Christians and sin

Christians particularly condemn those sins they’re least likely to commit. Those sins are given special attention.

Homosexuality for example.

Certain terms have been applied to homosexuality and homosexuals to describe how sinful they are: such as “sodomy” and sodomite”. What could more blatantly illustrate their depravity considering God destroyed the city of Sodom because of its homosexual associations?

Or did He?

Of course He destroyed Sodom and we are told God destroyed it because of its sin – but was homosexuality the primary sin that moved God to destroy that city?

The ONLY place in scripture where we are told specifically WHAT Sodom’s sin was is in Ezekiel 16

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen

OUCH! ” …arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy… ”
That hits much closer to home than the common idea that homosexuality in Sodom specifically caused God to destroy the city.
It covers areas of sin that Christians are NOT so keen to address.

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Sin Matters

I’ve just submitted the following as a comment on Jeff Weddle’s Anti-itch Meditation blog after reading his latest article.

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For a lot of my early Christian life I saw God as loving and forgiving, to the extent that sin didn’t really matter. Of course I knew sinning was wrong, but if I sinned God would forgive me anyway.

I tried to avoid sin (well, I tried a little bit, without much conviction) but occasionally I even reasoned with myself that I could just give in to temptation THIS time because God would forgive me afterwards.

 

Maybe that kind of thinking is common, because I’ve often heard Christians (even long term Christians) saying it’s impossible for us not to sin. They think such talk is “spiritual” and gives glory to God because we are nothing without His love and forgiveness.

In reality such talk is a cop-out, continually excusing ourselves of responsibility, not far from the claim that “the devil made me do it”, but amended slightly to “my sinful flesh, or my sin nature, made me do it”.

 

Some go to the other extreme and claim that genuine Christians won’t sin, or even more extreme CAN’T sin.
All kinds of strange ideas being preached and believed…

 

I have come to realise that yes I’m human and I sometimes sin – but I hope I’ve learned and grown enough in my faith that I sin a lot less than I did as a new Christian, and hopefully I’m not falling into the same old “basic” sins that may be understandable for someone new to the faith.

I don’t expect to sin. I don’t consider sin inevitable in my life. But I don’t consider myself immune.
God equips the believer to be free of sin. But IF we sin “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” and “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Seeing sin as inevitable in our lives sets us up for failure and gives us an excuse for that failure.
If I see freedom from sin as an achievable target, I might not actually hit the bullseye, but I’m more likely to get close than I would if I didn’t aim for it at all.

Jesus, Hell Fire, and Claims of Unfairness

Today I’ve seen some comments on a news website, in which Jesus was being criticised because of his “hell-fire” preaching.

Firstly some might jump to His defence and claim that He wasn’t a hell-fire preacher, that He came and preached love. However the fact is that most references to hell, and people being condemned to hell came from Jesus Himself.
But is that a reason for anyone to condemn Jesus or His teachings?

After that most famous of bible verses (John 3:16) we can read the following:

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And yet, I’ve seen even that kind of statement criticised, with claims that it’s unfair for people to be condemned merely for not believing in Jesus.

There are probably many deep and complex arguments to explain why there’s no unfairness involved, but I think the following very simple analogy is sufficient.

We start with a sinking ship where passengers and crew have no way to survive without outside help.

If a rescue party is sent to save those on the doomed ship, should the rescue party be criticised if some of the ships passengers refuse to leave the vessel?
Should the rescue party be condemned for warning the passengers of their inevitable fate should they choose to remain on the ship?

Is it the rescuers fault if someone on the ship refuses to believe in, or put their trust in them and choose to stay where they are?

As a comparison to the above bible quote:

The rescue team weren’t sent to the sinking ship to condemn those on board to a water grave, but to save them from inevitable death.
Those who believed in the rescuers weren’t condemned to drown, but those who rejected the rescuers had no chance at all, because they rejected their only hope of being saved.

USA – the most psychopathically homicidal nation on earth?

The USA is clearly the most homicidally psychopathic nation in the “developed” world – if not the whole world.

At least that’s the case if the US President, a large number of Republican politicians, and the NRA are correct.

What other conclusion could be drawn if the never ending string of US gun massacres is the result of mental health issues and not guns?

Is mental health really the reason the USA has a regularity of mass shootings not experienced elsewhere in the developed world?

If we rule out the gun fetishism that makes American gun ownership and availability far exceed any other “developed” nation, and if we accept the frequent claim that mental health issues and not guns are the cause of these mass shootings – what does that say about the mental health of Americans in comparison to the mental health of those everywhere else

Maybe American political authorities should consider the clear implication of their claims before diagnosing their nation.
And maybe the general population should consider the mental health of their politicians – at least of those who continue to kowtow to the gun lobby while the gun massacres continue to kill and maim their sons and daughters, husbands and wives.

Again and again and again and….

No other developed nation comes close to the rate of US gun violence. Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every adult.

Data from the Gun Violence Archive reveals there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – every nine out of 10 days on average

From the article article here:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2017/oct/02/america-mass-shootings-gun-violence

Confusion Breeds Dependency

This is what Paul said about Jesus providing mature “ministers” of various types to serve the body of Christ:

 

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ”

 

However, in practice in the church today, I think the reality is more in line with the following from Jeff Weddle’s latest blog post.

 

“The Church has routinely made theology complex. We’re told the Bible is too hard for us to understand.
You would think the Church would get busy teaching people how to use the Bible. You would be wrong.

The Church wants you confused, because your confusion means their job security.”

 

The question I think we need to consider – is what can (and should) we do about it?

Below is a link to Jeff’s full article.

anti-itch meditation

The US tax code is a mess. It’s one of the more complicated things on the planet, even more than DNA at this point.

Efforts to simplify the tax code have repeatedly been shot down. Leading the resistance are accountants!

The US legal code is increasingly complicated. Lawyers don’t seem to mind.

Professional investors want you to be confused by the markets and dividends and bonds and stocks. It’s too much, just give me your money and I’ll invest for you (for a fee).

Football rules are becoming more complicates. We can’t even tell what a catch is anymore. Outcomes of games are determined more and more by referees.

“Keep It Simple, Stupid” is one of those phrases you hear in life that makes sense, yet why do so many do the exact opposite?

The more complicated a thing becomes, the more people in authority get power. Confusion breeds dependency.

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The Rapture – When Does the Bible Place it?

In my late teens I displayed a sticker in my car warning passengers that their driver could disappear at any time. It was a sticker made possible (and popular) by the expectation of the imminent rapture – when Jesus would return secretly, without warning, to snatch His people from the earth, prior to the period described as “The Tribulation”, when God would start pouring out His judgement on the non- believers who were left behind.

I accepted that “pre-tribulation rapture” teaching for the first few years of my Christian life – after all, that’s what best selling Christian books were teaching, and it was the accepted doctrine of the church I attended. As I’ve said in previous posts, my views changed when I eventually studied what the Bible really says on the topic.

This morning I decided to follow up a little more by looking at the Bible references that speak about the time when Jesus will catch His people up from the earth. In my previous post I listed a few references that I remembered that specifically and clearly spoke of the Lord returning and believers being caught up from the earth to be with Him.  So today I looked for websites supporting the “pre-tribulation rapture” to see if they could add any additional references that spoke clearly about that event.

I found that none of the verses they added to the few I’d already referenced, specifically and categorically referred to  living believers being taken from the earth to be with Jesus. Only through some very creative interpretation could their additional verses be MADE into references to “the rapture”.

I even saw one site where a pre-trib supporting contributor said: “To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for why Jesus doesn’t mention the Rapture in His Matthew 24 discourse”

I have to shake my head in disbelief at that – because Jesus clearly DOES speak of such an event in that discourse, the only problem for the pre-trib camp is that it contradicts their belief.

So the search left me with the same few verses that I’ve already mentioned. The only additional quote is the gospel of Mark version of my quote from Matt 24.

Here are all of the quotes again:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt 24: 29-31)

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven. (Mark 13: 24-27)

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:51-53)

While those verses from 1 Corinthians don’t specifically refer to a “catching up” they do complement 1 Thess 4: 16-18 (see below) making reference to the same event when some who will be changed without dying, and that the timing of that change will happen “at the last trumpet” when those who have died will be raised from death.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thess 4:16-18)

These things are made clear about the timing of the catching up (rapture) of living saints to be with the Lord forever.

It will happen AFTER the events described in Revelation as the effects of opening the sixth seal:

I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs (Rev 6:12-17)

It will happen after trumpets are blown, and in particular after the “LAST trunmpet. Note that the sixth seal mentioned in the previous quote is followed by the seventh seal, the opening of which brings about the blowing of seven trumpets (see previous post).

Is there any way that the above quoted references – the ONLY Bible references that clearly and undeniably describe the “rapture” of the saints – can indicate something that happens earlier than those events mentioned in Revelation?

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I have a request.

Anyone who can provide a clear, categorical and unambiguous reference to a catching up of the saints that places it before the prophesied events of darkened sun, moon turned to blood and falling stars, PLEASE post the reference in the comments section below. But note: the reference has to be straight forward and able to stand on its own without needing the preconceived assumption that it occurs “pre-tribulation”.