In the “Parable of the Good Samaritan,” Jesus demonstrates with a story what it means to live the Christian commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.
In the parable, a man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. A priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan pass by the victim. The priest and the Levite were both bound by duty in service to God and their fellow people. The parable rests on our assumption that priests and Levites would help people in need.
However, both men passed by the man on the other side of the road.
Just as the Judean audience would have assumed that the priest and Levite would help the beaten man on the side of the road, they likewise would have assumed that this “half-breed” Samaritan would be unlikely to do anything to help him.
However, the “Good Samaritan” does indeed help the man; and helps him beyond what the man could have asked for or imagined- especially from a stranger.
The “Good Samaritan” was a hypothetical example Jesus gave to show what it looks like for Christians to love their neighbors as themselves.
If Jesus had been speaking 1800 years later, He may have simply used William Wilberforce as the example of the way Christians should love their neighbors.
The Christian principle of loving your neighbor as yourself drove Wilberforce’s life, both publicly as a Member of Parliament as well as in his private affairs.
This principle caused him to despise the institution of slavery, because if he had been a slave he would have wanted Parliament to fight for his freedom.
Like the Samaritan, Wilberforce not only helped the slaves, he went above and beyond what anybody would deem reasonable; beyond what they could have asked or imagined from him.
He rejected any suggestions of compromise from those who sought to reform the slave trade and slavery itself, for reformed whips and shackles would have been insufficient. He ignored his friends who implored him to set abolition aside during the British war with Napoleon and France, for the French war treasure being filled by the labors of slaves in the French West Indies did not justify Britain continuing to kidnap Africans and grossly violate their human rights.
His love for his African neighbors would not allow him to compromise their freedom.
It may be an exaggeration to say that the slave trade and slavery would never have been abolished if not for Wilberforce. But it is certainly no exaggeration to say that they would not have been abolished as soon as they were without his heroic efforts.
At the dawn of his political career, Wilberforce was practically alone in Parliament in both his firm moral foundation and his outspoken opposition to slavery. By its dusk, he was joined in both by much of Parliament and England at large.
His high moral character became the high moral character that burst throughout England in the Victorian era.
Perhaps more importantly, Africa has never had a better neighbor.
For more on the man I now consider to be the greatest public servant of all time (excluding a certain Member of the Trinity, obviously), see the film “Amazing Grace” and read “William Wilberforce: a Hero for Humanity” by Kevin Belmonte.
Why did God tell Hosea to take a wife of adultery and children of unfaithfulness?
God told Hosea to take a wife of adultery and children of unfaithfulness because Hosea was to be a living example of the relationship between God and His people. God sees sin as spiritual adultery. In Numbers 15:37-41, the Lord gives instructions through Moses that the people were to wear tassels on the corners of their garments. Verse 39 says, “and it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.” So when we follow after our own heart and our own eyes, instead of remembering and doing all the commandments of the Lord, God calls that “whoring.” Also, James 4:4 says, “You adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” God sees our relationship with Him as something like marriage, and when we are unfaithful to Him- by pursuing the desires of our hearts and eyes and the sins of the world- He considers that whoredom and adultery. So in the life of Hosea, and in his love for his adultrous wife, we see something of God’s love for us. Even though we are all guilty of “whoring after” the desires of our hearts and eyes, and we are all guilty of “friendship with the world,” God still pursues us with His amazing love like Hosea pursued Gomer. And just as Hosea paid dearly to free Gomer, God has paid dearly to free us. He gave His only Son, that each and every one of us adulteresses who believes in Jesus will not perish, but will have etenal life!
More importantly, Hosea’s instuctions, life, and writings were intended to point forward to the Seed of woman, the Offspring of Abraham, the Lion of the tribe of of Judah, the heir of David who is enthroned forever, the Messiah, Christ Jesus.
Imagine God speaking these words, not to His prophet Hosea, but to His only Son before He took on flesh and walked among us.
“Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry.”
For the apostle Paul described Christ as the prototypical Husband, leading and laying down His life for His bride, the church. Imagine these words from the Father, not to Hosea after his wife had left him, but to His Son when He had pleaded thrice that the cup of the cross would pass.
“Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress.”
What amazing love! A man will hardly die for a good woman, but this is the love of God, in that while we were yet adulteresses, Christ died for us! If we will but turn from the filth of our sins, look to the Son of man who has been lifted up for the salvation of sinners, and believe in Him, then this amazing, adultery-forgiving love of almighty God will be ours!
This is part two of what, Lord willing, will be a three-parter about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In part one, “The Centrality of the Resurrection,” I argued that the Resurrection is central to Christian faith, and therefore should be central to any Christianity vs. Atheism debate. This second part will be on the ramifications if the Resurrection did happen. The third part will be my argument that the Resurrection really did take place.
If Jesus Christ were indeed resurrected from the dead, as I believe that He was, what does that mean for you and I? The Bible is full of accounts of miracles, but there are arguably none as great and/or significant as the Resurrection. If we are convinced that the Resurrection happened, then it lends great credibility to the Bible as a whole, and most imporantly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here I would like to look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as what verses twelve and thirteen of Jeremiah chapter two have to tell us about sin.
The Bible tells us that God created all of us, and that He will one day judge all of us. We have all sinned against God. The Bible tells us that blood and death are the only means that effectively atone for sins and ransom sinners from the wrath of God. In the Old Testament, God mercifully gave His people a way to have a substitute pay for their sins with its blood and its death in both the Passover and the sacrificial system. In both of these cases, an animal was a “propitiation” for sins. This simply means that God reckoned the sins of the sinner paid for by the blood and death of the sinless animal, while at the same time reckoning the sinner righteous by the sinner’s faith that God would be faithful to His promises.
The Bible tells us that the passover lamb, the animals without blemish that were sacrificed, and the scapegoat of the day of atonement all pointed forward to the Messiah that would be once and for all the passover Lamb and the Scapegoat, sacrificed to atone for the sins of all who would have faith in Him and faith that God will be faithful to His promises. And this Messiah would ransom sinners from the wrath of God, by taking His wrath upon Himself, if the sinners would believe in Him.
This Messiah was and is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul tells us that, “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 10:9). The Bible teaches us that this “belief” that Paul mentions here is a belief that is obedient to the “law of the Lord” and the teachings of Jesus, and that perseveres until the end. All who have obedient, persevering faith in Jesus and repent of their sins will be saved.
Let us now turn to the Word of God through Jeremiah the prophet in Jeremiah 2:12-13:
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
In the eyes of God, all sin is two evils. All sin is both forsaking God and putting our faith in man-made “cisterns” that are “broken” and “can hold no water.” Since the first sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all mankind has been forsaking God and foolishly putting their trust in man-made, broken cisterns. God calls this evil, and says that the only reconciliation is by blood and death. By faith in Jesus Christ, we become His, and the punishment for our sins is credited to Him. He paid this penalty on the Cross, once and for all. If we are His, then our sins are paid for and we receive His perfect righteousness:
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
If the Resurrection happened, then this is all true. If it did not happen, then as the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:32, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'”
Was Abraham the father of the three major religions in the world- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? I would say that he was the father of only one modern religion, on the basis of two reasons. First, the Jewish Tanakh, which is the Christian Old Testament and mentioned in the Qur’an as the “Holy Scriptures,” is an incomplete work. Even with the addition of the Talmud, the other collection of writings that are central to Judaism, Judaism is an incomplete religion because it both awaits its promised Messiah and does not explain how God can be quick to forgive without leaving the guilty unpunished. Christianity piggy-backs off of Judaism by acknowledging the writings of the Tanakh, the Old Testament, as holy writings. Islam attempts to similarly piggy-back off of Christianity by acknowledging both the Old Testament and the New Testament as holy writings- calling them the “Holy Scriptures” and the “Gospels”- and by relegating Jesus Christ, who the New Testament claims is the Tanakh/Old Testament’s promised Messiah, to the status of a prophet.
Secondly, according to the apostle Paul only one of the three religions is based on the faith of Abraham. So, although he may be the physical ancestor of all three religions, on the basis of faith he can and should only be seen as the father of one.
Our questions are these: Is the Christian claim to being the fulfillment of Judaism valid? Is Christianity complete, unlike Judaism? Is the Islamic claim to being the fulfillment of Christianity valid? Which of the three major religions has the faith of Abraham, and therefore is truly the heir of “father Abraham?” Last and most importantly, was Jesus the Christ, the Messiah that was promised in the Tanakh/Old Testament?
As I said before, Judaism is incomplete because at the close of their holy writings there is no Messiah. And because, without the Messiah, there is no explanation as to how God can forgive without letting the guilty go unpunished. That forgiveness is necessary assumes the guilt of those needing forgiveness. This mystery, which I am stealing from Mark Dever’s book “The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made,” is very clear in Exodus 34:6-7:
“The LORD passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.'”
As we see there, the LORD promises to forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin. However, He then says that He will “by no means clear the guilty.” I agree with Dever’s assessment that this can only be understood in connection with a Messiah who would take the guilt of God’s chosen people upon Himself. Just as the sacrificial system of the Old Testament allowed reconciliation between God’s chosen people who had faith in God, and by faith that God would forgive their sins on the basis of the animal without blemish that was sacrificed. The death and blood of the animal paid the debt that was brought on by the sin. Since animals and their blood can accomplish nothing without the willingness of the living God, who is loving, merciful, and gracious beyond measure, the sacrificial system was really about the faith of God’s people and His willingness to forgive. However, modern Jews no longer participate in the sacrificial system. And they believe that their Messiah has not yet come. This begs the question, whereby does reconciliation with God and forgiveness of their sins come, with no sacrifice and no Messiah? Just as the religious writings leave off incomplete, with no reconciliation or forgiveness the Jewish religion is similarly incomplete.
The Christian New Testament claims that Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of the Tanakh/Old Testament’s promised Messiah, and that through Jesus alone can the mysterious mercy without excluding justice be possible. He took upon Himself the sins of God’s chosen people on the Cross. Therefore, they are no longer guilty before God and He is able to forgive without letting the guilty go unpunished.
Christianity does leave off with a few mysteries, but they are mysteries that are promised to be understood when Jesus the Messiah returns. Therefore Christianity is not incomplete and does not need fulfillment the way that Judaism is incomplete and wanting fulfillment. We do not know when the Messiah will return, but we know who He is and that He will come. However, Islam attempts to piggy-back off of Christianity anyways. Islam does not deny the holy writings that are known as the Old Testament and the New Testament within Christianity. Neither do they deny that there was a man named Jesus who had supernatural abilities and was an extraordinary teacher. They accredit the Christian holy writings as the “Holy Scriptures and the Gospels” and Jesus as a prophet, who the Qur’an says lived flawlessly. However, there are two main ways in which Islam and Christianity cannot be reconciled. First there are things in the Qur’an that are irreconcilable with the Christian writings. For example, the Qur’an instructs its followers to kill “infidels” (unbelievers) if they will not convert to Islam. Secondly, they relegate Jesus from Messiah to prophet. Jesus taught that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man comes to the Father except by Him. Islam and this statement from the lips of Jesus cannot both be true. In order for Islam to be true, Jesus must be relegated, as they attempt to relegate Him, to merely a prophet. And the Cross, where Christians find the essence of meaning, must be relegated to a meaningless event. If Jesus is not the exclusive way to God, then the Cross was unnecessary.
Paul says that by his faith righteousness was credited to Abraham, and Christians are to similarly trust the God of Abraham, who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Judaism and Islam are both works-based religions, whereby righteousness is a reward for living righteously. However, neither religion accounts for unrighteousness. Christianity is the only religion that calls for faith, like that of Abraham, by which Christians will both receive the necessary righteousness to stand justified before God and their unrighteousness will be accounted for, as by their faith their sins were paid for by Jesus on the Cross. Therefore, only Christianity can claim to be an heir of Abraham because it is the only religion that is based on the faith of “father Abraham.”
I chose to address this question last, although this changes the order in which I introduced them, because I wanted to save it for last. The true test of which of the three religions contains Truth is the identity of one Man. If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, then Christianity and not Judaism contains Truth. If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and not merely a prophet as Islam contends, then Christianity and not Islam contains Truth. If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, then the Truth of the Tanakh/Old Testament continues to the Christian New Testament. If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, then the Truth of the Old and New Testaments stops there, and does not continue to the Qur’an.
Although the Cross is arguably the most significant event for Christians- for by the Cross alone can we be forgiven of sins and reconciled with God- the Resurrection of Jesus is the most significant here. Many men died by Roman crucifixion. The Resurrection proves that only one of those men was the Son of God. I argue for the resurrection here.
I believe with every fiber of my being that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and that Jesus was the Tanakh’s promised Messiah. I believe that there is a God, and that He is holy and just. I believe that our sins against God have both angered Him and caused separation between mankind and God. I believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Jesus. Jesus’ substitutionary death satisfied the righteous anger of God and paid the death penalty warranted by our sins, and by that death alone can we have eternal life.
Trust in Jesus, He is the Lord of the universe He created. Confess with your mouth that He is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved!
This is an email that I just sent to the website http://www.godhatesfags.com, website of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS. The church is known for picketing funerals with outrageous signs, such as the one for which they named their site: “God Hates Fags.”
First let me say that I think you guys are absolutely right. God has a hatred for homosexuals. A hatred that will end with them spending eternity in hell if they do not repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior, and Forgiver of sins. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 would support us in this regard: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
So not only does God hate homosexuals, but He also hates all people who unrepentantly sin. But keep reading:
“And such were some of you. But 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).
From this it seems that some of those that Paul was writing to in the Corinthian church may have been homosexuals before coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Is this not the end that we hope for, brethren? That they will turn from their homosexuality and be “sanctified” and “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God?”
You and I may not have ever engaged in homosexuality, but James tells us that if we are guilty of any sin, then we are transgressors of the law. And he tells us to speak and act “as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.” Why? Because “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:8-13).
I admire that you guys speak boldly as you ought to about the truths of the Word of God. However, I fear that the way that you do so may cause people to reject the Truth- not because of the Truth itself, but because of the offensively outspoken manner that you employ in proclaiming it.
The goal is not only to proclaim the Truth, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also to proclaim it in a way that will lead sinners to repent and believe.
Where is the compassion of Moses in Exodus 32:32? Where is the compassion of Paul in Romans 9:3? We will all stand before God on the ultimate Day of the Lord. James tells us that those who do not show mercy will not receive mercy. When we stand before God, we will all be found wanting- but for the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.
You who have received mercy and forgiveness by that blood begrudge the mercy of God by turning away from the God who has cancelled your debt and turning to whip your servant for not being able to pay his debt (Matthew 25:14-30).
One last point: Jesus told us that the world will know we are his disciples if we have love for one another (John 13:35). He also told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should make us look different from the world- moreso than it does in most churches. However, what sets us apart should be first our love for one another, and second that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these texts, and where picketing funerals with outrageous (albeit true) signs is encouraged by Jesus or His apostles.
I wrote a blog about evolution being taught in public schools and my belief that it should either be taught differently or not taught at all. An extremely intelligent atheist named Ron responded to my blog, and we began a discussion that has accounted for most of the 60 comments on that blog.
The discussion with Ron, along with my thoughts on why God allows Christians to sin, led me to contemplate both why a loving God would allow Christians to sin and why He would allow enormous tragedies such as the Holocaust, as well as how I could declare that God is just although He allows both sin and tragedies to happen.
The short answer to the “why?” on both issues is for the glory of God. I would have given that answer before the discussion with Ron, because I have been told that all things happen for the glory of God and I believe that to be true. But I could not have begun to answer how allowing those things to happen glorifies God. I believe that I can now answer the “how?” on both of those issues in a way that is at least satisfactory for me and hopefully will benefit others.
How does allowing Christians to sin glorify God? God hates sin. God would prefer for us not to sin. God could prevent us from sinning if He wanted to. But we do sin. Why? God can do all that He pleases, therefore it must be pleasing to God for some reason and in some way to allow Christians to sin. A better way to say that, I believe, is that there must be something that is more preferable to God, for the sake of which God allows Christians to sin. There must be another variable that comes into play, and for the sake of that variable, God prefers to allow us to sin. That variable, I believe, is God’s honor, or to say it in another way, His glory and His name.
For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him. –Romans 1:21
And because “they” did not honor God as God or give thanks to Him, God gave “them” over to all this. So when people do not honor God as God and give thanks to Him, God allows them to sin. This applies to Christians and non-Christians alike, and in all people this glorifies God. The question then is: “how does this glorify God?” This glorifies God because when we honor Him as God and give thanks to Him, He gets the glory; not us. When we do not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, we get the glory. Therefore, it is just and good and loving of God to allow people to sin when they do not honor Him as God and give thanks to Him, because He is worthy of honor and He is the giver of all. If we were able to abstain from sin apart from God, then we would do so at the expense of God’s name and God’s glory. If we were able to overcome sin apart from God, on the basis of some quality that we possessed, then we would not need God.
If I overcome sin on my own and apart from God, then my name and my glory are inflated, and God’s name and God’s glory are insignificant and unnecessary. Therefore, for the sake of His name and His glory, God must allow us to sin when we do not honor Him as God and do not give Him thanks. Although He hates sin, allowing us to sin is preferable to the defamation of His name and His glory. And that is why each and every strategy for overcoming sin that is not centered on honoring God as God and giving Him the thanks that He so greatly deserves will fail.
So we now move on to the Holocaust.
I believe that all evil in the world that is performed by the hands of men is an example of what I have just discussed. And, I believe that the rest of Romans 1:21 and verse 22 shed more light on this subject:
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
Futile thinking and foolish hearts. Does that sound like Hitler and the Nazis? Did they not claim to be wise? The blood of the victims of the Holocaust is unquestionably on the hands of Hitler and the Nazis. However, if there is a loving God, then He either refused to prevent the Holocaust from happening or He was unable to. This is the issue that Ron brings up, and it is a big one. I can very easily identify with Ron on this one. If He didn’t have the power to prevent it, then He’s not worthy. And if He had the power to prevent it but didn’t, then He’s not worthy. I believe that He is worthy, so I have some reconciling to do.
Some might try to “get God off the hook” here, so to speak, and say that God didn’t want the Holocaust to happen. That angle leads to what I just mentioned- if God didn’t want it to happen, then He was either unable or unwilling to prevent it from happening. Saying that God was unable to prevent it from happening, either based on evil in the world or the free will of man that God cannot interfere with, paints a picture of God that I really don’t like. That view of God implies that God is at the mercy of evil in the world or the free will of man, and if that is the case I might have to side with Ron and say that that God is unworthy.
However, I do not believe that to be the case. I do not believe that God was unable to prevent the Holocaust from happening. Which leads us to the question: “If God was able to prevent the Holocaust, why didn’t He?”
I believe that the answer to that question is the same as the answer to why God allows Christians to sin. Just as God allows us to sin, even though He hates sin, when we fail to honor Him as God and give Him thanks, He allowed the Holocaust, even though He hated the Holocaust, because Hitler and the Nazis failed to honor Him as God and give Him thanks. His name and His glory are so important to God, that He allows both sin and tragedy to take place when He is not given the honor and thanks that He deserves.
So, God allows us to sin when we fail to honor Him as God and give Him thanks, even when our sin will affect others who had nothing to do with the sin. And when governments and leaders fail to honor God as God and give thanks to Him, the results of their sins can affect a great number of people.
Just as Pharaoh did not honor God and let the Israelites go, until His refusal brought down plagues on His people that culminated in the death of the firstborn of every Egyptian, so Hitler and the Nazis’ failure to give honor and thanks to God resulted in the Holocaust. And just as Pharaoh and Hitler’s decisions resulted in an unfathomable amount of innocent bloodshed, so the failure of America to give honor and thanks to God has resulted in the murder of 40 million innocent babies in the name of Roe v. Wade. Pharaoh, Hitler, and any leader who believes that “the woman’s right to choose” supercedes the life of an innocent, defenseless, unborn baby may believe that they are wise, but they are fools, with futile thinking and darkened hearts.
Honor and thanks be to God, who is the Creator of all and the Giver of every good and perfect gift!
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” -Romans 1:18-20
Looking back on the time in my life when I rejected God and Christianity, I see things that I didn’t really see then. I had reasons for suppressing the truth of Christianity and rejecting it. I thought that it was better to live as if there was no God and as if Jesus was not the Son of God and is not the King of the universe.
I think back to conversations with my brother, when he made perfect sense and I couldn’t come up with answers for his questions other than simply saying, “I don’t know.”
As I said, “I don’t know,” I had to fight to keep a sly grin from coming across my face, because I was thinking about the reasons I couldn’t buy into what he was saying. I didn’t think that he could provide evidence for what he told me, and even when he did provide evidence, I brushed it off. If he gave me anything from the Bible, my defense was that the Bible wasn’t credible. Those things happened too long ago. How could anybody live their life around something that happened 2000 years ago? But the reason that I rejected everything he said was that I had to reject those things to live the way that I wanted to live.
Then things started to change. God started pursuing me. Certain weird things started happening in my life- I was living farther away from my dad than I had ever been, and I started having this crazy longing to have a son and thinking about what it would take to raise him and all the things that I wanted to teach him. I had this longing for the closeness that I have with my dad, along with the longing to someday build a similar father-son relationship with a son of my own. I was very strangely emotional about father-son relationships in TV shows and movies.
I started thinking more about the Christian life, and decided that it would probably be good to somehow teach my children the values that I learned being brought up in a Christian home. I remember thinking that I would definitely rather live in a neighborhood full of Christians than a neighborhood full of atheists, because I thought Christians were more “virtuous” in general.
I realized that I was being an idiot pursuing the kind of girls that I was pursuing, and I thought about all the “good girls” that I passed over when I was in college because I was looking for girls that “wanted to have fun.”
I decided that I would like to marry a Christian girl, because Christian girls are likely to be more virtuous. And because I thought that would be a good way to arrange for my kids to be brought up with Christian virtues. I decided that if I married a Christian girl, then I would be okay with going to church with her and our kids if/when we had kids for the sake of their virtues.
All of these things came together to elevate the Christian life in my eyes. Then, I “happened” to move to Houston, TX.
My brother gave me the Biblical evidence for the resurrection, and the only think I had to cling to was that the Bible wasn’t credible.
Then I came to realize that there was an enormous difference in the way that I read things. I remembered reading “The Da Vinci Code,” and I couldn’t get enough of it. As ludicrous as the ideas that “The Da Vinci Code” puts forth were, just the idea that it provided an argument against Jesus and Christianity spurred me on and I finished it in 3 or 4 days.
So, when I “happened” to stumble across Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ,” I began reading it with a realization that I read things differently depending on whether they supported or rejected Christianity.
So, with an elevated view of the Christin life, with my brother’s arguments, and with Strobel’s evidence for the credibility of the Bible, I was convinced that Jesus really was resurrected from the dead, and that He really is the King of the universe.
I truly believe that if you do not believe, then you are in the same position that I was in. Just as I suppressed the truth so that I could live the way that I wanted to, as if there was no God, I believe that you are suppressing the truth as well.
God has made it evident to you, and you have decided to reject the evidence. The poetry of life screams that there was a Divine Poet who set it all in motion, and we will all come face to face with Him one day.
If you do not repent of your sins, and turn to Jesus and accept and treasure Him as the only way to be reconciled with God, then you will have no excuse on that day.
I hope and pray that God will pursue you in the same way that He pursued me, because I know that I do not deserve it any more than you do.
Whatever explanations or excuses you have cannot account for the perfection and righteousness that God requires of us. Jesus’ death on the cross bought you, whether you accept it or not. The God who created everything in this universe requires absolute perfection and absolute righteousness from us. None of us are anything close to absolutely perfect or absolutely righteous. But our infinitely just and loving Creator provides an absolute perfection and an absolute righteousness in the person of Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man. And that perfection and that righteousness are extended to all who will accept it. It is an open invitation to all who are willing to give up the filth of this world for the treasures that God has to offer, lose the life that they want, and find the better life and the satisfaction that are only possible in Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Power that is in Heaven.
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children,’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and though of man.
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” –Acts 17:24-31
What is the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer?
God created this world, and it is magnificent. But is that the Best News?
Hell is more infinitely terrible than our simple brains can fathom, and in Jesus, God gives us a “get of hell free” card. But is that the Best News?
Heaven is as infinitely great as hell is infinitely terrible and then some, and God tells us in His Word that by putting our faith in His Son we can spend eternity in heaven. But is that the Best News?
God loves us and wants us to be happy, and as our Father He wants to bless us with every good thing and every perfect gift. But is that the Best News?
Those are all included in the great news that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but John Piper would say that none of those things qualify as the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer. Piper would say that the Best News is that, through Christ, we are able to have an intimate knowledge of God and enjoy Him forever. And after listening to his two-part message called “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ”, I joyfully concur.
What I love about John Piper is how Biblically solid he is and how he always strives to exult Jesus Christ. Because he backs up what he says with the Word of God (and usually with multiple texts), it is often impossible to both accept that the Bible is the Word of God and logically disagree with Piper. And because he strives to ceaselessly exult Jesus, I rarely leave his books or sermons without a desire to imitate him in that fashion.
The “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” messages were intended to give his audience the best way to Godly sexuality, but the Supremacy of Christ was indubitably the central theme. And the Supremacy of Christ is essential to both living the Christian life and combatting the sins of this world. Therefore, although the message was intended to encourage Godly sexuality, the messages can definitely be applied to all areas of the Christian life.
I have a new pastime…
I joined an atheist/agnostic group on myspace: http://groups.myspace.com/atheistsagnostics
and I posted some comments here: http://friendlyatheist.com/2007/10/09/when-i-say-i-am-an-atheist/
both with the intention of striking up some possibly fruitful conversations. At first, I had high hopes that things might go well with these conversations. I quickly realized that I was just striking up debates that were not going to get anywhere. I would argue with something that somebody else said and give my 2 cents, and unbelievers would argue with what I said and give their two cents. We all were holding stubbornly to our beliefs and I saw that there was little or no chance of these conversations going anywhere.
Then I thought of a new approach, and posted a comment stating that I was willing to accept, for argument’s sake, that everything that I had said was wrong, if we could change our direction and they would answer these questions:
“Do you agree that the center of the issue is whether Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross? Do you agree that if you were convinced that Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, your beliefs and your life would have to change? Do you agree that the ramifications of this are huge? Do you agree that if Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, and you do not acknowledge Him as the King of this universe and put your faith in Him and treasure Him, you will sentance yourself to an eternity in hell?”
Perhaps it would be wise to wait and see how this approach turns out before blogging about it, but I am willing to take a chance. I hope that there will be a lot of comments here… I would love to hear the thoughts of both believers and unbelievers on these questions and whether they are central to Christianity.
Also, my thinking is that if the people I have been conversing with accept that these issues are central and are willing to at the very least not refuse information that opposes their beliefs from the start, I will encourage them to read “The Case for Christ.”
“The Case for Christ” cut the final threads of my unbelief, and I was convinced first that the Bible was credible and that Jesus really conquered death. The end of my unbelief and beginning of my belief happened when I was convinced that Jesus conquered death, which is why I see it as the center point. I have probably given “The Case for Christ” a little bit more credit than it deserves; although I still believe that it deserves a lot of credit and is a GREAT book. But to give it as much credit as I did and sometimes still do, undermines other things that took place leading up to the time when the book cut those final threads of unbelief. Without my amazing brother (http://jimhamilton.wordpress.com), Baptist Church of the Redeemer (http://www.bcredeemer.org), and some great Christian influences at my then-employer Texas State Bank and in the group of guys that I was playing church league basketball with, I never would have been in the position that I was to a) actually read the book, and b) give it the open mind that it must have to have any impact.
So, due to those outside factors, I was in a position to say “yes” to those questions that I listed above. Once I was in that position, “The Case for Christ” did the rest. So, if you are an unbeliever, and you can answer “yes” to those questions, I would encourage you to read “The Case for Christ” with as much of an open mind as you can, as I did. And if you are a believer, and you are having conversations with unbelievers or would like to have conversations with unbelievers about Christianity, I THINK this could be a good course to take.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions?
- "The Dawkins Letters"
- "The God Delusion"
- 2 Samuel 20
- 2008 Presidential election
- Acts 17:24-31
- Anglican Church
- Anthony Flew
- Australian Christian music
- Ayn Rand
- Charles Darwin
- child of God
- Christ crucified
- Chuck Norris
- Church History
- David Robertson
- Desiring God
- Doers of the Word
- Dr. Jim Hamilton
- expository preaching
- Gene Robinson
- glory of God
- I Was There
- Intelligent Design
- James Hamilton
- Jesus Christ
- Joel Osteen
- John Piper
- justification by faith
- King David
- Lee Strobel
- Mark Driscoll
- Mars Hill Church
- Mike Huckabee
- Nathan Tasker
- preach the Word
- Psalm 1
- Richard Dawkins
- roe v. wade
- seminary professor
- Sermon on Mars Hill
- Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
- the apostle Paul
- the Bible
- The Case for Faith
- The Law of the Lord
- the rebellion of Sheba
- The Resurrection
- the Word of God
- William Tyndale