Happy Easter

March 20, 2008

This weekend the Christian church commemorates the most important event in the history of our faith – the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’d like to wish you all a very happy Easter. We will be taking this long weekend off blogging as we’re going to be away from our internet connection. We’ll be back, Lord willing, on Tuesday.

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
29Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.” 33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-34)


Without Scripture We Can Know Nothing

March 19, 2008

“Not only do we know God by Jesus Christ alone, but we know ourselves only by Jesus Christ. We know life and death only through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, we do not know what is our life, nor our death, nor God, nor ourselves. Thus, without Scripture, which has Jesus alone for its object, we know nothing, and see only darkness and confusion in the nature of God, and in our own nature” (Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 547).

How Much Theological Error Is Too Much Error To Be Saved?

March 18, 2008

I have often pondered the question of how much theological error one can hold and still be a Christian. Salvation cannot be an easy thing (in the sense of believing and living however we want and still be saved) for we are told the way is narrow (Matthew 7:13-14). When asked a question of the particulars of worship Jesus answered the woman at the well that we are to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24). The conclusion I have come to is that any doctrinal error that perverts the worship of God is salvation-effecting. One must worship God in truth – as he truly is – in order to be saved.

The first essential in worshiping God in truth is worshiping as he is. This plays out in many ways. The worship of God is distorted when you worship an idol instead of the one true God. An idol may take a physical form, for example a statue or picture, or it may take the form of self-worship, or the worship of money or things or any other person other that God.

John 1:1 and 14 says that Jesus Christ is God himself in the flesh. Therefore one must worship God in the person of Jesus Christ. To claim to worship God but deny the deity of Jesus Christ is to deny God. To know Jesus Christ is to know God (John 14:7).

Theologically Christ is referred to as the second Person in the Trinity (God the Father being the first). The third Person is the Holy Spirit. The deity of the Holy Spirit can be illustrated for example in Acts 5:3, 4, where lying to the Holy Spirit is said to be lying to God himself. To know the Holy Spirit is also to know God. To deny any of the persons in the Trinity, the Father, Son or Holy Spirit is to deny part of who God is. In doing this you end up worshiping a God distinct from the God of the Bible, and are thus cannot be worshiping God in truth.

Worshiping God as he is also involves worshiping him as his personality says he is. If your idea of what God is like is distorted – if you think he is a cruel God, or else a complacent God who doesn’t really care what you do, or if you treat him like a genie in a bottle who answers your every wish, or anything of this sort – then your worship of God will not be in truth.

Secondly, one must worship God in truth by understanding the way to be saved. Salvation comes through no one else but Jesus Christ. We are told that the only name under heaven by which we must be saved is the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). The Lord says that he is the truth and that no one comes to God except through him (John 14:6). You are not saved by good works but by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). At the same time, your faith must show itself in the way you live (James 2:14-26), because that is how it is displayed that there has been an actual saving change in your life. Neither can you be saved by following any other religion. There is only one way to the heaven, and it is through Jesus Christ (John 4:12; Acts 4:12).

Thirdly, worshiping God in truth involves receiving salvation God’s way through the method God provided. John 3:3 says that we must be born again. This is a spiritual rebirth that puts to death the sinful nature and makes us new in Christ Jesus. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our born-again experience is possible only through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ died on the cross to put to death the sinful nature, and he rose again from the grave to claim victory over it. If Christ has stayed dead there would still be no salvation. “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Because Christ is risen from the grave, “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Finally, worshiping God in truth cannot be done unless we affirm the infallibility of his Word, the Holy Bible. The Scriptures are God-breathed, completely inspired by God and thus completely trustworthy (1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12). If you do not believe the Bible is the Word of God, you cannot trust anything else you think you know about him. You have then traded God as he has revealed himself through Scripture for a false god of your own making. You have also then traded the message of salvation for your own methods. You can no longer know God or worship him for who he is and what he’s done.

So here we have the essentials of Christian doctrine. Every biblical doctrine is connected with these three things. Without believing these you cannot say you are truly worshiping God or are truly saved:

1. The nature of God – in his personality and attributes and his existence as a Trinity
2. The nature of salvation – that we cannot be saved unless we are born again, having died to the sinful nature and been made alive in Christ; that Christ died to pay the price for our sin because we cannot save ourselves or die to sin under our own power; and that he rose from the dead to conquer the grave
3. The nature of the Bible – that the Bible is the inspired, perfect and complete Word of God; if you don’t believe what the Bible says, you can know nothing of the first two points or anything else connected to them.

The Top 10 Lies Our Culture Believes, Cont’d

March 17, 2008

On Friday I posted up a list of the top 10 lies our culture believes. I originally intended to tackle them one by one here on Minds, but I am going to deal with them on Listen instead. So stay tuned and feel free to jump into discussion on the issues that are going to be covered over the next couple weeks. In the meantime, here’s a bit of Scripture to meditate on:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8).

The Top 10 Lies Our Culture Believes

March 14, 2008

Our culture has been taught to believe all sorts of things that just aren’t true. I’m going to be covering each of these over the next two weeks. The first five have to do with the way our culture views spirituality. The last five have to do with the issues directly impacted by culture’s faulty understanding of spirituality.

1. Truth is relative.
2. Faith is private.
3. The Bible is full of contradictions and the church full of hypocrites.
4. You can’t judge me.
5. I’ll never be perfect.
6. I can do whatever I want as long as it’s not hurting anyone.
7. I can be with whoever I want as long as we love each other.
8. It is a woman’s right to choose abortion.
9. Divorce is acceptable if a marriage is no longer working.
10. A submissive wife is a slave.

Editor’s Note: We are going back to our regularly daily posting schedule. Thank you for bearing with us as we lowered the dosage for the last few weeks! It has been a great time of spiritual recharging for me. I’m glad to be back up to full strength and ready to get back to blogging 5 days a week.

Judging God

March 12, 2008

Richard Dawkins’ latest book (collaborated with Neil Gaiman, and Russ Kick) is called Everything You Know About God Is Wrong. This provokes a couple interesting questions.

First, if Dawkins doesn’t believe in God, how can he ask such a question in the first place? If God doesn’t exist, then how could any view of him be wrong?

Second, how would Dawkins know what view of God is wrong compared to what is right? What is his point of reference? If he claims it is his reason, well that just doesn’t line up, because his reason claims God doesn’t exist in the first place (per point #1). If he still says his reason and skirts the issue, the points remains – he doesn’t have a point of reference to compare what God “ought to be like” (in his view) to what God isn’t (in his view).

If you are going to say God “isn’t” something, you have to have something to point to so that you can say what God is. Otherwise you are just taking shots in the dark. This is not reason, but just subjectivity.

The Hound of Heaven

March 10, 2008

I fled Him down the nights and down the days.
I fled Him down the arches of the years,
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
of my own mind: And in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
Down titanic glooms of chasmed fears
From those strong feet that followed, that followed after
For though I knew His love that followed
Yet I was sore adread
Lest having Him I have naught else beside.
All that I took from thee I did but take
Not for thy harms
But just that thou might’st seek it in my arms.
All which thy child’s mistake fancies are lost
I have stored for thee at home:
“Rise, clasp my hand, and come.”
Halts by me that footfall:
is my gloom after all,
shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly.
Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am he whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, that dravest me.

(Except from The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson, as found in Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias, pg. 19-20)

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