I Believe in Jesus Christ…Our Lord

…you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11, ESV

Lord – A master; a person possessing supreme power and authority; a ruler; a governor. (Noah Webster, Noah Webster’s first edition of An American Dictionary of the English language., 2006.)

If that doesn’t fit Jesus Christ, then there is no sense in pretending that Christianity has any meaning. There are a lot of people who would be happy about that today. Maybe even some Christians would shy away from such a definition of Lord in reference to Jesus. But, as far as I can tell, there’s no way to dodge the truth. Jesus Christ holds supreme power and authority, for he is God. He, therefore, is the ruler, or governor, of all the earth, including all of humanity. How do we know this is true?

“…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:18–23, ESV

I was raised as a dispensationalist by my God-fearing parents. However, 41 years ago, I found too many errors in the dispensational system of interpretation. The key for me was in the way you had to interpret the Bible. The dispensationalist would lay out his theological scheme, and all of Scripture had to fit within that scheme. The result was interpreting some passages that I could not make fit, even after I spoke to them with my dad, a professor at my dispensational college, or my pastor. Then, an uncle of mine, a man who diligently studied the Scriptures, started giving me some things to read. It finally struck me that the reformed tradition of interpretation interprets the difficult passages by using other passages.

To say that the light flashed in my head, and I could see many things that dispensationalists get very wrong. For example, there is not a hard and fast separation between the Old Testament and the New. The Church’s foundations were laid by the Hebrews. It became surprising to me that to understand the writings in the New Testament. I needed to learn and comprehend the Old. Okay, off of that and back to the Creed.

One of the things I learned in the Reformed Church and came to love was observing the Church Calendar. What I find sad today is that fewer and fewer churches continue this practice. Sure, they observe Christmas and Easter, but other celebrations in the church were dismissed. And, one of those is the Day of Ascension. I think that the ascension is critical for the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the day he was taken into heaven and seated at the right hand of God. It is like the ascension is the coronation of Jesus Christ. He reigns all creation as the Master of it all; or, as Lord of it all.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 1:4–6, ESV

Why is the current reign of Christ over all the kings of the earth so important to the Church. We all believe that, don’t we? I think most of us as Christians do believe. However, the Church was formed by Christ for a specific purpose. That objective is to further the growth of his Kingdom until it covers the whole earth. The job was actually the task Adam and Eve were supposed to accomplish when God gave them dominion over all he had created. Now, Christ has called his Church to fulfill the dominion mandate by spreading the leaven through the whole lump of dough (Matthew 13:33).

The issue is, how can we be the leaven if we do not remember that Christ is our master? He has given us the job, and he will not return until it is completed. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV) For me, the definitive historical event displaying the reign of Christ was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. Jesus returned to earth to finalize the end of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant was predicted during the time of the Old by Jeremiah.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31–34, ESV

It should be impossible to cite the Creed in worship without taking into account the current reign of Christ our Lord, and the work that is laid before us. In these troubled times, the Church must speak and live without fear. No matter the consequences, the Kingdom of our Christ moves forward by our holy living and speaking the only truth. We cannot bow before Jesus on Sunday mornings when we have not obeyed him the rest of the time.

Let us follow the Apostles’ example, who had the most challenging task of planting and tending the Church. We are called to continue on. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV).

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Everything is Racist?

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

Romans 1:28–32 (ESV)

I can’t help but think that all of America has gone mad. Every day, someone somewhere claims that something in normal life is racist. For example, go here. Some of these sources claim to some sort of expertise whether as journalists, politicians, university professors, or theologians. Some of Paul’s inspired words for these people include envy, foolish, heartless, and ruthless. Their baseless claims are slanderous and come from their hatred of God.

One might wonder why the most patriotic citizens in our country came from other countries to seek freedom. Yes, the freedom they celebrate is the same freedom others so easily denigrate. The sad part of our freedom of speech is that so many use it to freely express their inventions of evil, or maybe it’s just their ignorance. So many victims born in the United States!

The liberty so many generations fought and died for is the freedom to work hard in order to provide for family and self. It is the freedom to help others in need and to be self-governing good people. It is the freedom to fail, get up again, and amend our ways. It is the freedom to forgive.

Some people say time changes all things. I say that it is not time that changes things, it is sin that takes all that is good and transforms it into everything that is bad. Freedom to be righteous has become freedom to be self-righteous. Freedom to make one’s way through life has become a desire for a free ride. True caring for the poor or the oppressed has become public theft through illegitimate taxation that people who choose not to be responsible are essentially paid to remain irresponsible.

Ultimately, the greatest deception of sin, in my opinion, is to make us believe that hatred of our condition is actually a love of ourselves. Equal opportunity has become equal outcome whether the outcome is earned or not. When the outcome is desired but not earned, it is tragically wasted. Working for something validates the value of the thing worked for. To receive something for nothing makes the something worth nothing. Liberty that does not cost a weighty price is not liberty. It is merely licentiousness.

God says through Paul that because people refuse to worship God, he gives them up to their own depraved thinking. Apart from submission to the Creator, there is no meaning and no value in anything. So, in the mind of those who deny God the status and glory that is his by right, everything is racist because “of no value, that which is worthless” is the real definition of the word racism. And Americans now reap what Americans have sown.

All value is derivative from the only One who is ultimately valuable, the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has endowed his creation with value. This is especially true in regards to human beings, for we are created in God’s image. We were made to reflect the glory of God as mirrors of that glory. The image I see in a mirror is not me, but it is a representation of me. Therefore, we are not Gods but we were made to be representations of him. This explains why animals do not create things of beauty. We can see their beauty as creatures of God’s handiwork, but only human beings write poetry or great symphonies. Only those who bear the image of the creative God are creators of art, architecture, technology, and more. God gives us the raw material and using the knowledge, holiness, and righteousness within us we use this material to create wonderful things.

God’s goodness and grace are displayed in that even humans who refuse in sin to worship God use what God made them to be and create, rule creation, and work for one another. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous and waters their crops the same. At the same time, the wickedness of the unrighteous is also displayed when they oppress and murder, hate and destroy, cheat and steal. How do we know this? By the reality that God’s love, righteousness, and justice have never completely disappeared from his creation.

Moreover, God entered his creation in Jesus Christ and showed us once again how valuable his creation and his people are. Our value is the very life of Jesus, who was crucified to pay for our sin. His work was finished on the cross which was proven effective by his resurrection from the dead. The good news did not stop there, for, on his coronation day, he ascended to heaven to take his throne and fulfill his rule over the earth. (May the Lord forgive us for no longer celebrating Ascension Day.)

This is why Paul could boldly claim that haters of God deserved to die. He did not say it was our job to kill them, only that they deserved death. Denial of God is the denial of everything that is. Applying this to our country means that making claims of racism where no racism exists is proof of the rejection of God and his creation. Is there such a thing as racism? Has the government of the United States of America done injustice and evil? Yes, but the standard is the one set by the Creator and Law Giver to whom everyone and every institution owes obedience and worship.

Our judgment is not what condemns people, for only Jesus Christ has been given that function. Yet, we are to judge others’ actions so that we can strive to counter their wickedness with righteousness and justice. Please notice that I did not say “social justice.” Social justice is the creation of sinful man. It may be dressed up as God’s justice, but there is no substitute for the real thing. Social justice condemns. God’s justice displays his glory. God’s justice corrects evil, cares for victims of evil, and restores wholeness.

God’s justice has dealt with the injustice of racism. The United States paid a huge price for the lives destroyed by the legalized slave trade. But God’s justice prevailed and slavery was ended. Many black Americans paid a huge price for the Jim Crow laws. But God’s justice prevailed and discrimination was made illegal. In neither of these events did justice happen overnight. Today, there are still some vestiges of discrimination. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ rules from heaven and is recreating the earth according to the New Covenant. Now, as I see it, you can either scream about perceived racism and injustice, you can demand to get something for nothing, or you can actually receive something without cost, the grace of God in salvation from sin, and you can join the reclamation work of the Lord.

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:8–10 (ESV)

“…the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17 (ESV)

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I Believe in Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14, NKJV

Throughout the history of the Church, the identity of Christ and the dual nature of Jesus have been disputed. The Apostles’ Creed uses three designations that the orthodox faith requires to be held harmoniously. First, he is the Christ, Greek for the Hebrew term Messiah. Second, he is Jesus, who is to be identified more specifically in the following statements. Third, he is the only begotten Son of God. Each must be believed, not only individually but altogether as descriptive of the one person who is the second member of the Triune God.

During his life on earth, Jesus was both received and rejected as the long-awaited Messiah of the Jewish people. Sadly, even his disciples did not fully comprehend what this meant. When Jesus fed the crowds by Galilee, there were many there who would have made him King of the Jews on the spot. The Messiah was one anointed by God to become King according to the covenant made with David. This does not mean that the Jews understood what was meant, even though the Old Testament prophets expressed it.

David was a conquering king. He defeated Goliath, the Philistines, and Saul who had been disobedient before God. He had been hand-picked by God through the prophet Samuel. Whereas God had warned Israel against a human king, Saul became the proof of the pudding leading the people away from obedience. David was God’s response. He was no less human than Saul, but he was a man after God’s own heart. Despite his failings, the Kingdom of Israel became one of the most powerful in all the world.

Nevertheless, David was not the ultimate king. One was to come after him who would reign over the whole world. When Jesus came to earth, Israel was subjugated by the rule of Rome. The people’s hopes rested in what they believed was the promise of God to rule the world. True enough, but the arrogance of the Jews caused them to believe that they would rule the world as all other conquering empires before them. Time and again, God addressed this pride. His covenant with Abram was that all the people of the world would be blessed through his people. This is a far cry from a promise of domination by force.

One of the curious episodes in the Old Testament is that of the prophet Jonah. I think it is unfortunate that the part about the great fish has overshadowed the theological significance of Jonah’s call to proclaim God’s judgment to the Ninevites. We don’t see why Jonah tried to run from his duty to God until the end of the story. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:1–3, ESV) Jonah was angry with God for being gracious to a heathen nation. Poor Jonah, he had not been trained theologically. He knew God was merciful. The problem is that God was supposed only to be merciful to Israel!

God’s people did not understand. God was merciful to all who would repent. Sadly, Israel did not bow in humble repentance for her sins against God. When exiled, they whined, “O woe to us! God has forsaken us.”

By the waters of Babylon, 
there we sat down and wept, 
when we remembered Zion.  
On the willows there, we hung up our lyres.  
For there our captors required of us songs,  
and our tormentors, mirth, saying, 
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 
How shall we sing the LORD’s song 
in a foreign land?  
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,  
let my right hand forget its skill!  
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,  
if I do not remember you,  
if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!  
Remember, O LORD,  
against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem,  
how they said, “Lay it bare,  
lay it bare, down to its foundations!”  
O daughter of Babylon,  
doomed to be destroyed,  
blessed shall he be who repays you  
with what you have done to us!  
Blessed shall he be  
who takes your little ones  
and dashes them against the rock!” (Psalm 137, ESV)

The Messiah had fed his people, and they sought to make him their King. Jesus had to slip away from them “for it was not yet his time.” Interestingly, the hopes of the people were the reason the Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus. Their pride had become comfortable in their ruling over the people. It made them feel powerful, and they did not want to share the power they had acquired. Not much has changed over the millennia. Where are the righteous rulers of the people? As Ezekiel wrote, they were too busy eating the green grass and trampling the rest under their feet. They were too busy drinking the fresh water and fouling and muddying it under their feet.

Second, the Messiah is given a name, Jesus. How this came about is told in the gospels, and the creed goes into that soon enough. The fact that one appeared as a mere man claiming to be the Messiah was enough to raise doubt. The purpose of the miracles done by Jesus was to confirm that he was the Messiah sent by God. Jesus rightly pointed out that people seek a sign, but when they are given signs, they still do not believe. Signs are something material, tangible. How can the material prove the spiritual? This is why it is easy for people to con others into believing they have extraordinary powers from God. Ultimately, the false teachers are emperors running around with no clothes. Their riches amount to poverty, and their healings return only death.

An important aspect, though, to Jesus being a man is that he is also God. “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate…” (Historic Creeds and Confessions, electronic ed., (Oak Harbor: Lexham Press, 1997)). The Nicene Creed was a clarification of the statement in the Apostles’ Creed, though they were likely both written about the same time. Later, Chalcedon and the Athanasian Creed clarified the point all the more.

The problem was that men could not seem to wrap their brains around the two natures of Christ, both God, and man, divine and human. It’s not that I cannot relate to the difficulty. I cannot experience divinity, but I know all too well humanity. As much as the councils of the Church attempted to clarify the matter, the heresies of ancient times have continued in one form or another ever since. The term begotten does not mean born, though that is almost always what it means in the human world. In the case of Jesus Christ, though, begotten of the Father means that he proceeds from the Father, not that he was generated by the Father. Jesus was born of a woman, but he was not born of God in the same way. This will get clearer, or fuzzier, for that matter, as we continue with the creed.

However, the matter is not whether Jesus was born or not. The matter is that Jesus Christ is the ONLY Son of God. Yes, “…to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12–13, ESV) We have become children of God, but not begotten children of God. We have been adopted as his children, whereas Jesus is by nature the Son of God. On our best day, we can only claim to be created by God, not begotten of him. We are not deity. The closest we will ever come to deity is to share in our inheritance in Christ Jesus.

So, why all these definitions, details, and splitting of hairs? Because there is only one truth and thousands of lies. If we would know God, then we must know him as he is and as he has revealed himself to us. We don’t dare allow ourselves to create God in our image. We are created in his, and to know who we are, we have to know who he is.

It is not really about what we think we know, for if we are wrong, we can’t honestly believe.

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Cancel Culture

I just finished reading Gary DeMar’s latest article on American Vision. You can read it hear. It got me thinking, and I have come up with a few questions, some of which come from the article itself.

Why is it that it is acceptable for other religions to publicly display their beliefs but not Christianity? Why are atheists so insecure in their thinking that they feel the need to shut Christians up? Why are those who demand the Constitutional freedom of speech the same ones who would deny it for those who disagree with them? Why is it that a race of people who cannot get over the oppression of their descendants have no guilt or remorse for oppressing others in their quest for superiority? Why is it that companies and corporations believe that promoting deviant lifestyles will serve to increase their business?

Why is it that those who most hate being judged by their skin color hate others for theirs? Why is it that legal immigrants, many of whom came to America with much difficulty, love America and the Constitution more than many citizens by birth? Why do so many historians hate history so much that they are willing to make it up as they go along? Why is it that those who have not read an author’s work are often the ones who object so strenuously to its content? Why is it that the most ignorant among us can’t help but demonstrate that fact publicly? Why is it that institutions of higher education turn out so many poorly educated people?

Why is it that the people who object to the pledge of allegiance because we are not a nation under God are the ones who have no problem spending money with In God We Trust printed on it? Why is it that you can often tell the nature of one’s spirituality by counting how many times they take the Lord’s name in vain? Why is it that someone so quickly uses the words God and Jesus Christ as expletives, but no one uses the name Buddha or Krishna this way? Why is it that an organization that hates the gospel of Jesus Christ and deceitfully manipulates its members can call itself a church?

Without having any good answers to these questions, this middle-class white male is not giving up or giving in. After all, watching those who differ ideologically with me go ballistic when I defend my faith that, though there may not be a white culture, there is undoubtedly a Christian culture that for over two millennia has provided developments in science, medicine, technology, books, music, and so much more. Their screaming and antics are more fun to watch than anything on T.V. these days.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1–4, ESV

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1–5, ESV

Then I fell to my knees, and looked up toward my Lord, and said, Thank you for answering all my questions. Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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I Believe in Jesus Christ, 1

The second section of the Apostles’ Creed will take more time to investigate. The foundation of life is in the first: I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Without the knowledge of God as he has revealed himself, there is no life. I read a lot about a Christian World View. I cannot deny such a thing, and I would not even try. However, without the Father, there is nothing to follow.

There are many (too many to know) who believe in a god. Some even acknowledge the creator. Yet only a tiny percentage of those who have faith in God will say that God was revealed to humankind by general and special revelation. General revelation is the creation and the providence of God in caring for and sustaining creation. Special revelation is the Word of God, which includes his words and deeds historically and recorded in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, and the person Jesus Christ.

The Word of God is both the Bible and Christ, and both have been attacked throughout history. To say “I believe in Jesus Christ” has frequently been difficult. This is not because it is hard to believe but because of the persecution from the world that follows. “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19, ESV) Opposition to faith in Christ comes from atheists, scientists, politicians, scholars, educators, and even churches. The devious ways to eradicate Christ are the result of original sin. And I don’t use the word devious lightly.

First, I am convinced that many who oppose Christ don’t do it intentionally. They genuinely believe things that they have been taught. If schools refuse to teach creation and replace it with only one option, evolution, what will children believe? However, some intentionally use their scholarship, science, entertainment, and lifestyles to contradict the Word of God, and John has a name for them. “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22, ESV) John does not call one person with international power The Antichrist. He says there are many antichrists, those who lie and deny Jesus.

Therefore, to say “I believe in Jesus Christ” is a dangerous thing to do. The forces of worldliness have made their strides and have become vocal and violent. How did this happen within a nation that was founded on God and Christ? So, second, it is a subtle shift that began with some small things. For example, the beginning of public education was presented as a good thing, and it could have been. Yet, those who initiated it were socialists (though the term was not used at the time), and they knew that to transform the world, they had to indoctrinate the children. Horace Mann advocated for “free” public education with an agenda.

No one did more than he [Mann] to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends.

Cubberley, Ellwood P. (1919). Public Education in the United States. p. 167

Non-sectarian means no Jesus Christ. You see, Christ has often been viewed as a myth created by the religious sect called Christianity. It’s not that they wanted to exchange Christian faith for something else, at least in their thinking. But, there is no neutrality possible within a world created by God or came about in any other way. Either you are a Christian, or you are not. Either you profess faith in Jesus Christ, or you do not. Once that distinction is recognized, it becomes clear that the two options are all that is. To believe in Jesus Christ means to not believe in any system of thought that is contrary to Jesus Christ. And when I say contrary to Jesus Christ, just like with God the Father, he must be the Jesus Christ revealed in his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return as recorded in all of Scripture.

Any system of thought that is not Christian is thus of this world. If it is of this world, then it is a creation of the human mind. That is Humanism. Again, as with God the Father, humanism has no basis for its moral claims. There is no foundation for ethics apart from God, who created it all and judged those who came up with the first expression of humanism. And there is no solution to humanism other than Christianity.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:16–32, ESV

For me, this is one of the most powerful statements of the gospel in all of the New Testament. It at once presents the way of salvation then details from which people need to be saved. Use any metaphor you like. It all comes out the same. Drowning in the ocean comes to mind, for there is only one way to survive drowning. You must be grabbed and taken from the water and given proper treatment.

Why are we allowing our world to teach our children to drown? I need to re-evaluate my faith in Jesus Christ anytime temptation from humanism arises. I need to become deeper in my commitment and devotion to him. I need to focus on that which is truly good, not what looks good.

He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 3:30–36, ESV

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Filed under Faith, Gospel, Humanism

I Believe in God

The Apostles’ Creed begins where the Bible begins. “In the beginning, God….” Everything starts here. No God, no anything. Yet throughout the history of the world, humankind has worked diligently in denying God. Today, the common words in the effort are Atheists, Agnostics, and Evolutionists. There are many more, but I think these could be the big three. Why is there such a concerted effort to deny God? Because the original sin was the act of trying to be God. The knowledge of good and evil in the garden was more than merely knowing good and evil.

“God had given such a sacramental nature and significance to the two trees in the midst of the garden, that their fruit could and would produce supersensual, mental, and spiritual effects upon the nature of the first human pair. The tree of life was to impart the power of transformation into eternal life. The tree of knowledge was to lead man to the knowledge of good and evil; and, according to the divine intention, this was to be attained through his not eating of its fruit.”

Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 1:53. Emphasis mine.

Gaining eternal life was not achieved by eating fruit. It was, as stated above, sacramental. Likewise, knowledge of good and evil could not have been attained by eating fruit of a specific tree. The understanding of good and evil came from obeying the word of God, which was tested by NOT eating the fruit. It, too, was sacramental in nature. My point is that there is no knowledge of morality and ethical behavior apart from obedience to God’s word. We know that word is powerful, for the creation of all that materially exists came from God speaking, “Let there be…”

Sin runs rampant in the world because the world does not honestly know good and evil apart from the word of God. Good is who and what God is. Evil is who and what God is not. Humanity was created good. God said so. He even went into greater detail, saying, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:26–31, ESV)

In the beginning of all things, God displayed his might in creating by his word. I believe in God the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. And God also displayed his fatherly nature by blessing humanity and giving them purpose in maintaining his creation, expanding his creation, and using his creation to bring glory to God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Any denial through thought or act of this God is damnable sin and worthy of only one end, death.

This is why atheists who deny the existence of God, agnostics who accept the possibility of God but will go no farther, and evolutionists who claim that their scientific minds prove that there never was a God are to be condemned. (An important note, though, is that it is God who judges, not individuals. These God deniers, as with all God deniers, are created by God. Their very humanity grants them some dignity. However, their denial of God is a brutal battle that is waged within all they know in their being. As creatures of God, they deserve to hear the gospel offer of salvation, which to me means to oppose their positions without opposing their personhood.)

Within all of this, there is a cleverness to God. Everyone who exists only finds life and order because God the Father Almighty created them and the world in which they live. For example, anyone who follows the idea of evolution to its logical end must conclude that all morality is merely a convenience. There is no reason a stronger person should not swindle the weaker. In all truth, by evolutionary thinking, the stronger person should actually gain respect for exhibiting their strength. Experience, though, condemns the swindler as a criminal, deserving punishment for their theft of those who are weaker. If evolution is true, there could be no PETA because there could not possibly be an ethical reason to treat any animal “humanely.”

Every God denier lives their life on the borrowed principles of God the Father Almighty. This is the great deception. If science is really about discovering the workings of the world in which we live, scientists must acknowledge a creator-God’s existence. If they do not, the core principle of science, which is the verification of theory by repeatable testing, is just plain stupid. Why should anything repeat with regularity if our very being came from an unrepeatable event, so statistically impossible, end up creating an order in which we can trust the same outcome to be the result of a common cause?

The fundamental problem any God denier has is the inability to discover the first cause of all things. They can make claims to that end, but there is no evidence that can support their claims. This is because science only deals with that which is material. And the first cause of material is the word of God the Father Almighty. The business of science has devolved from investigation into attempts to control the material world. Scientists have become magicians who actually believe their manipulation of human perception is in itself reality.

Magic is very basic to modern science. The Biblical purpose of science is that man should seek knowledge in order that he might exercise dominion over the earth under God. Science in this sense is a necessary activity and sphere of knowledge for Christian cultures. But science today bypasses God and seeks to gain power without restraint and seeks knowledge as a tool of total power. Increasingly, science functions, not under the law of God, but as the new law of creation, as the new source of law and power. Instead of being governed by morality, science seeks to govern morality and to remake it in terms of its own standards. The purposes of science can be summed up as prediction, planning, and control. Science is thus a basic and essential part of the new politics, because their goals coincide; they are both clearly totalitarian. A scientific world is a controlled world, a world of experimentation, and valid experiments require a control of all factors. As a result, scientific society is a planned society, a society in which there is no liberty, because liberty is not possible in a situation of scientific planning. As a result, the more our culture is dominated by this new science, apostate science, the more totalitarian it will become. Modern science not only rests on magic, it is a form of magic; it is the belief that all things can be potentially or ultimately controlled by man.

Rousas John Rushdoony, Law & Liberty, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2009), 70–71.

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. This claim is not proof of the existence of God. Faith is the substance of life. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV) The Greek word translated “assurance,” is hupóstasis. The verb from which it comes does not appear in the New Testament. Hupóstasis is “the essential or basic structure/nature of an entity, substantial nature, essence, actual being, reality…of things: among the meanings that can be authenticated for Hb 11:1 a strong claim can be made for realization.” (William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature, 2000, 1040.)

In light of this meaning, I prefer the translation of the King James Version: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV 1900) Why do I prefer this translation? Because it makes Biblical faith, or saving faith, is more than simple belief. It makes faith the bottom line for all human beings. Faith is substance and evidence. Therefore, faith takes us to things that exist that are not seen, and it makes the Christian hope more substantial than wishful thinking. Faith is what it would take for Adam and Eve to fulfill their created calling and purpose. Faith is what it would take to grow spiritually by the sacramental eating the fruit from the Tree of Life and by sacramentally not eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

All of this is wrapped up in the first statement in the Apostles’ Creed. No one can comprehend this kind of faith who does not have it, and no one can deny it who has been granted such faith. What is difficult for all humans to fathom is that everyone who does not have this faith is morally accountable, but everyone who has such faith cannot claim to have achieved it through any effort of their own. Belief in God the Father Almighty is something that becomes ours only by God’s grace. Once again, Fatherhood speaks to this free gift by grace. As loosely paraphrased from Paul in Ephesians 2, faith cannot be earned by working for it, but it is given so we can work toward the godly domain over his creation.

I realize that this post is quite explanatory and didactic. Yet, I would suggest that we are called to know who God is and who we are in relation to him. Apart from that knowledge, we cannot possibly serve God’s glory. And, by the way, knowledge comes by not eating of worldly things but by feasting on the Word of God. By this, we are being recreated and restored to God’s image.

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I Believe…

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:8–9, ESV

The earliest creed of the Church were the words of Christ in Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is the core of the faith. Faith, as 

Paul says is confession and belief. I would say that without belief, there is no possibility of confession. And, without confession, there is no assurance of belief. This is why I believe that it is unlikely a person can claim belief in their salvation apart from their membership and attendance in a church. In the first place, all people believe false things. Belief must be founded upon something, and there is no other foundation than the Word of God. Yes, Jesus is the Word. But he does not walk the earth today as he did in the years from his birth to his death and in his resurrection. So, not willing to leave his Church without his physical presence, he gave us the gift of his authoritative Word in the Scriptures, and nowhere else.

How do we know these things? Because he says so in the Bible: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV) Returning to Paul’s testimony in Romans 10, how can a person believe if he does not hear. Thus, secondly, our understanding of what the Church is and does comes down to hearing and believing. “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.” (Matthew 28:20, ESV) I conclude that one cannot believe what they do not know, and the way God has provided for this necessity is the preaching and teaching of the Word. Such is done in the Church and not alone. We give heed to the Holy Spirit as giving us understanding, but, this work is not done in a vacuum.

Third, confession is made by the mouth, i.e., speaking. This must be done in a public setting, for there is no profit in confessing to yourself. In the Church, we have been given a fantastic compilation of creeds and confessions that allow us to profess our faith. While it is true that various confessions are not equally helpful, they are, nonetheless, a systematic compendium of the things we are to observe. Being the creation of men, they are not infallible, and they may be altered if necessary. The key, though, is that creeds and confessions are not the work of one person but many. They have origin in the life and history of the church.

One such creed is the Apostles’ Creed. The evidence tells us that this creed was not authored by the Apostles. It is to me highly improbable that the Apostles wrote the creed and never recorded this in all of the New Testament writings. Certainly Luke would have included such an important event in The Acts of the Apostles. Nothing in that book even suggests such an event. Yet, over time, the Apostles’ Creed has been accepted as a brief statement of Apostolic teaching. Going back to Matthew 28, the first act of faith is baptism.

Christ requires baptism. Nowhere in Scripture is the sacrament of baptism with water defined as to how baptism is to be done, so all the disputes over this matter are frivolous wastes of time. Virtually all Christendom recognizes the symbolism of washing away our sins in baptism. And Christ said that baptism is a public profession of faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I would say, though the symbolism may be an assurance for the one being baptized, it is definitely a testimony to the Church that Christ washes away our sin. Every Christian needs this reminder often. Traditionally, prior to the baptism, confession is made of the faith. The most lasting confession for this has been the Apostles’ Creed.

The Creed is a confession that we believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Church is trinitarian at the core. Failure to believe the Trinity is a failure of faith. Included in our faith are statements identifying each member of the Trinity and their work in salvation.

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And (I believe) in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary;

suffered under Pontius Pilate;

was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell;

the third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,

and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit;

I believe a holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints;

the forgiveness of sins;

the resurrection of the body;

and the life everlasting. Amen.

Daniel R. Hyde, Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims, (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2010), 4.

I have not found a better account that includes the essentials of faith. The creed can be a starting place for the study of the Scriptures. There is a plethora of Biblical information teaching us each point. 

In my next blog, I will begin to address the theology encapsulated in the Apostles’ Creed. However, I encourage every one to become a member in a Christian Church and participate in worship that includes, at least some times, the Confession of the Apostles’ Creed. It reminds us of our faith. It teaches our children about faith. And in the process, we will be transformed into more substantial, wiser Christians.

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Filed under Covenant, Faith, Gospel

PEASAGLE #2

The horror you inspire has deceived you, and the pride of your heart, you who live in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill. Though you make your nest as high as the eagle’s, I will bring you down from there, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 49:16, ESV

“Behold, the day! Behold, it comes! Your doom has come; the rod has blossomed; pride has budded.

There is an old proverb, “Pride goeth before a fall.” It comes from the Bible. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, ESV) Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and it has a lot to say about pride. “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13, ESV) “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” (Proverbs 11:12, ESV) “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.” (Proverbs 21:24, ESV) “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23, ESV)

Pride is sometimes challenging to define. When I have written or preached about pride, I often get a response, “Isn’t it ok to be proud of your work or of something you have done well?” The first definition of pride in a dictionary is, “Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.” (Noah Webster, Noah Webster’s first edition of An American Dictionary of the English language., 2006.) This is the definition of pride that I believe explains the sin of pride.

This is not to deny that the word pride has other meanings. Among the many definitions offered by Webster is this one, “Generous elation of heart; a noble self-esteem springing from a consciousness of worth.” (Webster, 2006) Most of the definitions, though, include the negative aspect. In Webster’s first definition, notice the words inordinate, unreasonable, lofty airs, and contempt. Not very flattering.

Theologically, the argument can be made that the sin of pride is essentially a failure to recognize one’s place in creation and status before God. As created beings, there can be no pride in who we are because everything we are is God’s gift in making us in his image. The only thing we have ever brought to our being is sin. Our joy, exaltation, and appreciation of the creation are merely recognizing who God is and results in worshipping him. However, all of that joy and worship are marred by sinful pride.

Every other sin boils down to pride. Sin declares that I am greater than God. I get to choose my destiny. Yet, the problem is there are more people than just me. These people are all influenced by pride, too. So, everyone is at odds with everyone else because our pride demands that we are each god. As Israel learned a few millennia ago, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV) Pharaoh was a proud ruler over Egypt. The Pharaohs were gods to the people. Therefore, the one God had to crush the little god and his followers revealing that there is no other. Each of the plagues Moses brought to Pharaoh was an attack on a specific Egyptian god.

Sadly, we humans never seem to learn. This all-powerful God who defeated Egypt and drowned the Egyptian army was their God. He had called them. He had made them a nation. So why did they whine about being in the desert, about being thirsty and hungry? The Israelites even began to say that they should go back to Egypt. (Keith Green writes a great song about this.) If you think about it, the only answer is their pride made them think they could control God. I’m hungry, so feed me!

Israel continued throughout its history to express their pride. God always responded with the principle he expressed in his Law.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Exodus 20:2–7, ESV

Pride, it turns out, is the fundamental problem in all disputes. In our world, pride runs rampant. I used to like to play and watch sports. Not so much anymore. It used to be that some of the greatest players scored a touchdown without some kind of display, saying, “In your face, man, I’m better than you.” End zone dances, flips, stunts took the joy out of watching for me. When the NFL wanted to curtail such demonstrations, the fans complained about it along with the athletes. Now athletic pride shows itself in athletes thinking that their opinions outside of sports should be more highly valued than those within the field they are talking about. Colin Kaepernick knelt during the traditional Star Spangled Banner. LeBron James brought Black Lives Matter to the NBA.

Even the idea of Critical Race Theory rests upon some kind of prideful belief that one race should be treated better. Ok. Aside from the fact that race itself is a human construct dividing people, is it really reasonable to claim that all white people are inherently evil racists? Even the President, with hubris, declared that white supremacy is the greatest threat to America today. I say the greatest threat to America is pride. Too bad I don’t have an athletic platform to exploit.

Please excuse my sarcasm. Some things need the light of the Gospel to highlight them. Paul had a great solution to pride, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV) That is the test for pride. The word more significant means “to be of surpassing or exceptional value—‘to be exceptionally valuable, to surpass in value, to be better.’” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains, 1996, 1, 620.)

Just think. If we all saw everyone else to be of surpassing or exceptional value, there would be no disputes, no theft, no covetousness, no crime. We would never worry that we are getting ripped off. There would be no pornography, very different television, and music and books without adult content labels. That day will come. In the meantime, we can turn to Jesus Christ.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:4–8, ESV

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Filed under Love, Racism, Sin, World View

PEASAGL

There is a long tradition in the Church that speaks of Seven Deadly Sins. When I learned them, my instructor suggested the acronym PEASASGL: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust. Though there is no one place in Scripture that puts these seven sins together, Paul comes close in Romans 1.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:21–32, ESV

Paul did not worry about what people thought. I was concerned first and foremost with what God thought, and he was not afraid to express it. It is not hard to spot all seven of these sins in our world today. They have been with us from the beginning. However, that does not excuse their presence. “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” We should not be surprised by the evil men do and the evil they devise.

My question is, when did the Church decide to stop calling these things sin and join in approving those who practice them? When did the Church stop preaching about PEASAGL? I have no answer. The apostles did not hesitate to identify false teachers and heretics in the Church. When was the last time you heard the voice of the Church in harmony declare something as heresy?

I grant you that we should be cautious about using the term heresy. Many things have been called heresy that are not, and many things that are heresy that are not called heresy. The reformers called the teachings of the Roman Church heresy and the Church called the reformers heretics. We should be even more careful about using the word heretic. Were both wrong? That’s a whole other discussion. My point is that there are some things the Church Universal agrees as essential to faith (the Apostles’ Creed), and they used to agree on PEASAGL.

I say used to because sin is something we order for dessert, not something we do contrary to God’s holy will. I believe that some of the problem is due to the fact that though we are declared righteous in Christ, we all still commit sin. Yet, I believe that there has been another change in the world. We have cast off reason for emotion. What feels right is right. Such a thought is itself the sin of pride. It is the original sin.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18, ESV

The day we became more concerned about other’s feelings than truth is the day that sin won. Yes, people’s feelings do matter. God’s Truth matters more, and this is why Paul wrote what he did in Romans 1. Today, the Church chooses which parts of Scripture to observe and which parts to cast off. That whole part about God giving those who deny him over to unnatural passions sticks out to me. Notice that denial has to do with truth, and passions have to do with feelings. Paul defines unnatural passions as homosexuality. Isn’t it interesting how the glorification of homosexuality today is through Pride parades and Pride gatherings? Pride is often called the chief sin because all other sin begins with and flows out of pride.

So, not only are these people proud to be sinners, they flaunt their sin publicly. But it goes a step further. Those who disagree with them and celebrate their sin are labeled as phobic of one sort or another. There is no discussion about the matter. Name-calling, another emotional response, is how it is defended. All the while, God is calling out, “Come, let us reason together.”

Then, the Church, the body of Christ in the world, decides that homosexuality is ok because those parts of God’s word are judged to be archaic and culturally irrelevant. Of course, humans judge it to be so because culture determines who God is, what God says, and what God means. Indeed, an all-loving god would not deny us our passions! Nowhere does God tell us to be disciplined, obey Christ’s commands, and be holy even as he is holy. The Church has become sinful. It is a holy thing to do to welcome those who practice such deviant things into our midst. It is there they can learn what God’s love really is. As Isaiah reports God’s message, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

If we don’t preach about sin, we have nothing to offer the world. We preach sin because sinners can be cleansed and made whole through the blood of Jesus Christ. But, that’s ok. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The reality is that we all don’t want our feelings hurt. So much so that we are willing to allow God’s beautiful creatures to spend eternity in a hell where their feelings will never stop hurting.

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Filed under Sin, World View

Fear

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:7–9, ESV

Fear wants us to give up. That is the easy thing to do. In the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the character George Bailey gets so pressured by a run on the bank that he fears losing the bank altogether. In his fear, he wishes he had never been born. That is the ultimate fear, one that brings us to the edge. George Bailey wishes he had never been born. Others who think they should never be born take it one step farther – suicide. Nihilism is giving up.

Nihilism (ˈnaɪɪˌlɪzəm) n 1 a complete denial of all established authority and institutions. 2 Philosophy. an extreme form of scepticism that systematically rejects all values, belief in existence, the possibility of communication, etc.. 3 a revolutionary doctrine of destruction for its own sake. 4 the practice or promulgation of terrorism. [C19: from Latin nihil nothing + -ISM, on the model of German Nihilismus] ▶ ˈnihilist n or adj ▶ ˌnihilˈistic adj

Collins English Dictionary, 2000.

Reading through this definition of nihilism, I concluded that this is what is being played out in America right now. I’m not claiming that people are running around saying they are nihilists. What I see, though, are the distinct characteristics of nihilism in the actions of many around us. The denial today goes beyond the “denial of all established authority.” It is a claim that all of the values of the past are evil. The word used most often is racist. The idea that all white people are racists because they are white is reason enough to “cancel” them. Thus, we are living in the chaotic waters of “cancel culture.”

Moreover, anyone who listens to the logic of white non-culture (because the whites got all their culture by stealing it from other cultures anyway) is a racist too. Lately, if you support Israel, you are reprimanded for being unsympathetic with Hamas. Nihilistic tendencies are not well thought out, and there is an emphasis on feeling over logic. The Church has been no help in preventing nihilism. Either she has been accused of being an authoritarian tool to manipulate non-white races and subjugate them, or she has joined the bandwagon by focusing self-centered worship focused on how you feel as you are walking out the door.

When I was younger, I couldn’t help wondering how a family could be so kind and encouraging while they were at church yet bicker and argue all the way home. I cannot tell a lie; I was one of them. Almost every time I went with my friend to his church, I was crying toward the end and dying to go forward for the altar call. Feelings don’t last. You can be happy one moment and outraged the next. Listen carefully to the crowd at a professional sporting event. When the home team does something great, there are cheers. A three-point shot goes through the hoop, and the people are thrilled. They didn’t hear the whistle of the referee calling a foul on the shooter. What do you hear then?

Against modern-day conceptions, Christianity is not a religion made by white people to enslave any other people group. Granted, there are many who, years ago, chose to be selective in the passages of the Bible they wanted to read and interpret. But that is no reason to say all people devoted to the Bible’s truths are wrong. Before and after the Civil War, plenty of men owned slaves and even defended this practice from the Bible. We can never forget that the Bible can be sliced up and interpreted almost any way you want. Many unscrupulous people in the church’s history have used the Bible for their personal gain. I think that is why Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42, ESV)

I believe that Paul is saying something similar when he writes to the Christians in Galatia, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows.” No matter what anyone says and no matter what anyone does, there is a consequence. The wisdom of this statement has been used in a shorter version, “You reap what you sow.” You sure do. And so do I. Sometimes we get a taste of the suffering we have caused while we walk this earth. Whatever the case, we will all stand before Christ, ad he will judge our works.

Therefore, the angels could say to God’s people, “Fear not.” You see, if you have given yourself to Christ, he has washed away our sin. How can this be? Indeed, I am as evil as the guy burning down a store enraged about something they never really experienced themselves. I tend not to show it that way, but my heart is the same. There is but one difference, Jesus has reaped what I have sowed. He took the righteous judgment I deserve and nailed it to the cross.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

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