Archive for February, 2011

How can we be to blame for something that happened nearly 2000 years ago? Let me answer a question with a question. If our attitudes toward Jesus are the same as those held by the people of that day, then how are we any different from them? You may not have heard this before, but I believe the crucifixion of Jesus is the physical expression, or manifestation, of the spiritual way that we’ve all treated God.

If God became a man, and submitted to the judgment of man, he would be “despised, and rejected,” as the prophecies foretold that he would (Isaiah 53:3). He wouldn’t fit the worlds concept of God, and most people would be ashamed to be associated with him. That’s what has actually happened.

I’ve read recent writings of Atheists, calling for God to be put on trial. That’s already been done. Other atheists speak of “killing God.” That’s already been done also. There are video games where the mission of the player is to “kill” some sort of “god.” Of course, the god is always made to look “bad.” It’s like a Hollywood production of some sort, where we see everything through the eyes of the cameraman. He can make good look bad, and bad look good.

We can’t go back and undo the crucifixion, but we have the power to render one final judgment, and it is our decision alone. That decision must be made in this lifetime, because it wouldn’t work to wait and see who wins before we choose sides. Jesus said that we are either for him or against him. It is impossible to remain neutral in this world. This is a hard thing to talk about, but as we are living from day-to-day, we are deciding whether God is to spend eternity separated from us.

It may not seem fair that in judging God we are judging ourselves, but that’s the dilemma that the Tree of Knowledge forces us into. If the Bible is true, and there is a vast amount of evidence supporting that conclusion, then we are judging between two super-intelligences. One is the Author of Life, and the other is the Author of Confusion. We must decide the truth, though we possess only bits of data. I think I would pray that God help us to make the right choice.

How would the real God reveal himself? There’s a spiritual war going on, and people on all sides are trying to tell God what to do. Some call him by different names, praying against each other, and some just call him names. In the midst of this mess, how could God show his heart? Would he possibly reveal himself as a man, bloodied and torn, crucified by all our conflicts?

That’s what the Old Testament predicted was to be, and the New Testament is testimony that it did happen. It is a mistake to judge Jesus based on a lot of the things his “followers” say. Many things are misinterpreted, and much that is said is downright false, being based on tradition, or some such thing, rather than the eyewitness testimony. The way the followers of Jesus live is often an even worse evidence for Jesus. Remember that they must have a savior also. Besides that, there are many “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

It is also a mistake to judge Jesus based on what those who follow other religions say about him. They may claim to admire him as “a good man,” but they will deny that he is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” They will say that Christians make more of Jesus than is really true.

It is certainly a mistake to judge Jesus by the things said about him by Atheists, though some of their criticisms of the “Church,” and certain doctrines are legitimate. Just as it isn’t fair to judge all atheists according to the actions of some, so it isn’t fair to judge Jesus for the things that others say and do.

If you will try to understand what I’m saying, you can. If God forced you to see the truth, and it didn’t change your heart, then you would bear even greater guilt. That is why God will let you misunderstand him, if that’s what you’re determined to do. It is God’s decision, though not necessarily what he wills or wants, to allow you to have freewill.  I believe that our decisions are his cross to bear.

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Jesus doesn’t get a fair trial today, any more so than he did 2000 years ago. He should be judged according to his own deeds, examined in their proper context. Most of the eyewitness accounts are found in the New Testament. When we judge the Bible, we are judging Jesus, because although the Bible is not the only source, it is the most comprehensive body of evidence that God has visited earth as Jesus Christ.

That’s what the trial of Jesus is all about. If we let popular thought, and peer pressure from the world around us, convince us that the Bible is inadmissible evidence, then his case won’t even be heard. That is usually what happens. The judgment against him is allowed to stand, and we join in the scorn thrown at him from all sides. He is not on trial because of some harm that he has done, but because he claims to be the Messiah.

In John 10:24, some religious leaders questioned Jesus, whether he was the Messiah (the Christ) or not. He said (verse 25) that he had already told them. When he admitted, “I and the Father are one,” they tried to stone him (10:30-39). His accusers said that he was making himself out to be God (10:33), which they considered to be blasphemy, but if he really was God…. In John 19:6-7, his accusers demanded that he be crucified because, “…He made himself the Son of God.”

There is a tremendous amount of evidence that the Bible is true. Most people base their judgment of the Bible upon something someone else says about it. In this way, a serious bias has been introduced into the mind of modern man. This bias against Jesus comes our way in many forms, both religious and secular, just as it was when he was crucified. As children grow up, the world around them pressures them to conform to the popular opinion of their culture.

Jesus understands why we leap to such uninformed conclusions about him. That is why he prayed from the cross (Luke 23:34), “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.” There’s no way that humanity can go back, and render justice for Jesus in this world. He’s already been sentenced, and the sentence carried out. It happened before anyone knew it was happening. The best that can be done now, is to try to clear his name.

He has never been guilty of anything other than loving us. That drags him into our problems. He would have been justified if he had turned away forever from mankind, leaving us to destroy ourselves; but he could foresee reaching some of us, if he became one of us. I am guilty, and an innocent person suffered horribly because of me. Now, the world may condemn me for saying this, but we are all guilty. We should admit our guilt and declare that the Lord is innocent.

If we will do this, he has promised to forgive us. In dying for us, he created a “dead” place where he can hide the memory of our wrongs toward him, and toward others. When Adam and Eve swallowed the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they swallowed something else. They swallowed a lie, hook, line, and sinker. It left mankind in the uncomfortable position of being the judges of right and wrong.

Ultimately, that means that we must each judge God, sight unseen. We can deny the truth of that statement, but that in itself is a judgment, dismissing the evidence with a wave of the hand. I want people to have as much information as possible, because I believe that ultimately, “The truth will set you free.”

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What if we had been born in Eden? What would it have been like to grow up in a world where there was no sickness, and no death? All the animals that are now wild would be your pets, and they would never die. Snakes would not be poisonous. Children could play with them, or lead a bear by a thread around its neck. There would be no fear or anxiety, no hunger, bullies, or peer pressure. I think learning would be more incidental, for we would not be driven to outperform another person. We would learn the secrets of the universe at our own pace.

We wouldn’t have to compete for anything. You would have been drawn to your mate, and perfectly content, with no thought of taking another. There would be no broken hearts left behind. No one would be lonely. There would be no danger in letting your children roam free. According to Genesis, that’s the way it would have been if Adam and Eve had not believed a lie.

You could say there’s no use thinking about such things, but I think it can help us to understand the heart of God. Why would God seem so distant to us that the atheist would think he doesn’t exist? Satan uses pain and temptation to drive us farther from God. He continually lures us a little farther, out to some isolated place of pain, and then says, “There is no God…” or, “Look what God has done to you.”  I have heard of kidnappers using such tactics with children, telling them that their parents didn’t want them any more, or that their parents were dead. Many times Satan just breaks in right where we are, because we are born into a world that’s far away from God.

Satan causes crime, sickness, and steals lives. Hebrews 2:14, says that the devil has the “power of death,” and that Jesus went through death to stop him. So, why hasn’t Jesus stopped him long before now? Sometimes the best way to answer a question is with another question. If Jesus is really who he claims to be, are you ready to submit to his rule? Everyone else must surrender also. As long as one living person is unwilling to accept Jesus, in a sense, Satan is free.

Do Christians, who have called upon the name of Jesus, surrender all? Sometimes things are easier said than done. In my experience, when we think we’ve surrendered all, there’s still a lot we’ve overlooked, and others can see it better than we. The Bible says that someday Satan will be bound for a thousand years, but right now, Satan is stalking about like a lion, seeking whoever he can devour (1st. Peter 5:8). Don’t let someone tell you that Satan doesn’t exist, or that he’s already bound; you can look around and see better than that.

People have the idea that if mankind lived in a perfect environment, we would be perfect, but that isn’t true. In a better environment, we would be better, but not perfect. Mankind has a terrible potential for evil. That becomes evident in this present world. The thousand-year reign of Jesus upon this earth still won’t take mankind back to Eden, but it will be wonderful when people once again live to be hundreds of years old, and children play without fear. After the thousand years, there must be a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth. I hope to try to fill in some details, when I can get to a “part 2,” on the “millennial reign.”

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What harm can believing the wrong thing do? You could drive down the wrong side of the highway if you miss a sign, and believe the wrong thing. When I was an evolutionist, it led me to speak certain things against God. Words are deeds, for the things we communicate to others affect them in ways that may not be evident.

You and I may not believe the same thing at this point, but we can both see what believing a lie can do. We can look at the lies believed by terrorists, and see the effects of their belief. The earth has been rocked by wars, brought upon mankind by the lies of world leaders. Sometimes a wrong belief turns people against their own loved ones, and you hear about it in the news. Holding wrong beliefs destroys lives.

Can lies destroy souls? You would have to admit that it would be possible if we actually have a soul. I believe we do, though you may not think so. Lies are like a bottomless pit, where you could be falling forever. If a heart was not in harmony with God, could lies be believed in the very sight of God? According to the Bible, that is how a powerful angel became Satan. John 8:44, records that Jesus said that Satan is a “liar, and the father of it.” Before Satan could become a liar, he had to believe in a lie that he dreamed up.

That’s why it’s critical to open our heart to Jesus on this side of Heaven. Christ could return and rule the world for a thousand years. He could return nature to the perfect state of Eden, before Adam and Eve believed the lies about the Tree of Knowledge. The Lord could change the nature of the lion and it would be no threat to the lamb. Yet, after a thousand years of truth and peace, much of mankind could believe a lie and rebel against him. (Note that those who rebel in this period are human beings born during the Lord’s millennial reign, and not those resurrected or transformed at his appearance, see 1st. Corinthians 15:51,52). These are things that the Bible says are yet to happen.

It is critical that we believe the truth now, for underlying everything that people do, is some particular belief that they hold. Whether that belief is in evolution or whatever, people are motivated by what they think. Even in Heaven, there will be things to believe God about, but if we trust Jesus here, we will never doubt him there. If we will believe in the sacrifice of Jesus, it forms a love, and a trust, that can never be broken (Romans 8:38,39). If you think about it, you can see why God would ask us to have faith in him (Ref. my blog-page titled Belief).

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