Tag Archives: Jesus

Free Indeed?

…Jesus was, is and always will be the only One who has the power and authority to free us from the eternal consequences of our sin.

And if He does that, we will be free indeed.

(Previous Post)

So how?

Who is Jesus, and how can He set us free from the eternal consequences of our sin? Why does He have that power, and how do we get Him to direct it in our direction?

  1. Jesus is Immanuel – God with us in the form of a man
  2. He can set us free because He is God
  3. He has that power because He is a perfect man who gave His life to pay the price for our sin
  4. We ask Him to

Simple, huh?

Well, yes! The truth of the Christian ‘gospel’ is simple. Jesus came to bring us Good News. Humanity had a problem that it couldn’t fix – a problem that would condemn us all to be separated from our Creator forever. Jesus came to fix that problem, so that everyone would have the opportunity to have their individual, personal relationship with God restored! If there was ever Good News, that is it!

Of course, simple doesn’t mean easy…

To me at least, my car is simple. I jump (OK, ease) into the driver’s seat, turn the key, and zoom (OK, trundle) off into the distance. In order to keep my car going, I need to put petrol (OK, gas) in it every week or so, and avoid driving it into a tree. Do I know how all the cogs, valves, springs and things work together to make my car go? Heck no! If I ever have to look under the bonnet (OK, hood) of my car I studiously avoid all the whirring, clanky things and zero in on the windshield wash fluid thing. That, I can just about cope with. I don’t understand how my car does what it does, but it does it anyway and I trust it.

Do NOT make the mistake of rejecting Jesus and the salvation He offers simply because you don’t understand Him or it!

No 16 year old kid thinks they have to take a car apart, understand everything, and rebuild it before even getting into the driver’s seat. So why do so many of us think that we cannot trust God before understanding everything about Him?

If we are honest with ourselves, we all acknowledge the following as being true:

  1. I am imperfect
  2. I have done things that make me feel guilty
  3. If there IS a place that I can only go to if I am perfect, then I am in trouble
  4. I need help to fix my imperfections and take away my guilt

Biblical Christianity is the only solution. The world is full of religious systems that try and teach us how to reach God (or god/gods/purity/self/the universe/nirvana/the force/the FSM…) through our own efforts. Why don’t people accept that it is impossible for the imperfect to make itself perfect?

Pride.

Like I said – simple doesn’t mean easy.

Asking Jesus to save us has to involve an acceptance of the problem. I am broken, and I cannot fix myself. Dear God, please do it for me. I know that I am not good enough to be in Your presence, and to be honest I am so selfish and prideful that I don’t even think I want to be in Your presence. But I’m scared, lonely, and I want to want to be with You. I have heard about Jesus – about how He somehow has made it possible for You to forgive me for being so horrible in so many ways. I try to be good, and sometimes I do good things, but I know it’s not enough to make up for that time when I….

God, please save me. Jesus, thank You for doing what I could never do. I don’t understand You or what You did, but Your Word is enough for me right now. I have no other plea.

Just as I am,–without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am,–and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, Whose Blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am,–though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am,–poor, wretched, blind–
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am,–Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am–Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come.

We don’t have to understand everything. Truth is, no one understands everything. Jesus does it all, including the understanding, for us. But after we have stopped rejecting God’s loving advances and allowed Him to fill our hearts with His grace. mercy, forgiveness and Spirit, we can then slowly begin to look under the hood of our salvation. With righteous fear and trembling, we look at all the cogs and valves and springs and things, and start to get an awed appreciation of who God is, what He has done, and what it all really means for us.

Don’t wait until you know what happens when you turn the key. Just turn the key.

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Filed under Freedom in Christ

Why?

I am a Christian. Why? What IS a Christian? Am I a narrow minded bigot for telling the world that Jesus is the only way to God? And what exactly does THAT mean? Why do we need a “way to God” anyway?

There are people who claim to not believe in a God at all. Am I in any way worried that they might be right? And then, of course, there are many people in this world who believe in God, gods, goddesses that are very, very different than the God Christianity is supposed to follow. Others simply say that faith itself is all that is need. After all, faith is it’s own object. Surely it doesn’t matter what you believe in – you simply have to believe!

And then, I’m also obviously anti science, because I’m not just a Christian – I actually take the Bible literally! I have to – I simply don’t have enough faith to believe in the alternative (in the beginning was nothing – which then exploded, and x-billion years later, via rock soup and monkeys – here we all are).

So – there’s my first point. It’s actually easier to define and accept God than it is to define and accept the concept of “nothing”. Try it one day!

Some will try and get round that problem by hypothesizing that prior to the “Big Bang” there wasn’t nothing after all. There was some sort of quantum energy field, or perhaps there was an eternity of universes before this one – a sort of cyclical crap-shoot of infinite meaninglessness. After all, if life is just random chance, and all we are is a bunch of chemicals that just so happened to bump into each other at exactly the right time (in millions of different, logical and irreducibly complex combinations) – then there is indeed no ultimate meaning. How can there be? I am a cosmic accident. Sorry about that.

Believing in God as the “beginning” is more logical than any of the alternatives.

What then? How can we possibly know enough about God to decide which of the myriad of confusing religious and spiritual traditions are correct? Perhaps none of them are, maybe we all need to find our own individual path and simply do the “best we can” to live a “good life”. Well let me get something out the way right now. If that is indeed the case, then I’m screwed. I KNOW that my best is not good enough. I’ve done things, thought things, said things, that make me unfit to be in the presence of any God worthy of the name “God”. Indeed – if God thought I was acceptable the way I am in and of myself – then sorry God – your standards aren’t high enough, and we’re back to living a meaningless, miserable existence that will end in disappointment. How BIG is your understanding of God? Is God perfect? And if He is – what does that mean for us?

Like I said – I’m screwed if it’s up to me to meet the standard laid down by a perfect God. Screwed. And so are you.

Religion as a rule is sadly based on works. Rules… you must… you mustn’t…. say that prayer at this time…. give 10% of your income to pay for the priest who tells you to give 10% of your income…. feed the poor…. but if they had enough faith they wouldn’t be poor anyway so you can just look the other way apart from at Thanksgiving and Christmas…. go to church every week (and don’t forget that 10% – of your GROSS income by the way you worm)…. …. ….

True Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP, not a RELIGION.

So:

a) I believe in God because I don’t have enough faith to accept any of the alternatives, and
b) I believe in the Christian God because that frees me from a bunch of impossible and all too often man-made rules.

Sound good, yet?

Time to define “Christian”!

A Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. More technically, Wikipedia tells us that “the word comes from Greek Χριστιανός (christianos) which being translated means “follower of Christ.” It comes from Χριστός (christos) meaning “the anointed one”, with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.

Woah! SLAVE OWNERSHIP? Back the truck up, buddy. That doesn’t sound so good, does it? “I am a Christian” SHOULD mean that “I am the devoted slave of Jesus Christ, and will follow Him even if it means DEATH”.

I am a Christian.

I would rather DIE than deny Christ. Yeah – easy enough to type on Facebook. And yeah – I do NOT want to ever have to put that statement to the test. But I DO mean it.

Wow, you mutter. The poor guy has been brainwashed…

To tell you the truth, I actually wish my brain was MORE washed than it is! I still think thoughts that bring dishonor to the name of Christ. I still fill my mind with garbage. I still fail to control my tongue and my actions and my emotions…. Yeah. I want to be washed MORE from the filth that fills this world.

Filth. Ahhhh – there’s a question that no-one can answer! If, then, there IS a perfect God who is – as Christians SHOULD believe – perfectly loving, perfectly holy, perfectly powerful, perfectly just, perfectly knowledgeable…. EXPLAIN THE FILTH AND EVIL AND POVERTY AND MISERY AND DEATH AND SUFFERING AND CRUELTY AND RAPE AND MURDER AND HORROR THAT OOZES FROM EVERY SICK CORNER OF THIS PLANET?

More than any other, this quandary is perhaps the one that keeps people away from the Christian faith.

The answer is simple.

God hasn’t abandoned humanity. Humanity abandoned God. God is the perfect Father, who gave His children the freedom to choose whether or not to follow His perfect path. God is not a puppet master, making us dance on a string. He watches and weeps as His children choose dark, rather than light. True love does not FORCE obedience. And, like in any human father/child relationship – disobedience brings consequences. A child reaps what it sows. Humanity is reaping what it has sown.

But wait. Here is reason number three that I am a Christian. Even amid the calamity of humanity – there is beauty. We have done our very best to ravage this planet – exploiting, polluting, burning and crushing…. yet there remains breathtaking beauty everywhere we look. EVEN IN THE VERY CENTER OF SUFFERING, THERE IS JOY. A dear, dear friend of mine nursed her sick husband for years. She watched him die – day by day. She did everything for him. He was helpless. A 90 year old baby. She cared for him to and beyond the point of exhaustion. He has passed now, and recently she shared with me a moment of absolute brokenness wrapped in pure joy. She was ready to quit. Give up. Stop caring. Physically, emotionally and spiritually spent. Yes, she had been a Christian for decades, and had a strong, simple faith that could move the mountain of my cold young heart with a simple smile and warm hug. But she was empty.

She heard a voice in her ear:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

She picked herself up from the dirt, and carried on proving the truth of that verse.

The Apostle Paul was the first one to hear these words in his ear, and he recorded them for us in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:9). They are the words of Jesus. He speaks to His children. He is REAL. He is ALIVE. He lived a perfect life, He gave that life for the world, and He defeated the power of physical AND spiritual death. His grace IS sufficient. His power IS made perfect in weakness.

You see, life is all about death. For thousands of years, humanity has mistreated and abused itself to the point where most of us need a cocktail of drugs to keep us breathing. Our once perfect race has fallen – our ultimate parents unplugged themselves from the power source of life, and since then – life has been all about death. Avoiding it for as long as possible is the goal. We all have a list of things we want to do before we die.

Here’s one:

Get right with God.

You see, Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. But that relationship starts out broken. We are born SPIRITUALLY DEAD, and we spend our lives getting closer and closer to PHYSICAL death. There is only ONE way out of that dead end.

Jesus said, “I am THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life. No one comes to the Father except through ME”.

Some people say that Jesus was just a good man. A very good man. But of course, who seriously actually believes that Jesus was somehow God as well as a man? Nonsense. Well, to our human minds – yes. Nonsense. Thankfully though, God’s ways are higher than ours. His understanding is greater. I ask you again: How BIG is your understanding of God? Is He GOD or is he a god? Is He on your shelf and in a box, sitting patiently there until you pick him up, blow the dust off, and say a prayer for some money? OR IS HE THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE? IS HE BEYOND ALL UNDERSTANDING IN POWER, WISDOM AND LOVE? IS HE THE ONE WHO “MADE THE STARS ALSO”? IS HE THE ONE WHO CREATED TIME AND SEES THE END FROM THE BEGINNING?

Put away your limited view of who God is and what He is capable of. Jesus Christ was NOT just a very good man. How could He be? He claimed to be God. If that is not true, Jesus Christ was either a liar, or a lunatic. Good? Insane or evil, take your pick.

Jesus Christ is the absolute beginning and end of God’s perfect plan to fix the broken relationship between Himself and humanity. The entire Bible – from beginning to end – is the tracing out of that plan. Prophecy after prophecy – written hundreds and hundreds of years before Jesus was born – pointed towards Him in incredible, perfectly fulfilled detail.

Jesus was, is and always will be God, and as God he CHOSE to WILLINGLY give up the indescribable position He had and clothe himself in human flesh. God incarnate! Christmas! Emmanuel, God with us!

a) I believe in God because I don’t have enough faith to accept any of the alternatives, and
b) I believe in the Christian God because that frees me from a bunch of impossible and all too often man-made rules, and
c) I believe that the presence of beauty and joy amid the filth and suffering points to a God who IS love, and
d) I believe that Jesus Christ was everything He claimed to be, because of the proven historicity of the Bible and the fulfillment of the prophecies written in it, and
e) I am a slave of Jesus Christ because He gave His perfect life to save my wretched soul.

That is why I am a Christian.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment, share with friends, ask questions, or simply go on with your life’s journey on the road to the future. What will that future bring for you?

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Filed under Apologetics

Will You Go Through?

To God be the glory, great things he hath done!

So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,

who yielded his life an atonement for sin,

and opened the lifegate that all may go in.

(Fanny Crosby)


To God…..

God. Believe in Him or not, He is real. If you don’t believe it now, one day (fairly soon I think) you most certainly will.

…..be the glory,…..

When us mere mortals think of glory, our programmed minds usually spring to something like a sporting victory, and the glow that surrounds such a thing for some people. That glow, my friends, is a false god. There is only One who actually, truly deserves glory.

…..great things He hath done!

He created the stars also. If you are grimly hanging on to the religious belief that in the beginning was nothing, which then exploded, and billions of years later via rock soup and monkeys here we all are – then you have infinitely more blind faith than I do. The heavens declare the glory of God. Open your eyes.

So loved…..

Wait a minute? What IS love? If you listen to the “experts” at Fox News or most other media outlets, you may be forgiven for thinking that it has something to do with diamonds, dimensions, or determination. If you love someone, so we’re told, we’ll do stuff for them, with them, or to them. We’ll buy them stuff, and never expect anything in return. Apart from being “loved” right back of course. Yup – when it boils down to it, love is all about the exchange of stuff. Right? We give and we get. Fair and balanced.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

(1 John 4:10, NLT)

No. Love has absolutely NOTHING to do with us at all. On our own, we are absolutely INCAPABLE of anything even remotely approaching true love. God alone IS love, and God alone has demonstrated what love IS.

…He the world…..

Wait a minute? What IS “the world”? And why does God love it? Good question. The world is us. You know – “we are the world” and all that cutesy philosotainment they feed us:

“We are the world

We are the children

We are the ones who make a brighter day

So let’s start giving

There’s a choice we’re making

We’re saving our own lives

It’s true we’ll make a better day

Just you and me…”

I’m not going to be PC here. That, and almost everything else like it, is garbage. You know the song. It talks about God, so it must be OK right?

“Send them your heart

So they’ll know that someone cares

And their lives will be stronger and free

As God has shown us by turning stone to bread

So we all must lend a helping hand…”

And there, my friends, is the ultimate lie of this and every other age:

WE ALL MUST LEND (God) A HELPING HAND.

God AND…

Jesus AND…

God’s sacrifice of His own Son AND….

That is what the world is. Arrogant, prideful, blind. We ALL think from time to time that we (the world) can do something to help GOD! Astonishing.

The world is indeed us. We are imperfect, God is perfect. We can do NOTHING to bridge that gap. We are lost, and without hope. We have collectively and individually rebelled against the One who created us and the universe we see stretching out into apparent infinity. We nailed the One who came to open our eyes to a cross. We crucified God.

But, He still loves us. He loves us enough:

….that He gave us His Son

Who yielded His life….

So while we are all singing blindly along about “saving our own lives” and lending God a helping hand, God Himself has given absolutely EVERYTHING to get our attention. He gave His Son to save our wicked souls. But we are so full of our own importance that we simply (if anything) say: Oh! Thanks God! Now what can I do for you?

One of the unique truths presented by Biblical Christianity is that there is, as I’ve already said, NOTHING that we can do to help God save us. Think about it. True Christianity teaches that ALL humans are so far gone that it took the death of GOD HIMSELF to meet the requirements for our recovery. Christianity is not some sort of “sinners anonymous” 12 step program during which we feel better and better about ourselves as we check each box off.

WE CAN NOT DO ANYTHING TO MEET GOD’S STANDARD.

God has done it all for us.

….an atonement for sin.

There. I said it. The “S” word.

So – what is sin?

There’s nothing complicated about sin. It simply refers to the fact that we are imperfect. One of our biggest imperfections is to look at everyone else and point out their imperfections. We are very good at that. The problem is, though – we are imperfect at it. Sometimes we look at people we love and overlook certain things that drive us crazy about people we don’t love. Most of the time we look at other people and point out things that drive them crazy about us. And we end up hating the sinner instead of the sin.

God, however, is perfect. He hates the sin, not the sinner. And that is why He can still love US. But even though He loves us, we are still fully, completely and eternally responsible for the things we do that God hates. When society sends someone who has committed a crime up before a judge, we don’t expect the Judge to smile sweetly and say “it’s OK. I love you Mr. Criminal. What you did was very, very bad, but you can go free anyway.” We expect the Judge to lock the rapist up and throw away the key… or send him to be fried. So WHY do we expect the ultimate, perfect Judge to overlook our crimes? WHY do we think that a perfectly holy, righteous God is going to smile sweetly and usher us into heaven without demanding that we pay the price for our sin?

But we can’t. We can’t pay the price. Why? It has already been paid for us, that’s why! Paid with the life of the One who created the universe.

The absolute uniqueness of true Christianity is that it tells us that God came to us, rather than tries (like all other religions – including much that calls itself Christianity) to teach us how to get to God.

Jesus Christ is not a swear word. He was and is God made flesh, a willing and perfect sacrifice for a fallen creation. His perfect, sinless life met the requirements of a perfect, sinless God. And when Jesus freely offered His life for us, He became the atoning sacrifice that satisfied the righteous anger that God has towards sin.

So, there is nothing complicated about sin. There is nothing complicated about the solution. God has answered all the questions, done all the work, offered the only way out. He has offered it to everyone – regardless of race, wealth, intelligence or anything else. Nobody can buy it. Nobody can earn it. Salvation is a free gift.

The lifegate has been opened for us. Will you go through?

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Filed under Musical Musings

To Him Draw Near

Years ago the Word became blood
And dwelt on this cursed earth.
The mystery of God in human form –
Truth and lies around Christ swarm.
What is it about His humble birth
that is always so misunderstood?

The Truth is clearly shown to all:
“For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son”.
So why do we hide, turn, run –
knots of fear within us deeply curled?
We stumble into the dark, and fall.

Our eyes were made to see the Light
but no strings are being pulled
to force our gaze upon the One who shines.
Free will we have – choice defines
us. But by our sin we become lulled
and grow weary of the daily fight…

We forget the victory’s been won!
“He who is in you is
greater than he who is in the world”. King
Jesus is on His Throne! Sing
troubled hearts! He was born; lived, died – this
we know… But He arose, His job done!

So turn away from doubt and fear
and seek the Morning Star!
The Word became baby and man for you,
Offered flesh and blood for you…
Jesus has already gone as far
as Hell to save you. To Him draw near.

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Filed under Poetry?

I Will Tear You To Pieces…

So when you stretch out your hands in prayer, I will turn my eyes away from you. Even though you offer many prayers, I will not listen because your hands are covered with blood. “Wash yourselves! Become clean! Get your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing evil.

Consider this, you people who forget God. Otherwise, I will tear you to pieces, and there will be no one left to rescue you. Whoever offers thanks as a sacrifice honors me. I will let everyone who continues in my way see the salvation that comes from God.”

(Isaiah 1:15-16, Psalm 50:22-23)

When we pray to God, what are we offering Him? In Isaiah chapter 1, the Israelites were offering God the same animal sacrifices that they had been offering since God himself had instituted this bloody system of worship after the Jewish exodus from Egypt. So why were these sacrifices no longer acceptable? Firstly, they no longer had any meaning to the people. It was simply a case of business as usual – this is something we are supposed to do, so let’s get it done. Instead of prostrating themselves before the Lord and weeping at the fact that their sinfulness required the blood of another life to atone for, they killed a few animals out of habit, said the required prayers, and got on with their lives.

And their lives were evil.

Evil. What is that?

Ultimately, evil is not realizing that we are an absolute abomination before the Holy God who created us. Evil is thinking that we are good enough by our own efforts to please God and reach His standards. Evil is forgetting God, and many who call themselves Christians and faithfully attend church multiple times a week have forgotten God.

We carry on with our lives – putting our own desires, comfort and wisdom first. We go to church like good little believers, put our 10% in the bag, and think we are all that and a bag of chips. Sundays and maybe Wednesday evenings we check the right boxes, say our genuinely heartfelt prayers for the poor, suffering world we live in, and think that the rest of the week is ours to fornicate with as we please.

Our Christianity is no longer about God and who He is and what He has done for us. It is about us and who we are and what we can do for ourselves. Our Christianity stinks, because the hands we lift up in prayer are covered with the blood of our own efforts, rather than the blood of the perfect Lamb. Our sacrifice is detestable to God, and He makes it very clear to us what He is going to do with us.

He will tear us to pieces, and there will be no one left to rescue us.

Thankfully, the answer to the problem is as clearly described to us as the problem is.

Wash… become clean… stop doing evil… offer a sacrifice of thanks… continue in God’s way rather than our own ways. God provided Himself as the only acceptable sacrifice. Only God meets God’s standards, and only God was able to survive the punishment due to anyone who can’t meet His standards. Trusting in the Way that God provided for our salvation IS the only way to salvation.

If we go before God with anything in our hearts and minds other than Jesus, He will turn His eyes away from us. Our hands are covered in the wrong blood. But when we turn and follow the Way, and go before God with empty hands and a heart full of thanksgiving, He will show us salvation.

(The doubter) said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am The Way, and The Truth, and The Life. The only way to the Father is through me.

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Filed under Daily-ish Thoughts