Who do the people say that I am?

Who do you say you are?

I have a friend whom I’ve known for a long time. After high school, he went into the Army and after that went straight into the Police Academy. He is the epitome of a soldier: happy and cheerful while off-duty but serious and orderly on-duty. He might as well walk around with a sticker on his forehead that says, “I am a cop”.

Whenever we would go out to the movie theaters or bars or diners, we would inevitably strike up conversations with total strangers. We would get to talking and people would ask questions to get to know us better and have a better sense of who we were. One of the questions would always be “what are you?”. Now, in our neck of the woods, that question was always in reference to ethnicity or nationality. His answer, however, would always upset me because I knew where it would inevitably end up. He would say, without missing a beat, “I am a cop!”.

Who do people say you are?

At this point, the conversation would take a sudden downturn. The tone would turn serious. The girls would get scatter and we would end up by ourselves at the counter. Again. For my friend being a cop is not just his profession. It’s who he is. His identity is built around his role, his profession. His reality is shaped by and constructed around his contributions to society. Everyone that knows him thinks of him as, introduces him as, and even stores him in their phone, jokingly and lovingly, as “the Cop”.

The Great I AM

In Scripture, we have countless examples of Jesus describing Himself beginning with the words “I am”; it was this above all, that enraged the religious people of His time more than anything: only God could utter those words and here he was, the son of a carpenter, using the “Lord” form when speaking of Himself. Jesus’s self-identity was clearly stated, in black on white, as inseparable from the Identity of the Father. So why would he ask his disciples, “who do the people say that I am?”. Was He suddenly unsure of His Deity, did He suddenly become sensitive to what the blogosphere of the day wrote about Him, or was He probing for the Truth among his disciples?

Some answered him and said “they say you are Elijah or one of the prophets”, others said “they say you are John the Baptist”. Then Jesus asked and said “but who do you say that I am?”. Simon Peter turned and answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” The Lord answered him saying  “Knowledge did not come from within you but as a revelation from the Father in Heaven”. There it was, the Rock upon which He would build His Church, the Truth of the Gospel in the flesh! 

Who do you say that I am?

But what about us: who do the people say that we are? Can they see who we belong to? Is our life a “Living Epistle, easily read of all men”? Do our friends, co-workers and acquaintances know of us as “My friend John” “Bill the Accountant”, “the real nice guy next door” or do they know us as we should be known: followers of Jesus Christ!

Tell me who I am

For many people “who the people say we are” carries much weight in their lives. From who to marry to where to live to what school to attend and what to major in, to where to work… even where to worship. For some, other people’s opinions not only shape actions but self-image and identity.

As children, our parents’ opinions and statements quietly and progressively shaped our self-image, our self-worth, and our identity. For the fortunate among us, their words informed us that we are special, loved, treasured, pretty, smart, talented, thoughtful, kind, adored, considered, appreciated, valued. For the less fortunate, their words informed us, at best, of not being those things. Regardless of which one was our reality, we listened, more carefully than they thought we did, and we made their words our internal mirror. 

Who does God say you are?

By the Grace of God through Jesus His Son, our old mirrors have been smashed to the floor, the shards crunched, recycled, re-kilned, and remade in the Image of Jesus. Where there was pain, now there’s healing. Fear give way to hope. Just as hate is replaced with Love lack is filled with abundance. Guilt is smothered by redemption the same way sin is drowned in forgiveness. Ignorance is overpowered by Wisdom as shame is robed in honor. And, as always, Life overwhelms Death and the Grave through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Does it show?

So our question to ourselves therefore must be: how much of this can and do people see in us? When looking at us, do they see Him? When they wonder what we are, do their own thoughts immediately answer their inquiry? Does their internal dialogue say to them “He’s a Christian”, “she’s Born-Again” or does it say “He’s Hispanic”, “She’s a Feminist”, “He’s a Teacher”, “they’re Republicans”. 

Great. You found God now!

For many of us, our biggest struggle in our testimony is not with strangers on the train or the lady in front of us in line or the customer service rep. on the phone. No, our struggle is with those who are intimately familiar with our inner workings, family members, friends and co-workers alike. They grew up with us and saw us and knew us for far too long for them to simply believe an “encounter” changed us so drastically.

Not impressed

Whether you were a “Christians” in name only or from another religion, coming home to share our new-found Faith is no small task. Everyone is more than ready, willing, and able to put your new identity to the test. They still remember where all your buttons are, what gets you going the most. Your Faith is questioned, prodded and tested. Your every word weighed, and measured everyday for an opportunity to say the dreaded “…and you call yourself a Christian?!”

Speak life

It is what we do in these very moments that will echo in eternity. Not only for us but for those to whom we are witnessing. G.K. Chesterton said, “it is not that the Christian ideal has been tried and found wanting; it’s that It has been found difficult and therefore left untried”. If we truly believe that everyone needs Jesus then we must act accordingly: we must live a life that shows that living for Jesus is not only possible but pivotal: it not only influences who you are now but where you end up later; they must see that; that anyone can accept Jesus.

No matter where or who you’ve been; that living for Jesus means living an overcoming life: not free from trouble but free from worry; that living for Jesus doesn’t mean perfect simply a work in progress and that He accepts us and loves us as we are not who we will become; living for Jesus means living as Jesus, no longer we that live, but Christ that lives in us.

Who do the people say that I am? Click To Tweet

The called-out ones

Living for Jesus has to be seen as the only possible alternative to their unfulfilled, empty, search for that lone yearning that cannot be described, cannot be expressed, cannot be named, cannot be identified: a yearning “too deep for words”. They have to look at us and see that there’s something about us that is different, that is special, that is desirable: a Peace surpassing understanding, a sweet reasonableness, a giving Spirit, a confident humility, a noble serenity, an unrelenting patience, a quiet mind, a pervasive diligence, a Truthful tongue anointed with boldness and Love, and a will that brings all thoughts and deeds into submission to the perfect Will of God.

People have to see us and want what we have! The logic is quite simple: what we have is of  greater quality, better priced, longer-lasting, better warranty and more readily available than anything anyone can promise, think, imagine or deserve. Our identity has to be physically, mentally, and psychologically indistinguishable from the Faith and the Savior we profess.

Living Epistles

If we truly profess that living for Jesus is not only possible but desirable then we must believe that people want to see a life well-lived for Jesus; their Creator built them with a yearning for more. Setting “eternity in the hearts of men” God left a “Jesus-shape void” in their hearts and minds. We must show that the source of all of our desirable qualities is not us. He filled our void. We found the missing puzzle piece. The Bible says “by this shall they know that you are My disciples, that you have love for one another!”.

We need to show the Love of God. Show them that what we are and who we are is inseparable from whose we are. We must show them that perfect Love casts out fear, perfect Love is kind, gentle, remembers no wrong, believes all things, hopes all things. Let’s not tell people what we believe, let’s show them what we believe: they’ll be able to argue what you say but they won’t be able to argue what they see you do, how they see you live, “a living Epistle, easily read of all men.” Scripture teaches us that we should let them see your good works so that they will glorify your Father in Heaven. 

Easily read of all men

Far too many people build their lives around others. Not only that but what those people say of them. Some say, “I am so-and-so’s fill-in-the-blank”. Others say, “I am from such-and-such a place”. However, as Christians, we are called to be there for them. Inevitably, when they are disappointed by fallible people, let down by loved ones, left behind by a significant other or when reality doesn’t match their mental construct, we are called to be there, living a life that points to Jesus.

When they fall apart, lose their way, and experience a moment of loss, our lives should be there preaching. Preaching silent sermons of what Jesus can do if you would just invite Him in. We have to be the kind of people that people want to talk to. We are to be approachable. What if that means being funny, good listeners, and sympathetic? Be it! Perhaps it means being empathetic, loving, patient, giving and kind. Make it happen. They shouldn’t confuse us for Christians. They should confuse us with Christ!

Is this who I am?

Who do the people say that we are? Are we quick to anger, slow to listen, men and women of compromise, “anything goes” or are we the kind of people that when someone is telling a dirty joke at work near you they say “sorry” and move away a bit further? Are we Peacemakers or are we rabble-rousers? Do we invite quarreling or reasoning? 

I’ve been worse

Showing people who we are takes lots of practice and courage. I remember my first attempts at witnessing to people usually went one of two ways: either I was overzealous and would overwhelm and scare them with the tome of information I had just learned or I would give them a list of all the things they were doing wrong in their lives, give them the ole Fire & Brimstone routine and send them screaming down the street. Baby steps. 

Praying for better

But in all seriousness, the Bible teaches us that “a Prophet is never accepted in his own house”. For all these people in our lives that knew us as the “old” us. Showing up to work  one morning or coming home from a “Open Tent Revival” as a Born-Again-Christian is quite the relational monkey wrench! We can’t wait to tell them of God’s Grace and what He has done for us. To tell them how our lives are forever changed.

Cursing and foul language are frowned upon. Lewd comments no longer accepted. Furthermore, the sinful lives we once shared can no longer be the basis of our relationship. Family and friends have seen us at our worst. The countless hours together gives them superpowers. They know what we will say before we say it. They’ve always taken us at our word, believed what we said and trusted our opinions. Now “Born-Again-Christian” is something that they cannot reconcile with the person they once knew. 

Royal Priesthood here I come!

I encourage you to let that be your testimony! Let this Wisdom, that seems like foolishness to the world, be our badge of honor! The Apostle Paul teaches us that we are a “Peculiar People”: let this awkwardness be our defining characteristic! Our goal is to be loving. When others are hateful we must be peacemakers: when others are looking for arguments and quarreling, let us be of a “sweet reasonableness”.

When others speak gossip, let us bring restoration. If others bring only insult, let us only compliment. In the same manner, where others judge, let us be mindful that we were all once “the least of these”. Let it be said of us that we “Speak Life”. That we are a weird and peculiar. That we are a counter-current, group of outsiders. Christians! And if you agree, Let us say: Amen!

Greater than Jonah

Quite the fish story

In Part One of the series, we grappled with the greatness of the Temple: what it meant to the Israelites and the consequences and significance of Jesus’ statement of being “Greater than the Temple“.  Jonah preached the the greatest revival message in history. Over one million people came to faith in the God of Abraham on that day. Now Jesus tells them that one “greater than Jonah” is here.

The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

39 He answered, A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here…

The Temple was the place where Jews communed with God. As we said in Part 1, it was the center of the universe for religious Jews and for good reason: it could be seen for miles in the desert sun, adorned in gold and precious stones it was a sight to behold. But now the people, and the Pharisees and Scribes in particular, ask Jesus for a sign. Having listened attentively for quite some time and not having been able to cause Him to stumble, they want Him to prove Himself. What more powerful sign could He offer them outside of doing what Jonah did: come back from the dead!

Time me!

Jesus even gives them the timetable: three days.  In chapters 16 and 22 of Psalms, David talks about how the Messiah would die and be resurrected. He explains how His body would not know decay and be resurrected from the dead. In Hosea 6:1-2, the prophet teaches us that:

“for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.”

Greater than Jonah

This handful of verses would have been well-known to the Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is explicitly telling the “wise” that He is the Messiah of Scripture. But, being the master storyteller that He is, Jesus goes a step further and adds insult to injury. He compares them to the Ninevites. However, and this is the insult, unlike the Ninevites that repented at the preaching of Jonah, they turn deaf ears to Jesus’ teachings. In fact, these Pharisees must be running up quite a seamstress bill. Jesus caused them insult with every word He spoke. Offended beyond repair. Consequently, so were their garments.

Jesus so far has told them that He is greater than the Temple: where they commune with God; and greater than Jonah: who came back from the dead after three days and brought a message of repentance to a rebellious people, who were not Jews, and they repented. What will He use next, in his trifecta of examples? Their most revered elder: Solomon!

Greater than the Temple

Greatest of all times!

How many times have we heard someone claim to be the “Greatest of all Time”: from Mohammad Ali to Will Smith and to countless others; both famous and infamous. It’s such a common occurrence that we even have an abbreviation for it: G.OA.T.! People have shirts printed, specialty stationery and various other things here and there to point to their greatness. As Christians, we shy away from such claims, or at least from actually believing them. We know that if any one individual could claim to be a G.O.A.T. it would be Jesus. In fact, Jesus made several such claims. He claimed that He was “greater than the Temple”, “greater than Jonah” and “greater than Solomon”. In this upcoming 3-part series, we will look into what those claims mean and how Jesus is, in fact, greater than all three.

Greater than the Temple

It is difficult to overstate the significance, gravitas and importance of the Temple of Solomon in the lives of Jesus’ contemporaries. To the Jews of those days, the Temple was the center of the Universe, not just metaphorically but literally: it was the place where God’s presence met and communed with men on Earth. The Temple was God’s House on Earth, making Jerusalem the most important city in the world past, present and future.

The Temple was truly a sight to behold: it literally shined in the desert sun! When the Romans destroyed it in A.D. 70 they left “not stone on top of another” (Mark 13:2); this was because there was a king’s ransom and more in molten gold that had seeped in between the cracks from the arson fire set by the Roman Legions: imagine how much gold there was?! There was so much gold the Romans minted commemorative coins from the booty they removed from the Temple of Solomon to immortalize their abject repression of the Jewish Revolt. All in, the temple has been calculated to have been worth well over a half billion dollars!

Roman Coin Minted With Gold Seized From Temple of Solomon during the Judean Revolt of A.D. 70.

Blasphemy!

So how could Jesus, knowingly, make such a claim: to be “greater than the Temple”? Let’s take a closer look at the context in which the statement is made:

1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

3 Jesus replied, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for them to eat, but only for the priests.

5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.

7 If only you had known the meaning of ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’a you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Send in the clowns

The Pharisees come and attack Jesus on what would amount to be a technicality: picking heads of wheat to eat; since it happened to be the Sabbath, the Pharisees were hoping to ensnare Him somehow. Jesus’ reply, as it always did, came straight from the Law and the Prophets. Not only did He compared His disciples to David’s Men of Valor and likened His disciples to the priests on Sabbath duty in Solomon’s Temple: they work on the Sabbath but are regarded as innocent in regards to the third commandment.

Jesus says to them that the Law requires “mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). This is a recurring theme that he brings to the calloused Pharisees that think highly of themselves because they keep even more than the Law requires. Jesus reminds them that they lack mercy. They would rather someone starve and keep the Law rather than break it and live. In this, He accused them of constantly condemning the innocent.

True Temple priests

Jesus is making the positive claim about His disciples. They are innocent on two counts: the lesser point is that the hungry must eat, regardless of whether it is the Sabbath or not, similar to the Parable of the 100 sheep (Matthew 12:11). The second and more important point is that the disciples are serving “something greater than the Temple”.

What could be greater the the House of God? Where is there a better place to meet and worship God if not the Temple He Himself commissioned? Where could one go, on Earth, that would bring you closer to God than the Temple of Solomon? All of these questions can only be answered in the person of Jesus Christ: What’s greater than the House? The Owner! What’s the best way to communicate with God? In the flesh! Where could one go to be closer to God than the Temple? Wherever Jesus is!

Lord of the Sabbath

But what would give Jesus the authority to claim that His disciples were innocent? Surely, the Law itself exonerated them  because it was not considered unlawful to do good on the Sabbath, something the Pharisees knew all too well. However, Jesus goes one step further and says “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” What does that even mean?  Essentially Jesus was claiming and proclaiming that He was greater than the Laws of the Mosaic Covenant. As God in the flesh, He is the Author of the Laws. The Pharisees had made themselves “lords of the Sabbath”: they had instituted a intricate system rules and regulations and bylaws that made keeping the Sabbath practically impossible.

In all, there were 39 categories of forbidden and unlawful activities. Many of them can still be found in existence today. For example, the “Sabbath Elevator”. If you live in New York, you either have one, know someone who does or have experienced it as some point. Among some Jewish communities, pressing the button on the elevator on the Sabbath is considered work! Once Jesus proclaims that He is Lord of the Sabbath, He strips the Pharisees of the authority they had usurped away from God.

Third eye blind

Jesus is greater than the Temple and therefore Lord of the Sabbath. The same God who commissioned the Temple instituted the Sabbath. God instituted the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath. This is a lesson Jesus repeats often. However, the legalistic Pharisees refuse for fear of their power diminishing over and among the people. But the message of Jesus is that He is the Temple! He challenges the Pharisees and the Scribes to “tear this Temple down”, speaking of His own body. He would raise it up again. However, their spiritually blinded minds could not understand of what He was speaking.

Jesus is truly greater than the Temple. His body became the new Covenant between man and God and we commune with God in the body of Christ: His blood shed for us and His body broken for us give us access to God the Father through Jesus the Son. When Jesus died on the Cross and the Veil in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the Holy of Holies was open to the priests in the inner court and, to their surprise….no one died! How can that be? Only the High Priest ever accessed the Holy of Holies, and only once a year! To anyone alive at the time, to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hears, to anyone educated and instructed in the Law would have seen, that very day, that Jesus is Greater than the Temple.

Third Day

There’s two kinds of people in this world. There are those who believe the story of Jonah and those who know someone that does. As Christians we form a special category. We believe the story of Jonah. We also know Jesus. He also believes the story of Jonah. Jesus saw it take place. In our second part to these series, we will explore Jesus’ statement comparing Himself to Jonah. I encourage you to follow along with us as we consider Jesus, greater than Jonah.

Doctrines of demons

There are lies, dammed lies and doctrines of demons

Pearl of great Price – Part 2

Mark Twain once said, “there are lies, dammed lies, and then there are statistics”. Unfortunately for all us, Mr. Clemens was wrong. When it comes to manipulating truth there is something that is more dangerous than statistics. Doctrines of demons.

Last time, we talked about the pearl of great price. That is what Jesus compared finding the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat 13:46) to. The parable tells us that for the person that finds this pearl would willingly make any trade necessary to own the pearl. The pearl not only represent the Kingdom but also represents Truth. Like the pearl of great price the Truth today is nearly impossible to find. On the other hand, doctrines of demons are readily available anywhere you look.

Versions of the “truth”

One of the difficulties that we encounter today is that there seems to be multiple versions of the facts. Even as I write this there are people out there disagreeing on simple facts. This can range from the current debate on the origins of the Covid-19 virus to whether Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon to the more tragic holocaust deniers. If you ask around you’ll find people that don’t tie the Chinese government to the covid outbreak in any way, don’t believe we landed on the Moon and have never heard of or don’t believe the “official” holocaust story.

Start with distortions

Now, you might think, “people are people and they come in all shades and shapes and sizes and opinions”. If that were the only thing at stake it wouldn’t matter to anyone. However, the truth is much more sinister. The different versions of the “truth” are necessary to the distortion of the Truth; having a binary conversation between up or down, left or right, right or wrong is much more effective for the purposes of distortion when there are many “shades of truth”.

Distortions the easiest ways to get rid of the truth. Simply take the actual truth and run countless different strains of it. With each version having a very miniscule variation in it, everyone will believe that their version is true to the original. However, once these ideas meet in the open “market place”, confusion is the only logical result. With so many versions available, not only will people question the truthfulness of other people’s versions but eventually question their own.

Add gradualism

Nowhere is this more apparent in society than the subject of sexuality. Just 50 years ago, terms like “deviant” were commonplace in sociology literature when discussing homosexual tendencies. It was an insult on the part of the sociologists as much as it was a way to describe the behavior: a deviation from the norm. It’s hard to imagine that it only took less than a generation to get to where we are right now.

Terms like “non-binary”, “fluidity”, and “seeking” are commonplace and it has reached epidemic levels in our schools. Unlike “deviant”, the new terms are neither meant to explain, describe nor inform. Quite the opposite. They are chosen by the demons in charge to create the greatest of gray areas, where the largest possible number of souls can commit themselves to a lost eternity. Such terminology makes it possible for 8 billion people on the planet to have different points of view on something that has been established by our nature for millennia.

Exhibit A

There is no better example of this than television. When HBO first came on the scene, it was mostly a place where you could find movies that had recently been in the theaters that had not yet made their way to “rabbit ear antenna” tv. The same television service is now filled with movies that could quite easily pass off as pornography. The fact that modern homes have multiple televisions where adults and children are not usually watching in the same room makes for the distribution of this material even more prolific among children than ever.

Not subtle enough

As we mentioned before, society didn’t arrive here over night. It was a slow, constant, intentional march in this direction. If you’ve ever read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, you’ll know what I mean. You may hear people talk about a “swinging pendulum” and how it was worse when they were young. I don’t argue that the wild public orgies of the sexual revolution seem like a thing of the past. However, the spirit of that “godless freedom” remained in society even after the public orgies went back into the closet (for the most part).

When truth can be made distorted so easily and gradually enough to avoid detection, the points of view and perspectives multiply. Soon, the sheer plurality makes the search for truth no longer a sensible goal. In such a situation it is easier to seek consensus and compromise, preferably with a total absence of truth of any kind. As far as doctrines go, relativism is among the preferred by demons.

Relativism

With objective Truth defanged by 8 billion distortions of lesser value and the meaning of Truth buried by the gradual crossbreeding of the Truth, dilution of the Truth the result. But the goal can only be relativism. Since the Truth is so strongly diluted, it must mean that there is no truth. Better yet. It is all true.

Suddenly, everyone with an opinion is a Master of the Universe in the making. Over-confident and under-educated he is civil society’s worst nightmare. You cannot argue with this modern man. He knows it all: “God is dead… and we have killed him”, he’ll chant, thinking it came from some modern rock song.

This homo-modernus has finally met a god he can live with: himself. He is all-knowing. He is also petty, cruel, proud, and a scoffer of things about his paygrade. He’s given to fits of murderous rage, drug-induced psychotic episodes, and a freedom of libido without precedent. This modern man looks more like the ancient Greek gods every day.

Why are you telling me this?

Great question. Because that description can fit just as easily in the church as it does outside. We have let distortions, ever-so-minute, crawl into the Church. We have let these distortions fester and multiply and become a confusing Gordian knot. Since such things are better left untangled, we have decided to look the other way. After all, confronting some of these issues may affect church attendance and the all-important one as well: giving.

Gradually, left unchecked, these ideas and doctrines of demons, take on a life of their own. Well-intentioned churches and pastors and congregations conclude its better to compromise than to deal with the consequences. Don’t believe me? Have a conversation about politics with your pastor. See how long that friendship survives that encounter.

I need more

Still not convinced? Here’s proof. The State of California is home to the most and largest and biggest and wealthiest congregations in the country. Yet, their elected officials seem to take their policy directives directly from doctrines of demons. With abortions and late-term abortions and late-late-term abortions you would have to think that these super-mega-churches have no political clout whatsoever nor do any congregants vote. They had Reagan as governor with no mega churches but Newsom as governor with the mega churches. You see the irony there?

Doctrines of demons?

Ok. So now you’re on board but still think that calling them doctrines of demons is a stretch. After all, we’re all still Christians. Good point. So let’s see what the Word has to say on the subject.

1Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.

Yup. Doctrines of demons!

At this point it might be worthwhile to make a list of the doctrines of demons that Paul identifies for Timothy. Some are more plain to see than others. The low-lying fruit is probably “legalism”. Don’t touch that, can’t drink this, don’t sit there, say it like that. It reminds me of the scene in Devil’s Advocate: “touch but don’t taste; taste but don’t chew; chew but don’t swallow”. Legalism is at opioid-epidemic crisis levels in our churches. The same people saved by Grace live under the Law. They tithe as foreigners rather than enter the throne-room as sons. With so little understanding of what actually took place on their behalf, they believe the New Testament but practice the Old. Perhaps it’s some kind of insurance policy that I don’t know about.

Forbidding Marriage

Where have I seen this before? Who forbids marriage? It’ll come to me. Not only do these peddlers of demonic doctrines adhere to legalistic practices that no longer apply to Christians, they even invent new ones. Furthermore, marriage is the first institution that God created. Its so important to Him, He set it up in the Garden. In the beginning. So what’s a demonic doctrine to do? Deny, deny, deny! Deny God and His institutions; deny God and the goodness of His Creation.

Fishy Fridays

Forbidding marriage and requiring abstinence from certain foods is only the most apparent of their fruits. If eunuch priests and not eating meat on Fridays were the Church’s greatest physical concerns, we would be in a much better place. No. Their deception goes much deeper than that. In his letter to Timothy, Paul described them as liars, hypocrites and having a seared conscience.

Jesus in fact has some very choice words for those who preach and practice such lies. Jesus calls the Devil the “father of lies”. He also calls those that practice deceit the children of the Devil (John 8:44). Lies are their native language, their nature. The Devil, his demons and those that practice his lifestyle can only teach deceptive doctrines. The Devil was a denier from the Beginning. These preachers of demonic doctrines have all the outside showings of godliness but deny its power.

And so many more

But beyond sex and food, what other doctrines are demonic? It comes down to this: anything that man does to add to the sufficiency of the work that Jesus Christ fully accomplished on the cross is a doctrine of demons. Whether it’s the need to speak in tongues to be saved, to only being allowed to worship on Saturdays, to praying for the salvation of the dead and so much more, demons are and have always been active in adding human work to the finished work of the Cross.

God: fickle,  petty, and weak

The “little foxes” are usually the ones that destroy the grape harvest (Songs of Sol. 2:15-17). When we think of doctrines of demons, we picture some openly unbiblical statement that “anyone” could plainly recognize. Unfortunately, demons have been working on this for a long time and their technique has been refined.  Things like “God will heal you in His own good time”. This distortion of the character of God points people back to legalism where they are looking to check off items from a list of “to-do’s”. Healing that is dependent on you might as well be dependent on your pet. This doctrine teaches that Jesus’ death covered sins only. Your bodily healing is contingent on how well you jump through some hoops.

How many times were you told that if you don’t tithe “you are robbing God” (Malachi 3:8)? Imagine a human that is able to rob God. And yet, we are constantly told that we don’t receive because we don’t give. Somehow, God is keeping track of our finances and He will only give to us when we’ve reached our minimum required. Just like an earthly father, I guess.

God deniers

Further still, there are doctrines that deny the deity of Jesus altogether. There are sects that describe Him as “a son of God”; you know which ones those are. Then there are entire religions based on the belief that Jesus was only a prophet. Islam, by definition, is a doctrine of demons. It denies the virgin birth, the death on the Cross and the resurrection. And this doesn’t just apply to Islam. In fact, any person, group or religion  who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh (2 John 1:7) is a liar. And since, as we said before, the Devil is the father of lies anyone who denies Jesus in the flesh is a child of the Devil.

Let my people think

I know it sounds harsh. We all have those friends out there. So, I would encourage you to take this as your notice. You have been served. Make sure you preach to your friends and family members that do not recognize or deny Jesus “come in the flesh”. No three-point sermon needed. A few words here and there and a life well-lived will do. But should the opportunity present itself, be ready to give the reason for your hope.

Pearl of great price – Part 1

Opinions are like belly buttons: everyone’s got one. Interestingly enough, many of them are hard to stomach. Luckily, doctrines are less common. Unfortunately, even demons have those. The proof of that multiplies around us daily. On the other hand, like a pearl of great price (Mat 13:36), Truth is hard to find and worth any trade you would have to make to obtain it.

Identifying hidden value

Think about your most prized possession. Consider how much it cost you to get it. Now add to it everything it has cost to keep it, maintain it, safeguard it, update it and whatever else you’ve had to do to ensure it is preserved. For some it might be a family heirloom, a Babe Ruth rookie baseball card, Rembrandt original or luxury car. As with any luxury item, the sticker price is never the end.

Recognizing Pearl divers

For example, Ferrari has rules that not only employees but also owners must abide by. These rules range from “no pink Ferraris” to “no owners under 40” as well as “cannot own any Lamborghinis” and many others. Apparently Mr. Ferrari considers his family legacy a pearl of great price! To him, owning a piece of that legacy requires maturity in the form of minimum age, sensibility in terms of color scheme as well as loyalty to the the Ferrari brand.

Pearls of great farce

Not everything that is held in high esteem is by definition of great value. Opinions are among such things. In the era of fake news opinions are just as good as facts. If repeated enough, it doesn’t take long for someone to come along and peddle them as Gospel Truth. Even beyond current events, recent history is full of them. Not loo long ago, the European Union destroyed the beef industry for its domestic farmers. The claim was that BSE (Mad Cow Disease) was rampant in the bovine population and would eventually decimate Europe. As recent as 2017, I tried giving blood in a local blood drive. My years of living in Europe made me ineligible to give blood. The concern, again, was the spread of the disease in America.

Pearly Pyrite

To be clear, the loss of life is never trivial. Nonetheless, when the opinions of “experts” overrule common sense, you can always expect the worse. Whether it’s Mad Cow Disease, the Swine Flu pandemic or any other reiteration, you can always count on an overrated opinion masquerading as a pearl of great price. Under such guise, the “pearl seller” will be able to get almost any amount out of the buyer (meaning the general public).

You may ask, “what did they get from us in exchange”? Great question! For starters, they get your consent to continue peddling. As this implicit consent builds on itself, it becomes assent. “Assent” is above consent. While consent is your permission for something, assent on the other hand is your agreeing to something. Once “people agree”, dissent can be rooted out. Dissent is a fancy term for disagreeing. Since “everyone agrees”, those who don’t find themselves on the outside. They are now either pressured or coerced to agree or they are further marginalized. The end result is still the same: a lofty opinion sits in the place of Truth (2 Cor 10:5).

So what?

Although many of us might not necessarily care what others “believe”, these things still have a profound effect on our lives. The reason is this. What is one thing that is coveted more than money? You guessed it. Power! In the same way that companies want to shape public opinion to guide customers’ dollars to their products, there are those who want to mold public opinion for other purposes. Although they may not be selling a “product”, they are selling you something nonetheless. I believe the original quote goes back to Zig Ziglar. Your consent is not coveted to make your life better. It is being sought out to better sell you.

If you can't tell what the product is, stand closer to the mirror Click To Tweet

I need proof

At this point, proof is a very reasonable request. If I were buying a pearl of great price, I would want an assayer to evaluate it for me. Since proof is so readily available, we will give it in a timeline format. However, since it is impossible to Google Anthony Fauci’s lies I had to use a different search engine. Apparently that information is not available on Google.

January 21st.:”Coronavirus is not a threat to people in the United States”.

January 26th: “Risk of Coronavirus in the USA is a ‘miniscule‘; skip mask and wash hands”.

We could go on for days but why bother. These two are so different from the ” experts’ ” current advice to beg incredulity. In fact, right now you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t remember getting that advice”! Don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just because this story have more versions than an iPhone. How else can they have gone from “skip the mask” to needing a “3rd booster shot”. And who did this most recent advice come from? That’s right! Fauci. It is astounding the ease with which this man’s plainly stated and self-identified opinions are welcomed as pearls or great price. While lies being peddled so easily it is difficult to tell what is doing more damage to the Church: baseless opinions or doctrine of demons.

Pearl of great device

Notwithstanding the recent brain-dead fog that has overtaken large sections of the Church, doctrines have by far done the most damage to the Body over the centuries. In Part 2, we will discuss how some of the strongest poisons ever given to the Church were fed directly from our pulpits. Paul calls them “doctrines of demons“. The name alone makes you think that no one would listen to such sermons. Unfortunately, the truth is far more painful. Finally, Part 3 will show us how the Truth is the real McCoy; this pearl of great price. The real Truth need neither pushing or peddling in any way. John Steinbeck’s Kino knew what he had found the moment he laid eye on it. As a true Believer in Jesus Christ, so should you.

Third Temple Believer

How shall we then live? A question for the ages, as the Jews watched the temple being destroyed. The answer can be found in Jesus alone.

In the beginning

Before there was the Temple, there was the Tent of Meeting. Before the Tabernacle in the wilderness, there was Beth-El. There, God’s servant spoke to Him in Spirit. In turn, He answered in Spirit and in Truth. Solomon’s Temple replaced the Tabernacle. Destroyed because of the people’s disobedience. The people rebuilt the Temple. However, because of disobedience, it was once again destroyed. Now both Believers and Jews alike await the final third Temple. 

third temple
Jesus in Disguise

Shadows and dust

Just like anything made by men, the second temple also did not last. After the prophecy of the coming Messiah had been fulfilled, the Lord kept His word and the Temple was destroyed once again.

However, something was different this time. The people scattered to the winds and to the four corners of the earth. Many of them were taken to Rome. They were to become slaves. Others, put to death. Although any hopes of rebuilding the Temple had all but vanished, by some type of miracle, “Jewishness” survived.

To the utter dismay of the Jewish people, millennium-old Temple Judaism came to a sudden and abrupt end. The sect of Judaism that depended on the Temple itself, the Sadducees, disappeared; the Essenes, that preached against the corruption of the Temple, lost their raison de vivre. This left only the Pharisees. These would become what we know now as the rabbinical schools. Also, a new Jewishness also appeared. Christianity.

Honest misunderstanding?

Although no rabbinical scholar would admit, Christianity is Judaism. The reason for not agreeing on this point is purely of a personal nature. Personal in this context refers to Jesus. There is only one difference that separates Temple Judaism from Church Age Christianity. While Jews are still waiting for the Messiah to their own detriment, Christians believe the Messiah has come. 

All else being equal, Christianity is the logical next step of historic Judaism. This is in a very crucial way very unfortunate. I say this because they are scheduled to accept the imitation over the real thing. When the antichrist comes, their eschatology will resemble very closely our own. Obviously with their tragic misunderstandings built in. 

Accepting the imitation

When the antichrist arrives on the scene they will accept as completed all of the Scriptures that Christians already know as fulfilled. This counterfeit Messiah, I believe, will not be Jewish. Neither will he adhere to the ways of his forefathers. Scripture even references him not being…very manly.  

Essentially, there are two types of third Temple believers in this world. On the one hand there are those waiting for the Temple to be built again. On the other hand, although they might not actually be aware, Christians believe it will descend from Heaven in the the form of the Heavenly Jerusalem. So the question is, “who’s right”? Both are.

Built to last

Scripture tells us clearly in Daniel 11 that the antichrist will sit in a physical temple and declare himself to be God. This will come with the initial adoration of the Jews. But in the fullness of time, as Zechariah 14 shows us, Jesus will return and rule the Earth from the Mount of Olives. Having destroyed the antichrist He will bring down the new, permanent, Jerusalem. Enthroned in His rightful place, He will wipe “every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21). 

One third Temple only

Here’s the clincher. There are only two possibilities for who is reading this post. The first option is that you’re waiting for the third Temple. Both Christians and unbelievers alike are on this Earth together at this point. The other possibility is that you’re living in a time of it being physically present. If the second possibility is true, then you have missed the Rapture of the Church. It also proves that no one bothered to take down this post, at which point I’m insulted. However, I’m glad you’re here. The people that went missing around you haven’t vanished. They’ll be back soon. Then, you’ll see what the real Temple of God looks like! But this is your opportunity to repent. Say these simple words, from the heart:

Dear Jesus, 

I repent of my sins. I agree with you that I sinned against You and Your perfect Law. I receive you as Lord and Savior of my life. I accept the free gift of Salvation. I know that it is not by anything that I have done that I have deserved this. I welcome you into my heart, my mind and my life. I thank you for Eternal Life that you have provided for me. 

In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Like sheep among wolves

Friend, if you have said that simple prayer, from your heart, you are born again. Whether you are in the Tribulation right now or still awaiting the Rapture of the Church, we want to encourage you. Find a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled church and look for ways to serve God by bringing this Gospel to others in your life.  God bless you

 

Where to begin….the rubble or our sins?

It is the third week of quarantine, I think. I say “I think” because all of the days have blurred into one. Thankfully, no one in our household has the Coronavirus. We wake up, do school work, eat, exercise, eat, repeat. Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter ask whether this whole Coronavirus situation is some kind of punishment from God because of our sin (plural). My question is: where to begin? the rubble or our sins?

Where to begin: our sins

I’m reminded of the song Pompeii by Bastille. The lyrics famously read, “where do we begin: the rubble of our sins”? I guess it’s a reasonable question to ask, but I doubt it’s a question for the Believer. As Believers we are not counted among the “judged”, we are counted among the redeemed.

As Christians we are steadfast in the belief that “all things work together for good for those who fear Him and are called according to His Purpose”. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul reassures us that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. So, whether we live through it or at some point succumb to it, we as Christians find ourselves in a Win-Win situation.

Now, I know that it’s trendy, at times, to take advantage of opportunities such as the one we’re in to tell people that this is all because of their sin. Sometimes many brethren are hoping to scare them into the Kingdom: as I’m sure many of us can attest to, it wasn’t fear that led us to Christ but conviction from the Holy Spirit. Fear, as we can attest from recent events, does not produce acolytes; it only produces submission and, over time, rebellion. In fact, I don’t remember Jesus scaring anyone into the Kingdom…not even those who had good reason to fear: Pharisees, Scribes, prostitutes, thieves, Judas Iscariot and so many others.

Where to begin: the rubble

I can still remember the weeks and months after the 9/11 attacks: churches, mosques and synagogues were bursting at the seams full of people that were literally running to God after the satanic events of those days. Here is the facts: the life of every human being is underpinned by one constant and one constant only: the search for meaning.  Most people are dead to their innate need for a connection to their Creator. Most of their lives are spent in the mundane and they try their hardest to keep life simple and mundane. We can see this from their wholesale avoidance of spiritual topics, discussion of sin, judging their own or the sin of others, including their refusal of life insurance: life insurance reminds them of one thing and one thing only: death.

When the walls fell

As the months passed, and the months turned to years, church attendance settled to its historic numbers. The committed stayed and the comical returned to their standard operating procedures. Of course, some had true life-changing experiences with the Lord Jesus Christ and remained in the flock but the vast majority were just looking for shelter for their heads like ostriches: their bodies fully in the secular and their heads in the churches just for the time being, waiting for the “all clear” sign to go back to their regularly scheduled programming.

Huff, and puff, and blow your house down

What am I saying? Well, just like the song, some will chose to begin with the rubble and others will address the sin. But, as Christians, it is not our place to scare them into the Kingdom but to love them into the Kingdom of God. Telling people that #Coronavirus is a judgement from God is a half-truth. These half-truths will not hold up under scrutiny. Ultimately, people remain broken disillusioned by scriptural checks Christians wrote that God never had intention of funding. We know that God’s judgement will come, and may be here sooner than we think, but His judgement will not be a trickling but a total overwhelming of humanity; it will not be because of homosexuality or abortion only, but for both and for much more.

The City that we love

Finally, when God comes to settle accounts, Scripture teaches us, it won’t be with just a 2% mortality rate. The death toll in the billions. This is not because He’s sadistic. Rather, it is because He is Just. I write to Christians that know this to be true. Calamities is not God telling us to preach fire and brimstone (John 3:17). We need to preach forgiveness and Sonship through our Lord Jesus Christ. Why else do we tell new believers to start reading the Bible with the Gospel of John and not Lamentations? We want to show them the Love of God through Jesus not what awaits the unbelievers in a lost eternity! Where to begin? Let us begin with our sins.

Again, God is not a God of calamity (2 Peter 3:9). He does not want death not does He delight in suffering. However, the devil is a big fan and a proponent of both. Brothers, sisters, we preach Christ and Christ crucified; we preach the Hope of Glory not the despair of the second death; we preach Life and life more abundant! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Come, let Us Pray Together!

What a day that we be, when my Jesus i will see, As He takes me by the hand and takes me to the Promised Land. What a day, Glorious day that will be!

Has your need to “know” and “understand” driven you to madness yet? How many times so far: once, twice, more? I agree that the heart of the apologist is to know and to understand but we should never loose sight of what our subject matter is: God! It is, by definition, impossible to know him fully, at least in this current life. The Bible teaches us that:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”. 1 Corinthians 13:12

Even the greatest apologist of all times, the Apostle Paul, knew that what really saved people was not “head knowledge” but the move of the Spirit in their lives. In fact, when speaking to the Corinthians, Paul writes:

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you declaring unto you the testimony of God, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom.For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not stand on the wisdom of man, but on the power of God.– 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (bold and underline are mine).

What a powerful revelation from the Apostle Paul: “that our faith should stand…on the Power of God”! Sometimes we might feel that we have an obligation to dump all of our knowledge on someone to win the argument and prove to them the rationality of our beliefs, almost as though it were up to us to defend the Word of God. That, fortunately could not be farther from the truth. In fact, it’s the other way around: it is the Word of God that defends us as we “put on the full armor of God…for we wrestle not with flesh” and since we do not wrestle with flesh, our battle cannot be and cannot be won in the body but through prayer and the reading of the Word. An unbeliever is not merely the person standing in front of you but the spirit of unbelief that is inside of them and that spirit is just as knowledgeable as you are which means that the only thing that can save that person is God through a miraculous work in their life.

The next time you find yourself at your wit’s end with trying to wrap your head around the whole Scripture or find that your apologetic is not working the way you thought it would, remember that apologetic is not a part of it not the only part and the battle is certainly not yours!.

The Faith of the Atheist

In a recent post, we were discussing the reasonableness of believing in God or, at least in “a god”. We discussed that believing in god from a temporal perspective is, in the least, highly favored by math and physics: since time must have begun at some point for there to be”today”, the reasonable conclusion is that either an external entity created space and time or, from a deist point of view, space-time created itself: either conclusions point to an “un-caused cause”; some of us refer to that as “God”.

We also discussed how, as a response to this unassailable truth, atheist will say that although what happened before the Big Bang is currently unknown, they trust (or have faith) that science will eventually find an answer. Now, coming from individuals that pride themselves on being evidence-based, this statement and others like it fly straight in the face of what they’re trying to prove: that there is no superior “thing”. Unfortunately for them, they do believe, or trust, in something greater: in their case, it’s science.

Now, in reading the previous post, a friend commented on Twitter that “you don’t have to believe in God to have faith”! To that, I can only reply: absolutely false! In fact, the Bible teaches that each of us (believers) were given a measure of faith [Romans 12:3]. However, the verse applies to believers! The faith in this verse refers to how believers should be honest judges of themselves in accordance with this faith that was given to them by God: meaning, if you are an layman don’t think yourself a pastor!

You see, the world, like my atheist friend, mistakes and misuses the word “faith”; they’re actually referring to trust. You have heard, certainly, people say things like “I have faith in my family” or “I have faith in my children” or “the government”. In fact, what they’re saying is that they trust their family, their children, their government, etc.. Trust is based on evidence. For example: I trust there is a God, ( I have evidence of this fact), I have faith in His Word (for which I need no evidence). People trust their family to do right by them; once that trust is broken, it takes faith on their part to trust again; faith that things will go back to the way they were.

Faith, the Bible says “…is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1]. The write of Hebrews makes it explicitly clear that faith is so much more than trust, it is the “assurance”, some translations read, of something not yet materialized: faith is evidence in something that is still far-off, not yet occurred. Faith is the Power of God’s promises; having faith, even as much as a mustard seed Jesus said, is the difference between being able to move the mountain or not!

You see, the term “faith” which unbelievers refer to and the world uses so interchangeably with “trust” lacks the power aspect that we as believers have come to expect and understand regarding the promises of God. For example, politicians make promises all the time and people put their trust in them and their promises all the time, unfortunately, they lack the power within themselves to enforce those promises on their own: they win elections based on promises and lose re-elections based on un-kept promises; spouses make promises to each other: to love, honor and cherish, and even those promises are too often only empty words. The faith placed in humans by humans is ephemeral, and unenforceable. Promise like “I will never leave you”, or “I will always take care of you” are emotional checks written by known fraudsters given to others who are they themselves hoping against hope that this time, it will be different.

Among humans, a promise made is as good as a promise broken, but the experience of a Born Again Christian is altogether different. The mature Christians build their lives around the promises of God, humanists build their lives on the promises of other people as well as the ones they make to themselves: I’m going to lose 20 pounds, I’m going to finish my degree; then, life and circumstance happen to us all. A stressful year at work and with no time to exercise, the treadmill collects dust; an unexpected baby on the way and the money that would have gone towards those last few credits now goes to replace the crib and stroller you threw out thinking you wouldn’t need anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, Christians make promises too and we take them very seriously, just like everyone else. In fact the Bible has some very strong advice: first on not making promises and second, on not breaking promises made, without being too wordy. It’s easier not to make a promise than to keep one but once the promise is made. In fact, the Bible teaches us [Matthew 5:33-37]:

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

So, one would say “what does this have to do with what we’re talking about”? The answer is simple. If we who are believers are strongly discouraged from making promises, taking oaths, swearing allegiances and the like and we believe in God, what hope is there for the promises, oaths and sworn allegiances of those who don’t believe. Please don’t misunderstand, my claim is not that Christians are better suited but simply that if those who believe that there is a higher power don’t take it upon themselves to enter into such bondage because of the risk of breaking such oaths, what chance is there for those who don’t believe?

In the end, what we’re actually talking about is self-sufficiency. The faith of the atheist is built around the self-sufficiency of mankind: I will do this, I will do that! These are all promises made to oneself for oneself by oneself. It is at the center of the heart-cry of every Caesar that’s come down through the ages and at the core of self-indulgence: me! The Christian perspective is built antithetical to this where “me” is third, under others, second, and God, first. Here’s why:

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” [Luke 12:16-21]

For Christians, making plans is a part of life just like everyone else. However, the key differenve is this: when secularists make plans they just, as Christians would say, “name it and claim it”; they manifest their intentions and work towards them wholeheartedly. In the Christian worldview this desire to make plans and see them come to life is not less present or real, the difference is that they’ll add a modifier: “Lord willing”! Christians understand and have come to terms with their own inability to be self-reliant. The secularist will say, just like the Christian, “I want to buy a new house next year” or “I think I’ll publish a short novel”; both of those things are great ideas for someone that is looking for fulfillment, but the Christian knows who, ultimately, is in charge, and it’s not them.

The crux of the matter is this: the secularist, the Darwinist, the naturalist, the atheist doesn’t ultimately recognize any higher authority than themselves. That is exactly why they claim to have “faith” but place it in secular frames of reference: the marriage, the kids, the friendships, the career, the family, etc. When, all if these things, in the fullness of time frustrate and delude them, what is left, too often, is someone whom deep inside knows their is a Creator but is angry because of the circumstances of life: they would have wanted Him to show Himself in those situations to prove His existence. But, unfortunately, God is neither a pet nor He is mocked. Had He helped you, you would have just as easily assigned it to a chance occurrence or a change of heart in others: that would not have improved your condition, only strengthened your resolve. My dear friend, if you are reading this and recognize yourself in these situations, believe that you are not here by accident. God loves you and is talking to you; don’t harden your heart any longer. We encourage you to repeat this simple prayer:

Dear Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart, I make you my Lord and Saviour!

Friend, if you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got “Born Again”. Find a good Bible-Based Church, keep God first place, and He’ll shows things you couldn’t even dream of!

God bless you!

Let My People Think!

Not “from”, nor “since”, but “IN”

I once heard it said that “if you talk to God, you’re religious; but if he talks back….well then, you’re just crazy!”

Too often the Church has been pigeon-holed into such corners by fast-talking and fast-thinking Bible deniers and have found themselves either feeling or being defeated or, even worse, converted! But the Truth, thankfully friends, is of a very simple nature. The Word says that “God has set eternity in the hearts of men” so that we may search for Him and find Him. God made the universe complex and intricate and immense so that, in the end, there can only be one takeaway and only one takeaway: A design points to a Designer!

Atheists will argue “everything comes from something, except in the beginning where it came from nothing” or “in the future we will know”. If that isn’t a statement of faith, I dont know what is! Then, they also take the liberty to ridicule us for saying “in the beginning, God“. Well they can’t have it both ways: they can’t ridicule believers while they themselves are believers of a non-god!

You see, what they fail to realize is that their beliefs are based on faith as well; just because their faith “is in nothing” they think themselves not religious: their God is, in effect…”nothing”. Just like the “Nothing” in the Never-ending Story, it’s still something: it advanced destroying everything in its path, leaving only darkness and space void of any sibstance at all. Where there was once morality, it replaces with subjectivism; where there was once “knowable Truth” it replaces with post-modern relativism. Now, in all fairness, I’m not saying that “all atheists” are immoral and relativistic. In fact, many will argue that they are “good people” and they would be right. Their problem is that they wouldn’t be able to define “good” or why they are “good” without having to borrow from absolutist religious tradition and worldviews. They may argue that goodness is “innate” without being able to point to the source of this goodness. In fact, their argument is made even more difficult to sustain in light of darwinistic arguments in favor of “survival of the fittest” and “selfish genes”. In essence, their argument points more and more to a “fallen” nature of man, as in the Judeo-Christian worldview.

So let us undo this overly generalized myth about atheists once and for all. They are not more rational, better-educated, super-partes, more objective scientific minds than your average believer in general and/or Christian specifically.

Their belief system starts after the initial moment of creation: they either chose not to engage it as an intellectual necessity (meaning “only the simple” would attribute it to a God) or just claim that there is not need for a creator because the universe could simply be ever-lasting and self-existing.

Here is the problem with that theory: in an effort to deny the existence of God, they have just created a different God. Part of the most basic definition of a God or deity is that it must be uncaused, meaning that it didn’t originate from something else. Here’s some basic math: the eternal past cannot exist or today would never be a reality! There would be an infinite number of days before getting to today. Ergo, today would never happen. So, since “today” is a reality, time must’ve had a beginning: either caused by an extern agent (God) or self-caused (being God). Therefore, whether you believe in a creator god (or gods, which we will address in a follow-up post) or believe the universe is self-causing, you are, by definition, not an atheist! If you believe that “something” has either always (unhinged from the constraints of time) existed or was and is self-existing, you are, by definition a believer in a “god”: an un-caused cause. Therefore, to say that there is no “need” for there to be a creator or something responsible for the “birthing” of the initial moment of creation is not just intellectually unnecessary but intellectually dishonest.

So the solution is really simple: either god created the big bang or the big bang created itself and therefore fits the definition of “god”. Either way, this just proves that there is no such thing as an “atheist”; at best, one may be “agnostic”, meaning “not enough information” or not enough information as to “which god” is the “real God”. For now, we will leave this particular piece for another time.

The Bible says that “in the last days, people will have a form of religion but deny its power”. This is the reason why people will say things like “I believe in God, just don’t believe Jonah was in the belly of a whale for three days” or that “Jesus couldn’t have been born of a virgin”. Unless your definition of “All-Powerful” is separate and distinct from everyone elses’, an All-Powerful God is able to make both of those two situations happen without much ado about nothing. Even an “atheist” would concede that everything came from “something”. Now if this “something” is so powerful that it started the universe, which is a miracle in its own right, why are people so perplexed when we hear of more recent “miracles”? It sort of works like this:

-The universe came from nothing. It came “into being” while creating the Laws for “being”: it broke, bent or suspended the Laws to create the Laws.

-A miracle is a suspension or a breaking of the Laws of Nature. Example would be: resurrection, turning back time, holding time still, levitating just by thinking it, etc.

-The story of Jonah and the story Jesus’ birth are therefore beliefs that can be held by perfectly rational people without a need to ascribe religious beliefs: if an agnostic scientist can make room in his/her mind for the Laws of Nature to be suspended, bent, or broken, the same can be said of that scientist’s view on Biblical accounts of miracles.

As you can see, none of this takes a degree in Astrophysics to see how plainly and how easily this argument can be made. So why is it that people struggle so profoundly with this simple Truth? The Bible teaches us that for those who blaitantly refuse the Truth “God has handed them over to a reprobate mind” so that they would not believe even when it is made as plain as day. The Bible also teaches us that “to live like there is no God makes you a fool”. What this simply means is that it’s better to believe and be wrong than not to believe and be wrong.

So, whether it is based on faith in God, simple math or a simple thought experiment, regardless of your personal hang-ups with God, it is better to believe than not to believe! Therefore: believe, search for Him and you will find Him when youbsearch for Him with all your heart. And lastly: be saved!

God bless you!