Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Does the Bible Teach that Human Life is Sacred?

Why Does the Bible Teach that Human Life is Sacred?
Sanctity of Life 2016
Why Does the Bible teach us that all Life is Sacred?
All Human Life is stamped with the Image of God.
Christians are called to exercise vigilance for life.
Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
This verse is crystal clear about one thing. We were all dead in sins. Not physically dead, spiritually dead. Right? “How many of you have heard the old expression: “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.”? Heard that? That’s not really a good saying. It needs to be shorter. “The Bible says it –That settles it!” Whether you believe it or not. Eph 2 says: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.
OK? What did that look like? We followed the course of this world and the “Prince of the power of the air.” Who is that? That’s the Devil, Satan. Jesus called him, The “ruler” of this world (Jn12&14). He doesn’t rule the entire universe, that’s God’s job. But we all followed the Devil.
So what else does this look like when we are dead in sins. Stay there in Eph. But listen to 1 Cor 6:9 "… neither sexually immoral, idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
Listen, you may not admit it for yourself, but before I came to Christ, these were my kind of people. Yes, I was raised in a home that was pretty far from this, but I chose to associate with immoral idolaters who were greedy drunks and scoundrels – which is what a ‘reviler’ is. I think I hit the motherlode pretty good. AND I participated!!!
Now it doesn’t take long for a sinner to decide some of these sins are nothing. Sexual Immorality? Pssh! Forget that man. Love the one your with! All’s fair in love and war. But we all maintain SOME kind of moral standard. Maybe yours is lying or stealing. You’re like, “OK, that’s just wrong.” But not everybody agrees with you. Liars and thieves don’t think they’re so bad!
What I am pointing out is that while salvation is inside of us and spiritual, there’s something to be said about our behavior that defines our citizenship. Are we Following after the Prince of the World or are we Citizens of the Kingdom of God?
But now back in Eph. V4; This is the Hinge of the Door of Grace! BUT. GOD. Who is rich in mercy… Everything changed because of God! Maybe I came to my senses, but it was GOD who brought me there. Maybe I began looking for something better, but it was GOD who drew me there! Back over in the 1 Cor passage we read 1Co 6:11 "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…" You didn’t wash yourself – God did. You didn’t sanctify yourself – God did. This whole idea just broke down my understanding of being a Christian, of being "good enough" for God. The idea I am talking about is the GOSPEL, the good news about Jesus.
You know what? I STINK at being good! I’m just not good at it. Oh I can be good enough! When I am around you I can do the things YOU think I ought to do. When I’m around someone else I’ll figure out what they think is good. You might think you are good. But really, if I could look at all your thoughts and all your actions… really? Would you let me put all your secret thoughts and actions up on a video screen at the front of the church? Are you that much better than me?” Listen, I live my life 24/7/365 before the Face of God! And I AM NOT GOOD! … But - Jesus - is.
And Jesus said, trust in me, come to me, surrender to me, and I’ll - be – your - righteousness! All of a sudden I am confronted NOT with what I THINK is immoral. But I’m confronted with what GOD says is immoral & sinful. As if the Spirit within me says, This isn’t Your choice! This is just what Sin is!! Deal with it.
I know many of you think that this subject is important for others but it doesn’t relate to you. Could it relate to you? Could your child, or grandchild, or friend of a friend of a grandchild possibly be influenced by you? Could you help people who are helping others who have hard choices to make? Could you pray for someone? Could you help someone have a biblical understanding of the value of Human life? I think this could surely affect your life. So listen up!
First, Gen 1:26 "God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." GOD created humans with His Image! Something about God was on Adam and Eve that aren’t on lions and sheep or dogs and cats.
Ill) A lion never lays awake at night thinking, Man, I feel bad about eating the baby antelope, And doing it right in front of that camera crew from the wildlife channel. NEVER! But you and I? Regrets galore. WHY? We have a Moral State! Anybody who ever says, "I have lived my life with no regrets" is an idiot! NO REGRETS? Were you perfect? I don’t think so. I may have more regrets than you, but all of us should. We should regret sinning against God. Regret not raising our children better. Regret not loving more and regret being so stinking selfish!
But your puppy never does that! Not because he’s perfect, he just isn’t made with a moral state!
Why did God give mankind Dominion over animals? We have a capacity they don’t have. We use the term “Humane” for treating animals right? Not because all humans are good, but we know HOW God’s creation “Ought” to be treated. We don’t say, “Treat animals more animalistic.” No we say treat them Humanely! WHY? Cause animalistic means be brutal to each other. Yes, humans CAN be cruel, but we have a Moral State!
Second, SO GOD made Adam and Eve that way. What about the rest of us? Psalm 58:3, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth..." This verse shows us that Man’s moral state is from the womb. He’s already wicked. "Wicked" is a Moral state. Rom 5:12 "…sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men…". We inherit this Image of God in the form of a Moral State (among other things), and also inherit a Sinful nature! Job 14:4, says, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one." Did your dad sin? Be honest, even If your dad is sitting next to you. Moms, anybody's mom sin? This isn’t rocket science. If dad’s a sinner and mom’s a sinner, guess what, you are Sinners. You might have inherited your good looks from Mom, but you also got a sin nature.                                                  
Third, So When does this Moral State Begin? See, If every soul is a sinner(see Eph 2:1 at top), when does the soul start? That will be when your Image of God starts. Right? Logical? Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." See that word “conceive.” The answer to the question - according to God’s Word - about when the soul comes into being: Ready?
At conception! Our Moral State is in force at Conception! Why? That’s when we become Human! That’s when we’re stamped with 2 things: 1) The Image of God which includes our Moral State, and 2) The Sin we inherited as our sinful condition.
This has PROFOUND consequences if you believe what the Bible says here.
Do you know why God commanded us to Not Commit Murder! Why he said, Thou Shalt Not Kill. It doesn’t mean you can’t step on an ant, or slaughter a cow. It means, the unlawful pre-meditated killing of a human by another. WHY did God say that?
Long, long, ago, before the 10 commandments included "Thou shalt not kill.", God told Noah, Gen 9:6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed...
-for God made man in his own image.
Yes God allowed for capital punishment or war; and God doesn’t hold people responsible for accidents. BUT you’d Better Not take a human life at will, for your own satisfaction. Because that Human is in GOD’s image!
Because of these Truths I have just shared I can say this: Abortion is murder. (These Women need help not pat answers)
Euthanasia is Murder. (You can make it people comfortable, you can honor their "Do not resuscitate" requests, but not kill.) Slavery is evil. (I'm glad the church fought it 150 years ago!) Human trafficking is Sinful. (100s of thousands and many under 17 years old)            
You might ask “what can I do about it?”
First, stand on the Word of God, this society needs that desperately! Don’t be ashamed to say "I am Pro-Life because God is pro-life!" This doesn't mean sound rude or belligerent. You can be gracious and loving and say it.
Second, help those who are helping people. There are people facing an abortion decision who can get help from Pregnancy Crisis centers. There are people who help rescue Children from Human trafficking.
There are people who need to know, that while you will do everything you can to help alleviate suffering you will not rush their death by killing them.
And lastly, Stop helping people who Do these ungodly things! Don’t put them in office, don’t send them money, and don’t applaud their evil efforts!
I had a good friend years ago who had several abortions. You know what she found out? Jesus forgives! He forgives and loves and restores. She learned that "such were some of you."

NEVER EVER EVER EVER Forget, That God, who is rich in mercy, For His Great love, wherewith He loved us – Even when we were dead in trespasses and sins- has made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and by Grace You can be forgiven and saved!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Question 5: Is Jesus God?

How Do you answer the Question about Who Jesus is? Is He God? A good man, philosopher, avatar, or legend?
     I grew up in church and a Christian home and didn’t have any doubt that Jesus was God. I didn’t appreciate the complexity of all that until I studied theology and found it’s really pretty intricate, but the basic idea of Christianity is: Jesus is God!
     Years ago I read the biography of one of my favorite Christian song-writers, Keith Green, You may have heard some of his and his wife, Melody's, songs: There is a Redeemer, Oh Lord You’re Beautiful, and Rushing Wind are just a few. As an adult he gave his life to Jesus Christ, was attending church, writing songs, and doing concerts. One day he was visiting with the head of a mission agency, when this man said something about the deity of Christ. Keith's response was like, “The what?” The Deity of Christ, that Christ is God, the man said. Keith Green was amazed. He said something like “Jesus is God? Really?” And for a good while the mission leader explained it all to him.
Now this story always bothered me because I believe the Deity of Christ is crucial to the gospel, and it is! But here’s Keith Green not knowing about it After he was saved! So I figured he must have been saved without that information! He believed what he knew about Jesus, and when he learned about this, he believed it too!
        But anyone who believes the opposite, that Jesus is Not God – is not believing in or talking about the Jesus of the Bible
     How do we answer this question? And how about other questions like, Did Jesus really exist? Does He ever claim to be God? Can a man be a God? (You see there are many potential questions here.) 
    So, Did Jesus Exist?  First let me say, I can’t even prove Abraham Lincoln existed... scientifically! I'm sure you believe he did. We don’t doubt it, right? But if you said to me “Prove it”; how could I? The best I can do is historical evidence!   
   And let me add, historical evidence can be Pretty Convincing! The evidence that Jesus existed is historical writings. We have ancient texts of people, not Christians, who refer to Jesus. They also refer to Christians worshiping Jesus in the 1st Century, soon after Christ's resurrection. Then there are 4 well-known books by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! There is no reason to believe these are works of fiction. There is good evidence they all knew Jesus, or in Luke’s case, knew people who knew Jesus. So if anybody is seriously questioning whether Jesus existed, they are not dealing in reality.
     But the Question “Is Jesus God” is a little more nuanced.
First we appeal to Historical evidence! Especially the evidence from scripture. We must ask those who ask this question to consider what scripture says about Him, before they make up their minds.
   1.  True, the Bible never records Jesus saying “I Am God.” That’d sure clear it up. But it does record him saying, “I Am.”
Now why is that significant? Listen to Jn 8:58 & 59 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
Why do you suppose they tried to stone him? Listen to Jn 10:24 the Jews gathered around saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you’re the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one." 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, "I’ve shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" 33 The Jews said, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God."
These aren’t the only times that Jesus told people he was God. But there are other ways He communicated it! Like His Actions!
   2.  Mark 2:5 Remember when some men brought a paralyzed man to see Jesus? "...when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 6 Now some of the scribes sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 8 And immediately Jesus, per-ceiving in his spirit that they questioned within themselves, said, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say…'Your sins are forgiven,' or, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins —he said to the paralytic—11 "…rise, pick up your bed, and go home." Jesus never disputed that God alone can forgive sins! So what does that say about who He believed He was?
A little farther down in Mark 2 we read, 23 "One Sabbath he was going through the grain fields, and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying, 'Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?' 25 And he said to them, 'Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, … 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?' 27 And he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.'  Who is Lord over the Sabbath? Well first there is God. And then there is the Son of Man. Who are they to conclude the “Son of Man” is, but another name for someone who is God? Especially since they know the Old Testament and what the prophet Daniel had to say about the “Son of Man.” Dan 7:13 "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, …And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom …shall not be destroyed."    So, by his claims and by his actions he left no doubt in the minds of the Jews, He claimed equality with God. And not some lesser God, but “One with the Father.”
I could show you more evidence: How Jesus received worship that was due God, how the apostles declared He was God, but…
Secondly there is another evidence besides the "Historical" kind. This is one is very subjective but no less real. It may not convince you, but it matters to each believer. Jesus has given to me, and everyone who has trusted in Christ for Salvation, two things: repentance and faith. He didn’t help us ‘turn over a new leaf’ or ‘give up drinkin’ and cussin’. That’s not Godly repentance, anyone can do those things. Godly repentance is turning from sin but it’s also turning from our own efforts, our own understanding and our own will, to a life focused on Jesus Christ and His Will for us. And, He gives us faith. The very ability to trust in Jesus Christ’s forgiveness for our sins, the work he did on the cross, and the fact that He rose from the dead. This Faith is the Evidence for everyone who believes! (Heb 11:1 Faith is the evidence of things unseen...)

But there is another Question that should be asked along with “Is Jesus Really God?” And that is – Why Does it Matter?
Why Does it Matter that Jesus was God?
Mainly because no mere man could die for our sins! Why?
Because no mere man could live a life without sin! Why?
Because All Have Sinned and our hearts are deceitfully wicked!
So only the God-man, Jesus Christ could do this.
And don’t think that Jesus is Half-man and half God- that’s not Jesus at all! Jesus is Fully God and Fully man! He isn’t partially God – Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; Col 2:9 For in him [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
     There are people who call themselves Christians today who do not believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ. But it is His True Godhood that explains all of these things: 
His sinless life, 
His receiving of worship, 
His claims to equality with God, 
His forgiving sins, 
His proclaiming himself as Son of Man And Son of God, 
His ability to heal the blind and raise the dead, 
His use of the Divine name “I AM” and 
His resurrection from the dead.
If you are going to accept the Bible record of Jesus then you can only conclude Three Things: 
Either He was a liar and wasn’t God. He was Lunatic who Thought He was God. Or He Is Lord.
If he lied about who he was, he is worse than the devil himself! WHo says they are the God who saves, if they are not? Only a very evil person.
If he is a lunatic, C.S. Lewis said, then he is on the same level "with the man who says he is a poached egg.”
But if He is who He says He is, He is Lord!
Liar, Lunatic or Lord!
Now you might say it’s none of the above and reject the gospel story of Jesus and reject the scriptures. You might say Jesus is just a Legend. But then you might want to explain why so many 1st century followers of "A Legend" would die horrible deaths for a legend. And that brings you back to the evidence of Faith. 
These 1st century martyrs had Faith in the Man they knew to be the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world! Have you trusted in the Son of God – Jesus?

Can you give an answer to anyone who asks for the hope and faith you have in you

Monday, October 5, 2015

Question 4: Is Christianity Too Narrow?

It can be Good to be Too Narrow for the World!

Is Christianity too narrow? I wonder why this is even a question? I think it is because people don’t understand Christianity. When I was a kid Christianity was too narrow because “people said” we didn’t believe in drinking, dancing and dipping. I was a bit confused because there were folks in my church who drank, danced and dipped! But I got the point. “Good Christians” weren’t supposed to do those things. I don’t hear those things anymore. Now days the church is narrow because it doesn’t support gay marriage and doesn’t think Islam or Hinduism or some other ism is another way to God. Basically the church is Narrow because it is not Tolerant!

     Now, Are their intolerant people in the church? You betcha! Is some of our intolerance a problem? Yes it is! When we are intolerant of people in a “personal” way because of their race, creed or color- that’s a problem. When I say we shouldn’t be intolerant I mean of their existence, their personal value, their freedom and their functioning in society.
     But, Is there a time to be intolerant? Absolutely! When somebody starts shooting at people, don’t tolerate it. If somebody commits a violent crime, lock them away.  Is that what Society means by ‘intolerant’? Well, not always. Sometimes they tell us that being intolerant is simply “disagreeing” with them.
     How many of you were intolerant with your children when they were growing up? How many of you think I was? If you ask did I lock them up? Well, I may have grounded them a time or two. But I didn’t lock them up. But If you ask, did I disagree with their ideas, choices and lifestyle? You Bet I did! Narrow-minded! Absolutely!
If one of my children got the idea that back-talking their mother was an acceptable practice they learned the full strength of my intolerance! I might have even made them fearful for their safety a time or two. If my children got the idea that running across the street without looking both ways was a good idea, they would learn quickly that I did not tolerate that behavior? Does that make me narrow-minded and intolerant? No doubt about it!
     Now I’m sure many people will agree and say, “Absolutely, when raising children we should teach them rules of safety and respect and hygiene and how to read and write etc. etc. But that’s not the same as being tolerant with your neighbor!” And they have a valid point. My neighbor is not my child! But it is still evidence that there is a place for narrow-mindedness in life as in raising kids. I’m also narrow-minded about folks who drink and drive!
     So, what about training society? Do we do that? Yes, we do. We have trained society not to judge people on the basis of color. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen! But as a society we have taught each other it is not acceptable. But that's narrow minded thinking! It is saying that thinking outside the box of anti-racism, you’re wrong. And That is “Good” narrow-mindedness!

We have been on a campaign for many years against Drinking and driving. We have toughened up our laws, we have organisations like MADD! We say “Drunk driving is bad!” For the person who likes to drive with a buzz that’s pretty narrow thinking! But we consider it a Good kind of narrow-mindedness! Here’s the bottom line. The reason people don’t like narrow-mindedness is when you make a truth claim that they do not agree with.
The civil rights movement helped people get on board with saying racism is bad. Some people disagreed and pushed back. But they have not been tolerated! They are looked down on, openly criticized! So Now, saying we should treat all people as equal doesn’t threaten most people. We still have a long way to go but we have come a long way, too!
But start talking about the claims of Jesus you get Push Back! Not when Jesus says love each other, they’re good with that. And they Really like Jesus calling religious people hypocrites, which he did! But Jesus also said John 14:6, …I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus also said marriage was between male & female. (Mt 19:4-5)
Jesus also said repentance from Sin is required for salvation! (Mt 4:17, Lu13:3) And on top of all that, it’s not just the Red-letter words of Jesus in the gospels that guide us! Since Jesus is God in the flesh, the Whole Word of God is the Word of Christ!
But MOST of the truths fron the Bible, and the truths Christians proclaim from God’s Word, are not accepted by the culture around us! So they call US intolerant! They won’t tolerate us!
(If it turns out to be true that this shooting in Oregon had something to do with killing Christians, it might just be the beginning of More of this kind of treatment in the US. I’m just waiting for a news person to say, “Well after all, it’s Christians who are the least tolerant of other folks.”)
     The fact is there are some narrow minded Christians -  and I mean that in the bad sense of the word. They don’t like foreigners, gays, liberals, or anti-gun advocates and they think we ought to run them off! But they aren’t the only ones! There are Muslims who are intolerant of everyone who is A) Not a Muslim or B) not part of their sect of Islam, or C) not as Muslim as they ought to be! I don’t know much about Buddhists (although there are buudhist monks in Burma protesting equal rights for all religions),  but there are Secular Humanists who think ANYONE who believes in God is unsafe and ought to be locked up. So if Somebody makes a truth claim Somebody Else doesn’t agree with in our society, then “Intolerance” is pretty much Status Quo! 

Because, more important than being “tolerant” in our society, is not allowing anyone to step on what You believe is truth! (think about that)
    There are 4 basic views of truth in society today.
1st -the only thing that’s true is that which you can prove scientifically, beyond any significant doubt.    
2nd -truth is whatever you or society makes it. Whats true in your life or culture isn’t necessarily true in another culture. Killing people is wrong here, but maybe not in another culture.     
3rd Truth is whatever works. it’s a pragmatic view of truth. If it works it works! Don’t worry about it!     
4th truth is just a way to control people. When people make truth claims they are trying to control you! It’s a Power Play!
Some people hold all of these at the same time! If it is convenient to accept scientific truth, great. 
If something else achieves what you want, great, whatever works! 
If someone makes a truth claim that cramps your style, reject it. Hey, Its YOUR truth!
Works pretty good right? Except for one thing: 
What if there is objective truth, beyond science, beyond culture, and is true for everyone, everywhere, always? That is what the Bible teaches!
Listen to these verses:

   There are many reasons the Church is too narrow! We get many things wrong. 
The reason Christianity is Narrow, the reason Jesus Christ is narrow is because He is The Truth. And if something disagrees with Truth- Logically- it HAS to be False.
So, The 1st Reason it’s Good to be Narrow: God’s Word is Truth!  We may not like the truth but we need to be saved! Lies don’t save. Saying Evil is good and good is evil is not going to help! “…know the truth and the truth shall set you free!” (Jn 8:32) We are sanctified – set apart for God – By Truth!
The 2nd Reason it is Good to be Narrow: Truth is A Person! Jesus is the Truth! When we introduce people to Jesus, it needs to be the Jesus of the Bible! He’s not the Jeannie in a Bottle Jesus who gives you whatever you want to make life easy.  He’s not the Santa Claus Jesus who only brings presents and never makes any demands. He’s not the Rainbow Jesus who accepts everything you have ever done as just Fine as long as you love people. He’s not the Republican Jesus. He’s not the Democrat Jesus. He’s Lord of the Universe, King of Kings and He is coming again! He will tell some people to enter in to His Father’s Kingdom but say to the majority, Depart from me, I never knew you!
     When Jesus stood before Pilate in Jn 18 Pilate asked Jesus if he was a King; He said,  “Thou sayest I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause I came into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. (and) Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this..."  At This point I wish it said, "And when he had said this he stared searchingly into the eyes of Jesus, truly desiring to know the answer to his question." But, alas, that's not what it says.
 "And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews…".
     The Truth was Standing right in front of him. 
         But he didn’t even wait around for an answer. 
Do you want to know the Truth? Jesus is the Truth and His word is Truth!
 And the Truth WILL set you free!