Everything is not Relative!

October 31st, 2010

A couple of acquaintances have recently said to me, in different conversations, “Everything is relative.”

My response was to ask them , “Is that a relative statement?”

It is quite obvious, all is not relative!

Matthew 22:34 –40 “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “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 first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Like the Old Testament Jewish leaders, you may have read these verses and missed GRACE. You complain about all the “bad” things God does, yet you have no absolute reference for good things, other than the revelation innate in all humans. Part of that revelation is that all murder of innocents is wrong. Science has absolutely no accounting for that. It provides no viable, rational, reasonable or even logical explanation for morality.

Those who balk at the so-called atrocities contained in the bible have probably never read, nor less understood THOSE two commandments that Jesus gave in Matthew 22:37-40. The first is to love God with all your heart… the second to love your neighbor.

I could say I do not know about you, but I do. You are human like me, and I know I have not, nor currently cannot, nor have any hope of keeping these two commandments. I will probably even break them as I write this to you!

If you want to pick verses here and there and then be angry at God, you are absolutely free to do so. Mind you, that would be a violation of the two commandments Jesus gave above.

As much as you might love science, there are things that science can never, ever account for… especially good things. There is no scientific reason for good things. But we know good, conversely we also know bad.

Although you may opine that you do not believe that all of us suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin. I want to tell you we do. As humans, AND descendants of Adam, we all die a physical death! We are all cursed by that sin.

Psalm 139… (read all of it please)http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Ps139.1 tells us that the God  we want to know is a personal God. He knows all of our thoughts, I know you may not believe that, but bear with me.

God knows everything about me, he knew it before I was born. He knew the exact day, yeah, the exact moment, I would sin against Him. Yet, lovingly, He still formed me, breathed life into me, and cared for me as He does today.

Let me show you a couple of other passages– to start a foundation. In Job 31-17, Job is in some serious despair.– Job said in Job 3:3-4, “Let the day perish on which I was to be born and the night which said a boy is conceived! May that day be darkness.”

Job laments his birth, this is what he says in Job 3:16-17 “Why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light?”

Why didn’t I die in my mother’s womb? “There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.” What’s he saying? He’s saying, “I’d be better off if I wouldn’t have to face a troubling life–that I would enter immediately into, REST” (emphasis mine.)

In Ecclesiastes 6:3-5 Solomon laments “What’s the point of living two thousand years if you don’t ever enjoy true goodness? You’d be better off a stillborn child.”

But, the Bible tells us sinfulness is not a condition that comes upon people when they are old enough to choose to do evil (I Kings 8:46, Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Psalm 143:2, Proverbs 20:9, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Jeremiah 17:9, Matthew 15:18, Romans 3:10-11.) It is the condition of the entire human race since Adam and Eve. Everyone born has been born in a fallen, sinful state. That becomes evident as soon as any behavioral choice is made.

Ephesians 2:3 says we are the children of wrath. The bible is clear we are born with this proclivity that will eventually result in our death.

How could we then believe in a God who would seem to prescribe this?

As I see it, it is the human condition! We all must die… but then we all also have a choice!

Consider this…. condemnation is not from God. God has said this, in 2 Peter 3:9 it says that God is not willing that any should perish. Further more, in 1 Timothy 2:4 Paul writes that God’s will is that all should be saved! This says that you are born into existence, destined to die a physical death, YET the will of God is for you to inherit eternal life!

YES, Inherit ETERNAL LIFE!

But, there is another problem…

Revelation 20:11-13 “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.”

This tells US that we all must give account for WHAT WE DO! So we die as a result of the original (Adam’s) sin, but we must be judged by what we do, as recorded in books in heaven.

Let’s read a little further…

Revelation 20:14-15 “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Did you catch what the real problem is in verse 15?

It says, whoever’s name was NOT found in the book of life, he was thrown into the second death. It is called a second death, because it is not a physical death, but a ETERNAL, spiritual death. All of our deeds are recorded in those books. There is judgment for the works that we have done as they have been recorded in those books. But… regardless of what is the outcome of the judgment, it all comes down to that final book! That book is called the book of life! Why does it depend on whether any of our names are recorded there, or not?

Most people believe it is what we DO that counts FOR US… but the bible is clear… WHAT WE DO CONDEMNS US already (John 3:18!)

So, God knows that we are born into sin, that is to say… born to die, He still chooses for us to go to heaven. But sometime after we are born (and it is a different time for everybody) we CHOOSE to knowingly and WILLFULLY disobey God! Just as Adam did! This is the PERSONAL SIN we become responsible for, that immediately condemns us, and leads to spiritual death, for which we must answer to God.

So, how are we saved from this destiny?

By GRACE!

It may be said, if God takes all the babies that have died to heaven, that would be His grace, because we are destined for that place… BY HIS GRACE ALONE! Right?

But, I ask, how are you saved? Is it by keeping the law and doing good things?

Would it be better… law for babies and grace for you?

Of course not!

You have no more to do with your salvation than a helpless infant! Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when He said in Matthew 18:3, “You who go to heaven, go to heaven as little children.” Is there a better illustration of a salvation by grace than the salvation of a helpless infant?

Any true understanding of Scripture yields the reality that all salvation is by sovereign choice by God – through grace, based on nothing that the sinner merits!

So you can choose to focus on the deplorable condition of all mankind, and the evil that is so vividly described in the bible. This evil is a direct result of sin, and sin alone.

The penalty for doing evil, is death. That is what God told Adam in Genesis 2:16-17, and that penalty HAS NEVER changed! He has not changed His mind on SIN, from the beginning of the book until the very end.

Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The soul that sins, it shall die.” Not the soul that is born into sin, it is person who commits sin. That person owes a debt, in fact… We all owe THE SAME debt to God!

Yet… it is by GRACE, AND GRACE alone, provided by HIM ALONE, that we get to ever stand in His presence. That is why it is written in Acts 3:19-20 “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”

Do understand what this verse is now saying… that if we REPENT… our SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT! Colossians 2:14 says that Jesus “cancelled” this debt that stood against us with its compulsory legal demands, and He nailed to the cross!

So, no… all things are NOT relative.

You will die, as a result of Adam’s sin!

And you will die a second spiritual death for what you have done!

But there is an out… Ephesians 2:8-9 says that it is by grace alone we are saved. It also says through faith… What faith?

Ask! (John 4:10!) I tell you this, not to scare you, but simply in hope that your eyes may be opened to the truth.

Justified by the Precious Blood

August 30th, 2010

 

Oh, the precious blood
that flowed from Mercy’s side,
Washed away my sin,
When Christ my Savior died.

Oh the precious blood
of Christ the crucified,
speaks for me before your throne
where I stand justified.

It is interesting how we spend much time justifying sin. We like to think the little white lies we tell are okay because they are justifiable. We also may believe it okay to steal food when we are starving.

We know that lying and stealing are wrong. However, we want to be justified. If then we long for this justification, how is it obtained?

Do we bring out a scale and weigh the perceived good and bad, and then make a decision?

If so, and we proceed with “justified” sin, is it still not sin?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we all have to work for justification. However, we know that we need it. Romans 3:20 tells us that if we try to be good enough to always do the right thing, it will not be good enough!

As the lyric in the song above… if we have put our faith in Jesus, we ALREADY are justified! It is by Jesus’ blood alone. It testifies to God the Father as we stand before His throne.

Hey, don’t believe me! Read it here in Romans 5:9.

We cannot justify ourselves, yet it is there readily available for all! Abundant enough that all can, in Christ, stand before the throne of a holy God! (Romans 4:5)

Oh, it is precious blood indeed!

Are you sure of salvation?

December 21st, 2009

Are you sure of your salvation? Can you be sure? What exactly is salvation again?

What is salvation again?

In an ealier post I described salvation in terms of the three tenses of salvation: past, present and future. Justification is the past tense (if you are saved that is) where you are removed from the penalty of sin. Glorification is the future tense where you are removed from the presence of sin. In between these is sanctification, the present tense, where you are removed from the power of sin. Sancification is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit and you agreeing with the Spirit to make choices to follow the Spirit in his quest to make you like Jesus. This is what goes on as a believer “works out his salvation with fear and trembling”, as Paul said in Philippians 2:12

Unlike santification the believer has very little to do with what happens in justification and glorification. As Paul says in Romans 8:30

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

(I won’t get into the apparent paradoxes involved in predestination vs. freewill except to say what appears to be predestination is really freewill, depending on whether you are inside or outside the created universe. The Holy Spirit calls everyone with a soft voice. Eventually, you either listen to that voice and enter the transaction that triggers justification, or you ignore the voice until the Spirit stops calling you.)

The main point of the verse is that justification and glorification are up to God. Nothing you could do could possibly affect your justification or glorification. Once you make the decision to agree with God that you need to be saved, God takes care of justification, cleaning up your sin debt, sealing your spirit with the Holy Spirit, etc. see 2 Cor 1:21-22. Glorification takes place at the rapture or resurection, depending on which side of the grave you are on when Jesus comes back for us. see 1 Cor. 15:51-53 and 1 John 3:2 on glorification.

Can you be sure?

The big question, though, is can I be sure of my salvation? John 10:27-30 answers that pretty well.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.I and [my] Father are one.

If if no man is able to pluck me out of Jesus or his Father’s hands, and I am a man (human, that is) then nothing I can do will cause me to lose my salvation.

What is the point of sanctification?

Sanctification, as I said, is that process that goes on in a believers life between Justification in the past and Glorification in the future. Sanctification is the present you give back to Jesus for giving you eternal life. 😉

A lot of people do not get too far along with sanctification. It is a lot of bother, what with going to college or finding a job or working to support a family. They might go to church regularly or just Easter and Christmas, throw some money to charity, read the bible when they notice it. Except for Sundays and holidays, they probably do not think about God very much.

Mainly though, they just will not grow very much spiritually. How they they be more like Jesus when they do not set themselves apart from the world and draw close to God? How can they be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2) when they do not read the word of God?

You might say, “what difference will it make? I am going to heaven and all that, so who cares?” If you look at 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 you might change your mind:

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

The works you do to “get brownie points” by following rules or doing what people say “a Christian should do this” is what Paul calls wood hay and stubble. What you get out of following the lead of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification process is gold, silver and precious stones. So what? Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 tell us that we shall all stand before the jusgement seat of Christ. This is where all believers will give an account of how they spent their lives, in good ways and not so good. As your life is reviewed you will probably be disappointed at time you wasted, not following the spirit, not living up to what you could have done. I say this to explain why God should have to wipe away our tears. (Rev 21:4) This also explains Paul’s paranoia about losing his rewards (1 Cor 9:27)

This judgment is not for saying you go to heaven or hell. That has been decided by your response to what Jesus did on Calvary. The “judgement scene” you see at the Judgement House dramas churches do is a bit misleading. Believers and non-believers do not stand at the same judgement seat. Non-believers are judged at the end of time, after the second resurection. This is called the great white throne judgement. Rev 20:11-15

Basically sanctification is a choice of hanging out as a hippy or refugee after Jesus judges our works on earth, or hearing him say “well done my faithful servant” and being rewarded with crowns for service to Him. I don’t know if you know this, but hippies and refugees stink. I would rather not have all my works burnt up. I would rather hang with the people who smell good. Still, being a hippy in heaven is better than being in hell. 😉

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What is salvation?

October 24th, 2009

You hear a lot about salvation: are you saved?, John 3:16, sinner’s prayer, walk the aisle, whatever. Something to the effect that you say a prayer or something and you are going to heaven. They might hand you a bible or a pamphlet and tell you to get baptized or join a church or something, but what is really involved in this salvation thing?

The three tenses of salvation

I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved! The past, present and future tenses of salvation. Interestingly, you have three parts that need to be saved: your spirit, your soul and your body.

Salvation is a 3 stage process. When you decide you want Jesus to be your lord and trust that He paid for your sins when He died on the cross, that is what most people call salvation, as if it is a destination in itself. John 3:16, Eph 2:8-9

Past tense of salvation: Justification

Actually it is a beginning. This is what the bible calls justification. (Romans 10:9-11) This fancy word word means that to God it is just-as-if you had never sinned. Justification is a complex process but all of the heavy lifting gets done in the spiritual realm. This is a transaction that takes place at one point in your life. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit and your spirit is made alive. (Eph 1:13) At this point you are free of the penalty of sin. (Rom 8:1-2) Continue reading »