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

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).