The other day I was sitting in the car at the local superstore. As I sat there, people watching waiting for our groceries to be brought out I noticed a couple women heading into the store. In their hand each carried a mask. As you know we are currently in the middle of some crazy times. But this wasn't what stuck out to me. What really stood out to me was what one lady was gripping in her other hand. You see, in one hand a mask. She was tightly gripping the assurance of the cloth in her right hand but in her left was a cigarette. In one hand she held what she believed would save her from things unseen, more specifically, a virus. Tightly gripped in her other hand was death. It was that which both can be seen and causes over 4 million deaths a year. The cigarette. Then it hit me!
When God told us through the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy that God "did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and discipline" He meant it. We are living in a time of spiritual fear and we are all looking for 100% assurance that if we do certain things life will go the way we think it ought to. Yet many of us walk around with false assurance. It's wrong! Nothing in this world can give us the assurance our inner most being so desires. We are made in the image of God and nothing can satisfy that desperate longing but God. C. S. Lewis said it this way. “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
And because this is the truth for everyone, we want assurance that this is not all there is, we want assurance that we won't die, our relationships will be fixed, our marriages won't fail, and our kids will grow up to lead wonderful lives. But we look for assurance in all the wrong places. Hebrews 11:1 says
Now faith is the assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen.
Did you today hit your knees today and put your assurance in Jesus as much as you did the mask? Did you hit your knees today and plead with God to give you the assurance that when this life is over you will spend eternity with Him in His glory? Did you seek the assurance, the 100% assurance that can only come from Jesus. That lady that was grasping in one hand her false assurance yet in the other the very thing that causes death reminded me of how most of us live our lives. In one hand we hold onto Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith and we love Him oh God do we love Him.
He died a brutal death on the Cross to save us from our sins. Yes we Love Him! But in the other hand we hold so tightly to the false assurance of this world. That if we just do certain things the virus wont get us. If we push our kids hard enough they will succeed in life, if we try harder we can fix the things that are broken. But… we can't! There is no assurance without the Son of God. There is no assurance without Jesus the Messiah. You cannot have any assurance in this life other than what Jesus can give but the only way to receive that assurance is to put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9, if you confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you, yes you will be saved. Jesus must be the ruler of you life and you must believe or you will have 0 assurance for this life and the life to come. My brother, my sister, trust in Jesus He is 100% assurance of everything you need in this life and the next. God bless you!
Last week we talked about doubt and how it was a good thing. Doubt motivates us to questions which then lead to answers. Subsequently this leads to a more thorough understanding of something. Doubt exists because of the Genesis 3 fiasco. The serpent created doubt in the mind of Eve and as a result she took of the fruit ate and gave some to her husband who was with her. Since then the entirety of humanity has doubted just about everything. But just because doubt exists in our minds about something specific, namely Christianity and its veracity, it does not nullify or void the truth contained within it.
In the last post, which you can find here (Does Doubt Nullify Christianity); we briefly covered what God says about His word, the Bible, Jesus, and Christianity. The truth of Christianity is not based on our emotions, whether we have a good day, a bad day, or any other convictions we might have. Christianity is true because God attested to its truth when He revealed Himself in His word. However, the next logical question or contested opinion would be "how do you know God is real?"
In a word, Bible. It repeatedly attests to God's existence and Jesus Himself said, He was the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. But this may not be good enough for some. Before we get into the four main questions of life, let me take this opportunity to convince you of God's existence in 30 seconds.
When you look at a painting, how do you know there was a painter? The painting is proof of the painter.
When you look at a building how do you know there was a builder? The building is proof of the builder.
The same logic follows when you look at Creation. Creation is proof of a Creator. See Genesis 1:1.
See! Told ya! 30 seconds was all it took. Now that we have that established let's address those questions.
In this post we will address the first question. The reason for this is simple. The other three questions must derive logically, consistently, and coherently from the first. That is to say, the answer to question one will ultimately determine the answers to questions two through four. One of the most fundamental and foundational questions that every has asked or will ask in his / her lifetime is "where did I come from?" The reason for this is simple. Genesis 1:26 which says, "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;…" Verse 27 says, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Therefore, the answer is simple. You and I come from our Creator in who's image we are created.
Christianity is the only belief system that can answer this question (and the other three) logically, coherently, and completely. I realize that some will argue that no everyone believes that. Now some believe that we descended from ape like creatures over millions of years through the process of evolution, First, the process of evolution is scientifically impossible. There is no scientific possibility for nothing to create everything. It is intellectual suicide to subscribe to such a notion. Second, if this was indeed how everything came about the answer to this question would not be satisfactorily provided in such a belief.
Let's entertain the notion of evolution, millions of years, and ape like creatures. After all this is what is primarily taught in our public institutions and scientific communities as fact. Any and all dissension from this flimsy belief system is suppressed or written off as "intellectually inferior" or "narrow-minded simpletons." Consider for a moment how none of what this belief system purports can be observed, and all of the supposed "facts" to support such a belief are based largely on assumptions.
However, nevermind that. Let's pretend that we all descended from ape like creatures over millions of years of random accidents that produced life. That life then somehow developed into more complicated life forms until you have mankind. If this is our past, than our future does not matter. If we are the result of an accidental beginning, then who cares where we are going, we have no existential purpose, and it does not really matter how we live. The reason for this logical progression is simple. If we are by-products of accidents that occurred over millions of years then there is no existential absolute truth. This means there is no absolute morality, no intrinsic meaning, value or purpose, and ultimately no absolute rules to follow past our relative agreements.
But, if we were created in the image of a triune God who is just, holy, loving, relational, and many other things; it makes sense that we, the pinnacle of His creation would then be able to answer these questions satisfactorily. You and I were created in the image of God; (where did I come from) therefore, you and I are going end up in Heaven or Hell (where am I going). Subsequently, our purpose is found in the One who created us (we have intrinsic value). We are to glorify Him. Naturally, we would then live our lives in a way that honors His commandments and statutes (existential morality). You see God sets that standard of truth. It is not arbitrary. God sets the standard of morality. It is not dictated by majority or up for debate. God sets the standard for meaning, value, and purpose. You are not only worth what you can contribute. You are intrinsically valuable to an all-powerful, all-knowing, omniscient God who created you for good works in Christ Jesus.
You see, the only belief system that can answer these questions satisfactorily is biblical Christianity. Next week we will look at question number two. Where am I going? The question of destiny.
Racism is wrong, it should be condemned unequivocally by all. By that is not the problem, the problem is that most do not condemn it for the right reasons. Racism can only truly be wrong if there is an objective moral authority that makes this claim. If right and wrong are not standardized by the same objective authority than all is left up to the relative interpretation of the majority. Some would agree that this is the way it should be. I would ask if this is true, why did so many fight to end the Third Reich of Hitler’s Nazi regime? One might argue it was because the relative moral majority; namely the USA and its allies, sought to end such a horrible stain on the history of humanity. This argument would be correct and I would agree; however, I would submit to you a question worth pondering for a moment.
What if Hitler continued as the relative moral majority? What if the only reason another came along and denounced his terror was because it was offensive, violent and despicable? Let me add here an obviously needed disclaimer: I believe that all murder, violence, hate, and racism is wrong but that is not what I am contesting. I am contesting the relative thought behind the societal claims of why racism is wrong. These claims are wrong and relative to similar thinking behind “hey don’t do that because I do not like it.” I have seen nothing in the media that says “Racism is wrong because God denounces it!” I probably never will. But here is my point, if these people fighting on either side of this and all through history have altogether abandoned God or believe there is no god; and therefore no objective moral authority, how can any of them make the relative claim that behavior on either side is wrong.
I am not looking to split hairs here, but the fact of the matter is this; God created everything and therefore is in charge of everything and He is very real, He denounces hate, violence and any type of favoritism shown to someone because of their status or skin color. While this is true and confirmed in the Bible, the majority of the “victims” on either side maintain a worldview devoid of any objective moral authority. Therefore, they are behaving consistently within their ideological worldview. Again, let me say that I believe all murder, violence, hate, and racism is wrong. However, if the only reason these national atrocities are denounced is because someone is being treated different, offended, attacked or murdered we have missed the point. The problem was, is and always will be sin. The human heart is an idol factory and the Bible says that anything put before God becomes your god. This is important to understand because this is exactly what the 10 Commandments is about. Look at them:
YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Another account takes place in Luke 10 where a lawyer stood up to test him. He asked “teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds:
And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered (that is the lawyer), “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” And He said to him (that is Jesus), “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.”
What did Jesus mean in each of these responses? Good question and I am glad you asked because as He said, “on these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets;” and “do this and you shall inherit eternal life.” Coincidentally, (or perhaps not) the lawyer had a similar question; again just to test the Lord Jesus, he asks: “And who is my neighbor?” I would agree it is a legitimate question. Notice how the two “Great Commandments” sum up the 10 Commandments. The first four are summed up in the first Great Commandment and the last six are summed up in the second Great Commandment. Back to the question of “my neighbor.” In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus tells a parable that teaches this lawyer and us who our neighbor is.
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
In this day, the Samaritans and Jews did not get along in fact one might say they hated each other. When the Pharisees would go up from Galilee to Jerusalem they took an “around Samaria” approach even though walking straight through the country would be faster. They both exchanged hostility toward each other. The Jews believed Jerusalem was the only right place to worship and that they were better than the Samaritans. Likewise the Samaritans believed the same and hostility ensued. Regarding the parable, those whom one would expect to help this poor man that was beaten, mugged, and robbed did not.
The Priest passed by as he walked to the other side of the road, likewise did the Levite. Not only did these two leave this man for dead, they went out of their way to do it. Along comes a Samaritan, he has compassion for the victim. He bandages him, cares for him and even puts him up in a hotel with an advanced deposit so the man can rest and recuperate. So the question is, who is my neighbor? From an objective, eternal, powerful, compassionate, merciful, gracious, and moral authority (namely Jesus) everyone.
Let me repeat that, EVERYONE is my neighbor. This is the point of Jesus’ parable. Therefore, I should first and foremost love God, and then love my neighbor. But if I do not love God (the first commandment) I cannot love my neighbor. You see, any time something is placed on the throne of our hearts, it removes God, and when God is removed we seek after that which we desire. We hate, we are greedy, we murder, fight, yell and scream at each other. We break the first Great Commandment and once it is broken we are sure to break the second Great Commandment. If we do not love God we cannot love our neighbor; and if everyone is our neighbor, hate and murder will continue to propagate to everyone because of their differences.
I would go a step further; commandment number six says You shall not murder! which most would agree they are not guilty of, but look again at God’s standard when Jesus says in Matthew 5:21- 22
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with (or hates) his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
Lest you say, “well, this is directed toward my brother and I am fine with him.” While the Greek word for brother and neighbor are different; the context of each passage is essentially this, don’t hate anyone because when you do, you are committing spiritual murder and willingly leading yourself into the fiery hell. James has a bit to say about this as well. "If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors."
We all should do well to heed that warning. If we show partiality to anyone because of their status or skin color we are committing sin against a Holy and Righteous God and He will not acquit the wicked. God sent Jesus Christ His son to take on human flesh; fully God, fully Man to live the perfect sinless, God obedient life we could not, so that He (that is Jesus) could save all those that would put their faith and trust in Him and Him alone. Christ gave His perfect sacrificial life on the Cross to make atonement (that is, reconciling God to humankind) for our sinfulness.
Paul tells us in Romans 14:11
For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
As a middle Eastern Jew; Jesus did not just die for the European Caucasian, He died for all that would believe. In fact Revelation 5:9 and 7:9-12 make this EVERYONE abundantly clear when the text respectively says: And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Pause and absorb that in both of these passages God makes very clear that all people are God’s people and all people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” will be saved. The only distinction God makes is sinner or saint. When the time comes for us to stand before a Holy and Righteous God, we will have to give an account for everything we have done, said, and thought. At that time, the only thing that will matter is status before God, saved or lost, in Christ or in Adam, Heaven bound or Hell bound. If Heaven bound we will worship God like He deserves or spend an eternity in fiery Hell without Him.
You see God made us with a natural inclination to worship in our hearts. It was rightly bestowed unto Him. But then Adam and Eve disobeyed and brought sin, death, disease, and destruction upon us on. Our hearts are still inclined to worship; however, they will naturally worship anything but God. Once we remove God, His moral authority and absolute truth from our lives, we propagate hate, murder, selfishness, envy, racism, and all manner of abuse at the expense of others to fulfill our wicked desires. Only the God of Heaven, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ and the effectual change of the Holy Spirit can bring about a change in the idol and hate factory that is the human heart.
We were made to worship; the question is, what will you worship?