn money for the household. Maybe some of these laws are changing as the world progresses, but there is still much intolerance for many muslims of different sects and tribes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What is The Trinity?

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit
And God said, Let Us make man in our image, after our likeness
Genesis 1:26 (a)
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.Genesis 11:7
And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straight away out of the water: and lo,the heavens were opened unto him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.Matthew 3:16,17
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name_ of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Ghost.Matthew 28:19
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but it is the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.1 Corinthians 12:4-7
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.2 Corinthians 13:14
For there are three that bear record in heaven, The Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.1 John 5:7
Each of these verses of Scripture shows a reflection of the Triune nature of God. While the actual word "trinity" is not in the Bible, there are many supporting Scripture verses to show the Trinity. Some claim that there is no attributes or partners to God- that He is One. Bible believing Christians agree there is only One God- but He is 3 persons in Himself. Is this telling us that God is confusing, therefore contradicting the Scripture verse that says, God is not the author of confusion? Not at all! God is not desiring that we be confused or afraid, but we must trust Him with what wisdom and knowledge He sees fit to give us. The idea or doctrine of the Trinity is not confusion- but a Secret Mystery! Just as we trust that the Word is true when it declares that creation brought order to chaos is a mystery to us, so is it that God is a loving Father, a sacrificial Son and comfort and wisdom of His Holy Spirit! To this I say Praise Him, for he is Awesome and too huge for my small mind to conceive!

Is there Really a Place Called Hell?

Passages such as Matthew 5:20, where Jesus says, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (emphasis mine) suggests that there will be people who will not get into heaven. "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown them before my Father in heaven. Matt. 10:32,33. So if there are some who don't make it to heaven, where do they go? Are they floating around in some "in between" space? How about roaming the earth as ghosts? Purgatory? Annihilated? Waiting for a certain time to pass before they become 'good enough'?Well folks- there's only 2 choices offered in scripture. Eternity can either be spent in heaven with the Lord Jesus, or it can be spent for eternity in hell- which is as a real place as this earth is. While it is the desire of God that no one spend eternity in hell- not everyone has accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. I have written plenty of times that Jesus is the only way to eternal life in heaven. By no other name is one granted salvation. We can never be good enough on our own to earn our own salvation. Others can not pray someone else into salvation. After someone has died, there is no amount of candles lighted that can help them into heaven if they are not already there. There are no second chances, although that does not mean that you cease to exist, or that you are annihilated. Annihilation means utterly destroyed, and one can not be eternally punished if you cease to exist by being annihilated.
SO- the question remains, if some people will not spend eternity in heaven, is not floating around in the cosmos or in a place of temporary "Time out" as suggested in purgatory, if one is not destroyed that leaves no other conclusion is that they will spend
eternity in hell.
Why should we really believe that an all loving God would send people to hell? Why should we even believe there is a place called hell? Because Jesus warned over and over again about hell. And He doesn't send anyone there- they go willingly by not believing on Him.
"But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matt.8:12"But I tell you that if anyone is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Racca' (empty headed, dull or dimwitted) is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says 'you fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Matt. 5 22"There they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matt. 13:42"where '"their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." Mark 9:48
There are many, many verses on
hell. Jesus talks about hell more than He talks about heaven! If one claims to be a Christian, yet does not believe in a literal place called hell- they do not believe the words of Jesus. If one claims to believe in hell- there must be a belief in sin as well, for if none were sinners, there would be no need for hell. If one believes that ALL people will go to heaven, for God is a loving God- and Jesus is meek and mild, again, they do not believe the very word of Him. If one claims to believe that evil exists- one must also believe in the devil- Satan. You can be sure that Satan and all his demons will be spending eternity in the lake of fire. If you claim to believe in Jesus, but not in Satan- you don't believe in Jesus- who was tempted by Satan in the wilderness before His earthly ministry. If you believe that you can believe in Jesus, but not need to be "saved" from sin- you do not believe the Word- For ALL have sinned and deserve eternal punishment. You do not believe the Word, you are forgiven,go and sin NO MORE.
So, one or the other. It is all our own choice. You don't have to choose hell. You may say, "well, I haven't chosen hell- but I think I'll make up my mind later". My friend, that is the same as choosing hell. If you aren't for Jesus- you are against Him. You can not take His feel good messages only. You must take the whole Jesus- even the one who tells us
Whoever believes in the Son is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only begotten Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Why not take the whole Jesus- the one who says, Come tome,all you who are weary and burdened. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
It is your choice.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

An Intelligent Discussion

In this post, l'd like to finish up with a few more questions- having to do with science. Let's look at the few issues which are relevant today in the way science is taught in education, thought about in society, and why the debate on evolution and creation science. Doesn't science disprove the Bible and Christianity? Is evolution fact, or is it still a theory and haven't they proven that life evolved or came about by chance? Could it be possible that evolution and creation are both true? Are Christians giving credit to a God for things we just don't understand? Are there any arguments for creation? Isn't Christianity just against science? And, why , if it's not true, is evolution still taught in school?First off, doesn't science disprove the Bible and Christianity? This is one of those all encompassing questions, in which the answer lies in the other questions and answers we'll look at. For years, people have thought, or been taught that science and Christianity are incompatible and one cancels out the other. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Scientific discoveries that are being found more often than ever before may seem sometimes to disprove the Bible, but at deeper looks into things such as DNA actually build a case for a creator, and lend more credence to what is in the Bible. Is evolution a fact, or is it still a theory which hasn't proven that life evolved or came about b chance? Since evidence for evolution is about which type of evolution scientists are defining the word, we need to know which term means what. The term macro evolution is used for a process which supposedly creates new and complex organs or body parts. Micro evolution is the term used when an animal adapts to certain changes. For instance, finches in the Galapagos Islands have shown to change their body and beak shapes over several generations depending on whether shorter or longer beaks are better for gathering food. Same thing with other animals and birds which have changed to adapt with human population growth or having to move to another climate due to environmental reasons. An arctic hare can change the color of it's coat depending on winter or summer seasons to blend in with it's surroundings. These are examples of micro evolution.Macro evolution, on the other hand, is what is usually claimed by Darwinists, believing that macro evolution is actually micro evolution continued over a very long time through natural selection. This claim is controversial though, because so many experiments have shown that small changes do not accumulate to make large changes such as new body parts and organs. Scientists notice that only modifications of existing living things- not whole new ones occur. Macro evolution also assumes that change in the living world os unlimited, but the only changes they observe are limited. I do a lot of gardening- both vegetable and flowers. I know that we can breed new roses, better roses that can ward off infection and be pest resistant, or they can be bred to make new colors. There have been hundreds of new roses created- but they are still roses. It's the same with breeding animals. You can breed for stronger horses, keep dog breeds pure or mixed, but they are still horses or dogs. Evolutionists take these small changes and speculate on what might happen a million years from now of what kind of plant or animal it may be by then. Anyone who knows about breeding dogs knows that variation may start off at a rapid pace, but over a few generations, the variation reaches a ceiling that breeders can't break through. If they try, the dog will become weak and prone to disease and physical deformities. It's the same with breeding anything. Darwin believed that nature could select among organisms the way a breeder does, and that life evolved gradually over billions of years- from tiny steps starting from simple organisms. From these one celled organisms came birds and animals. Problem is, this chain has never been seen. We have millions of kinds of animals, birds and insects- but each animal is still distinct as it's own kind. The missing link has still never been found in fossil records which shows one kind metamorphosing into another kind. Reptiles are still reptiles- no matter that there used to be huge ones, and fur bearing animals are still fur covered. To sum this up, Scientists have never observed anything more than a variation of one kind- they have never seena kind evolving or changing into a completely different kind. The Bible, in Genesis talks about God creating each animal after it's own kind, and each tree and plant after it's own kind. Science has only ever shown this to be the case. Could it be possible that evolution and creation are both true? Some people think so. The idea is that maybe God directed evolution, and this is embraced by many Christians trying to bring their faith closer to what they have been taught about evolution.Imagining that the evolutionary theory allows for a creator is not allowed by establishment scientists. Ask any devoted Darwinist if they believe that God developed living forms through evolution- they will tell you that God has nothing to do with it, that the naturalistic evolution is the creator. Evolutionist George G Simpson said, "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind."Darwinist doctrine is based on the thought that nature is all there is. People who believe that creation and evolution can be both true don't consider carefully the claims of evolutionists or the detail given in the Bible about the creation. These are two totally polar ideas about the beginning of life. Either life began as a product of impersonal and meaningless slime, or we were created by an intelligent designer.Now, are Christians giving credit to God because we don't understand science? Let's look first a little closer at the issue of creation and design. DNA. DNA acts as a code within the cell. The average DNA molecules contain as much information as any large city library. Newer discoveries about DNA offer amazing evidences for God's creation. Since the middle of last century, geneticists have known that DNA contains instructions like written messages for every living thing, but higher organisms have DNA codes that are broken up by sections of which the sequences look like silliness- which is where the term junk DNA comes from. Some scientists have used junk DNA ro disprove the idea of creation. Other scientists though, have discovered the importance of this so called junk DNA in that it works to correct and regulate genes, turning them on and off when needed. It clearly show an intelligent function, which in turn points to something created instead of evolved. I'm an artist. Now, many people have probably heard arguments like this already, and it seems over simplified, but it is still a true argument. I am an artist. I always start a new painting by having a blank canvas, paints and brushes. I look at my subject, mix and arrange my colors on a pallet then start to paint what I see. Never, ever have I put a canvas on my easel, left it there for a few weeks then come back o find a created painted work. The paints don't arrange themselves on the canvas, and they certainly couldn't evolve themselves into a rendition of a sunset, animal or old barn which are some of the things I paint. No- I have to work with the colors, arrange them, mix them, apply them in areas where they will come together into a stripe on a tiger laying in the shade, or the rays f sun coming through a cloud. See? I create. My paintings are created- they don't evolve. They requirethought and much planning. It is the same with our universe and world. There is just too much evidence which points to order and method - to arrangement and application. According to some biologists however, creation beliefshave no place in a science class, therefore students see only the theory that is taught to them, and don't see much of the debate which shows creation. There are so many books which look closely at the arrangement of the solar system- the distance of the earth to the sun, the magnetic pull between, the length of time for the earth to spin etc. which shows an incredible amount of intelligence that if things were off by even minute, a pound, an inch, there would be no way that we could survive on this planet. The evidence in the way the human body is made also is incredible if you think about how the eyes, ears or brain works- how many miles of tendons and muscles, our bones, everything about our bodies is actually a miracle in itself. In Many places, the Bible talks about the intricacies of the human body, thought and spirit, and also the universe and how the earth moves within it. The Bible states scientific facts that were shown centuries before scientists proved these theories.So, are Christians against science? No way! I for one, as a homeschooling mom, am finding science incredibly fascinating and amazing in the way things work, and in all of my studies, I have come to even more of a knowledge of God than if I was uninterested in sciences. In modern times, many advocates of science would like to think that Christians are opposed to science, and even give that impression in education. John Maddox, editor of Nature wrote that "the practice of religion must be regarded as anti science." If we stepped back in time and asked men such as Copernicus, Newton, Kepler, Linnaeus, Kelvin and many others whether Christianity and science were incompatible, they would strongly deny it- as they were the fathers of modern sciences and deeply rooted in Christian beliefs. Christianity actually, if you study true history, helped inspire scientific studies. Back in the days of paganism, the world was looked at as ruled by gods and goddesses- millions of them. These gods determined when it would rain, when the rivers flowed and how life was determined by the stars. Genesis, in the Bible contrasts this by a reliable narrative of the beginnings of the world. As long as nature rules, as with paganism, scientists had a problem finding any answers but when Christianity showed that nature was not to be feared and worshipped, science was able to move forward and nature was able to be studied and observed. Experimental methods of science also has it's roots in Christianity as men like Newton and Galileo wanted to find out how God's creation worked- they wanted to do science instead of just talking about it. They didn't argue about theories- they tested them, as Newton did with gravity by dropping weights off places like the Leaning Tower of Pisa to see what the effects were. Men like Galileo argued that God's ways are not our ways, but that His ways in nature could be discovered by experimentation and observation. Not only this, but their discoveries brought them into a closer relationship with God in the way they became to understand how God's laws of nature worked. Many people are misunderstanding in the belief that since Galileo was persecuted by the Catholic church, that the church is against science. In reality, the Pope who condemned Galileo was not opposed to his scientific ideas, but to the way he used science as a way to attack the church's philosophy which had been adapted from Aristotle. Aristotle's philosophy encompassed ethics,biology, physics and astronomy. when Galileo pointed his first telescope and discovered that Aristotle's theories about the sun was mistaken, as Aristotle believed the sun to be perfect- but in reality, we know it is not. Soon though, Galileo was attacking all of Aristotle's philosophies, wanting to show the world as a machine operating on mathematical laws, with God as the great mechanic. Catholics got worried then, believing that Galileo's theories would destroy the morality of social order. It was really the opposition to different worldiews- not opposition to science. Since God created the world, Christians believe we have an obligation o study it and use it for God's glory and the benefit of all humans. We see science as a way to understand God's relationship with the world, so why would we be against it?So, why is evolution still taught in schools as fact if it's only a theory, and may even not be true? When I was in college, people who believed in the Bible or creation were made fun of, and viewed as unintelligent. Not many younger kids are willing to put up with ridicule from peers and teachers if they believe in the Bible account of creation. Those who are willing to stand publicly for their beliefs are in a sense pounded and attacked as religious fanatics, whose beliefs have no place in education. Who hasn't seen the movie, Inherit the Wind? I saw it, and assumed that it was based in facts about the Scopes Monkey Trial. Later, I realized that it is not at all about what happened at the real trial. In reality, the trial as staged by the ACLU, Scopes was not ever arrested and the people of Tennessee were intelligent and friendly to all the people who flocked to the town of Dayton during the debate. It is, however, this movie, which have given a whole generation a distorted view of Christian beliefs in creation, and which gave evolution a boost from theory to fact. In short, because this is getting too long of a post, whenever someone challenges publicly, the theory of evolution, people instinctively sense that much more is at stake than just simple differences of worldviews. It means that if evolution is disproved, people will have to face the existence of a creator God. If nature is all there is, then there is no god, and ethical and moral standards are not based on what God says in the Bible. Instead, they would e based on what individuals feel they should be based on. If God exists, He created us for a purpose, and we are obligated to live in conformity of His law and order, His laws of nature and morality.Things to think about until next time- consider the ways in which humans move and work. Is there really any evidence you can see which points to natural selection or evolution? Or are there so many complexities that one could see how Christians can believe that we are created? If you consider the solar system and think that what if we were existing on any other planet- how would we survive? Why is the earth the only planet in our solar system with living things on it? Why? Does this show evidence of evolution from a chemical soup, or towards a God with a plan? Suggestion, read the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis, and look at it from a skeptical point of view, then read it again with an open mind of a Creation point of view. Which makes more sense?
For the Story behind an amzing picture-
go here

More Questions

These next questions are some of the most often asked and of the most divisive subjects brought up between Bible believing Christians and non believers. How can a Good God send people to hell? If God didn't create evil, where did it come from, and why does God allow it? Aren't people really inherently good? And, Why would a loving God allow for so much suffering? These are not easily answered, especially if one doesn't believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. There are some questions, such as these, that even when answered, they don't really help a person come to grips with such serious questions, and certainly doesn't help in comforting someone who is not a bible believing Christian.I don't know if I'll have enough space to get to all of these questions adequately in this one post- but I will try and go into as much as possible.Actually, most of these questions are connected to one another, so I may not completely be able to answer one without going to another.
First one- How can a good God send people to hell? Firstly, part of the answer here lies in the question does one believe in good and evil, and are thereconsequences to evil behavior? Now, this question assumes that God would send people to hell against their will. God would never do this. He desires every person to be saved from hell (which is a real place as we'll look at in a future time) Some people, as I mentioned in the last post, are willing to believe in anything except in God, even to the point of saying they can not believe in God. If these folks really believed or knew there was an actual place called hell- I think they would look a little closer at the Word of God. Perhaps though, you may be saying to yourself, OK, so if there really is a place called hell, I don't think I deserve to go there- I'm a good person and I help out every chance I get. Not only that, but even if one doesn't believe in God, it doesn't mean that person doesn't do good deeds. You're right. You don't have to be a Bible believing Christian to do good works. I've known many people with different beliefs who do wonderful things to help people. The point here is though, not whether we are good enough- it is where we deserve to go after his life. God, in the Old Testament laid out His law- rules for people to live by. Everyone knows the 10 Commandments. Well, basically, the first 5 commandments deal with God's law concerning worship and a relationship with Himself. The next 5 concern how to live our lives in society. Let's just focus on a couple of the last 5- even though each is important.Honor your Mother and Father. You shall not murder. You shall not steal. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not bear false witness (lie or slander). You shall not covet.Now, how many of these have you broken? I know I've broken each of the 10 more than I want to even think about. In these 5, I have dishonored my parents, even though I love them dearly. Every time I fibbed, every time I went against their "wishes", broke a rule, disobeyed- when I did any of these, I dishonored my parents.
You shall not steal. Ever taken anything that didn't belong to you? Even something small, say, an eraser from work? What about stolen time at work? Ever played around on the computer when you should have been working? Listen, I never really looked at this commandment this way a few years ago. I used to read at work when things were slow. When I realized that this was actually stealing from my boss, because they were paying me an hourly wage- I stopped reading at work, because when I was hired, my boss didn't hire me to amuse myself. Anything no matter how big- whether robbing a bank or taking an eraser or pen home from work is breaking this commandment.You shall not commit adultery. Have you ever looked at someone and fantasized what it would be like to have sex with that person? Have you ever looked at someone with lust? Listen, I know these seem kind of archaic in this day and age, but God has His rules, and He has His reasons for them. The point is here, to show how even just looking at someone with a "oh man, would I love to get into his/her pants!" type of thought is to God, considered adultery.
OK, how about the false witness thing? Now, I'm not just talking about swearing an oath to tell the truth (so help me who?) in a courtroom- nope. This is meaning every lie you've ever told. Every "white lie" "fib" and tale. Not to mention gossip. I know I've told more lies than I want to admit. and even as a Christian, I still find myself fibbing for something like trying not to hurt someone's feelings. Each time though, you have broken the 9th commandment.The last one, you shall not covet. Now, how many times have you looked at something someone else had, and thought "I just gotta have that, no matter what?!" A pair of shoes. A house, car, toy, pet, vacation or job. Some people may do things they normally wouldn't do to "beat" a colleague out of a promotion. Some may steal to get something someone else has that they want. This is a nation of covetness. How many times have you heard someone say something like "I deserve it?!" This is coveting- and I don't know anyone who hasn't had resentful feelings towards someone because they are able to do or have what you want.
Now, even if you have only broken 1 of the 10- you have still broken God's Law. Here's the good part though. We have a way, through what Jesus went through on the cross and His resurrection, to make things right with God. Belief in Christ is a reconciliation to God. Without a belief in Jesus as your Savior, you have not been able to be reconciled to God, and are still a law breaker. It is all a choice whether we decide to seek forgiveness or not. God gives us a choice concerning where we are going to spend eternity after this life. We are the ones who either separate ourselves from Him or seek to belong to Him. If you don't want Him in your life now, would you really want to spend eternity with Him? Now, God is a righteous judge, and He is Holy, which means He can not be in the presence of evil. He punishes sin, but He is also love. His love can not force people to love Him- we make the choice. God's love demands that ther be a place called hell so that those who want nothing to do with Him can be without Him.
OK- If God didn't create evil, where did it come from, and why does He allow it? In the Bible, when God created the earth, He claimed it to be very good. In the garden, there was no sin, no death, no evil and no pain. So what went wrong? What in the world happened? It goes to the very first people- Adam and Eve, and when they used their God given choice of free will. They chose to disobey God. When things go really really bad, even many people who don't believe in God will blame Him for the bad things. God is good though, and He created a good universe. It is sin- even that first sin that has made the world what it is. Since God is Holy and not the source of sin and suffering, where did it come from? Who tempted Adam and Eve to choose the first sin? The Bible tells us that sin came into God's creation through the free will of humans in response to temptation by Satan, who is a fallen angel. Evil wasn't created, but came about by corruption of something good- Satan was one of the most beautiful angels in heaven. (This is the really short story) he was referred to as the angel of light. He was in a high position- but he chose to follow his own plan- to become higher than God, to become like God only better. Ok, so if God didn't create it, and we know where it came from, why does He allow it to continue? This answer goes back to free will. God's goodness is not effected by our rebellion- which is what sin is. Evil continues to exist because of human refusal to accept His goodness. He is not responsible for evil. We are.
Look. These days so many of us, even a lot of Chrisitians don't really believe in the fall- that is, Adam and Eve's first sin. People look at this event as like a symbol, or a parable. The problem with this thinking, is that if the fall is only a moral story- a fable, then there was really no purpose for Jesus to die on the cross as a sacrifice. He didn't need to die and raise again.
Through an act of will- a choice, humans rejected God's way and introduced evil- through rebellion and sin into the world. It isn't that He can't stop evil, or that He doesn't want to stop it. It is that free choice again. As long as He, in His love allows us to act freely, we will be free to either love Him back by obedience, or to reject Him by disobedience. He could have created us to be obedient at all times, but we would then be incapable of love of making decisions , but we would be like perfect little robots to do His bidding. Free will is really the basis of all of our dignity. In closing to this question, just think- a free choice leaves the possibility of the wrong choice. If someone makes a mistake- no matter how big or small- there will always be ramifications from those mistakes. God does have a plan some day for removing evil from the world, and that time is coming soon. Until then, He has given us ways to resist evil through His Word.
Next question- aren't people inherently good? I hear often howpeople can't believe that people are born in sin. I know it's hard to look at a newborn baby and believe that little one is sinful. It seems like nonsense doesn't it? The truth is, we are all drawn towards evil- that is if we knew no one was looking and their were no consequences, we would choose to do something we knew we shouldn't. It's like cheating on a diet, stealing a kiss, eating a piece of candy in a grocery store without paying for it. Some people do bigger acts of evil, these small things don't even seem like they belong in the same category- but to the Righteous Judge who is Holy, evil is evil. No matter how big or small. In the last few decades, we have been taught that self esteem is important. To feel good about ourselves. Now there really isn't anything wrong with liking yourself, or feeling good about who you are, or being liked by others. But, when we focus so much on self, feeling good, wanting others to like us, we tend not to see ourselves as sinners. Most of us definitely don't want to see ourselves as capable of evil! Think about this though. About 30 to 50 years ago, the worst sinful things were considered to be things such as lust, laziness, pride, greed, anger, and envy. These days, lust is celebrated- if it feels good - do it. Laziness is prevalent in that we feel we are owed time off, we are owed time to be pampered and to "kick back". Pride is celebrated in ego. Back to that precious little newborn. I thought my son was the most precious baby who ever lived- I think most parents feel that way about their baby- until the terrible twos, the tantrum throwing threes. the fighting fives and so on. I noticed as my son has been growing up- that some things just come natural to all kids. They all demand their way, they all argue, they all want what they want when they want NOW, they all believe they are the center of the universe. Ask any parent, and they will tell you- they love their kids to pieces, they would defend them with their lives, but when Jr. is pitching a fit, he can be downright horrid! No matter how good kids are, they are human. Just like all of us. We grow up and learn a little more control and self denial, we learn how to consider others first, or at least as well as ourselves. But we still have the tendency to tell a little lie, sneak another piece of cake when no one's looking, take a second look at a pretty girl or hunky guy. While these things are not overtly evil- say, like a Hitler, they are, in God's eye- a sin, and sin is evil.
Now, this last question is a very sensitive one, one that I don't know if I can answer it well enough or in the space I have left here. Why is there so much suffering- and why would God allow so much if He is so good?I don't want to offend anyone here- that is never my intention, but if I happen to say something you don't understand, or that I say something and not understand how others have suffered, please don't think I'm trying to be preachy or talk about something I have no idea about. This is a touchy subject, because some people have lost loved ones at a young age, some lose children. I have not gone though these painful experiences, so I really can't relate. All I can do is find some common sense in what I've been taught. This major question of Why. Most of my answer is- I have no idea. I don't know why sometimes children die of illness, why good people die young, why children lose their parents. I don't know why. I don't know why I saw 3 children that I used to baby sit die in a fiery car crash one night. I mean, I know that they had been drinking, and the driver, one of 2 brothers in that car, tried to pass on a hill, and he never saw the car coming toward them until it was too late. As much as I loved these kids- they were good kids, and they had great parents, their actions- their choices that they made that night brought on tough consequences. Consequences that their friends, brothers and parents still have to go through. I don't know why my brother's girlfriend died 3 days before Christmas, but I know her and my brother's choices- were not smart choices, brought about her death. I don't know why my aunt and uncle were killed by a drunk driver one night- but I also don't know why my dad was spared when he was hit by a drunk driver on his way to work on a Monday MORNING. I don't know why I didn't drown when I got caught in a spring run off swelled river, and get swept away and smashed on rocks below, when a childhood friend- our pastor's son drowned when their canoe tipped during a camping trip. I just don't know.Many times we get angry when something bad happens. God doesn't blame us for getting angry when we don't understands, it is what we do with our anger that He cares about. Getting angry is a natural part of life. Sometimes people lash out at others in their anger, or let it seethe and eventually make the person bitter. This is unhealthy, and God wants to help us deal with it in more of a healthy way. Some people can get past the anger,even if they are still confused- they may be able to accept things as what they are. In these choices, many reach out to others who are going through the same tragedy to help them deal with their grief. Some start support groups, others seet up a trust fund to help others from having to go through the same things. There are different ways to handle grief, and there is a loving God who wants us to come to Him and let Him take our grief and use it for good- thereby relieving some of our own pain. It won't take it all away, but it will allow for healing to start. healing can't begin unless the wound is cleansed and bandaged. If it is allowed to stay open and raw, constantly irritating - that's when infection comes in and it will take more pain and time to heal. For some things, I do know that God allows for some suffering so we will learn from our own poor choices or downright bad behavior. When God mends us through suffering- it hurts. Just as it hurts when we need a bone re broken by a doctor so our bone will set and heal properly.When we tough a hot stove- it hurts. Pain can have an instructive effect in many ways. Much of the time, it is our own actions which produce suffering in our lives. Sometimes though, suffering is not directly caused by sin. The Bible tells the story of a man born blind. The disciples asked Jesus if this was caused by some sin by him or his parents. Jesus replied, "Niether.. this happened so the work of God might be displayed in his life." Jesus then does the work of God by healing the man. Not all of our disabilities are our fault through sin. Some times God will work through them though to produce something good. While it may be hard to see what good can come from some things- many times people we don't know will be effected in a miraculous way- like ripples on a pond.Sometimes, the pain of suffering is made a little easier to bear when you realize there is a bigger picture or meaning behind it. Many Bible believing Christians I know who have gone through such pain as losing a child are amazing in their strength. Ones that have gone through illnesses themselves show incredible strength. If asked how they can deal with loss or illness such as they do, they will say it is because of their faith in Christ that allows them to hang in, that it is His strength that gets them through. They know there is a bigger picture somehow, and if even they can't see it at the time, they know something good will come of it. Many times they show Christ in the way they handle things. God knows what suffering is. Jesus suffered humiliation, ridicule, mockery and rejection- even before He was sentenced to die.Listen, God knows what it is like to see His only Son die a horrible death- knowing that He was sinless as a man. He knows what we are suffering and wants us to come to Him through it- He comforts and strengthens. He knows what He is doing, even if we don't. He took the worst through the death of His son though painful and humility of crucifixion and turned it into good by defeating Satan, and sin, and allowing for all of us to be redeemed through Him.
The Bible gives us an eternal perspective of things. We may never know in this life why some thingshappen, and why other things don't happen when we think they should- but this does not mean that God doesn't care or is not wanting good things for us. It's just that His good things are things we don't want to accept. He cares. He knows. He loves you and me. He's waiting for us to come freely to Him so He can tell us things are going to be OK.
Until next time, think about these things. Have you ever sinned? If you have done something that the Bible calls sin, what can be done to make things right- something by you or something already done? Do you believe that evil exists? If you believe it does, how do you know? Were you ever chastised or disciplined as a child? Did you feel loved because your parent disciplined you to where you knew they cared enough to show you right from wrong, or that they did it to protect you from harm? If your parents loved you enough to correct you, could you believe that God, who created you can love you so much more, and correct you from time to time? Can you understand how God knows what it is like to feel pain, sadness, rejection, humiliation, and the sting of death? How can you relate to some of the things that Jesus went through in His life on earth? (This last one will require you to read the
Gospel accounts of His life, teaching, ministry and death)

Often Asked Questions

After looking at how evidence points toward the Bible being a true and Historically accurate document, I'd like to maybe use the next few posts to answer some tough questions that many people ask at one time or another.
Let's get right down to it and discuss a few of the major ones that many people ask. So, Who created God if He really does exist? What was God doing before He created the world? Why doesn't He show himself so more people would believe? Why don't more people believe- if He is real?
Are these some of the questions you've ever asked yourself, or someone else? Have you ever wondered these things? I have too. I know I will never know all the answers, and I also know that not all of the answers that are out there will necessarily change one's mind. It's not a person's mind Christ is trying to change any how- but the heart. Sometimes though, it's much easier on an intellectual level to get to the heart. That's what I hope I can accomplish every time I discuss Christ with anyone. Let's begin with the first question- Who made God?
The simple answer is that no one did. God has always existed. Everything we see around us had a beginning somewhere- from the homes we live in, a tree in the yard, clouds, rain, oceans. Each had a beginning. God had no beginning, so He didn't need to be made. Now for those who don't believe in God, many believe that the universe has always been- even in the Big Bang theory, something must have been around to create the bang. Now no one has witnessed the big bang, but we have had scientific observation that the actual energy of the universe has remained constant. No one has witnessed energy coming into or leaving existence. If energy is uncreated and eternal, it has always existed- which would make the question of who created the universe a meaningless question. As meaningless as asking who created God, since He too would have always existed. If the universe is not eternal however, it needed a cause, or if it has always existed, it needs no cause because it has always existed.I know this sounds really goofy and like a circular argument- but there are things that we just have never known about the universe. Even when scientists think they have all the answers, something comes up to blow their latest theory out of the water. This doesn't mean that scientists give up on trying- they still have faith that something will be known about our universe- to where it started and how. Likewise, there are certain things that we don't know about God, but many still have faith that someday their questions will be answered, that we need not give up on the idea that God exists, just because we don't know all about where He came from and when. I know that may not be much of an answer- so lets add on to that. God is greater than our minds can conceive. That is, if nothing can be greater, then nothing or no one could have created Him because that would mean something even more great would have created God. 17th century philosopher, Descartes pointed out that the very idea of God could only come from God, because we couldn't conceive of a God is God didn't give us the ability to do so.On the other side of this, is to try and understand nothingness. The first president of Princeton University, Jonathon Edwards, described it this way, "Nothingness is what sleeping rocks dream of". That is, we can not conceive nothingness. The fact of existance makes us consider everything there is and where it came from, and this ultimately leads us to God. We can't conceive of nothingness or nonexistence. The highest thing we can cconceive is God. Even if one doesn't believe in God, one knows there is something much greater than himself which exists, working in the whole scheme of things. Because we exist, we know that we can't exist unless something or someone brought us into existance.
So how come He doesn't show Himself more clearly if He does exist? Many people would like a miraculous event in order to believe in God. Many people of every age would like to see tangible proof of His existence. To those who would prefer a miracle in order to believe, I have to say that the Bible says do not put the Lord your God to the test. God has never had to resort to performing miracles just so people will believe. He does do miraculous things, but never just to satisfy our curiosity. He's not some guy in the sky performing magic tricks.If someone wants a miracle as proof of His existence, one only need to look at the story of the first Christmas- the birth of Jesus Christ. The Son of God, born of a virgin (see my earlier post if you missed this). He was the Son of God- but born in a smelly stable among not just ordinary people, but among camels and sheep and cows! Now, you'd think if a person invented God, and had this wild idea of a Son of God coming to earth as a human child, you'd expect that child to have pretty ideal conditions, such as being born in a palace among nobles and personal staff, with couriers traveling the country side proclaiming the birth of the new King. Think also that the Jews of the time were expecting a Mighty Messiah- a King surrounded by the armies of heaven, to bring an immediate end to the bondage and persecution and suffering of their fellow Jews. You'd think that if someone created this story, the Messiah would be born in a royal household. As C.S. Lewis said, "The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this."When God became Man, He gave the world a perfect means to invite humanity back into a relationship with Himself. God has always let humankind choose freely to believe or not to believe. He has never coerced or ordered anyone to believe in Himself. He chooses the "foolish things" of the world- such as being born in a stable and laid sleeping in an animal trough, instead of being born into Royal comforts. He doesn't show Himself clearly simply because of His love for us. Because He wants us to be free to choose to love Him. He has shown us through coming to us in human form through Christ rather than showing us through coercive means of power which would have us fearfully showing worship to Him. Through faith or faithlessness, we have been freely able to accept His offer of a relationship with Him.
So, what was He doing before He created the world? Augustine, the 5th century Christian teacher answers this- God didn't have any time on His hands because time began with creation. Before creation, time didn't exist. The creation of the world didn't happen in time, it happened in a creation of time. Since God is eternal, the only thing before time was eternity. Some people may think that He was bored, therefore He created us. This seems logical to our finite minds, our imperfect selves, but since God is perfection and infinite, boredom is not even logical for God. An infinite creator such as God could always find interesting things to do- but we finite humans do become bored when we run out of ideas for things to do. One last point here- since Christians believe in the Triune nature of God- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as One, God could never have been lonely before He created humans- He always had some part of Himself to keep Himself company! In perfect understanding and companionship, with His three Natures, He could never be bored or lonely. - I will explain more of the trinity in future posts.
Now. lastly for this post, why don't more people believe in God if He's real? Contrary to what our society teaches, just because something is not the most popular opinion doesn't make it false. We have been taught that if something isn't popular, it can't be true. Truth, however, often runs counter to popular beliefs and opinion. Remember there was a theory a long time ago when people actually thought the earth was flat, and if they sailed too far in one direction, they'd fall off the edge of the earth? To many people before flight was possible, the earth seemed flat, and no one had ever seen the curverature of the earth through pictures or by flying high up in an airplane or a rocket. To most people, what seemed true, what they saw (flatness) was true. We know that this is not the truth- we know the earth is round. (Side note here, the first books of the Bible talk about the roundness of the earth- centuries before science proved it). Some people's refusal to believe in God is almost always based on the notion that He exists. Many of these are moral arguments, which may seem to these folks to be intellectual. Many great Christians have, before becoming a Christian, faced almost an agony- only because intellectually, they knew there is a God, but morally, they are unwilling to surrender to the demands of Christianity. (Even Christians who have been Christian for a long time have a struggle with this). Many of these folks have found that the Truth of God is more important than moral objections. Some people get almost furious and venomous in their arguments that God doesn't exist. This is because it's a representation of rebellion against God. I once heard a atheistic scientist say that even though he has seen more evidence that points to creation than to evolution, he can Not and will Not bring himself to believe in God. This is a willingness to remain in rebellion to God, even though he has seen evidence of God. Many people can't see themselves, or bring themselves to the point where they bring on the death of their own willfulness. Rebellion is much easier, especially in this day where a prominent scientist would be ostracized in the scientific world if he professed a belief in God. It's much the same for many people. The thought of being made fun of, losing friends, family or employment because of a profession of Christian faith, it is much more tempting to just "go with the flow" and keep your popularity. We must try and break this willful rebellion, and God gives us a lifetime in which to complete this- by His Grace.
Next post, we'll look at some more of these often asked questions. Until then, think about this, Is it really too hard to believe that we were created to know God, to return His love and have a relationship with Him? If you have turned away from Him, what have you replaced Him with? If you have believed you never have known Him, can you think of things which are unexplainable- which may just point to Him in a way you've never noticed before?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Is Jesus The Messiah? Is Messiah God?

So why is it so important to know if Jesus is God in the flesh? I mean, why don't we just believe in Jesus as a great teacher, a great prophet? Is it really so important to prove who He is?As we looked at in the last post, with Jesus' own claims, He is either who He said, or He's a liar and a nut, and that's no one to follow as a moral and great teacher. In this post, we need to look at why Jesus as Messiah is God, and how is that possible.
First of all, if Jesus really is who He claims, that He is God- that makes Biblical Christianity unique in our beliefs and authorative. If one the other hand Jesus was not who He claimed, there would be no difference between Christianity and any other religion, and it would mean we as Christians are following after a lie.Let's take a quick review of the basic logic for Christianity- In past posts, we've looked at evidence which proves that the New Testament is a historically reliable record of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus taught that He is God Incarnate, and He proved this by fulfilling Old Testament prophecies regarding His birth, life, teachings, death and resurrection. From this, we can see that Jesus clearly is God. If it's still unclear. Let's go over more of the past evidence again quickly. The eye witnesses of Christ passed down contemporary accounts of Jesus' words and actions, and more importantly, His Words were not only memorized but also written down by qualified witnesses. The New Testament authors, disciples of Jesus, made it clear between their words and Jesus' words - this is where we get the term Red Letter Bible from, as Jesus' words are written in red. Now, Jesus' claims and deeds that show He claims to be God. He accepted titles and praise which is only to be given God. This is part of why so many of the Pharisees were wanting to stone Him, because they believed Him to be a blasphemer. They knew exactly what He was saying and claiming. The Jehovah God of the Old Testament refuses to share worship and glory with any other. When one looks at the Old and New Testaments, we can see how Jesus did accept worship, praise and glory- a right only to God alone. Another instance is in the Old Testament, when Moses kneels in front of the burning bush, while God is talking, He says, "Tell them, I Am have sent you." Later, in the New Testament, Jesus tells the Jews, "Truly, truly I say to you,.before Abraham was, I Am." In this case, the Jewish leaders know that Jesus is not only claiming preexistence before Abraham, but also equality with God. In other parts of the Gospels, we see Jesus make the same claim, only instead of people cursing Him and picking up stones in which to throw at Him, people fall to the ground in awe and worship.By assuming the same titles given to God, Jesus in many way made Himself equal to God. He forgave sins, He told leaders He had authority to heal, and He warned that He had power to raise and judge the dead. Since Jewish Orthodox belief is in the Old Testament, where only Jehovah God has the authority to forgive sin, raise the dead, and make judgements, they made plans to stone Him for the claims He was making.Another way that Jesus claimed He is God, is when He said, "Honor the Son, even as they honor the Father," later adding, " believe in God, believe also in Me." The Jews knew that no man should claim honor and belief with God.Now- is Jesus the Messiah, and is the Messiah God?The Old Testament foretold of Messiah and also told of His Deity. When Jesus claimed to have fulfilled the Old Testament messianic prophecies, He also claimed the deity attributed to the Messiah. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the prophet speaks of Messiah as "Mighty God". In the Psalms, the reference is made between God the Father and God the Son, "Jehovah saith unto my Lord (Adonai), sit thou at my right hand." In the Book of Daniel, the prophet Daniel has a vision in which the Son of Man is also called the "Ancient of days", which is a phrase that is used twice in the same passage to describe God the Father. In the Gospels, when Jesus appeared before the high priest, He was asked specifically whether he is the "Christ (Messiah), the son of God" Showing that the high priest left no doubt that he knew what Jesus had been claiming. In a nutshell, the Old Testament not only shows that the Messiah is to come, but also that He is God. Jesus in all of His words and testimony laid claim to the Messianic title and also to the deity of the Messiah, and removed any doubt when He answered the high priest, "I am; and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power,and coming with the clouds of heaven". At this, the high priest tore his robes and yelled, "Why do we still need witnesses? You have all heard this blasphemy!"As I said earlier, the Old Testament shows that worship is forbidden to anyone but God. Men were not to accept worship, and even angels refuse to be worshipped. Jesus did receive worship over half a dozen times without once telling the people not to do that.Jesus not only accepted worship, but also placed His own words on par with God. He requested men pray in His name. If someone accepts Jesus as a good teacher and a moral leader, yet rejects the way that Jesus not only accepted attitudes and actions due only to God, but He often Himself affirmed by words and actions only appropriate to Deity, they are in a word- rejecting God.The Jews of the time knew What He was claiming. Bible believing Christians understand today what He is claiming.Now, sometimes people will assume that the Bible is contradictory when Jesus seems to deny His equality with God. Phrases such as, "My Father is greater than I", and the time when Jesus said that He doesn't know the time of His second coming, that only the Father knows, and the most famously misunderstood, from His words on the cross, " MY God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" do seem contradictory.On a closer look however, none of these is contradictory. One needs to understand the Trinity to understand such passages. In the Trinity of God, the Father is greater than the Son in "office" or position, but not in the nature- because as Jesus says, "I and the Father are one", He was speaking of in nature or essence.It is only the function, as the Son that He is less than the Father. In Jesus not knowing the time of His second coming, it is because when He spoke this, He was speaking as a man. As a man, Jesus ate when He was hungry, slept when He was tired. As God, He never slumbers or sleeps. Jesus the person had two distinct natures- one wholly divine, the other, wholly man. Some things He understood from a human nature, other times He understood and taught from His divine nature.Now, it is one thing to claim deity, and another to have something to back up a claim like that. Jesus did both. He offered three miraculous and totally unique facts as evidence to His claim. He fulfilled prophecies made hundreds and thousands of years before His birth, he had a uniquely miraculous life, and His resurrection from the dead. All of these events are uniqu only in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.In past posts here, we have looked at how Jesus fulfilled prophecies, how His birth was a miraculous and factual fulfillment of prophecy- and totally unique. We looked at how He died, and facts of His resurrection. We looked at the changes that took place in His followers- from a group of pathetic and scared men, cowering in a hidden room- to proclaiming His Gospel message, even to death, none of which were painless. Now we have seen just a portion of the claims He made concerning Himself, and His diety.In the next posts, I would like to give answers to some of the hard questions, disagreements and disbeliefs concerning God and His Word, The Holy Bible. See you next time.
Further Bible references which were covered in this post:
The I Am
Exodus 3:14, John 8:58 and 10:31-33
Power and Authority Jerimiah 31:34, Mark 2:10.11
Messiah as Mighty God Isaiah 9:6,7 , Matthew 22:42-44, Luke 24:25-27
Messiah sitting at the Right Hand of God Psalm 110:1, Mark 14:61-64
Son of Man, Ancient of Days Daniel 7:13-22,
Forbidden to Worship any other/Jesus Accepts Worship
Exodus 20:1-3.
Deuteronomy 5:6-9, Matthew 14:30-33, Matthew 28:16,17

Liar, Lunatic or Lord?

When you ask a person what they think of when they hear the name Jesus, they generally say that He was a good teacher, one of the prophets of God, a Jewish Rabbi or a good man. Many people, while not believing in the inclusiveness that Jesus is the only way to heaven, will usually believe that He was a good person, worthy enough to learn from. While not believing Him to be the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, they will usually include Him in those who have had a good and moral influence. When asked, most people will say something like , I believe that Jesus is among the greatest teachers of History, along with Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Teresa etc." Mostly pointing to His sermon on the Mount and His parables about loving enemies, helping the poor, loving neighbors as the righteous qualities that He taught and are trying to follow. There have been many good and loving people throughout the ages. They range from Mother Teresa, who selflessly helped the poorest of the poor and those separated from society because of disease and sickness. They include princesses, like Diana, who traveled war torn countries, helping those who have suffered loss of limbs from land mines. Heads of State, Presidents, teachers, pastors, philosophers. There have been many who have strived to make peace, lift the poor, comfort the sick and diseased. So what makes Jesus special? Is it His teachings on helping and loving, or is it more?Those who deny Him as God, yet include Him in a list of other moral and righteous teachers, would include a liar among their role models. If they don't believe that Jesus is God, then they must look at all of His claims that He is God. They must look at all the times that He made Himself equal to God. People have to look at the person of Jesus Christ and say whether He is a Liar, a lunatic or Lord. He can not be a righteous teacher if He is a liar. He can not be a good and moral leader if He is a lunatic. Jesus leave no choice. If you are going to believe in His Words about love, peace and the poor, you must believe His Words in which He claims to be God. Hisclaims are either truth or lies. Which will you believe? When He is claiming He is God, if He knew that He is not God, then He was deliberately lying and deceiving His followers. He tells us to be honest and not to cheat. If He was lying about His claim, then He was an evil person for telling such a lie and deceiving so many. He would also be incredibly stupid, for it was because of His claims that He was crucified. There is no way that someone who is a deliberate liar could be anywhere near a moral and good teacher. Historian Philip Schaff pointed out, "How in the name of logic, common sense and experience, could an imposter - that is a deceitful, selfish, depraved man - have invented and consistently maintained from the beginning to end, the purest and noblest character known in history with the most perfect air of truth and reality? How could He have conceived and successfully carried out a plan of unparalleled beneficence, moral magnitude, and sublimity, and sacrificed His own life for it, in the face of the strongest prejudices if His people and age?"Someone who lived, taught, and died the way that Jesus did could not be a liar.What if instead of lying about being God - He only just believed He is God? Say like maybe I think I'm Cleopatra? Maybe He sincerely thought He was God, but wrong? Would this not make Him delusional? Maybe even deranged? Why would so many of His followers believed His wacky claims and perpetuated them? I mean, maybe (very hard maybe!) I could convince myself that I'm Cleopatra, but I highly doubt I'd get anyone else to believe it too! So what gives? Was Jesus a lunatic? Looking at His skills in the way He taught, and the depth of His Words, He was completely sane. The fact that so many millions over the past two thousand years have followed Him, and even those who don't believe that He is God have paid so much attention to His Word, show that He is not a lunatic.He was not a liar, and not a lunatic. That leaves only one alternative. He is Lord.I know that He is Lord - the question He asks though, is "Who do you say that I am?"
Next time we'll look at whether Jesus is the Messiah, and How Is the Messiah also God?

How Hearts Were Changed

In the last post, we looked closely at the crucifixion of Jesus to show that He really was dead, then we looked a little into the resurrection, and the events surrounding the empty tomb. Even though we've already looked a little at the apostles reactions to the resurrection, I'd like to go a little more into the people who were closest to Jesus before He was crucified, their change after His resurrection, and some other ways which look closely at how Jesus' life, death and resurrection changed the world.
First of all, the people. Who actually saw Jesus after His resurrection? We know He appeared to his disciples more than a few times. How about those who didn't believe His claims to be Messiah- His own family? His brothers were embarrassed by His words. James hung out with the Pharisees, and he and his brothers mocked Jesus. James actually went on to become a leader in the early church. He wrote the Epistle of James, which states, " I, James, a bond servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" James was later stoned to death for his belief in his brother, Jesus, whom he once mocked. It would take something extraordinary to change from disbelief to quickly accepting death for a "change of mind".
Back up to the night before Jesus' arrest in the garden. Jesus was with His closest disciples in that garden. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, the disciples fled out of fear that they would be arrested and suffer the same fate as their leader. After the crucifixion, the disciples hid behind locked doors- afraid they would hear the soldiers come looking for them. Something happened though, in this upper room, which changed a group of scared and defeated men, to there they soon proudly, loudly and courageously proclaimed the Word of the Gospel in a time where the authorities were quick in punishing those who were spreading this strange new gospel. These same men did willingly suffer beatings, prison and eventually death for their faith in Jesus. Andrew, brother of Peter, the first disciple of Jesus became a preacher in Greece among other places. He proclaimed the love and forgiveness of Jesus as he was led to his own cross. Peter, the one who denied knowing Jesus three times the night of His arrest, who was afraid of "being found out" as one of those disciples, requested to be crucified upside down, because he felt he was unworthy of the same death that Jesus suffered. Matthew, once a tax collector, and after the resurrection, wrote the gospel in Hebrew and also was a missionary in Ethiopia and Egypt. He was speared to death for his testimony of Jesus. Simon, brother of Jude and James, became a Bishop in Jerusalem. He was later crucified in Egypt in the time of Trajan the emperor. The other Simon, the apostle became a preacher and spread the Gospel throughout North Africa and also in Britain. He was also crucified for his testimony. Philip became a missionary in what is now Turkey, was not only crucified but also stoned to death for his preaching of salvation in Jesus. Mark became an evangelist and first Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. For his preaching the Gospel, he was burned alive. Bartholomew is said to have preached and translate the gospel of Matthew for the Indians before being beaten, crucified then beheaded in Armenia. And Thomas- whatever happened to that doubter? Doubting Thomas who wouldn't believe in Jesus' resurrection until he could put his finger in the wounds of Jesus before he would believe. Thomas became a preacher all across the middle east, into Asia to India where he was shot with a dart.
Now, all the close disciples of Jesus were put to death for their faith in Christ, except for John, son of Zebedee, who may have been the same John who went on to write the Book of Revelation. John was not martyred for his belief, but instead exiled to an Island off of Greece named Patmos.
Not all of the people who saw Jesus alive after the resurrection suffered death sentences, but under the brutal regimes of emperors such as Caligula, Nero, and Domitian, who slaughtered thousands of new Christians. The were put to death in some cases for the entertainment of the people. Put to stakes, drawn and quartered, thrown to lions and other horrible punishments. It was not easy to become a believer of the "new" Christian religion back then, and in many cases around the world today it is still not easy. Christians know that they may suffer, as they have always known, because Jesus told His followers they would suffer. If the resurrection never happened, people would not have suffered. there would have been no need. However, the fact that so many of the followers and disciples willingly took punishment even to death, for preaching and teaching the Word of Jesus proves the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No one would make that kind of change for a known lie. Men will always be willing to die for what they believe in- but NO ONE will die for what they know to be a lie.
As any Christian will proclaim, that we have a faith not based on a myth or fable. Our faith rests firmly on an empty tomb and a resurrected Savior. if we suffer because of His name, we suffer willingly.
In the next post, we'll look at an argument that you may have heard already. Jesus: lunatic, liar or Lord?

Did Jesus Really Die?

In the last post, we looked at the impact of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and how these events separate Him from every other religious leader. Now, that is assuming one believes in the reality of the resurrection. Did Jesus really rise from the dead three days after his death? Let's look at the evidence in the same way as we did for the accuracy and inerrancy of the Bible.To determine if it is possible to raise from the dead, we need to determine first if He was really dead. Again though, lets first see exactly what Jesus suffered before and during His crucifixion. He was scourged, which means He was stripped and whipped with what was known as a flagrum. A flagrum had a long handle in which long leather thongs of different lengths were attached. Woven into the ends of these thongs were jagged bits of bone and lead to tear the skin with every lash given. Jesus was given at least 40 lashes. A medical description just of the lashes given are described this way: The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again, across the person's shoulders, back and legs. As it continues, the skin is broken, then with each lash, the gashes get deeper and the skin and underlying tissue is bruised. After a while, the skin is hanging in torn ribbons, the entire area is unrecognizable, pouring and spurting arterial blood, leaving the person near death.So, Jesus was most likely near death at the end of the scourging He received. After this, a crown of thorns was placed on his head, to mock Him as the "King of the Jews". I don't know what kind of thorns these were, but I once or twice got "poked" by bougainvillea thorns which can be as long as an inch, and very pointy. It hurt like crazy, and I could not imagine having something like this being pushed hard into my scalp.He was forced for a while to carry His own crossbar, which was a long piece of wood called a patibulum - also used for barring doors. These weighed about 110 pounds, and was strapped to the victim's shoulders.The actual crucifixion involved nailing a victim's hands and feet ( in one tomb discovered back in 1968, there was a crucifixion victim found with a 7 inch spike driven through the heal bones, and both legs fractured.). During a crucifixion, the victims legs were broken to speed up the death or terminate the torture. They were broken by using a club below the knees. Doing this prevented the victim from trying to push himself up, relieving the tension on upper body muscles. Once the legs were broken, and the victim could not pus himself up, suffocation or heart attacks would follow, putting the victim out of misery.It is interesting to know that Old Testament prophecies showed that Christ would not have a broken bone - and as Jesus was already dead by the time the Roman guard broke the legs of the other two men who were crucified beside Him, they did not need to break His legs, so prophecy was fulfilled here.Another way the guard determined if Jesus was really dead, was to drive a spear into His side- which spilled blood and water. The water was fluid which had leaked from the sac surrounding the heart, which shows that He died by shock and constriction to His heart.Only after the guards had determined He was dead, and a certification telling this was given to Pilate, was Jesus taken down from the cross. Crucifixion was a well known form of execution in the time of Jesus, so this is evidential fact pointing to the crucifixion.Now, when Jesus was buried, He was placed in a tomb, which was hewn out of the solid rock of the hills. The New Testament shows that Jesus' burial followed strictly the customs of the Jews. After He was "prepared and laid in the tomb, the Sabbath had come, which meant no more physical labor, even a burial could be done, so Jesus was left in the tomb. The tomb was then sealed, by rolling a large boulder in front of the opening. This "stone" would have been at least 1- 1/2 tons. The burial tombs often had a groove built in which the stone covering would rest until it was time to seal the tomb. Once it was ready to close, the wedge to hold the stone was removed, the stone was pushed and gravity would then roll it along the groove until it was firmly in place. Now, there were also guards stationed at the tomb, because Roman and Jewish leaders were afraid that Jesus' disciples would come and "steal" the body. If a Roman guard was stationed at the tomb along with the Jewish Temple guard, there would have been plenty of people- upwards of 20 guys, armed and ready, is someone would try to take the body. The Temple guard were forbidden to sleep or even sit down or lean against something if he were on duty- by threat of a severe beating. The Roman guard were just as strict. Along with the Roman guard, there was also a Roman Seal placed on the tomb stone. This was to prevent anyone with tampering with the stone, by order of the Roman Authority. Something did happen though. Something big enough to change the course of History. The tomb was empty days later.The consequences of breaking the Roman Seal that had been placed on the tomb would have been severe, meaning execution by crucifixion. It would make sense then, that most people would shy away from knowingly breaking the seal. Even the disciples hid when they found out Jesus wasn't there.The stone was rolled away- which would mean someone had to roll this stone, over 1 ton, back up an incline. The only thing here is, when the women found the tomb, the stone was rolled away. Rolled away, means it was separated from the tomb, and set a distance apart from it. The words that John used were Greek for "Picked up and taken away". For one thing, the whole guard regiment would not be deaf if enough people would come to move the stone, and the stone would not have been able to be picked up anyway. Now someone or something must have moved that stone- someone which frightened the Roman Guards so much that they fled from their post. Desertion from one's post meant death. Death in these cases would be being burned alive, so it would not make much sense for the guards to just get up and go home. You couldn't get me to do something like desert my post with that kind of death threat over my head.
Ok this is kind of long, so in the next post, we'll look at the rest of the resurrection, and how it changed the lives of many of His followers.