Recommended approach

Sojourner's paradigm challenges atheists and skeptics to make a shift in the way they examine and approach the claims of the Bible and Christianity. It is best to first watch the gospel message video and read the foundational truth of God. Other blogs speak on a variety of topics.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Source of Anxiety & Bitterness & Joy & Peace

The Tragedy of Man

Quoting from Arthur W. Pink (1886 to 1952):  Throughout the ages man’s efforts have been directed toward ruling and regenerating the world. Man has been given full scope. With what results? With the result that the incurable hatred of the human heart to God and the utter depravity of ...human nature have been fully displayed. How has man used the freedom, the opportunities, the privileges, the relents with which his Maker has endowed him? To what profit has he turned them? Have they been used with the purpose of glorifying God or of deifying himself? To ask the question is quite enough. Loud have been man’s boasts. Lofty have been his claims. Pretentious his vauntings. Such terms as improvement, advancement, enlightenment, evolution, civilization, have been his favorite slogans. But the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, and the folly of the world’s wisdom and the vanity of man’s claims are now displayed before our eyes What has ‘civilization’ effected? With all our so-called enlightenment and progress unto what have we attained? Let the records of our Law-courts tell us. Let the columns of the daily newspapers make response. Let the economic, political and moral conditions of the clay make answer. Let the world war with all its inhumanities, its barbarities, its fiendish atrocities, give reply. And mark, it cannot be said that these things are clue to man’s ignorance and inexperience. Man is not just starting out to make history. We are now living in the twentieth century of the Christian era. Man then cannot—complain that God has not given him plenty of time to mature his plans. No; God has given ample time, time enough to show that he is an utter failure, time enough to demonstrate that he is totally incapable of governing himself, time enough to prove that if relief comes at all it must come from outside of himself.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Biblical World View (in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling)

The Biblical World View:

Those of us who claim the name of Jesus Christ and His Lordship in our life hold a different world view than that of the world in general.  We are who we are not because of a cultural influence, even though a major segment of that culture may revolve around the church and other believers.  We are who we are and believe what we believe because we have been regenerated.  As Jesus said, we must be “born again”, or rather, we must experience a re-birth through the Holy Spirit.  This re-birth is not driven by information gained from the natural world.  It must come from the super-natural world.  It must come from God himself.  

Let me draw you a picture.  Imagine that we all live inside a box called the natural world.  This box has immeasurable information, opinions, and philosophies floating around inside it.  We are bombarded by many of these through a variety of sources including our parent’s and family influence, education, culture, TV, movies, magazines, science, church traditions, friends, pastors & teachers, the internet, and, yes, even Supreme Court decisions.  On and on it goes.  We all tend to rely upon these influences in forming our world view.  The problem stems from the limitations of the contents of this box.  We are also limited by the capacity of our own brains to absorb and process this information.  We often believe what we want to believe regardless of evidence to the contrary.  Now imagine that everything inside that box were corrupt, including you and me.  This, in effect, is the picture the Bible presents of the world we live in. 

So what hope is there for discovering and trusting in any ultimate truth?  Many have come to realize that they are limited by this corruption from the natural world.  They know there must be a higher authority beyond the reaches of this world.  So they take hold of their spiritual pick-axes and start digging away at the walls in the hope of peering out into the super-natural to find answers.  This is what religion attempts to do.  Religion is man’s attempt to discover the answers not found in this natural world.  

There is another way, which points back to my opening assertion that we must experience a re-birth.  Since God is the one who created this natural world and universe we all live in, then He alone is the ultimate authority and thus the source of all truth.  He alone has not been corrupted by this world.  Consequently our Creator is holy and just.  If we are to know any of this truth which originates from Him, then He must reveal this truth to us.  We cannot discover God using limited and corrupt resources, including our mind, because it too has been corrupted.  We cannot use all of the methods set forth by religion to try and “reach God.”  We will only come to know this perfect and authoritative God by his revealing himself to us.  And before we can truly receive this full revelation of God, He must make it possible for us to receive this revelation in order to place our hope and trust in Him.   We must be “born again”, or more accurately, born from the Spirit of God.   If this re-birth does not take place, then if God were to suddenly reveal his full presence to us, we would merely use our own powers of reason to decide if he met our criteria for belief in Him.  In other words, we would stand in judgment of God rather than allowing him to be judge over us.  Instead, God took precise measures to progressively make this revelation known to us.  He began by revealing certain attributes through His creation.  As we examine this creation we are witness to God’s power, intelligence, authority, and creativity among a host of other aspects of His divinity.  But He doesn’t stop there.  He revealed himself further in a special and progressive way.

God’s revelation first came through his established relationship and the words he spoke to the nation of Israel over a 1500 year (approximate) span of time.  God revealed his words, character, principles, life application, prophecies, and laws through Moses and the prophets (the entirety of the Old Testament), and then ultimately through his entrance into humanity through His “Son” Jesus the Messiah and the Apostles’ teachings and letters, along with the writers of the New Testament (the entirety of the New Testament).  The Bible is the history (His Story) of God’s progression of revelation culminating in this Jesus, the finality of God’s revelation of Himself and His source of Life and salvation from the corruption of this world.

Let’s get back to the notion of living in a corrupted world.  The very first book of the Bible, Genesis, sets forth the progression of this corruption.  It also details the strategy of our adversary who wants to lead all mankind away from God’s truth and to accept the lies and corruption of the world.  The very first step which Satan took (and still takes) is to question God’s authoritative word.  He posed the question to Eve, “Did God really say…?”   Consider that this is the very thing the unbelieving world insinuates about the Bible.  Even professing Christians want to place doubt on God’s Word.  They will defer to their own reasoning and speculation in order to supersede scripture.  Often this comes in the form of “interpretive” issues.  While the Bible does, indeed, need to be interpreted correctly, using correct interpretive techniques, the problem stems from trying to make scripture fit our own reasoning and ideas, rather than submission to God’s authoritative word.  We think we know best.  This too is a result of living in a fallen, corrupted world.

The Bible tells us,

14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)      

The question to you is this; do you find the words of scripture foolish?  Maybe you think they are simply another alternative view among a smorgasbord of many other philosophies.  Do you think it foolish to believe in and trust in an un-seen God?  Do you assert that you are the captain of your own soul?  Welcome to the human race.  But unless you are born of the Spirit of God, you will never have any hope of escaping the natural world and all of its corruption.  Unless you receive God’s gracious gift of life found only through his design by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord, you are still stuck in your own in-born sin as well as the sin of the world around you. 

In forming your world view you will rely solely on the ideas presented to your by your culture and own fallible reasoning.  You will be easily swayed by the tactics of well-intentioned but counterfeit philosophies.   Take a hard look around you.  Everyone has a different idea of what is right and wrong.  Truth, many will claim, is relative.  Are you going to rely on the ability of that 3.5 lb mass of tissue between your ears to figure it all out?  This is why the Bible makes it clear that we must repent (do a 180 turn-about) from trusting in our own ability and way of life, and then turning to God through faith in Jesus Christ.  (I’ll have more to say on this later).

As previously stated, the progression of corruption and sin is found in the very first book of the Bible; Genesis.  For instance, marriage and family is an institution established by God.  We see God’s design and purpose for marriage and the family from the very start:  One man and one Woman for life who bear children from this one union.  The strategy the adversary uses centers around the degradation of this institution.  Let’s examine the progress of this degradation:

Once Eve listened to Satan’s reasoning, she then did what everyone born from her has done throughout the centuries.  She took the leap from temptation to desire to lust, and then to ultimate destruction.  Her lust took on three forms:  Lust came from what she saw, what she felt, and what she wanted to experience for herself.  You and I would be hard pressed to find a TV show or movie which does not present these three versions of lust.  These form the basis of all rebellion and sin.  In fact, Satan used these three methods when tempting Jesus.  He still uses this same tactic on us.

But now back to the progression of degradation of marriage and family:

Once Adam and Eve sinned in rebellion against God, a domino effect took place.  In Genesis 3:7, the relationship between this couple and God was compromised.   In Genesis 3:16-19, the relationship between Adam and Eve (husband and wife) was marred.  Discord is found between Cain and Abel.  Murder occurs.  Polygamy is introduced in Gen. 4:19.  Homosexuality is introduced in Gen. 19:5.  Adultery and divorce are seen in chapter 21 of Genesis.  We see rape occurring in Genesis 34.  Pornography is also conveyed through this chapter.  Prostitution and incest is found in chapter 38.  Add to this list infidelity, sodomy and every other kind of sexual perversion.  The Bible does not try and gloss over these issues.  It portrays the real results of a fallen and corrupt world.  It shows the consequence of straying away from God’s original design of one man with one woman for life.  If we are honest with ourselves, we see that we too have strayed from God's perfect design.  We are all guilty.  No one is exempt.

 Now let’s skip ahead to the New Testament.  Paul, the writer of Romans, has some very revealing and harsh words to convey concerning this fallen nature of mankind and the resulting consequence of ignoring God’s revelation and authority.

Romans 1:18-32English Standard Version (ESV)

18” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

I could write a lengthy commentary on this entire passage, emphasizing the progression of corruption and the result of turning our backs on God.  I will let the passage speak for itself.

To sum up my point:

God holds all truth and has revealed this truth to us in the Bible.  His love wants us to know his principles for life, marriage, family, and every other area of life.  God designed marriage.  Any deviation from that design is rebellion against God.  Our sin separates us from God.  But God provided a means to overcome this problem and to restore our relationship with him and get us back in line with His principles found in his word.  That solution was to send himself, born into this world as the Son, Jesus, who was both fully human and fully God.  Jesus was not corrupted by the sin of this world.  He took upon himself our sins when he died on the cross at the hands of men who were in many ways like you and me, who rejected God’s authority over their lives.  We do the same.  Jesus represented all of mankind when he took the punishment we deserved.  In exchange, he gives us his life… but only by grace through faith.  We must receive this new life and allow Jesus to control our lives through the Holy Spirit and God’s infallible Word.  This is why those who claim his Lordship cannot do anything but accept God’s perfect design.  This is why we must be holy (which simply means to be set-apart for God’s purpose).  We cannot allow ourselves to be swayed by the reasoning and ways of the world.

The Biblical world view makes it plain that we are born into sin.  This sin is manifested in many different ways throughout our lives.  But when we choose to live our lives by our own definition of right and wrong, God allows the natural consequences of that rebellion to exhibit itself.  In other words, we become what we believe.  This is why we cannot come to God without turning in repentance from our own sinful self-controlled life while also turning in faith toward God and his authority and control over our life. 

Lest you think I am singling out any particular deviation from God's design, let me be clear.  All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's perfect design.  This is the beauty of God's grace and his provision for this problem.  Our challenge is to confess these short-comings to God.  We cannot and should not remain in denial and try and justify our beliefs and world view when it opposes God's truth.

The world will define values of right and wrong based upon the norms of the culture.  Most Christians get this. We understand why the world says and believes what it does and are not surprised by this.  The world will often celebrate those values even when they are diametrically opposed to God’s declaration of his standards.  We, as Christians, realize we must live in this world which operates in opposition to God’s ways.  Christians must be very careful when pointing an accusatory finger at the unbelieving world.  Each Christian must first examine himself to see if his heart and life are in line with God's righteousness.  Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit and the Word of God stand in judgment of the world.   Our job as Christians is to point them to the solution to this rebellion and sinful nature.  We are to declare the Gospel (which is what I have done in this piece).  We must realize that the consequences of continued rebellion and self-willed life are to eventually experience God’s righteous wrath.  How can love condone a lost and dying world which ignores God and his salvation?  I write this in love and hope that perhaps others might receive this new life which comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is King.  He is Lord.  Give him control of your life.  He will put you back onto the “narrow road which leads to life” and away from the “broad road which leads to destruction.”  (Matthew 7:13-14).



Friday, November 14, 2014

Quieting the Disquited Soul

The phone rings at 2am. It’s the police. Your son has been involved in a horrific hit and run accident.

Or you discover that a close trusted friend has been spreading lies about you behind your back.


Your spouse turns to you as you settle into bed. He admits to having an affair and tells you he wants out of the marriage.

These represent events in which you or a loved one has been wronged by someone else. You rehearse the events and the pain over and over again in your head. Anxiety doesn’t have to come in the form of another person’s attacks or offenses. Trying times come in many forms. Events may have happened suddenly or have been building up over time. Anxiety and disquietedness suddenly moves into what had previously been occupied by a settled and quiet spirit. Or perhaps you cannot remember the last time you felt peace. Anxious thoughts have been your constant companion as far back as you can remember. No one is immune.

You spend sleepless nights listening to those troubling thoughts. You then decide to talk to God. But still the dialogue in your head continues. Nothing changes. What’s the answer?

I want to be upfront with you about the motivation behind this writing. My intent is to offer biblical counsel on how to quiet the disquieted soul. But that isn’t my primary objective.
First, I want to show you the answer found in scripture. (Emphasis on “answer”) All too often we look for the answer in other areas. Even if we choose not to look for answers, we put a band-aid over the anxiety through various vices. We try and substitute “feel good” avenues to cover up the pain.

Second, I want to show you the answer found in scripture. (Emphasis on “scripture”). I am not referring to token bible verses. Bible bombs seldom hit a specific target. I want to demonstrate to you the depth of even the shortest passages of scripture where you will discover a treasure trove of resources and provision the Lord has made available to us.

Israel’s King David had written a good many of the Psalms. Engrained within the words are gut wrenching, raw and honest emotions laid out for all to see. There are few, if any, pious platitudes. Even so, masks which might be worn are then ripped off as the truth exposes the naked realities of one man’s human condition. The reader soon discovers the persona of the psalmist resembles himself. Struggles we thought were unique to us are universal. They are no respecter of eras or cultures. As Solomon once commented, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

David wrote Psalm 43. We aren’t sure of the circumstances behind this psalm of plea, but some have suggested this was written during a time when his son Absalom was spreading false accusations against his father and trying to have him killed. Absalom wanted to take over the kingdom. Psalm 43 has 5 verses. The 5 verses represent 5 phases of a soul’s journey from disquietedness to quietness.

Verse 1: “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!”
David wanted to be vindicated. Vindication means setting the record straight. David wanted the truth of his innocence to be made known. He wanted to see justice served. Can you relate? I can. My vengeful nature rises up to plead my case. I rehearse the wrongs committed against me over and over again in my head. Hurt and anger control me. My focus is on myself.
Verse 1 therefore signifies phase 1 of the journey from a disquieted to a quiet soul: VINDICATION.

Verse 2: “For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
In this verse David is trying to make sense of what’s going on. He is interpreting the matter according to how he feels. We get a glimpse into David’s inner thoughts. In this phase of the journey we begin to ask a lot of why’s. The whys then turn into accusations against God. Have you had those moments when you cry out, “how could you let this happen to me God?”
Verse 2 signifies phase 2: ITERPRETATION.

Verse 3: “Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!”
David is beginning to figure out that his only hope is going to have to come from God. He needs God’s truth to illuminate and enlighten his soul. He realizes he needs intimacy with God and that the only way to experience that is by getting into God’s revealed truth and allow that to bring him to a place of worship. His attitude begins to change. We too should realize that God’s Word is our source of hope and strength. Intimacy with God is the result.
Verse 3 signifies phase 3: ILLUMINATION.

Verse 4: “Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.”
As David’s heart is illuminated by God’s Word and he begins to have intimacy with God, this naturally brings him to a place of worship and adoration of God. Joy replaces anxiety. He realizes that as long as he has God, he has everything. God alone is his salvation. Recall the episode when Jesus and his disciples were on a boat when a storm suddenly arose. Jesus was asleep. The disciples began to fear for their lives. They certainly had a disquieted soul. They woke Jesus and pleaded with Him to save them. He quieted the storm. They had nothing to fear. Jesus was by their side. We need to ask ourselves; are we walking hand in hand with Jesus, the One who calms the storms of life?
Verse 4 signifies phase 4: ADORATION

Verse 5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”
These words aren’t the first time David had written them. He also concludes Psalm 42 with the same words. He is reminding himself of the source of his joy and hope. He is having a conversation with himself. We too must realize that the words we tell ourselves will determine the direction of our life. If the words we tell ourselves come from within a troubled mind fixated on self, then we will continue to have a disquieted soul. But if the words we tell ourselves originate from God’s Words, then we can walk in the assurance of his sovereign control over the circumstances of life.
Verse 5 signifies phase 5: CONVERSATION

Notice how the psalm began. David was listening to himself and then talking to God. Notice how it ends. David was listening to God and then talking to himself. We have learned much from this short psalm. It causes us to ask a few questions.
First, ask yourself; where is my focus? Is it on God or myself?
Second; how am I interpreting the circumstances of life? Am I viewing these events through the lens of my own finite and flawed mind or am I utilizing God’s timeless and infinite truth?
Third; how does God’s Word speak to these particular events and circumstances? This will involve reading, researching, and studying God’s Word.
Fourth; how can I turn my anxiety into worship? Only by reading God’s Word can I begin to enter into a place of worshiping God for who He is.
Fifth; what do I need to tell my soul right now? You may need to remind yourself that, “... we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). There are a myriad of other truths you can stand on during troubling times.

What it all boils down to is living in trust that God is in control. Despite the difficulties, we need to submit to His will, no matter the cost. We must often wait for God’s timing.

I hope you can see that the answers to life always come from God’s Word. We must allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to His truth in Scripture. Then we may fully realize what a privilege it is to walk hand in hand with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Only two kinds of "religion"

When it comes to "religion", have you ever considered there are only two types of worshippers in the world. And each is represented by either Cain or Abel portrayed way back in Genesis. Cain "worshipped" in his own way, deciding for himself what was acceptable to God. Abel on the other hand, intensely aware of the appalling nature of his sin, knew that a "life for a life" sacrifice was required by... God. He sacrificed the best lamb from his flock as a substitute for his own sin. Several thousand years later we see this portrait become reality with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the "spotless lamb of God". So which kind of worshipper are you? One who does your own thing or one who recognizes the propitiation of your sin offered through Jesus Christ?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Is Evolution compatible with the Bible?

Is evolution compatible with the Bible?

Are the truths of Scripture compatible with the tenets of evolution?  Before deciding, a greater question must first be asked.  Upon what authority will you base your decision?  Or better put; can we trust what Scripture tells us concerning creation and the origins of life?

You will find that the position of those favoring the evolutionary model is not actually based on scientific findings.  Evolution is not a “theory” so much as it is a world view.  It is flawed science at best.  Evolutionists take the position that God does not exist and therefore must find some other explanation for the world, universe and the existence of life.
Evidence for God’s supreme power and intelligence surrounds us both day and night, but the one who ignores the revelation that creation brings will ignore the revelation that comes from God’s Word.  If we claim to be followers of Christ, and say we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, but also believe the claims of evolution, then the Bible must either be inaccurate, misleading, or wrong.  There are many theories and contrived explanations which try and bond evolution and Scripture.  Some of these are referred to as the gap theory, the day age theory, and the progressive creation theory.  Each of these explanations must rely on re-interpretations or the inaccuracy of scripture.  Those who expound these theories end up digging themselves into a theological hole.  They must then deny other scriptures which support the literal six-day account of creation stated in Genesis.  They begin a process of speculation which relies on human wisdom rather than God’s wisdom and truth.  As Christians, we must humbly submit to God’s revelation in His Word and in our lives.  In so doing, we are allowing God to be the authority, not man.

 Another way to put it:  Are you going to rely on the authority of a 4-pound mass of tissue between your ears to make accurate analysis of data that is thrown at it, or will you rely on the One who holds all knowledge and allow Him to reveal His truth to you? 

Let’s get back to the original question.  Are evolution and the Bible compatible?

 No, they are not.

Let’s first lay a foundation.  The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews contains what has come to be known as the Heroes of the Faith Hall of Fame.  Before the names of these honored Saints of old are mentioned, the writer begins with a curious statement of faith. 

Hebrews 11:3 says this, “ By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”     

  How might we re-phrase that?  It appears that the very first step of faith is belief in creator God.  This stands in stark contrast to those who espouse the “Big Bang Theory” which states that all matter came from a condensed blob of hydrogen along with a host of other matter.  A big bang flung everything into space which just happened to form the intricate order of celestial objects which make up the known universe.

The following are just a few examples as to why Evolution and the Bible are not mutually compatible. 

1.                  Jesus attested to the authority of the Genesis account by stating in Matthew 19:4, “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,’” Are we to doubt Christ’s words?  He brought validity to the Genesis account of creation.  His words “at the beginning”, refers back to this account of creation.   And there they were; male and female, right from the very beginning.  We learn from Genesis that sin, death, and corruption in the world came through the fall of Adam and Eve.  Oh, and by the way, Genesis also tells us that in the beginning all living animals, including mankind, were vegetarians.    

 Genesis 1:29   Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”                                                                                                              It wasn’t until after the flood that God gave Noah permission to eat meat.   (Genesis 9:3).                 

 Evolution relies on millions of years of death, disorder, and destruction before human beings ever came on the scene.  And yet, God declared that His creation was all “good” in the beginning.  Would God have used such a cruel, haphazard, inefficient, and wasteful processes to bring about this “good” creation?

According to the Bible, God did not create the world full of pain and death. Instead, it was the self-centered, rebellion, and wickedness of humans that spoiled the perfect peace and harmony which God had created.    In the words of Romans 8:19–21, because of man’s evil, the creation was “subjected to futility … and a bondage to corruption.”

2.                     We are told 10 times in Genesis that all living things were made “after its kind” which refers to the family of each living organism.  Macro evolution requires each family to mutate into another family. While each family of living things has reproduced many different species, they have not crossed over into another family.  Which is it?  Evolution or God’s Word?

Here’s the problem.  Science has never observed this happening, nor does the DNA code of information allow for macro evolution.  This would require new information to be added to the DNA code which is impossible, using known conclusive scientific observation.  And, by the way, DNA itself is a vast complex storehouse of information.  Imagine several million letters and words dropped from an airplane which, when landed, formed several volumes of Encyclopedias.  Yet, this is an illustration of what evolution would require you to believe. 

 3.                     The gods of evolution are time and chance.  Neither is a friend to evolution.  Mathematicians have time and time again shown just how improbable it would be for evolution to occur by “chance.”  That’s why some evolutionists have resorted to explaining life on earth as having come from aliens seeding the earth.  (Seriously – that explanation was provided by Richard Dawkins, a well-known atheist and evolutionist)  Yet, where would these aliens have come from?  We’ll read a bit later from Romans 1:18-25 and see where this line of reasoning originates.   Chance is a big factor in Evolution.  The Bible leaves nothing  to chance, but reveals a God who is in constant control of His creation.  Examine, not only the order and harmony of everything around you, but look at the history revealed through scripture.  God worked out His plan to bring about the Messiah, the Christ / Savior / Lord at the precise time and place in history.  God is the God of time and space. 

Ephesians 1:11 says this, 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will”

4.                    A symbiotic relationship exists between all life forms.  Each life form depends on the other for survival. Evolution cannot explain how each life form existed on its own for millions of years without this needed symbiotic relationship with other life forms.  This is why the six days of creation as outlined in Genesis is a viable means of life on earth.

5.                   According to the laws of thermodynamics, encompassing what is also known as entropy, states that all matter progresses from order to chaos; not the other way around.   Yet, evolution requires matter progressing from chaos to order, thus denying this well established law.  The Bible, too, states that life and matter is progressing from order to chaos.  The Bible states that the early generations of mankind lived for hundreds of years.  Life spans began to be shortened after the flood.   Again, Romans 8:19–21, tells us that the creation was “subjected to futility … and a bondage to corruption.”

6.                    Evolution relies on “beneficial mutations.”  There is no evidence to support the premise that a mutation strengthens any living organism.   Mutations always result in weakened life forms.  Mutations do occur.  Change does take place within a species.  Mutations result in disease and diseased organisms, and birth defects.  What does the Bible say as to reasons why this is so?  Again, the fall of man resulted in the entrance of sin and corruption as we read earlier. 
7.                    For evolution to work, it must depend on time.  Accumulated defective decay and corruption threatens life on this planet.  Time makes it more unlikely that things would go from chaos to order.  If not for a benevolent God, we would have long ago been consumed by all of this corruption.

8.                   Natural Selection is true.  The evolutionist got that one right.  This explains why there are varieties within families, genus, and species of plants and animals.  Natural selection helps explain how poodles came from the same line as wolves.   This is why Noah would not have necessarily had to bring every species and sub-species of animals on to the Ark.                                                                                                                                                                                                       
9.                   How about the age of the earth?  What about carbon dating, radioactive decay, chemical analysis of rocks, etc?   Over and over these methods are proving to be inaccurate.  Also, for each to work, it must make several assumptions.  For instance, the flood account in Genesis is thrown out entirely as having any viable explanation for the layers of rock and the age of the earth.  Could God have created the heavens and earth with the appearance of age?  Of course.  Could God have created heavenly light to give the appearance of billions of light years from earth?  The Bible contains 11 references to God who “stretches out the heavens.”  As it turns out, science has confirmed that the universe appears to be expanding or “stretching out.”  The Bible account is confirmed.

Why do so many people resort to the religion of evolution to explain life and the origin of the universe?     Romans 1:19-22 gives us a clue:

  19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools” (emphasis my own)

 This Biblical truth, in summary, explains and reveals why so many people refuse to simply believe God who created all things and reveals himself through His Word, the Bible. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Foundational Truth of God

I want to challenge you with the following claim.

God does not need nor does He even desire to prove His existence to you.

Does this statement sound a bit arrogant to you? After-all, who am I to speak for God?  Nevertheless, my assertion is that those trusting in their own innate ability to scrutinize the existence of God may need to embrace that statement before it is even possible to come to the truth concerning God’s existence.
The entire subject concerning God’s existence must be approached from an entirely different paradigm or perspective than the one many people use in drawing their conclusions.
Approaching a subject from a different paradigm will often bring clarity along with a new perspective.  Consider the magician who has you completely stumped by his sleight of hand.  You spend hours wracking your brain but to no avail.  Then comes the “ah ha” moment when the illusionist reveals the secret.  He provided a new paradigm and suddenly the seemingly impossible is perfectly obvious.  Simply put, one must examine a problem, challenge, or belief from a completely different point of view before ascertaining the definitive truth. Until a new paradigm or method of examining a situation changes, a comprehension of the truth may not occur. In a sense, this is the challenge I am making.
Proving God’s existence is not the main issue. 
When it comes to resolving the existence of God, the false assumption is that a person must somehow obtain enough evidence to convince him or herself that God exists. That is the old paradigm and it must shift before a realization of the truth is even possible. The problem is not for lack of evidence.  The evidence for God is overwhelming.  Much of this evidence could be brought forward but that is not the intent of this article.  The snag comes in our reliance upon a potentially flawed four pound mass of tissue between our ears, our brain, as our final authority in judging the truth of God’s existence.  How much evidence is enough to satisfy you? How much evidence is enough to satisfy someone else?  Maybe you would disagree.  In fact, you may be quite certain that God does not exist and wonder how any intelligent person could conclude otherwise.  Believers in God are delusional you say.  If God were real, then surely He would supply enough evidence to make his existence apparent to everyone (I am not claiming that God has not made his existence clear to all).  Then perhaps intelligent and rational thinking would prevail and settle the issue.  Perhaps you feel that modern science along with centuries of knowledge is enough to disprove the existence of God.   I would suggest to you that all of our greatest tools of discovery and even God’s best undeniable and verifiable evidence is still not enough to overcome the real issue which has nothing to do with determining whether God exists.  Once the subject is approached from a different paradigm, you may come to realize that God planned it that way all along.   Perhaps at this point you are expecting me to say something along the lines of, “therefore we must just have faith that he exists.” Actually, no, that is not going to be my argument. And that is because the matter regarding God’s existence is not resolved by our own inborn ability to resolve it.  Keep tracking with me. 
The difficulty in discovering God stems for our inward nature.
In other words, (and this is an easy one to believe) people everywhere are messed up. Our inborn nature along with the influence of the world around us has tainted our minds, our choices, our affections, and our emotions.  On top of that, everyone is left with his or her own interpretation of the truth.  Much of the world’s problems are in part, due to this fact.   My assertion is that all of mankind does not have the ability to make a grand, unified truthful and good conclusion about anything. ANYTHING!  
Our minds are like a computer that has been corrupted by a virus.  It cannot correctly process data. 
The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.  Who can understand it?”  (Jeremiah 17:9).  Do you doubt this?  Not only does the Bible make this claim, but an honest appraisal of society substantiates this truth.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says, “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…,” (Romans 3:4a)
God alone is righteous and true.  Not us. In a society that promotes relative truth, one man’s right is another man’s wrong. One man’s truth is another man’s error. I would suggest that this wretched state we are in is an obvious fact, but even that would be challenged by someone.
I am hoping that you and I can agree on that.
Who is on the throne?
Picture this. One day you are going about your daily routine when suddenly a massive glowing being standing thousands of feet high, well up into the clouds, appears before you. Maybe He appears before everyone.  His majesty is so great that it knocks you to your knees. You are blinded by the glorious light. You fear for your life but then he suddenly smiles at you and it’s even kind of reassuring. You might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, self, could this be God?” And then he opens his mouth to speak. His voice is so loud that you have to hold your hands over your ears. It’s like thunder.  He says, “I am God!!!” By this point you are thinking that maybe he is who he says he is. But you’re still not totally convinced so you think, “Maybe he should perform a few miracles.” That might just do the trick in convincing you he is God. So you dream up your best set of miracles (one of which is that he must know what you are thinking and tell you so.) And sure enough, he knows what you are thinking and performs the miracles which you were thinking should nail down the coffin in the unbelief department. He even goes well beyond your expectations. He creates another moon right in front of you. Then he explains all of history to you to the extent that you are saying to yourself, “Oh now I get it. He has explained everything, answered all my hard questions and now I finally have all the criteria I need to believe that he exists.” So you tell him so. You let him know that he has finally convinced you as to his existence. You even shout it from the mountain top. “I BELIEVE THAT GOD EXISTS.” Hallelujah and all that stuff. But then he does something totally unexpected. He suddenly looks at you sternly and announces in his thunderous voice, “I BANISH YOU TO HELL.”                                                             And so…now you’re in hell.  What?!
Who is submitting to whom?
Wow, some loving good God he turned out to be. But in case you haven’t figured it out yet, in this particular scenario, who was on the throne of judgment?  Who was submitting to whom?   I would suggest to you that you, in fact, were trying to take the place of God. You were acting as judge over God, expecting him to meet your particular criteria for belief. So the fact is that you were not submitting to God at all, but were expecting him to have to submit to you. You had your criteria for belief, He met it, and then you decided for yourself that He was worthy of your belief. It might be compared to a two year old requiring the parent to submit to his authority and way of thinking. The parent doesn’t have to “prove” anything to the two year old.  Keep in mind that you are relying upon a four pound mass of tissue between your ears in making this judgment.  If intelligence were the deciding factor, then those with the largest amount of grey matter would be found more worthy of God’s acceptance.   Since God is the one who gave you that brain, then he still gets to make the call.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  He knows what’s going on inside that brain.  He knows just how messed up you really are. Do you?
So again, I ask you, who was submitting to whom?    Oh, and by the way, all those thousands, or perhaps millions or billions of others who saw all of this and were saying to themselves, “he better meet my criteria for belief or I’m not going to believe.” They too were relying on that four pound mass of tissue between their ears as their final authority for determining the truth.  Even still, the Bible states that God has given us all the evidence and revelation we need so that all of creation is silenced and everyone is without excuse. 
Here’s one such passage from the book of Romans, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  (Romans 1:18-20) 
This inborn nature which prevents everyone from receiving evidence from God has a name.  
It’s called the “sin nature“. The word “sin“ in scripture is defined as “missing the mark” and refers to any transgression of God’s laws.   Each of us has been born with a soul that is way off target and has transgressed God’s laws.   Well, then, isn’t God to blame for this? Hold that thought.   We’ll come back to that. 
The Bible describes God as both totally just and totally loving. Many unbelievers would scoff at this characterization. They do so because they look at the world around them with all the pain and suffering and tragedy and can only conclude that it must mean that there is no such thing as a perfect loving God.  How could a loving, perfect God have allowed all the injustice, death and pain in the world?  This needs to be addressed.  We’ll come back to that but let’s stay on point for now. 
God said, “It is good.”
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, begins by describing God’s act of creation. (Genesis chapter 1) After he makes the earth, he says it is “good.” After he makes the heavens he says it is “good.”  Each time something else is created it is always followed by the statement, “it is good.”  The account ends by declaring, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31)  So far all of what God created might be compared to a pure glass of water. There are no impurities in it whatsoever.  It is a pure glass of water and it is “good.”   God eventually created the man and woman and clearly states his requirements governing His creation, which He knows, as long as they are followed, everything he created will continue to remain good, whole and in perfect harmony.  That perfect world we all yearn for today and then blame God for when we see that it isn’t… it once was absolutely totally pure, loving, whole, and… “Good.”  But then there is that whole episode in the Garden of Eden.  Don’t write off this subject without examining closely the implications.  The fact is, God actually gave our distant relatives, Adam and Eve, a choice, not just to obey Him from a sense of duty, but a heart choice to love and trust Him.  But then that fateful hour occurred when they disobeyed.   Couldn’t God have just let it go? Surely it was no big thing.  Think back to the diluted water illustration.  I don’t care how big and pure that glass of water is. If you were to drop even the tiniest drop of sulfuric acid into it… then it is no longer perfect, whole, and “good.” That impurity will always be there. There is nothing anybody can do about it. (Okay, maybe the water department folks know how to do it). Anyway, you get the point. Fact is, that act by Adam and Eve changed everything from there on out and is still playing itself out today.  By the way, look at the reasoning by Eve. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” (Genesis 3:6)  Same thing is still going on today. Except we might call it “the lust of the eyes (that thing sure looks good to me), the lust of the flesh (that thing sure makes me feel good.), and the pride of life (that position of power and success sure would make me feel significant.) Or maybe pride might come off as “I am going to do things my way because, after-all, I am the captain of my soul.”  At the heart of each of these desires, is the dissatisfaction with the good which God provides.  Lust and control takes over and pushes God’s provision aside.  The Bible goes on to explain that since God is totally pure, righteous, just, loving, holy and such, he simply cannot allow anything impure or unrighteous to be tolerated. It would be as if a cancer has invaded the body and must be eliminated or death will occur. The condition of the world and society all throughout history attest to the fact that things are pretty messed up and God’s perfect holiness cannot allow it to remain so forever in His presence. His laws and his very being are so absolutely holy and perfect that we simply could not stand in his presence. We would be consumed by that holiness and be destroyed just as a fire consumes all impurities. He is so righteous and just that he can do no wrong.  He is the perfect Creator and Judge.  If he says we are guilty and sinful, then we are. We try and rationalize and come up with some other explanation.  We may want to try and give God some sort of human characteristics to conform to our way of thinking.  We reach up and try and bring God down to our level. 
Man is finite.  God is infinite.

Let’s imagine that we all live on a two dimensional plane. Three dimensions do not exist in our world. We are like line drawings on a piece of paper. That is all our brains and our world will allow us to conceive. But now what if a finger were to come down on that two dimensional field. Keep in mind we cannot see that it is anything other than a big flat blob on our two dimensional world. And yet, that is exactly what we try and do with God. We try and use the limited resources he has given us in our physical world to try and explain something our minds cannot conceive of. And it drives us crazy. Where did time begin?  How can it possibly end?  Where does the universe begin?  How can it possibly end?  Yea, go ahead and chew on those for awhile. So when it comes to the eternal God, why do we still continue to think that we can figure Him out? If he doesn’t stand up to our own criteria for rational thinking, then we figure this four pound mass of tissue between our ears (which He put there by the way and gave it the limitations as he determined best) must be a higher authority than Him. Dwell on that end of time and universe thing a little while longer and then continue to tell me you can figure things out… much less God.  Do you really think science is the end all? God is eternal and beyond time and matter.  After all, he created time and matter.  He is the dimension we cannot fathom.  God laughs at our futile attempts to deny his power and authority. He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.”(Psalm 2:4)  Oh, the arrogance of men!!!  God, not mankind, is the One who holds all truth.  Our ideas of “relative truth” just won’t stand up alongside God’s authority and ultimate truth.
God is both just and merciful… but how can He be both at the same time?
Since there is no higher authority than God, He gets to decide what is right and wrong and determines the penalty for sin. And that whole penalty for sin thing simply comes, once again, with the fact that nothing unholy and impure can remain in his presence. It’s just a sad fact. That whole drop of acid in the glass of water thing or the cancer in the body thing.  Look at what this "cancer" (sin) has done to our society and world.  Now try and imagine if it were to remain so for all eternity.  But this cancer, this sin filled world has been a reality from day one (in a manner of speaking).  Why is God continuing to allow all this injustice to remain in the world?  When should final judgment begin?  Where should He begin to right all wrongs?  Should He begin with me... or how about you?  Will you stand up against God’s rightful verdict against sin?  The verdict is in.  “We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). 
 How am I ever to be found good enough to stand before this Holy God?  How am I to justify my defiance of his authority?  Do I stand on the grounds of my own goodness?   If goodness and self effort were the determining factor for acceptance by God, then pride would immediately rear its ugly head and proclaim, “Look at me and how worthy I am to stand before this holy righteous God.”  The arrogance of this position immediately negates its claim. God has plans for eternity and they do not include prideful, self-centered humans who are only concerned with their self interests and unable to “see” God because of their inward tainted sin nature.  
Governing this bleak picture is a God who is suppose to encompass love.  Well, let’s see. He is totally just so it only reasons that a perfect judge will judge sin perfectly. You can argue all day long that “God made me this way”, but that isn’t going to change the fact that you fall tremendously short of a totally righteous God and his decrees.  But if he is also perfectly loving which means he loves you more than you can ever imagine, then what is the remedy for this dichotomy?
The answer is Jesus Christ.
If Jesus is the solution to this dilemma, then we need to understand who He is and why He came into the world. 
Many passages make his identity known.  Here is one such passage.  Please consider carefully your response to its claim.  Colossians 1:15-20 says this, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
The first words written by the Apostle John in his  account of the life and ministry of Jesus reveal much about this man.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1a)  By using the title “the Word”, John is indicating that this Jesus was the entire Word of God summed up and revealed in flesh.  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14a)   Quite a claim, wouldn’t you agree?
Through these accounts and many more, we are presented with the deity of Jesus.  This is why he is called the “Christ”.  Jesus didn’t come down from heaven as a cosmic celestial being, but was born into time and space by the Spirit of God.  God placed his seed, His Spirit, into Mary’s womb. She conceived a man, just like you and me, except that He was not born from Adam’s seed, which was carried down through the generations to Joseph, Mary’s husband.  If he had been born from Joseph’s seed then he would have that same sin nature that you and I have. But Jesus still had to live the same life as you and I, making the same kinds of choices, facing the same temptations.  This is a crucial point.  He had to be both fully human and fully divine.  Where his humanity is concerned, those desires to satisfy the eyes, the flesh, and the pride of life came against Him just as they do for you and me.  Side note:  if you read the narrative about Satan’s temptations while Jesus was on his 40 day fast in the desert before beginning his earthly ministry… the three temptations fall under those same old tried and true temptations that faced Eve as well as you and me:  lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and pride of life. Yet, Jesus never sinned. “(Jesus Christ) who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;” (1 Peter 2:22) 
He remained in constant connection with His Father.  All of the “laws” of God he followed and carried out perfectly. They were wrapped up in Him. Recall that the Apostle John called Him “the Word”. (John 1:1) We Christians gain a great deal of joy seeing this portrayed throughout scripture in both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, some smarter people than me have said that there are over 300 prophecies concerning the coming of Christ, this Messiah, and all of them are fulfilled in this one man. That’s right. His mission, his life, his very being and nature are shown all throughout Scripture.  Jesus wasn’t a man who came on the scene one day and began a new religion.  He wasn’t just some prophet or inspirational teacher.  Even the date of his arrival was predicted through the prophet Daniel. And yes, actually, that can be “proved”.  Or rather, the reference can be shown and then either accepted or rejected.  Daniel was given a revelation regarding the determination of when this “messiah”, this “Christ” would arrive in Jerusalem, but the religious leaders of that day (as well as many today) purposely rejected it.  Why?  The sin nature rejects the truth because it knows it must give an account to that truth.  The sin nature wants to define its own set of values and truth.
The Bible states that since all of mankind is sinful, deserving of hell, then a penalty for this sin must be paid. Perfect justice demands it!  Someone did indeed pay that debt which you and I owe.
The great exchange.
Jesus, the sinless “Man”, took our place on a cross and paid that penalty of sin.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)  His death satisfied the debt we owe for our guilt.  And make no mistake about it.  You and I and everyone born into this world are guilty before a holy righteous God.  You can NEVER be good enough through your own efforts to be reconciled to God and have him actually reveal his full presence to you.  You might even at this point throw yourself into a great gulf of sorrow and tell yourself that you are going to live for God.   But even that won’t gain you access to God because you would still be depending upon your own effort.

What will reconcile you to God?  Here it is:          But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:8-10).
Believe that what Jesus Christ did was the price that had to be paid.  He purchased you with His blood.  Receive that sacrifice and allow him to de-throne you and take his rightful seat on the throne of your life.
 You see, it is as if you are standing before God, the perfect Judge, and He were to slam down his gavel and declare you guilty of breaking all of his perfect ways and rebelling against his Kingship, and therefore are banished from his presence forever in a place designated for demons.  But He then steps down from behind his bench, comes down to where you are and says that he himself will take the place for your punishment and banishment. The one who made the law is also the One who disseminates justice.         Not only that, but He is the ONLY ONE who can do that.  No one else is worthy.
Since Jesus was born of God being fully divine, but also born from man being fully human, then that is precisely what took place. Adam, the first man whose defiled nature still resides in all of us, results in our guilt. Jesus, the new Adam has taken that place within believers, but only if we will receive Him into our life, which is not really our life at all, but His.
How then am I, this messed up person, ever going to be found worthy to stand before Holy God?  It’s all about God’s grace. God’s grace does not mean he turns a sort of kindly old grandfatherly blind eye to what we have done as an offense to Him. No. It means that through God’s loving kindness, he has graciously provided the solution to dealing with those offenses.  In so doing He is able to reconcile His justice with His love.  We can then be justified before our God who is both perfect love and perfect justice.

Death could not hold Jesus in the grave because “the wages of sin is death“(Romans 6:23) , and Jesus did not sin. He arose which means that the verdict had been dealt with and that life was now available to all who would place their trust in Christ and HIS perfect holiness.
Controlled by the Spirit.   
The Bible promises that the same Spirit and life which is in Christ will come to live in us when we place our trust in Christ.  
Check out these passages.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
In the 15th chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus is making the analogy that he is the vine which supplies nourishment and growth to the branches, indicating the absolute necessity to remain connected to Him and his life producing strength.  So you see, Jesus, the new Adam can now occupy our souls.  Something marvelous then takes place. You will have a different nature than the one you had previously. Does that mean that you won’t continue to mess up and sin? No, it means that there is now a Spirit living inside of you which enables you to overcome sin. Your relationship with God will take on a whole new dimension.  His love enables you to love Him and desire his presence in your life.  The nature you had before simply decided for itself what choices were right or wrong. The sin nature would not, nor could not submit to God.  It was impossible.
“But a natural man does accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)                       Another passage says this, “The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:40) 
Without God’s perfect Spirit living on the inside of us we were totally destitute and simply relying on that brain, that four pound mass of tissue between our ears to guide us through life… to be our savior so to speak.  But when we allow Jesus to be our Guide, our Shepherd, our Savior, we have him on the inside of us giving us the desire and the ability to live for God.
Maybe this illustration will drive home the point.  Perhaps after a night of partying you ended up drinking too much. Once intoxicated, who or what was making your choices? You might say you are still making your choices and must suffer the consequences for those choices. You would be right. Or you might say that it was the alcohol that influenced those choices and therefore shares some blame in the matter. You would be right about that too.   Now, in a similar manner, if the Spirit of God is residing within you, then He will have an effect on your desires, your ability to accomplish those desires, and the choices you make.  So what I am saying is that we are living either with the old sin nature governing our choices, or our new “born again” Spirit filled nature governing our choices. The choices are still ours to make and we might not make good ones, but with God’s Spirit we now have the ability to make good ones. God’s grace continues to work in our lives until He brings us home. If we were suddenly made perfect after receiving Christ then perhaps pride would once again raise its ugly head or perhaps we would become a bunch of robots of sorts.  God’s work in our lives is a process.  This process involves suffering and testing.  The difference is that these life experiences can be a means of drawing us closer toward God rather than creating further division.  If we have sinned, we recognize it and are able to repent.  This can ONLY be true for one who has God’s Spirit residing within.                              God’s work in us does not end by receiving Christ. It is true that you have been “born from above” (John 3:3) and that means you have passed from eternal death to eternal life.
The new nature will give you the desire to know more and more about God as long as you do not “quench the Spirit of God” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) who is performing His work on your heart.  We’ll have more to say about this later on.  It is probably time to point out one important and absolutely crucial truth.
If we are to know God, He must reveal himself to us.
We have already seen that God reveals his eternal power and authority through nature.  But there are limitations to knowing God solely through His creation.  God further extends the revelation of Himself through His Word.  He does not give us the option to decide for ourselves who He is.  If this were the case, we would be creating a God to our liking.  He is God.  He gets to decide the means and method and medium by which He reveals himself.  Our need isn’t to try and figure Him out.  God declared this through the prophet Isaiah:   “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We will never completely understand what he is up to while we are on this earth.  He says “the secret things belong to God”.  (Deuteronomy 29:29)
He has built into our brains and into our world certain limitations. We simply cannot depend upon our own flawed brains to figure things out and to “save” us. 

Once again,
The problem is sin. We are all messed up. The solution to overcoming this malady and restoring our relationship with God is through the sacrifice made on our behalf through our sinless Messiah.
Where does the rubber meet the road? It comes through faith. It comes through trust that what God has revealed and accomplished we can believe and stand on it…. No matter what!  No matter what trials and pain life throws at us. No matter who calls us names or tries to hurt us. “They will hate you because they first hated me,” Jesus said.  (John 15:18) Those who hated Jesus did so because he claimed to contain the ultimate authority of truth. We Christians are often hated for the same reasons. Despite all the problems we face we still rely on God and his truth. Even the pain, trials, and mess ups are part of His means of growing us and making us “more like Christ” which is the ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
God has given us His resources.

Once we receive the offer of salvation from Christ, God’s Spirit directs us to the resources he has lovingly given to us.
One of these is the Bible.  You can argue all day long using the limitations of human reasoning that it is merely the compiled writings of mere men so how can it have come from God.   Paul, in a letter written to Timothy, made this claim:  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)  Jesus, in one of his prayers to the Father said this, “Your Word is Truth.”  There are hundreds of instances throughout the whole of Scripture where we read, "The Lord said…” or “The Lord spoke…”.   I ask you, are you willing to rely on that brain of yours with all its limitations and faults to refute these claims?
God used a certain man, Abraham, and his descendents as his vehicle for bringing his revelation of Himself to all people.  He chose them.  They did not initially choose Him. He set in motion the history (His Story) of this nation with the declaration that through this nation he would bring about the One who would bring about salvation from sin and reconciliation with God. That nation is of course Israel.  From the first words found in Genesis through the last words of Malachi, God began to reveal his words and plan for redeeming mankind, using those individuals he chose to use, utilizing the very bents, gifts, talents, and status within their individual times, but then through the inspiration (God breathed) of the Holy Spirit, to put forth the words God knew we needed to hear.
Here is an illustration.  Suppose you were walking along a path and noticed a line of ants spread out in the field along your path.  Upon further inspection you noticed that the line formed by those ants spelled out the words, “Give glory to God.”  You reason to yourself that this cannot be possible, for ants are incapable of doing such a thing.  You would be half right.  The ants would not have the capability of doing such a thing on their own.  But there it is before you.  They did, indeed, spell out an intelligible sentence.  The sentence gives you a clue to its origin.  A vastly superior being must have made this possible and wants all who read it to know its origin.  This silly illustration makes the point that while Scripture was written by men, it had its origin with God. 

God chose to make his special revelation of Himself through humanity.  The entire Bible has the same thread. It has the same unity of message even though it was written by 40 different men from vastly different time periods, cultures and status over a 1500 year period to bring about this unified message of a coming redeemer to restore the broken relationship with God.

The writer of the book of Hebrews opens up his letter with these words, God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, but in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Then in the New Testament, those who now had the Spirit of God living within them began to make that message plain.  He then used faithful spirit filled men of God creating the “Canon” of scripture which we now call the Holy Bible.
The mystery is explained. The message was made clear. But you must go to Him on His terms to hear it. Once you do, the understanding, the revelation from God continues to develop within your mind throughout your lifetime. Your rebellious heart of stone softens and changes.  “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “ (more pliable).  Ezekiel 36:26.
We who place our trust in Jesus Christ have an awesome privilege of reading those words and having the Spirit reveal the truth to us.  Once again, the Bible says that the “natural man” or “those who are perishing” as scripture puts it cannot understand the Words of God.  They are foolishness to him. Natural man decides for himself which parts are worthy to be read and then tries to interpret them to line up with his own notions of what is truth.
Another resource is His Church.  The church is not a building or simply a religious organization.  It is not a gathering of people who rely on rituals and traditions to somehow make them presume to do good things for God, thinking perhaps that God is impressed by the sound of bells and chants.  This is merely man made religion.  Sadly many groups who call themselves a church are doing just that.  In these churches, the Word of God is rarely scratched below the surface.  In contrast, the true Christian church is made up of those individuals who have placed their hope and trust in Christ.  They dig deep into the treasure of God’s Word and desire to accurately apply it to their lives. 
Scripture refers to the Church in many different ways.  For instance, the Church is referred to as the “Body of Christ”.  Christ is the head and we are His body.  And just as our own bodies have many different parts which function in unison, we too are to be functioning in a variety of ways within the Church.   Christian literally means “follower of Christ”.  Christ himself formed the Church.   The “Church” is a resource he lovingly provided.  He never intended for us to be “Lone Ranger” Christians.  It is through the Church that God gives feet to His mission and message of salvation.
God uses His Word, His Church, and His Holy Spirit, accompanied by prayer, to accomplish not only his work in the world, but his work in each believer’s life.  We must remain connected to Christ, “the Word”, in order to fulfill God’s plan for our lives.  We can quench this work when we fail to adhere to the instruction and teaching from the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit works in tandem with the Words of scripture.  This is why much of the New Testament admonishes the Christ follower to study and apply the truths found within the whole of Scripture.  This is why we must remain connected to one another; to love, build up, encourage, and admonish one another.  We all know those individuals who call themselves Christians but who demonstrate no real change in their lives.   Unbelievers are quick to point out the hypocrisy of believers.  Believers are to exhibit the love and grace of God in all they do.  If and when we drift away from Christ and His resources, God’s love for us will bring about corrective measures in the life of His children.  
It’s time to make a choice.

Let me tell you what I believe may happen with you right now. Actually one of two different things may occur.

On one hand you may find yourself somewhere between indifferent, annoyed or even infuriated.  Perhaps you will be fed up with all this nonsense and continue to believe that Christians have bought into an irrational set of beliefs which defy logic and reasoning. How could we actually believe all of those fairy tales in the Bible? I mean, come on, people. Use the brains that God gave you…er, I mean that evolution gave you.

So what if what I am telling you is true? That changes everything. It even changes my motivation for writing this article and suggesting you need a “paradigm shift” in the way you approach the existence of God and His purpose for your life.
If not, then once again, you are left to that brain., that four pound mass of tissue with neurons making electrochemical transmissions which simply evolved without a creator over several million years as your final authority. Good luck with that.

Another thing which might happen is that you give God a chance to enter your heart. He may cause you to humble yourself and admit that you have “missed the mark”, and see the foolishness of requiring God to “prove” himself to you.  Perhaps the Spirit of God is bringing you to a point of recognizing your own sinful state.  You may come to realize that without a Savior, you are destitute and guilty before our holy, righteous God.

In which case you might simply talk to God and say something along these lines,
“Okay God. I get it. I admit my own arrogance and rejection of you.  I am messed up and totally deserving of whatever consequences you have declared.  I have not submitted to you and have ignored your authority over my life.  I’ve been blind to the obvious evidence of your power and wisdom and love.  I have to admit; my life’s a wreck. I am miserable much of the time. And I keep making other’s lives miserable as well.  If you have said that you can replace my anxiety with peace then I will just believe it even if it doesn’t make any sense to me right now.
Having realized this and the fact that my sin was what caused your own Son to have to pay an agonizing price for my sinful condition, I give myself to you.
I know you see right through me.  I cannot hide anything from you. I stand totally naked before you. Like I said, God, I am guilty. No excuses God. You’ve got me.
Almighty God, I am at your mercy.
Now I am making the choice to place my trust in what Jesus Christ did for me. I am thankful that his act of obedience now makes it possible for me to stand in your presence totally forgiven. Oh my Lord how I need to hear those words. I am forgiven. Thank you. I am yours. Show me the next step, Lord.  I still have troubling questions which don’t make much sense to me right now.  I know I need a group of believers surrounding me, loving me, and helping me on my journey. I know they too are on a journey and might mess up at times but give me your spirit of love and forgiveness. Show me that place Lord.”

God willing and by his grace and mercy that will happen to you.
If God begins to burden your heart, believe that it is coming from Him. It means that He desires to reveal himself to you and bring you into His family. Even if those nagging questions keep popping up which don’t appear to have an answer, don’t ignore what God has providentially revealed to you at this time.  There’s more to come.  Surround yourself with others who have experienced this revelation.   
If, however, you are not burdened as I described then perhaps you can at least stop the condescending remarks towards those people who only want to wish you well, and who, perhaps, have been praying for you. Besides, they really can’t help who they are… God changed their very nature and gave them the ability and privilege to not only know of Him, but to intimately know Him.
Fellow Sojourner