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 18, 2012

Paradigm on the debate between Evolution and Creation


Allow me to first lay a foundation. Depending upon whose material you read, you are going to be faced with a myriad of “facts” concerning the evolution/creation debate. You will be faced with a decision of determining who is right and who is wrong? The usual approach is to input information and then decide which view appears more viable. But the decision must be based upon another greater question altogether; Upon what authority are you basing your opinions? To the one who professes belief in God, then God must become the ultimate authority. To an unbeliever, the authority lies solely on that 4 pound mass of tissue between his or her ears. The premise of Scripture is that we are all born with a flawed nature making it improbable to reason effectively. Our minds are like a corrupt computer hard drive which can only output distorted data. Emotions, thoughts, affections, and desires all flow out of a distorted soul which is incapable of making altogether accurate conclusions. Regardless of where you stand in your theology, a quick look around the world makes it evident that people are pretty messed up. One man’s right is another man’s wrong. One man’s truth is another man’s error. What hope, therefore, is there for discovering any truth about anything? In the words of Jesus Christ, “what is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Matthew 19:26). God must be the One who reveals Himself to us and regenerates our soul. The evidence of his supreme power and intelligence surrounds us both day and night, but the one who ignores that revelation will never come to know God or His truth. That person will ignore the greater revelation of God found in the Bible. Our job is to humbly submit to God’s revelation and work in our life. In so doing, we are allowing God to be the authority, not man.

Now back to the evolution debate. For those who are swayed towards evolution being the explanation for life on earth, they must begin with the notion that God either does not exist or that God’s revelation of Himself and His truth through Scripture is inaccurate or wrong. If, in fact, there is no God, then who can argue against evolution? It would, in fact, be the ONLY explanation for life on earth. In which case, a person relying on himself or herself as the ultimate authority will probably not be swayed by the volumes of scientific evidence and discovery supplied by Creation Science. But for one who relies upon the authority of God and His revelation of Himself and his truth to us through Scripture, read on.

This purpose of this treatise is not to provide all the scientific evidence which disputes the evolutionary model, but rather to point out the inconsistencies of evolutionary theory with regards to Scripture.

The first few chapters of Genesis provide us a brief overview of creation. The first words of the Bible declare, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Scriptural revelation, therefore, does not begin by trying to prove anything. It simply states a claim that God is the Creator of everything. You either believe it or you don’t. The account then goes on to provide more revelation concerning God’s act of creation. If we choose to dispute this account or try and explain it away in order to fit the evolutionary model, then we have already begun to drift away from Scriptural revelation and authority. In so doing, we disregard other scriptural authority as no authority at all. We try and make God fit into our way of thinking which takes us down a path of speculation and continued disregard for the words found in Scripture. We are right back where we began. We continue to be our own authority.

Here is an illustration. Through the account of creation, we discover that God made the first two people. They were created in His image. We are then given an explanation for sin. Adam and Eve fell. At that point the Bible goes on to reveal the consequences of that fall and God’s plan to right the wrong. If mankind came as a result of evolving from more primitive life forms, then at what point did God finally provide man with a soul, create him in his own likeness, and place him in a faultless world, uncorrupted by sin? The evolutionary model must rely on millions of years of violence and death taking place on the planet. The Bible proclaims that death came as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. This is referred to in Scripture as the fall of man.

We are told repeatedly in the 1st chapter of Genesis that each living organism was made “after its kind”, meaning that each species was created differently from every other species. If God created everything in this way, how do we also allow for the process of evolution which requires one species to evolve into a completely different species? Incidentally, DNA itself is a storehouse of intricate information much like several volumes of encylopedias. Imagine evolution producing a library of books through a process of “natural selection.” Honest evolutionists cannot debate this point. We trust either in the process of evolution and thus deny scripture, or we believe scripture.

Scientists agree that every life form is dependent upon every other life form. No life form can exist on its own apart from every other life form. A symbiotic relationship exists which keeps all of life in balance. It has been this way from the very beginning of creation… if you hold to a creation view. The evolutionary process does not account for this balance of life. Millions of years pass between one life form and another.

Another fundamental law of science states that systems will always proceed from order to chaos. Scripture supports this. It relates an untainted world in the beginning where mankind lived for hundreds of years. Over time and especially after the flood, the earth and life experienced corruption, just as God’s Word tells us. Life-spans were shortened. Evolution, on the other hand, relies on matter and life progressing from chaos to order which defies basic scientific knowledge.

Evolution relies on “beneficial mutations” in order for “natural selection” to come about. Not once has science ever been able to replicate this occurrence. Mutations always result in weakened life forms.

How do we argue against the evidence which supports an old earth? New discoveries are putting new light on these views. Carbon dating, radioactive decay, chemical analysis of rocks and other such tools are being shown to be unreliable. They begin with assumptions and then try and make analysis line up with these assumptions. Employing different diagnostic tools to the same specimens have resulted in vastly different findings. And again, if certain assumptions end up being wrong, then the data will be wrong.

For instance, if one takes into account a world-wide catastrophic flood as described in Genesis, then that can make an enormous impact on findings on the age of rocks. Evolutionists disregard the flood account because they do not believe in the accuracy of Scripture. The flood account was, in fact, incredibly catastrophic. According to Scripture, the planet and atmosphere before the flood were entirely different from the conditions we now know. The Bible describes the “fountains of the deep” opening up and devastating the entire surface of the world. An honest appraisal of the earth’s surface agrees with this finding. And yet, the “old earth” advocates will not allow such factors to be considered when analyzing data. There are many other factors which should be, but are not, being included in the mainstream science of evolution and the age of the earth.

Once again, this treatise is not intended to provide the volumes of evidence which reveal potential flaws in the evolutionary model. The point is to suggest that one’s basis of authority is the determining factor in making a judgment on the debate between evolution and creation.

Why is evolution so widely accepted? The fact remains that many in the academic and scientific community censor any evidence that suggests God’s involvement in creation and life, even when that evidence is backed by scientific discovery. Evolution is a religion… it is a world view, and not science. It assumes no God and therefore is the only viable explanation. Sadly, those in the academic world are not interested in bringing truth to the table if it does not fit into their world view. Their tactics involve ridicule, personal attacks, bureaucratic policies, and court rulings. Evolution survives because so few people have ever been given a chance to hear a credible case for creation. When all avenues of discovery are allowed to have a voice, creation science proves to provide the better explanation for life on earth.

We read these words from 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” Psalm 19, Psalm 119, and many other passages of Scripture echo the point that all of the words found in Scripture are true, perfect, and authoritative. Jesus himself made this claim when He said, “Your Word is true.” (John 17:17). Since Scripture is our ultimate authority, then we must throw out the concept of evolution because it is diametrically opposed to the truths found in Scripture.

Yes, continue to search for the truth and study the findings of science. You will discover time and time again that the truths found in Scripture are confirmed by new scientific discoveries. Or perhaps it would be better to say that Scripture turns out to be the greater authority. While Scripture is never intended to be a scientific textbook, it is intended to be our authority in life and the means by which we discover God’s ultimate truth and His path for our life.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Good News in miniature

Those of us who have been followers of Jesus Christ for sometime know without any hesitancy the foundation upon which we stand. When discussing our faith with skeptics, the tendency is to want to provide evidence for our faith. Or we may use our own personal testimony to try and draw others to Christ. In some cases we may be tempted to present Jesus as the “best way to live” or perhaps use Him as therapy for what ills us. Or in trying to be courteous we present faith in Christ as nothing more than our opinion in a culture where everyone’s opinion is as valid as the next.


The case for Christ has little to do with our arguments or testimony or opinions. The entire message of faith in Christ must hinge on the foundational truth of the gospel message as presented in Scripture. The gospel, or “good news” as it is interpreted is the break in the clouds. It is the one message which is aimed directly at the heart and brings about changes both in the mind and in the heart of an individual. For this reason, it is worth taking a closer look at this message of good news which does what no other message can do.

This gospel is so central to anything else, that if we don’t this one message correct, nothing else in life makes any sense. It’s as if we are trying to make our way around in a dark room with no light. We stumble and fall as we recklessly make our way through the room. But then someone lights a match. We can then see enough to make sense of the obstacles in our path. That light is the gospel. Only by hearing and receiving this good news can we then begin to have the resources we need to overcome. What is this light… this gospel message? Here it is.

First, we must acknowledge that God is far more powerful and awesome than any of us can imagine. A glance up at the night sky, or observing a bird in flight, or the face of a newborn, or examining the intricacies of the basic fabric of life found in DNA; all reveal just how powerful and intelligent our Creator is. He is beyond anything we can calculate or measure or observe. Psalm 19 puts it this way, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands…” God is, as he told Moses, the Great I Am.

And yet, we can only learn so much through natural revelation of this majestic God. If He can create all this and have it all work in such harmony, then surely there must be design and purpose in creation. He must surely reveal himself further in some special way. He did so through the pages of the Bible. Through the Bible we discover the true character of God. We learn that He is both loving and merciful but he also judges sin. But please let me caution you before you jump in with arguments against these characteristics of God or the divine authorship of Scripture. We’re still making our way through a darkened room. The full light has not yet been fully revealed through the complete gospel message.

Following close behind this fact that God is God is the fact that you and I are not god. If he is the Great I Am, we are the great I am nots. By this I mean that we must acknowledge the fact that we are messed up. We have limitations. A quick look around the world at all the pain and suffering along with the struggles we face due to our poor choices, the pain we have caused others, the fact that we hate not getting our own way, the lust we indulge and the consequences of those sins, along with our own ineptness to overcome these maladies, makes it clear that we need a merciful God to intervene.

We learn through Scripture that we were made to enjoy a relationship with God. But something went terribly wrong. Again, an honest appraisal of our lives reveals that this relationship is lacking. We either ignore God or we make up a god to fit our own criteria. The Bible reveals that this snub against God is engrained within us even from birth. We carry within us the very sinful nature which originated in our distant relatives, Adam and Eve. They disobeyed and we suffer the consequences. We may, in fact, feel the harsh reality of his judgment on our lives and wonder if he truly does love us.

So far it’s not sounding very much like “good news”, is it?

But then enter Jesus Christ. Jesus was born from the Spirit of God thus making him both fully human and fully divine. He lived a fully devoted, obedient, and intimate relationship with His Father. But then was crucified by those who rejected this man who was claiming equality with God. As Christ said, “Before Abraham was, ‘I Am’. Sound familiar?  Or as he told Philip, one of his disciples who had asked to see God, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Upon seeing the risen Christ, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” Many more passages could be sited which reveal the divinity of Jesus. And because of these claims, they crucified Him. And in a way, so do we.

But because of Jesus’ sinless life, death could not hold him for “the wages of sin is death” we are told in Romans. He rose again. We learn that he paid the full penalty for the sins of all mankind. It was our rebellion which caused him to die on a cross. You see, since God is fully just, meaning he must judge sin perfectly, but also merciful, then the price Jesus paid has made it possible for His mercy to be reconciled with His justice. The first Adam, whose nature still indwells you, results in your guilt. The new Adam, Jesus Christ, offers a new nature which can now overcome the old nature. That relationship you and I were created to have with God can now be fully restored…. But… that relationship…. that love and mercy, the new life God is extending to you must be received. Your eyes must be opened to your own sinful state and need for salvation. You must repent and receive that sacrifice on your part through faith.

Think long and hard on this. As long as you and I continue to live with ourselves on the throne of our lives… as long as we are still our own god… as long as we think the ability to overcome problems come from within us, as long as we try and control our own destiny and remain the captain of our own souls, ignoring the resources and provision God through Christ has made available to us, then God cannot become Lord in our life.

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.’ In the book of Romans in the 10th chapter we read this, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and confesses with his lips and so is saved.”

By receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, we now have that relationship with God restored. The Holy Spirit will bring new life into your soul and awaken your need for God. He is alive, and now offers you that same life. His grace saves us through faith in Christ’s atoning work, according to His Word and in His promise. This is what we stand on. We have faith knowing that we will stand before God not on the basis of our own goodness which, by the way, the Bible describes as filthy disgusting rags, but on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ.

In this life you can now appropriate the many resources and provision God has for you. You can overcome. Trust in His unfailing love. Place your hope and trust in Christ right now and begin to see his hand engaged in all that goes on in your life. The hope the Bible speaks of is better defined as “certain assurance”. It is this hope, this certain assurance which carries through the remainder of our life and then brings us into an eternal relationship with God once we leave this life behind.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Letter to atheists, skeptics, and those fed up with Christians and their message

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 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Drugs and Sorcery and a plea to those who practice these things

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8 (New King James)


In this passage, the word ‘sorcerers’ comes from the Greek word ‘pharmakos’ (Strongs # 5332) which is derived from the Greek word ‘pharmakon’ and is defined in Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament as follows:

a druggist (“pharmacist”) or poisoner

Interesting.

But of course these individuals who practice such things, indeed, it defines their very existence, are blind to the fact that they have a bigger problem. They make light of God and see no reason to submit to his authority. Their authority lies within themselves. They are like the passengers on board the Titanic who were oblivious to the sinking ship on whose deck they so confidently walked about. Their destruction is sure. It is certain. Their only hope lies within their eyes being opened to the One who stands before them and knocks on the door of their heart. Notice the reference above to the “second death”. Those who live their lives in self indulgence will die just as all of us will face that ultimate hour. But unlike those who have placed their trust in the redeeming work of Christ and the Holy Spirit’s work in their life, they will have to experience a second death in the lake of fire which continues throughout eternity. How tragic. Those of us who pray for them and want desperately for their eyes to be open find it agonizing to know our loved ones will spend eternity separated from the One who holds out hope for abundant, purpose filled life. We want them to listen to the voice of those who were once caught up in that lifestyle but whose eyes were opened to God’s Salvation and hope. Listen to those who have been “born again” by the Holy Spirit of God. But again, they continue to make light of their only hope of life and continue to live a wasted life on board a sinking ship, all along, thinking they are okay, even though they know in their hearts that their life and attitude towards God is not okay. They wonder why they experience pain and wonder why life sucks. The pain they suffer is there for a reason. It is there to motivate them to turn their life over to the One who give them “everything they need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). But their faith continues to be in themselves and their own ability. They never step out of themselves and place their faith in the One who can do anything. They will not bend a willing knee to their Creator. Perhaps they don’t know how to escape this existence. Again, it first takes the Holy Spirit opening their eyes to their own sinful condition. At that point, their attitude must be, “enough is enough. I don’t want to live this way anymore. God, thank you for giving me a way out. Thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus. I want His sacrifice to cover my sins and make me right with you. I want the Holy Spirit to change my heart and give me a heart for you so that I can live a life of meaning and one which glorifies you and not myself. I will willingly allow your resources and provisions to permeate my life. I will live life according to your direction. But Lord, I need your ability working in me to will and to obey. Lord, here I am. Take me. I am yours.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Speculation

Speculate. It’s something we all do real well. We speculate about the weather. We speculate about investments, a job change, a new car purchase, or even whether an upcoming feature film will be worth the price of admission. We speculate when we don’t have all the facts. Sometimes we get lucky and our speculating pays off. Other times we bomb out. The picnic got rained out. We lost money in the market. The new job didn’t pan out. The car turned out to be a lemon. And the movie didn’t live up to all the hype. While the down side of speculation may put us in a quandary, it usually doesn’t end in tragedy.

Those times when we do have all the facts but choose to ignore them are the times we may find ourselves in a deadlock with the truth. Do you care to speculate on who will prevail?

The process of speculation typically involves sorting through a myriad of information, facts, and opinions. We download all that criteria into a four pound mass of tissue between our ears, thereby formulating our conclusions. Isn’t it remarkable what that mass of tissue can conjure up? Unfortunately the human brain is not as reliable as a well tweaked computer processor. The download we feed into our brain is filtered through a lot of junk stored up there making the task of speculation a bit more cumbersome. Who among us would doubt that everybody everywhere is messed up to some degree? Not only does the environment provide opportunity for cluttering up our brains, but the body down below adds to our ailments affecting our ability to reason. Then on top of that is the fact that we were even born with various idiosyncrasies, anomalies, faults; oh let’s just call it what it is… the nature to ignore God and have our own way: The sin nature.

So we just continue to speculate. We need a basis of truth. We need an authority from which to draw conclusions. Who has the answers? You know the answer to that one. God. And I’m not talking about someone’s idea of God… someone’s supposed speculation of who God is and what he stands for. I’m talking about God himself revealing his answers to us. God has made himself known. We just don’t want to accept those answers. Paul in his letter to the Romans said that men “… suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 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.” (Romans 1:21)

Notice the progression. Evidence in creation alone is enough to reveal His power and sovereignty. No one will be able to say to God, “you did not make yourself known.” We all are without excuse. Do we therefore honor Him as God or give thanks? On the contrary, we begin the process of speculation apart from anything God has to say about his creation and this life. This whole process of speculation becomes futile as we determine truth apart from his sovereign rule and authority. The human heart becomes darkened as it continues down this road of ignoring His principles, guidance, training, and admonitions he so graciously provides. Am I speculating on the source of God’s truth? Hardly.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy he says, “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16). Look closely at this passage. “All” means all. Now before you begin speculating as to which scriptures Paul is referring to, let’s just take this at face value. “God breathed” means that while men wrote it, God’s Spirit inspired the writing. God was in the process of bringing about his revelation to us beyond what natural revelation conveys. Biblical revelation has a purpose for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. Finally, these things serve the purpose of preparing us for God’s work in the world. Elsewhere we read, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

If we had read these scriptures only to then begin the process of futile speculation, we would have missed the valuable message it has for us.

The world’s principles are often in conflict with God’s wisdom. In order to obtain God’s truth over futile speculation, we need to begin with a view of the basic tenants of the gospel. For it is here that we are able to get back on the narrow road which leads to life. Christ put it this way, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) What is Christ saying? He is letting it be known that the speculations of many in this world only lead to destruction. The less traveled road of God’s rule and word is that which brings life. Why is it we cannot accept this simple truth? It’s because, as Paul had stated in Romans, our heart is darkened by sin. The gospel alone has the power to break sin’s power and bring life to our darkened soul. It is as if a dark thundercloud has covered the land. Then suddenly there is a break in the clouds. The marvelous sunlight comes streaming through. You’ve seen it and marveled at the sight. This is a picture of the penetrating power of the gospel. This message is simple yet powerful.

Sin, because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, came into the world and was handed down through the generations to you and me. We are hopeless and helpless to do anything about it. Obedience to the law won’t make us righteous. “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7) Our hearts need changing. We need a savior to do what we are helpless to do for ourselves. “For as through the one man's disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One (Christ) the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4)

“That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Through faith in Jesus Christ, you are given new life. His Spirit must come to live inside of you. That old heart full of sin and death must be replaced by a new heart which can never die. “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:10-11)

Upon receiving the life giving power of the Holy Spirit in our heart, we are then able to overcome the world.

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

So you see, unless and until Christ comes to live within you through faith, speculation apart from God’s truth, will continue to take you further down that road to destruction. Now, rather than speculate, we are able to examine and understand God’s Word to us. “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us (His Word). This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” (1 Cor. 2:12-13)

And rather than futile speculation, we are given the ministry of upholding the authority of God.

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Let’s bring this all home. Our tendency is to try and figure things out. Even if we call ourselves Christians, we continue to use that four pound mass of tissue between our ears as a higher authority over anything Scripture tells us. We use reasoning and then justify it by stating, “Well, why not, God gave us our brains to think, didn’t he?” Quite true, but we fail to remember that our brains have been corrupted due to the power of sin both in our own nature as well as the world’s corruptive influence. In other words, God expects us to walk down that narrow path of utilizing His resources, that is to say, His Word, His Church, His Holy Spirit, all working in tandem to bring us to the truth concerning a matter. Yes, use your brain, but do so in connection with those resources our Lord so graciously supplies. Receive this admonition from the Lord:

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”]; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (1 Corinthians 3:17-19)

Here are some other scriptural references to drive home the point:

1 Timothy 1:4
…or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.

2 Timothy 2:23-26
23But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.