Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Which Side Are You On?

Yesterday I passed along my thoughts on the two different cultures manifesting themselves in America today. I said that I didn’t have a question, only an observation, but that was not entirely accurate.

I do have a question. The point of the observations, naturally, was to cause you to consider which culture you fit into and whether it is the right choice or not. In other words Which Side Are You On?

The second phrase of the opening sentence of Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities (see yesterday’s post) reads:

it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,

A Tale of Two Cities, Chapter I. The Period

And if that doesn’t describe today’s America, I don’t know what does. One side of the culture screams about the foolish tweets from President Donald Trump and then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes the totally nonsensical statement:

“a wall, in my view, is an immorality” and “the least effective way to protect the border and the most costly.”

Fox News Story

A view not exactly shared by the rest of her party.

But it is crazy, right? One view is shared and the opposing culture hears it as total foolishness but yet the agreeing culture hears it as great wisdom.

One can certainly understand the pain, anguish, and shear lunacy Charles Dickens was attempting to describe in his book A Tale of Two Cities.

But what if I were to tell you I believe this division has happened much earlier in history? Consider the words of John:

37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

John 18:37-39

Pilate was completely frustrated with the foolishness of the day. On the one hand he could find no fault with Jesus but on the other there were cries from the people for his crucifixion. In his frustration he asks “What is truth?

It is this very same struggle for truth that is plaguing all of us today. It is the confusion on one side of the culture when #BlackLivesMatter calls out for the destruction of (so called) racially offensive language, monuments, and the erasure of American history itself. And the other side of the culture is confused because these exact same people align themselves with Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the mayor of New York City Bill de Balsio. If these people were actually intellectually honest with themselves and us they would be calling for the abolishment of the Democrat party itself rather than aligning themselves with it.

It was the Democrat party that championed slavery and racism. It was the Republican party that freed them. It was the Democrat party that voted for Jim Crow laws and segregation. It was the Republican party that fought for inclusion and the idea that ALL people are created equal. It is Democrat party members that held positions within the KKK while the Republican party did not. It is the Democrat party that continues to this day to enact laws and policies that disadvantage more people of color while the Republican party has established a record of providing more jobs and opportunity to all of Americans. If #BlackLivesMatter is really so incensed with being reminded of the history of slavery in America, then they should be for the complete abolishment of the Democrat part as well.

There are so many that have fought to bring the light of truth to this history. Alfonzo Rachel for one. Dinesh D’souza for another. People of color who would certainly have no agenda for furthering “white supremacy“. And there are so many others that continue to educate, inform, and offer alternate points of view. But our culture is divided. And people ask what it is divided over. The answer is quite simple and is very plain. We are divided over the TRUTH.

This is why I am passionate about the state of our country today. Not only for the very survival of America, but for the souls of so many people who are lost without TRUTH.

For you see, there is another interesting phrase in Charles Dickens opening to a Tale of Two Cities. As he sums up his setting he notes:

“… we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

A Tale of Two Cities – Chapter I. The Period

And as another champion of American History, Rush Limbaugh, would say – “for those of you in Rio LInda” Charles Dickens reference to those “going direct the other way” means Hell. And that is the real crux of the problem with Which Side Are You On? Because one side leads to Eternal Life and the other side leads to Eternal Damnation.

As for me, I chose the side of TRUTH. Because there is only one person in all of history that could (and can) credibly claim:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

And that is the person of Jesus Christ. And I believe the TRUTH because only He, the creator of all the universe, can establish TRUTH. The only thing that remains (for both the survival of American history and people’s souls) is to determine which truth you will believe. Which side are YOU on?

A Tale Of Two Cultures

In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote the historical novel A Tale of Two Cities. A story centered around London England and Paris France before/during the French Revolution. It has been referred to as the best selling novel of all time (and certainly must be in the top 10, assuming it is even taught in schools these days) and it opens with the iconic line:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

You can find an online copy of the work here (at Project Gutenberg).

Today I do not have a question, but rather an observation of how little things change and what great opportunities we (as a society, as a Nation, and even as a World) have before us to learn Truth and to apply lessons from history in order to help make all of our lives better.

One might consider the similarities between the events of 1789 in France and what is occurring in the USA today in 2020 (231 years apart) in that both are predicated by social and political unrest that affected (and affects) everyone in the land. In other words, it was a National, social and political upheaval. Oh sure, there were pockets of events, within cities, small towns, and even neighborhoods, but the prevailing mood was not just contained in small areas. It was felt Nationally and was seen around the world.

And before you get too far down the path trying to pick the analogy apart, let me just point out that it is not all that original of an idea. This story from the Daily Signal references a tweet from Senator Lindsey Graham with the same observation.

And No, I did not know of Senator Graham’s tweet when I started authoring this post, but I generally like to do a little due diligence before I post something. And even with Senator Graham’s tweet, I decided to go ahead with the conversation because I believe it is relevant.

And yes, I also realize there are those that are simply going to dismiss the analogy because it is Senator Graham‘s tweet. Because those of you who hold such wisdom have been elected to (what is arguably) the most significant legislative body in the world today. Right? Perhaps you might want to rethink your ability to assimilate and interpret data.

And whether you agree with the analogy or not, there are a couple of very interesting comparisons. You might say that today is “The best of times”. In all of human history we, as a people, have more than has ever been had before. Which is pretty funny when you consider that the #BlackLivesMatter revolution is being fought out of air conditioned homes, run off an abundance of fine food (and I don’t care if we’re talking McDonalds hamburgers here, compared to what the French were eating during their revolution, that is pretty fine dining), enjoying the benefits of social media, and traveling around in air conditioned autos with Dolby stereo systems in them. The French revolutionaries had it much harder I assure you. You might also say that today is “The worst of times” in that there is more political and social upheaval in the country than any of us has known within our lifetimes. Another interesting comparison is that both periods tried (and are trying) to remove perceived ills from the world. When the French tore down the Monarchy, they ended up with a Dictator (in Napoleon) before they got to the desired democracy. Let’s certainly hope that history doesn’t repeat itself there.

But the comparisons of the French Revolution and the state of social and political upheaval in the USA today are not what I want draw your attention to. They are merely illustrative of how history repeats itself and how we can learn valuable lessons if we only open our eyes and our minds and seek wisdom.

What is a little closer to home is the sheer lunacy that is occurring with the #BlackLivesMatter movement ripping down statues of Christopher Columbus, Frederick Douglas, and our founding fathers (stories here, here, here, and here – search for ‘statues torn down’ if you want to read more). The argument for all of this wanton destruction and terror is that they depict ‘white supremacy’. We cannot know the pain that a black person feels when they walk past one of these statues or memorials.

Well guess what? You cannot possibly know the pain that I feel when I visit a WW-II memorial, or an American Civil War battlefield where #WhiteLIvesMatter fought and died just so #BlackLivesMatter could have the privilege today to tear down all the memorials because they are too painful to walk by. But I don’t want to tear any of them down. Rather the contrary. I want my children’s, children’s, children to see them and to understand that freedom isn’t free. It is bought and paid for with a price.

What my friends over at #BlackLivesMatter might want to consider is the consequences of their actions (and I mean for their children’s children). Take another group, #JewishLivesMatter. Do you think the Jewish people want to erase all remnants of WW-II and the holocaust? Quite the opposite. They build memorials and museums all over the world to remind people of what they went through. Why? Because they don’t want people to deny that it ever happened. They don’t want history swept under the rug. And if you think that #JewishLivesMatter are being a little too paranoid, consider these kooks here, and here, and the fact that it is a prevalent enough theory to warrant a Wikipedia article (here).

And the sheer irony of the matter will be, that one day, when slavery has been erroneously erased from American History, it will be #BlackLivesMatter that will have been the cause and will have brought down the consequences upon themselves.

So before the protesting continues, before more statues and memorials are torn down, before we rewrite any more of history than has already been rewritten, perhaps #BlackLivesMatter might want to take a page out of #JewishLivesMatter playbook and consider:

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;

Deuteronomy 4:9

How Do I Know If You Trust Jesus?

The other day in my last blog post I talked about people at the George Floyd protests carrying No Justice No Peace signs (as those found here) and I mentioned how ridiculous I find that slogan. I also mentioned these people don’t know peace and that peace dependent upon justice is worthless peace. But I left it at that because my previous post was a comparison of the circumstance of George Floyd and those of Jesus Christ and why I found it both ironic and sad that people would jump to champion the cause of George Floyd, but not so many jump to champion the cause of Jesus Christ.

Today I’d like to expound on those comments a little because I don’t want to just make a blanket statement without others understanding that I actually have thought about it, prayed about, studied it, and drawn some conclusions about it that I believe are in line with the Holy Scriptures. That and I really do think it is something for all of us (especially me) to consider.

But the way I’d like to explain those comments is by answering a question that anyone might ask of me. So I’d like to propose that a question one might ask of me is how do I know if you (or the person asking the question) really and truly trusts Jesus Christ? I could have titled today’s post “Do You Have Trust Issues?” but perhaps if I explain it from my perspective it will ring a little truer.

So lets start out with the answer before I get to the logic and explanation. The answer is simple. By observing your level of PEACE with life. However, allow me to explain that by trust I don’t mean the way you trust your bank to keep your money safe. I mean a faith that is unwavering and unshaken. A faith that cannot be moved. The trust I am talking about takes all of your heart, and all of your mind, and all of your soul, and all your strength (Mark 12:30). The trust I am talking about takes place on God’s terms and not on man’s (or our) terms. And likewise, when I say peace I am not talking about the human definition of mutual harmony between countries, friends, and neighbors. The peace I am talking about is inexplicable. We are told it passes all of our understanding. It is literally incomprehensible peace. And it is peace that comes from God (John 16:33). Your level of TRUST in God (the person of Jesus Christ) is directly proportional to the level of PEACE you experience within your life.

So how do I know this? Well first of all allow me to debunk the myth that peace is somehow tied to justice. If I am to assume that those who brandish this slogan mean that we cannot have peace without justice, then clearly they are wrong. Justice is indicative of a moral or righteous code of conduct. And there are injustices all over the world each and every day. How about the injustice of abortion? Something that bothers me greatly. But my peace is not dependent upon it. By point of reference, those that brandish the slogan are usually talking about what they would define as justice not what would necessarily be just within the eyes of God. If by their slogan they mean we cannot have peace without first having their brand of justice, then I submit to you it is a lost cause and we will never have peace. As long as justice is arbitrary and defined by the whims of man then peace will be elusive. We are told that vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19) and that we are not to be given over to wrath. So clearly my peace isn’t (or shouldn’t be) tied to whatever justice I find or experience here on earth.

On the other hand if if those that brandish this slogan mean that they will not allow peace without justice, then once again I would submit to you there will be no peace here on earth. How can there be when we’ve tied it to some warped sense of justice? I am almost positive that those that brandish the slogan would have a problem when I tell them that I find those that call for the destruction of Israel, unjust. I am sure they would have a real problem with my views on abortion and how I find that practice unjust. I’m sure they would have a problem when I point out the unjustness of a cake decorator in Colorado (story here) being taken to court for not making an LBGTQ cake because it is contrary to his faith while at the same time they are calling for the tearing down of crosses (an example here) all over America. So whose justice are we talking about before we make peace not war? Certainly not what I (and hundreds of thousands of others) find to be just. Are we to go without peace for the sake of others? Or have these fools mistakenly tied peace to justice because it furthers their world view? (Just to be clear, I’m going with the latter).

So peace is not dependent upon justice, but what is it dependent upon? I would submit to you that peace is dependent upon trust. So how do I know this? Well I believe it is born out in Holy Scripture. Take Psalm 18:2 for example. What is your rock, your fortress, your deliverer, your very salvation, if not your peace? Is He not your place of refuge? Where all your needs are met? Where you find tranquility and where you are safe from all terrors? Is He not your PEACE?

And how do you obtain that PEACE? Through TRUST of course. You observe this almost everywhere in life. Missionaries exhibit this behavior every day of their lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Missionary friends in seemingly impossible circumstances. And yet totally at peace. They look at you and say “God WILL provide.” And they know this because they trust Him.

I don’t lose my peace because God is my VENGEANCE, God is my FORTRESS, God is my SALVATION, God is my ROCK, God is my EVERYTHING and I TRUST Him. And when my trust wanes, and worry creeps into my life, and it seems like terror is closing in, I cry out to Him to help me in my unbelief (Mark 9:24).

So how do I know if you trust Jesus? I look at the level of peace you exhibit in your life. The more peace, the more trust. And the more trust, the more peace there will be. Try it yourself and see if I’m right.

Are You Marching For George Floyd?

About four weeks ago no one in America (other than family and friends) had heard the name George Floyd. However, suddenly, after one senseless act, not only had the world heard the name of George Floyd, but he had suddenly become some type of martyr, a symbol, a cause to rally around.

Cries of racism, police brutality, and #BlackLivesMatter sprang up all over the news and on city streets everywhere. George Floyd had become a cause. Interestingly enough, where there was no cause the day before.

George Floyd was memorialized, he had a funeral of more than 500 including an appearance by the Rev. Al Sharpton. His family was invited to testify before the U.S. Congress. Rallies sprang up in cities across the nation. There were riots where entire neighborhoods were ravaged. And it continues on today.

Some folks even flew half way across the Pacific ocean in order to ensure they brought the protests to the State of Hawaii. I know because I saw them lining the side of the highway as I drove my wife to a Drs. appointment in town. One of them, a very young lady, probably not even in High School, held a sign that read “No Justice, No Peace“.

I’m not even sure she was wise enough to understand the sheer folly of the sign she was holding. Are we supposed to interpret that as without Justice in the world there can be no Peace? Or that they will not allow peace without justice? These people neither understand justice or peace. And to think that the two are somehow tied together or are dependent upon each other is so ridiculous and juvenile as to be laughable. The real problem is these people cannot experience peace because they’ve tied it to some warped sense of justice they’ve invented in their heads. And prior to four or five weeks ago, they didn’t even know they wanted that justice.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine. My friend, like George Floyd, is a person of color. He is not some white, European, male that (supposedly) holds all the privilege in the world. No, quite the contrary, he is probably part of a smaller minority than George Floyd is.

My friend, like George Floyd, is part of a race of people that has suffered slavery and intolerable injustices. My friends race was enslaved for many hundreds of years and far, far, far, more of them died in slavery than did any African Americans. And they were treated as worse or even more intolerable than any African American slave.

My friends race, unlike George Floyd, had six million of their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles just exterminated, for no cause, during World War II. They were killed for the gold filling in their teeth, their skin was used for lampshades, and their dead bodies were stacked like cordwood.

My friend, like George Floyd, was arrested by a group of European white guys who pretended to be the law of the land, but only because they were part of an occupying force. They came for him in the middle of the night. Carrying swords. And they took him while he was praying in a garden. They never read him his rights, they never told him what he was being charged with, and they never extended him any human dignity.

My friend, unlike George Floyd, was arrested without cause. As-a-matter-of-fact, my friend had not only never broken a law, he had never even committed the smallest sin. He had never lied, never had an evil thought, never stolen. He was totally righteous and without blame.

My friend, unlike George Floyd, was brought before a kangaroo court and was charged with fabricated and false charges. The Chief Justice even said he found no fault in Him (John 19:6).

My friend, unlike George Floyd, was beaten and scourged almost to the point of death. He was crucified. Hung from a cross. And my friend did not get any justice in death. There were no marches in the streets, no calls for justice. The important religious leaders of the day were embarrassed to show up at his funeral. And my friend was buried in a borrowed grave.

My friend is a member of the Jewish race. And you never hear #JewishLivesMatter. Even though there are repeated calls from around the world today to literally exterminate them all. There has never been a race of people that has suffered the injustices to the extent that the Jewish people have. And no one, absolutely no one marches in the street for them.

My friends name is Jesus Christ. And unlike George Floyd, he gave up his life willingly to the Roman guards. Even though he was totally without blame, he did not resist arrest nor did he alter the course of history when they scourged him and hung him on a cross. Even though he could have easily called upon the very Angels of Heaven itself and destroyed the earth (Matthew 26:53).

Oh what a friend I have in Jesus. He gave his life willingly that I (and you) might live. He died unustly that there might be justice. He died that there might be peace like no other peace on earth. Jesus is my Rock that assures me there is Justice in this world. And Jesus is my Savior that brings a Peace that passes all understanding. No matter the marches in the streets, no matter the riots, no matter the sheer lunacy the world sinks into, you cannot take my Peace. For my Peace comes from He who owns all Peace.

Never in the history of all humanity has ANY individual ever been more unjustly treated and made to suffer without cause than the person of Jesus Christ. And never has racism ever reared its ugly head in a more prominent manner than against the Church of the Family of God.

And yet no one marches in the streets. No one picks up the cause. No one wants to hold high the banner of Jesus Christ. And yet if we did, we would find the Justice and the Peace we all are looking for in the world today. Think about it.

My Reminder…

Richard C. Halverson, though I never knew him, is a hero of mine. His work and words have impacted my life. As I remember him in this month of Thanksgiving, I thank God for him. I recently posted one of his devotionals from his bi-weekly devotional letter “Perspective”. I’d like to post another today. I only wish I could find the proper entity to get permission for using his work. My efforts at this have rendered nothing so far. Should you be aware of who I might contact, please inform me. I’d be indebted.

So good to remember that…

Jesus Christ transcends all religions! Judaism, Islam, Buddhism Hinduism…

He is greater than all these – including Christianity.

Religions are inventions of men. They may begin with a great leader in mind – Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha…

But human tradition soon reduces the original to a mere set of ethical standards and a dead letter of the law which no one can follow.

The original sin was not murder, adultery or any other action we call sin. The original sin was, and still is, the human choice to be one’s own god – to control one’s own life – to be in charge – to be religious!

Rising out of this choice evolves religion: man’s attempt to please god.

Jesus transcends religion because He is the incarnation of all that is true, good, loving, gentle, tender, thoughtful, caring, courteous and selfless.

Jesus does not want you to become a Christian. He wants you to become a new creation! There is a great difference between the two.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, He is a new creation: Old things are passed away; behold, all things are new.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

From “Perspective” by Richard C. Halverson – August 12, 1996

 

Do You Meet Minium Requirements?

A co-worker came into work the other day and matter-of-factly proclaimed:

“I met the minimum requirements of motherhood this morning.”

I had to chuckle.  We all have some set of minimum requirements we believe we need to meet in order to survive each day.

But there are also a set of minimum requirements that others depend upon us to meet in order for their own survival.  If we do not nurture and care for our young, their chances of surviving in this world go down significantly.  And the younger the offspring, the less their odds for survival.  There are those in the world that are critically ill or injured that have a minimum requirement upon others for their survival.  If they do not have some very basic needs met in their lives, their odds for survival begin to plummet dramatically.  And we all depend upon others in some way or fashion.  How many of us in the world today could get by without a grocery store for food?  If your livelihood depends upon a vehicle, could you manufacture your own fuel and parts?  How many of us could provide for our own clothing and shelter?  What would our world look like and what would we, as humans be like, if we were all suddenly responsible for our own set of minimum requirements?

These questions become all the more intriguing when considered from our base world views.

For the Atheist it presents a fairly severe conundrum.    There is no meaning, after all, the entire universe is simply a petri dish of chemical and physical actions and reactions.  The fact that the majority of us seem to do our part is some outrageous statistic that is difficult to fathom at best.  Even great minds like Dr. Richard Dawkins and Dr. Stephen Hawking have stated that the appearance of order within the universe and our lives is, in fact, an illusion.  The idea that we would all just happen to come together and work towards some greater goal of survival is statistically unimaginable.  Where did this magical inner drive come from?  What is it within the natural universe that drives a process towards propagation of a species (or kind)?  The Atheist is hard pressed to find an answer within the confines of their own world view.

For the Agnostic it really doesn’t matter what the answer is or where the drive to meet any set of minimum requirements comes from.  The Agnostic simply tolerates the status quo as it meets their own set of needs and desires.  If the Agnostic finds that any one set of their basic minimum requirements is not being met, they might become anxious, or desperate, or angry, but they couldn’t really tell you why.  Nor should they care if they are truly agnostic in their world view.  Why should the Agnostic care if suddenly the portion of the world’s food supply that they depend upon were to stop?  Sure it would threaten their very survival, but they are, after all, agnostic.  And for the Agnostic, Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.

For the Theist however, the drive to meet some set of basic minimum requirements for both ourselves, and for others, takes on a whole new meaning.  It is only within the Spiritual that we find real answers to the questions as to why we need to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Which is exactly why the founding fathers of the United States of America prescribed these basic unalienable rights as having come from God.  Because from whom else could they come?  Certainly I could not grant such rights to you, nor could you grant them to me.  And we cannot collectively grant them to each other.  Which is why governments of the world who set themselves up as the arbitrators of such rights fail and become oppressive to the people.  The Theist also recognizes that just as they have been granted these rights from a living God, they have an obligation outside of themselves or the rest of creation to protect these rights in and for others.  The Theist must meet a set of basic minimum requirements for both themselves and others because their God expects no less.  The mere fact that a God, a Creator, outside of our limited physical existence, has granted us life and given to us the pursuit of liberty and happiness, demands that we honor the Creator by protecting and preserving the minimum requirements  of life, liberty, and happiness in the lives of those around us.  It becomes our sacred honor and duty to do so.

However, as important as these questions are, and as critical the preponderance of our answers to them is, they are not what I want to settle upon today.

There is one greater question that faces all of humanity, from Adam and Eve to each and every person alive today.  It is a minimum requirement that every person that has ever lived, is living today, or ever shall live, faces in their own life.  And it is a minimum requirement that none of us can meet of our own accord.  We are all dependent upon a another to meet this requirement in our lives, and it is a requirement that, sadly, the vast majority of humanity never has, and never will, give careful consideration to.

It is the question of Why?  What?  And Where?  Why are you here?  What is your purpose?  What is the meaning of it all?  And Where will you end up for all of eternity?

There is one very eloquent answer to these questions.  It is found in the Bible, in John, Chapter 3, and Verse 16.  And that answer is:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

The minimum requirement to understanding why we are here, what the purpose of life is, and to securing our place in all of eternity, is to simply Believe on the Person of Jesus Christ.  That He is who He claimed to be, the Son of the Living God, and that He came to pay the price for all my sins by dying on the cross and rising from the dead on the third day.

A very important question, critical to each of all our eternities, and it has such a simple minimum requirement.  Believe on Him.

How about you?  Have you met your basic minimum requirements for today?  More importantly, have you met THE basic minimum requirement for all of eternity?

Are You Good Enough To Get Into Heaven?

A question that I have asked a few times in the past on this blog deals with exploring why there is evil in the world.  I’ve asked this question both from the standpoint of why God allows bad things to happen to good people and why God allows evil in the world if he is indeed a good and gracious God.

However, a question that is seldom explored, and one that I have rarely, if ever, heard espoused from a theological standpoint is Can an evil person commit good acts?  Most purveyors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ seek to point out mankind’s sin.  That we are fallen creatures.  And that we are separated from a Just and Holy God.

The Bible explains that we cannot have any hope of eternal life save from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  And the entire reason that sacrifice was (and is) necessary is because we are a fallen creation.  That is, all of humankind is sinful.  We have violated God’s law, and are worthy of death, which is an eternity in Hell.

And thus evangelists, those that seek to spread the Good News that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the hope of winning souls (changing lives) for His Kingdom and His Glory, are apt to explain the state of mankind.  And that state is a separated, sinful state.  But the Good News is that we need not suffer the penalty of that state because the price has already been paid for us.  By God himself.  As only he could.

I’ll return to that in a moment.  But before I do, perhaps you are one of the many who has wondered what in the world you have ever done to deserve God’s wrath.  Perhaps you have wondered, if indeed the Bible is true (and I assure you it is), why God’s standard is so high as to condemn all who have lived, who live, or who ever will live.

In other words, why would God’s grand design be one in which we cannot win?

The genesis of this question, whether we recognize it or not, comes from putting ourselves (humankind) at the center of the equation and not God.  We want to consider things from our point of view and not His.  But the creation should never try and explain the rules to the Creator.  Rather we should seek to understand Him and His purpose, His plan, and His grand design.  We can never understand it apart from Him because He is the one who put it all into motion.  Not us.

And when we consider things from our point of view we begin to reason that yes, perhaps I have lied, but they were only little white lies.  No one got hurt by them.  They were not some atrocious acts of evil that altered the world.  After all, the vast majority of us who have ever lived can honestly say that we have not murdered anyone.  And therefore we are mostly good and only a little bad, and thus we are not really deserving of Hell, and if there is a God (and I assure you there is) He will look favorably on us because we tried really hard and did more good than we ever did bad.

In doing so, we fail to consider things from God’s point of view.  God never, ever, once (that I am aware of) asked if we had told an egregious lie, only if we had lied.  Whatever that lie may have been.  And God never, ever, once applied some scale of good and evil to our state of sin.  Only whether we had, or had not sinned.  And the Bible clearly states that ALL have sinned (and thus come short of the Glory of God).

This then creates what many may think is a paradox.  How is it, that humankind, who is sinful in nature, can do so much good in the world?  If I am so bad, why is it I am so good?  Can one who is evil in nature, find it in their heart to do good in the world?

The Bible, not surprisingly, has an answer to that question.  No one would disagree that there is good in the world.  Of course there is.  But to place ourselves at the center of that good is a fallacy and leads us down a very dangerous path.

Paul of Tarsus explained it this way in Romans 8:18-24:  We are told that it is God who shows mercy and lifts up those who falter.  Even when we sin against God himself, God works His plan for good: Genesis 50:20.  Paul further asks the question:

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?  22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,  24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:21-24, KJV).

Paul, after telling us in Romans chapter 8 that we are all sinners who have fallen short of the Glory of God, tells us in Romans chapter 9 that we cannot even lay claim to the good that is in the world as it is God, and God alone, that shows His mercy in us by allowing His good works to be wrought in us.

So are we good enough to get into Heaven?  Most decidedly No.  Not when perceived from God’s point of view.  But are we without hope, being placed in a no-win situation by the very Creator who set His great plan into motion in the first place?  Of course not.  You, and I, and everyone else, have been given the free choice of belief.  We simply need to believe in Him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the great work he did upon the Cross in order to redeem us from our sin.

Why?  Because it is all about Him, and not about us.  It is for His Honor, and His Glory, and for Him to receive Praise.

We simply need to stop making it about ourselves, and start making it all about Him.

A Final Thought on HELL

In my last three posts I’ve espoused quite a bit on the subject of Hell.  I’d like to take a final (for now) post to summarize and add a few concepts that I’ve not had the opportunity to cover in those posts.

I’ve had the great honor and privilege to sit under and be taught by some great men of God.  One of these individuals was Dr. Darrell Orman (no physical relation to me, although we certainly have a Spiritual relation), Pastor of First Baptist Church of Stuart Florida.  These individuals have taught me how to study and discern not only the truths of Scripture, but of the world around me.  And this has then translated into the development of my world view (essentially my theology).  Usually when you look at a building you do not see the foundation that it is sitting upon.  So you do not see the footers that were dug and poured that form the basis for holding that building up.  The same is true for an individual’s life.  You may not always see the foundation for which I base my arguments on, but I at least want you to have a clear enough picture to be able to discern for yourself their validity or their ineffectiveness. I’ll attempt to provide some of those insights here.

I’ve stated that I believe Hell is a finality.  It is an end state that is eternal.  In Isaiah 66:22-24 the prophet writes that the New Heavens and the New Earth which the Lord will make shall remain before Him.  A reference to the end state of humanity.  God says that one day this Earth (present day) and the Heavens above it will pass away and He will make a New Heavens and a New Earth to replace them and that the new creation will remain before him, that is it will exist forever and ever.  This is referenced again by John in Revelation 21:1.  Personally I think this is pretty exciting.  During the first Creation (Genesis 1) you and I were not around to witness the great work that God did.  But the second time around, I get a front row seat.  Imagine being able to witness first hand the Glory and the Splendor of all of Creation being brought into existence right before our very eyes.  How awesome will that be?  But also note what will transpire in that new Heaven and Earth.  Once a week and once a month God will bring all flesh (you and I) before Him, and those that are His children will go forth and look upon those that have transgressed (Sinned) against Him.  I believe this is God’s baseline.  His constant reminder to us of the great work he has done for us.  We will never, ever forget the great Mercy, and Grace, and Love he has shown us and the great work he performed on our behalf.  Hell is a finality (for all of eternity) because an eternal Hell balances an eternal Heaven.  Just as God’s great Mercy is for all of eternity, so is His great Judgement for all of eternity.  That is why this life is so precious and important.  The choices we make now will impact us for all of eternity.

I’ve also stated that Hell is God’s holding place (prison) for Sin.  The passage in Isaiah tells us that those who have transgressed against him (along with this passage in Revelation 20:10-15) will be imprisoned there and that they will not die.  I have heard theologians teach that everyone, part of God’s family or not (we would say the saved and the unsaved) will receive a new, incorruptible body.  Those in Hell will remain there and they will not die because their incorruptible bodies will not succumb to the fire.  But at the same time, they will not experience relief from that fire.  This is not a foreign concept to us. Most countries today have individuals that they imprison for life with no chance of parole.  If we, as humanity can see fit to imprison those within society that we deem unworthy of freedom, how much more can a Holy and Just God see fit to imprison those who have transgressed against him for all of eternity?

I’ve stated that we (humanity) are faced with a choice as to where our destiny lies.  Essentially the question that Nicodemus asked of Jesus Christ as recorded in John.  And Jesus’ answer, in John 3:16 tells us that we simply need to believe in Him. Jesus tells us that we have that choice to make.  We may believe in Him and have eternal Life, or we may reject Him and join the vessels of dishonor in Hell.

I’ve stated that God allowed us (humanity) to be immersed in that which was not Him in order that we could truly make that choice for His Honor and His Glory.  This is a theological conclusion on my part and is based on us being joint heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17) having suffered through being transgressors of God and bought and paid for with a price that He paid.  And from this standpoint, Hell is a part of God’s great plan.

A great many people in the world today think that Christianity wants to threaten them with the prospect of Hell.  Many want to turn Hell into a threat that God makes in order to get us to do what He wants us to do (if you don’t do good you’ll go to Hell).  Nothing could be further from the truth.  God doesn’t need to threaten us to have us do his will.  He is, after all, God.  Hell is not a threat, it is a consequence.  It was not created for us and we have to choose to end up there.  It is however, very much a reality and an integral part of God’s great plan.  In order to show us who He is, God first chose to show us who He is NOT.  And that required a place to keep that which God cannot have within his presence, Sin.  And thus we have Hell.

Hell makes perfect theological sense if you work it through.  But the only way you will escape it is through the person of Jesus Christ and his death on the Cross.  You cannot escape it by explaining away its existence as the Evolutionists try to do.  You cannot escape it by ignoring it as the Agnostics try to do.  And you cannot escape it though your own good works and efforts.  You must be rescued from it by Jesus Christ himself through belief in Him.

I truly hope that you realize you need to place your trust in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and believe in Him so that you do not spend an eternity in the finality that is a very real Hell.

Hell: Is it For You or Me?

In my last couple of posts I’ve espoused the idea that Hell is God’s holding place for Sin for all of eternity.  But I haven’t fully explored what that entails.  Particularly, will we (humanity) find ourselves there?  It is a reasonable question after all, because we know there is evil in the world and if Hell is God’s prison for evil, will we (any or all of us) find ourselves there?

Unsurprisingly, this question haunts a lot of individuals in the world today.  Dr. Stephen Hawking is so disturbed by it, he has devoted his life to trying to answer it.  And if you think I stretch the bounds of reason here, look at the last few pages of his book The Grand Design. S.W.Hawking and L. Mlodinov (Sep 2010), ISBN-13: 978-0553805376.  Look at the last few pages of the vast majority of any Evolutionist’s book.  They usually conclude with the thought that if evolution is true, there is no God, and if there is no God, there is no Heaven, and by contrast, if there is no Heaven, there is no Hell.  Ahhhhh finally!!  We’ve escaped Hell.  The Evolutionist’s means of escaping Hell is by disproving it.  By-the-way, the Agnostic’s means of escaping Hell is to ignore it (after all, what do they care?  An Agnostic is impartial by definition).  The Theist however escapes Hell by trying to understand it.  It is up to you as to which path you choose.

The Creator’s answer is yes, some of humanity will find themselves locked away in Hell for all of eternity.  Jesus Christ himself told the story of a certain rich man who found himself in a place of torment (Hell) in Luke 16:19-31.  Here we have a man alive on the earth who died and found himself in Hell.  So if we are to take the Creator’s word for it, the answer would seem to be yes, we (humanity) can definitely end up in Hell.

However, knowing that mankind can end up in Hell, does not necessarily mean that Hell was created for mankind.  Actually Peter tells us that it is God’s desire that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).  In other words, God does not desire to see anyone in Hell.  That doesn’t sound to me like God created Hell for humanity.  Rather that he is saddened that some of humanity gets swept into Hell along with the rest of the evil host.

I was asked to lead a singles Bible study about 16 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,  One of the members of that study asked me what I thought the difference between angels and humans was.  The question really boiled down to whether or not an angel could experience mercy and grace. I do not (personally) believe they can.  We are two different types of vessels,  In the case of humanity, we have the distinct privilege of being made in God’s own image. When God created us, He made family, His family,  I, for one, am more than happy being the weaker of the vessels.  An angel will never know the honor and the privilege of being a part of the family of God.  Angels certainly get to watch God’s plan play out on a stage and an scale I could only hope to understand.  But that is not worth trading to be a part of the family of God,

So I believe that God created Hell for the vessels of dishonor He created for the purpose of introducing Sin into creation.  Mankind was created as God’s very own family and then was allowed to be put to the test with that Sin.  Adam, on behalf of all of mankind (yeah, I know, but before you give Adam a bum rap, consider that you or I would have done no different), failed that test,.  And God then had to set his plan into motion to rescue us by paying the price for that Sin in our stead.  Had we never been in that Sinful state we wouldn’t have needed rescuing, and by not being rescued we would have never known God’s Mercy, and Grace, and Love.

A few years ago, Rev. Rick Warren wrote a book titled The Purpose Driven Life.  You may take several things away from that book, but the one thing that kept hitting me in the face was It’s not about me, it’s all about God.  People keep asking question like “If God did not want anyone to perish, why didn’t he just put us all into Heaven to begin with?”  Well, it is His show, His plan, His design, and it is for His Glory and His Honor.  It is all to Glorify Him.  And that alone is good enough for me.  But my theology also allows me to reason that perhaps God wanted a family that actually knows Him on a personal level, that understands His Mercy and His Grace.  And knows of His Love like none other in all of creation.  And that required us to know what was NOT Him to begin with.

But God did not want just want dedicated servants.  I believe he has those with the Angels.  Both the ones created to serve His purpose in good, and those created to serve His purpose in evil.  No, God wanted his family to choose Him because they desired to of their own free will.  And thus he gave us a choice.,  We may choose.   Choose rightly, and spend eternity in Heaven, choose wrongly and spend eternity in Hell.

Astute theologians should recognize at this point that we have a paradox,.  The Youth Pastor and Worship Leader of my home church growing up pointed out to me that perhaps I was asleep during certain studies and that there actually is a study of these paradoxes in theology,  My Youth Pastor was Rev. Mitch White and he has been a great friend and mentor over the years.  The study he recently introduced me to is antinomy, literally two competing but equally true ideas.

I don’t know how it is that God can be 100% in control and that at exactly the same time you and I have the free will to live our lives and to either choose or reject Him.  Louie Giglio said in one his Passion Series that it is a great mystery that God can be completely in control and mankind can have free will at exactly the same time.  We cannot resolve or know all paradoxes in this life.  But I do know this, you and I have a choice, and that choice is Heaven or Hell.  And the choice is final, for all of eternity.

Hell: A Finality?  Very much so.  I would surmise that it takes an eternal Hell to offset an eternal Heaven.  I choose to believe on Jesus Christ, that He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  I believe with all my heart that I have chosen wisely.

Consider the Wise Men (3 Kings)

There are many things that bother people about Christians, but seemingly the one single thing that people really key in on is a Christians insistence upon Jesus Christ being the ONLY way to Heaven.  People don’t like being told that there is only one way to do something.  As a matter-of-fact, if you want to alienate someone from you and have them mad at you for a long time, simply tell them that when they are with you, it is your way or the highway.

And yet Christians come along and do exactly that.  They tell people that the only way you can get into Heaven is through Jesus Christ and belief in him.

And there are a lot of theists around the world that don’t want to hear that.  There are also a lot of atheists around the world that are threatened by that.

The theistic people that are threatened by the claim that Jesus Christ is mankind’s only hope to see Heaven are angered by the fact that this then trumps their god.  They want to believe that Jesus Christ is A way to Heaven, but he is not the ONLY way to Heaven.  Buddhists want to believe that Buddha is a way to Heaven.  Muslims want to believe that Mohamed the prophet is a way to Heaven.  Hindus want to believe that everything is a way to Heaven.  And a lot of good folks just want to believe that they are the way to Heaven.  If I just live a good life and am kind, I will get into Heaven.

Atheistic people are threatened by the claim that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven because they have some mistaken belief that this somehow limits their freedom or creates strife in the world.  This always amuses me greatly because it is generally these very people that have no problem whatsoever demanding that some cause they believe in be practiced, yet your cause cannot be because it encroaches upon peoples liberties.  An example of one of these causes might be abortion.  A cause that really does encroach upon my actual liberties.  A cause that costs me my tax dollars that I pay (I would never support abortion with my money unless forced to).  A cause that costs society in fractured lives (I could provide the stats if you doubt me here, but you can do the research yourself).  A cause that, in my humble point of view, legalizes the killing of innocent human beings (and before you jump on the bandwagon here, let me ask you, how in the world can these clinics be caught selling human body parts for research unless they are already developed?).  A cause that is affecting the very fabric of society, and yet when a Christian comes along and says that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven, they immediately have to be silenced.  Even though the Christian’s statement costs nothing and it’s only effect of society is what others allow it to have.  Nothing is forced on them, it is not a statement that disrupts peoples lives (unless they allow it too), it is simply a statement that may be accepted or rejected.

But I digress.  Even agnostics seem threatened by the statement that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to Heaven because they don’t like having their world disrupted by being told any absolutes.

Everyone appears to miss the fact that Christians are not making a claim on their own, rather they are repeating what they have been taught (and come to believe) by Jesus Christ himself.  It is not Christians who decided that Jesus Christ was the ONLY way to Heaven, it was Jesus Christ himself who made the statement:

“5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.  (John 14:5-7 King James Version (KJV))”

Jesus Christ made the statement that he was the only way to the Father (in Heaven) and he is the only one who ever has made this statement or could make this statement.  Buddha did not claim this, Mohamad did not claim this, not even Satan has claimed this, nor could they.  I believe God, as the author of truth, reserves this one claim for his Son and only his Son.

Suppose someone today were to make this claim.  A great world leader or an influential person who champions the cause of the poor and downtrodden.  Would you hold them credible?  I do not think you would.  There is one person, and only one person who ever could make this claim credibly.

But how do we know that Jesus Christ was credible in making this claim?  I believe there are many reasons, but consider this one – the Magi that came to Jesus as a young child bowed before him and worshipped him (Matthew 2).  They also brought him gifts of great value – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Where did these Magi (whom have been referred to as Wise Men and Kings) come from?  Matthew tells us only that they came from the East.  A lot of Biblical scholars place their origin in Persia, India, and Babylon.

Why would kings or wise men of obvious influence during this time travel to a foreign land and seek out a young child born in a stable and bow before him and worship him?  Their people were not looking for a Messiah.  And they probably did not have a complete understanding of the Old Testament (hence their questions of Herod).  And their method of finding Jesus was through secular means.  They told Herod they had “seen his star in the East”.  Note that they prescribed to Jesus Christ his very own star.  And because of this they recognized him as King of the Jews and in the very act of finding him and worshipping him and presenting him with gifts of great value, they in effect recognized him as King of Kings.

Why is Jesus Christ’s claim to be the ONLY way to Heaven credible?  Well one compelling reason is because the leaders of the countries which birthed the other religions of the world came and bowed down before him.

This Christmas season I hope you will take a moment to consider the Three Kings.  The Wise Men who came to Herod seeking the one who had his very own star in the heavens.  If they would come and worship Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords perhaps we should pause and give thought to his claim of being “the ONLY way to the Father” in Heaven.

Merry Christmas to ALL of YOU and may each and every one of you have a Blessed New Year.