Archive for the 'Belief' Category

22
Feb
18

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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23
Jan
18

What if they don’t hear?

What about those who never hear about Jesus? Isn’t it unfair for them to be condemned if they don’t have the opportunity know?

In addressing that question I’ve come across those who say that no one is without excuse. Or in other words, there is no way out. If you don’t get the opportunity to hear the gospel – tough!

Not hearing is no excuse.

However, while that “without excuse” statement does come from scripture, it isn’t addressing our response to Jesus, it is addressing recognition of Creator God, that all of creation around us makes His existence clear to all.

(Rom 1), “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.”

So the question comes back to what happens with those who DO recognise the truth of Creator God and want to worship Him, but who live in a place where the gospel of Jesus isn’t freely available?

Are they denied access to the truth of Jesus, and the salvation he brings,  merely because of geographical or cultural barriers?

In 2 Thess 2 we can read about people “who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved”.

Regarding those who live in areas that are “closed” to the gospel, who may not ordinarily have the opportunity to hear about Jesus, isn’t it possible, or even likely that an alternative result based on the flip-side of that principle could apply?

Could there be people in those “closed” areas who actually have a desire and love for truth and diligently seek it? Would God leave those people without an adequate opportunity to find the Truth in Jesus and so be saved?

We get an indication in Acts 10.

Cornelius was a man who recognised God and worshipped Him to the best of his knowledge, but he was ignorant of the gospel. God met Cornelius’ need through a dream instructing him to seek out Peter, a man who could lead Cornelius to Jesus.

And while that may be a reasonably well-known bible story, it’s not merely an historical account. The same kind of thing is being reported today through countless testimonies of Moslems being led, through dreams and visions, to meet with people who can teach them the truth of Christ.

There is also the biblical example of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8, a man with a desire to know and understand the truth. Philip, through the instruction of an angel and directed by the Holy Spirit was sent to him in a “desert place” to tell Him the good news about Jesus.

So the question addressed at the beginning of this post seems irrelevant. A question that is possibly posed not out of genuine concern for those who don’t hear about Jesus – but as a way to diminish the gospel by making it seem that God is being unfair to a large portion of the world’s population.

However, in reality God doesn’t leave anyone who desires the Truth without a means of finding Him (Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Life).

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us

21
Jan
18

Would We Make Jesus Marvel? (and for the right reason)

I came across an interesting statement in a recent article on my friend Steve’s blog.

“Jesus is recorded as marveling only twice. Once was at the unbelief demonstrated at his hometown of Nazareth. The other time was at the faith of a Gentile soldier, whom Jesus recognized as having faith greater than that of His own people.”

 

Those two instances reflect contrasting and opposite attitudes to faith/belief in Jesus, but each led to the same kind of reaction from Jesus: He “marvelled”.
He was amazed and astonished by both the unbelief of the people who would (presumably) know Him well, the people whose community He’d grown up within; and the belief shown by a person from a totally different culture who was basically an occupying enemy of Jesus’s homeland.

As I thought on this, a question Jesus asked came to mind:  “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

When I refreshed my memory about the context of this statement, I “marvelled” at the fact this it immediately precedes a parable, an excerpt of which I quoted yesterday:

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

I return to the issue of Jesus finding faith on earth and wonder where would the faith most like that of the gentile soldier be found?
Would it be among those who we’d assume should know Jesus best? Or among the outsiders who didn’t seem to comply with religious expectations?
The Pharisee or the tax collector?

And even before I considered these things my mind had been on Jonah. Not so much the man and his mission, but on the society around him. How much does that wider society contrast to ours?
Today in the west, God is mostly dismissed or ignored. Yes, there are some communities that pay lip service to Him (“In God We Trust”) but to what extent would those communities REALLY put their trust in Him and believe His message in the way that Jonah’s shipmates did, despite the fact that they followed other gods?

And how many national communities would respond in the same way as the people of Nineveh? They essential fell into obedience to the word of a prophet proclaiming what was to them the word of a foreign God.

How does that contrast with the likely (and often demonstrated) actions of today’s so-called “Christian” nations – those that allegedly know God?

Or even todays’ church goers?

Would they recognise the voice of God to the extent of believing and acting on it?

Would we?

 

14
Dec
17

Same Old Story

Mankind’s version
Adam: “That woman YOU gave to be with me gave me the fruit…”
Eve: “The devil made me do it”
God ‘s truth as revealed to James:
“each one is tempted when he is drawn away by HIS OWN desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.
17
Nov
17

And the Gospel _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Will Be Preached…

Christians are very familiar with the term “the gospel”, and are aware of the need to share “the gospel”.

But what is our understanding of the term?

 

We think of it as “the good news” – but what is the news that is good?

 

I’ve been trying to think of some of the ideas I’ve come across during the decades since I first came into contact with “gospel” preaching Christians.
At various times I’ve accepted several of these ideas – or at least parts of them. Other’s I’ve heard but have never accepted.

 

To what extent have we REALLY tried to grasp what the Bible says about “the gospel”?
How was it preached by Jesus and the early church?
What was preached by Jesus and the early church that could be described as “the gospel”?

 

1) Receive Jesus and escape hell
2) Come to God, He has a wonderful plan for your life.
3) God’s eternal, righteous Kingdom is accessible
4) You are going to hell if you don’t accept Jesus
5) God wants to prosper you – turn to Him.
6) Join God’s mission to turn this world around.
7) God loves everyone so much He wants to be their friend.
8) Come to God as you are, God loves you anyway.
9) If God has chosen you as part of His elect – you’ll be saved.
10) Repeat this sinner’s prayer and you’ll be saved.

 

There are probably many other examples, but those given above probably give a reasonable taste of the various messages that have been presented as “the gospel”. Some of those statements contain part of the truth, others are far from the truth, but I believe only one gets close to the real heart of the gospel. I’ll address that later.

 

From a personal level, I suppose my initial interest in the gospel message came about through a desire to avoid hell. At the time I thought I had nothing to worry about because I’d grown up with a belief in God and I thought that was enough to make me safe. Then somehow a school friend who’d recently become involved with a Pentecostal church managed to convince me of the need to ask Jesus into my life through the reciting of “the sinner’s prayer” – so a few of the phrases listed above played a part in my introduction to Christianity.

 

However, while those messages served a purpose, they didn’t exactly set me on a path to a strong Christian faith. They put ME at the centre, and I don’t recall myself ever considering that maybe God should be at the centre of the gospel. That the gospel was more about HIS intentions for the whole of His creation, than about keeping me as an individual out of hell.

 

If I now had to choose which one of the above statements best expresses’ the heart of the gospel, it would be the third: “God’s eternal, righteous Kingdom is accessible”. That’s the message John the Baptist preached in preparation for the introduction of Jesus, and that is the message Jesus preached from the beginning of His ministry: “the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

 
Jesus later spoke of the “gospel of the Kingdom” being preached in the whole world as a precursor of the end.

But the end of what?

The end of this world’s disconnection from, and its rejection of, the Kingdom of God; when “The kingdoms of the world […] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah”.

The purpose of the gospel is to proclaim the good news of God’s coming Kingdom, and the fact that we (mankind) can be part of it. That the corruption, the hypocrisy and the injustices that pervade every aspect of the world’s Kingdoms will be brought to an end.

The gospel is the good news of the Kingdom; GOD’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

26
Oct
17

How to Study the Bible

An excellent and essential follow-up to Jeff’s previous blog post. I strongly recommend that you go to the complete article on Jeff’s blog via the link at the end of the excerpt below.

According to the viewing stats, yesterday’s post has had 26 views and yet only 3 of those viewers actually clicked on the link to read the full article.

I wrote about similar topics in the following two articles:
Spirit, Scripture and Sholarship

and
Don’t Study the Bible

 

______________________________

anti-itch meditation

Here are some tips for studying the Bible on your own.

–Read the Bible a lot. Over and over. Cover to cover. Try at least once to read it as quickly as possible, like under a month.

–Question everything. Write down questions as you read it, then when you read it again, see how many more questions you get and how many old ones you can now answer. Don’t be afraid to question anything and everything.

–Ignore formal theology. Don’t read merely to find verses to back up or attack doctrines. Just read what it says. Otherwise you’ll miss half the message because your brain is arguing theology.

–Avoid dumb Bible study questions like, “what does this mean to me?” or “how can I apply this to my life today?” They tend to make the Bible all about you. One of the points of the Bible is that it’s about…

View original post 281 more words

25
Oct
17

Why Is Theology Confusing?

An excellent post on Jeff Weddle’s blog.

I think he really gets to the heart of most of the major doctrinal difficulties and disagreements affecting followers of Jesus.

anti-itch meditation

Biblical doctrine is much simpler than human theology.

Most confusing doctrines are confusing because they are someone’s idea of what the Bible says, not what the Bible says.

The problem is that biblical doctrine is straightforward. A little too abrupt and real. It tends to mess with life.

Theologians enter the picture to “clean up the mess” by telling you the Bible doesn’t mean what the Bible simply and clearly says.

The main job of a theologian is to impress you with their theological astuteness. In other words, they prove their doctrinal superiority by being confusing.

“You’re too stupid to understand, that’s why you need us smart theologians.” Is the attitude. We go along with them because they tell us why we don’t have to listen to all those parts we wish weren’t there, which suits our flesh fine.

You know you’re dealing with human theology when you are reading…

View original post 195 more words




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