Monthly Archives: July 2012

Making God Laugh

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  (Psalm 2:1)

The Bibles tells us “that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).  These “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13) while “Professing themselves to be wise, they [have become] fools” (Romans 1:22).

As the return of Christ approaches, we see the fulfillment of this prophesy all around us.  Hostility toward “God’s Anointed” and those who follow Him is rapidly increasing.  The word translated “heathen” here is the Hebrew word gowyim meaning non-Jewish nations or people.  It could also be translated “gentiles” referring to those who are not the people of God.  From a New Testament perspective, these would be any who are not Christians, and therefore not a part of God’s family.  These are they that “rage,” that is, they assemble as a tumultuous mob “against the LORD, and his anointed” [His Messiah; His Christ] (v. 2).

They “imagine a vain thing” (v. 1), that is, they imagine something that will never happen.  They rebel against God and say, “Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us” (v. 3).  Their end has been predetermined:  “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Ar-ma-ged’-don” (Revelation 16:16) “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image.  These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.  And the remnant were slain with the sword of him [Christ] that sat upon the horse” (Revelation 19:20-21).

Although God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), man’s obstinate and overt rebellion against His Anointed would be almost comical, if it were not so sad.  “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20).  The question is ludicrous!  “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (v. 4).

As the day of His return approaches we see more and more blatant attacks on Christians and Christianity by our government and by the liberal media.  These attacks will only grow worse as a lost populace lashes out against God and His people.  Little do they know that God just laughs at their insolence, but “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (v. 12).

Comments Off on Making God Laugh

Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Religion, Theology

Why is There Evil?

July 20, 2012, the senseless shooting occurred in the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center.

God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

 In the early hours of Friday morning, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colorado, a lone assailant opened fire on unsuspecting movie goers whose only fault, if you want to call it that, was the desire to watch the very first viewing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.  After the mayhem subsided and the smoke cleared, 70 people were shot and 12 killed according to the Denver Post.  What started out for many as a night out of fun and entertainment ended in tragedy and sorrow.

Almost immediately, the news commentators and pundits filled the airwaves with their speculations as to the motives of the shooter.  Even before the arrest of the alleged shooter, James Holmes, a PhD candidate in the University of Colorado’s neuroscience program, the talking heads started prognosticating about whether the insanity plea would be used in Holmes’ defense.

Naturally, the social media was all abuzz with the events of day.  Many heartfelt sentiments were offered as were prayers for all those who were hurting.  But as always seems to be the case in times of tragedy, someone will always raise the question, “Where was God in all of this?” One Facebook ™ post mocked the futility of praying to a god that allows evil to happen at all or that is impotent to prevent evil.  “How can a loving god allow such horrific evil to happen?” he ranted.  To sit in judgment of God qualifies the arrogant purveyor of such vitriol as a “fool” as defined in Psalm 53:1.

But even when one claims a belief in God, tragedies like this have a way of shaking one’s foundations.  Where is God in all of this?  Why does He not intervene to prevent or stop these horrors?  God has promised not to leave us or forsake us (1 Kings 8:58; Hebrews 13:5).  We are also taught “that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).

The simple answer is that evil exists in the world because of the fall of man back in Genesis 3.  “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).  So great was the offense that even creation was effected: “For the earnest expectation of the [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.   For the [creation] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:19-22).  That explains why there is evil in the world, but that is about as much comfort as understanding the geodynamics of plate tectonics when you’re right in the middle of an earthquake.

The atheist foolishly dismisses God as impotent to stop or prevent evil.  If that were true, the atheist would be correct.  A god (lowercase is on purpose) that claims to be omnipotent yet is powerless to stop evil is no god at all.  But the Bible is full of examples of God intervening to stop evil.  Take for example, the mark that He placed on Cain to protect him from being murdered (Genesis 4:15).  Other examples are the Ark of Noah (Genesis 6), the plagues against Egypt to set Israel free from bondage, saving Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3) or saving Daniel from the lions in the lions’ den (Daniel 6).  There are many, many others, but perhaps the greatest evil that was turned to good was the death of Christ on the cross and the victory over death through His resurrection – the greatest example of God intervening to vanquish evil.  Beyond that, there is also the testimony of real Christians that are witnesses to God’s intervening to save them from harm in one way or another.

“Yes” one might say, “but evil persists.”  Yes it does, but perhaps that is God’s greatest act of mercy.  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  However, people do not go out of their way to seek God.  “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:10-11).  And when things are going well, the likelihood that they will seek God exponentially diminishes.  God uses evil to draw people to him.  Not all will respond as in the sad case of the atheist, but many will.  In tragic times, when people have no answers, they cry out to God, and He responds.  Christians respond by lifting up the hurting in prayer and by ministering to physical and emotional needs.  Either way, people, both unbelievers and Christians, are drawn to God.

There will be an ultimate end to evil, but until then, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers [trials]; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh [endurance]” (James 1:2-3).  One day (and it’s closer today than ever) Christ, the Prince of Peace, will return and reclaim this broken and fallen world for Himself, and evil will no more find a place in this world.  Until then we endure the trials and minister to those that are hurting and hopefully win some to Christ.

1 Comment

Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Creation, Current Events, Religion, Theology

Everlasting Lord

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever — Revelation 11:15.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.  (Hebrews 1:8)

One of Satan’s most common tactics is a direct assault on the deity of Christ.  Not only has he deceived  the Jews and Muslims into believing that He was just another man, a prophet and a great teacher, but he has also blinded a variety of cults that masquerade as Christian, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.  But the opening chapter of the book of Hebrews immediately confronts that attack with the declaration that the “Son whom [God] hath appointed heir of all things, by whom he made the worlds; Who (i.e., Jesus) being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high” (vv. 2-3).

The first verse of the Bible tells us that “In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1), yet these opening verses in Hebrews attribute creation to the Son.  This assertion is repeated elsewhere: “All things were made by him” (the Word, John 1:1-3); “For by him (Jesus) were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).  Jesus is the Creator God.

The writer of the book of Hebrews begins his apologetic by demonstrating Christ’s superiority to the created angels.  At His birth “when [God the Father] bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (v. 6).  Only God is worthy of worship, and so the angels are instructed to worship Him.  Then God the Father addresses the Son: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom” (v. 8).  The Father calls the Son “God.”

Our Savior is the everlasting God.  He has created all things. “They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (vv. 11-12).  No wonder Jesus admonishes, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20) for “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:17) in the presence of our everlasting Lord.

Comments Off on Everlasting Lord

Filed under Christianity, Creation, Religion, Theology

Sick and Tired

Christ Healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda — Murillo

And a certain man was there, which had and infirmity thirty and eight years. (John 5:5)

 The unidentified invalid in this narrative is an enigma that makes one wonder how anyone would wait thirty-eight years by the side of a pool in hopes of a cure for his ailment.  According to the text, “an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had” (v. 4).  The text does not specify the nature of his infirmity, but the man was probably not lame.  Jesus healed the lame on several other occasions, and in those instances the infirm were clearly identified as “lame.”  Not so here.  Whatever the nature of his disease, this fellow felt unable to make it into the pool at the stirring of the waters.

Questions of his character also arise.  Did he not have family or friends willing to help him?  When Jesus asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (v. 6), he offered up excuses: “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me” (v.7).  Had he alienated all of his friends and family by his self-pity and lack of personal responsibility?  Could the source of his disease be the reason he was abandoned?  We know that his sickness was a result of sin because after he was healed, Jesus admonished him, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come to thee” (v. 14).  Some sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis (which was not uncommon in Jesus’ day) can be very debilitating and even deadly.  Perhaps this was the nature of his infirmity and consequently the reason he was ostracized and alone.

The man also had a self-centered and ungrateful nature.  Note that “immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (v. 9) and never even bothered to thank the Man that had healed him nor thought to even get acquainted with Him.  Could this be another reason why he was forsaken?

Sin brings all sorts of debilitating problems to a life that can rob a soul of all hope and demoralize one to the point that all effort seems futile.  One may even come to the pool of Bethesda (meaning the house/place of grace/mercy) and lack the strength to plunge in when the water is stirred.  Jesus is that pool of “living water” saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).  No matter how horrific the sin that makes one sick and tired, Jesus can cure the disease.

Comments Off on Sick and Tired

Filed under Christianity, Religion, Theology

Crucified With Christ

Two malefactors were crucified along with Christ, but only one went on to live with Him.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20)

The danger in being saved “by grace … through faith” as a “gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) is that it can easily become “cheap grace.”  It is true that salvation is “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9).  It is also true “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).  Salvation is all the work of God and none of our own doing.  Far too often this is mistaken to mean that we are absolved of any responsibility.  “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  God forbid” (Romans 6:1-2).

So there is now this tension between the grace-gift of salvation and the Christian’s responsibility to “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [to] be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Colossians 1:23).  Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ.”  The Greek verb, sunestauroomai, is a perfect, passive, indicative verb indicating that this action, which was done to Paul, occurred in the past with continuing effects into the present, and the action was certain – a fact.  Paul was not literally crucified along with Christ, but by the fact he has placed his faith in the resurrected Christ, he considers himself dead, having taken upon himself the crucifixion of Christ.  He is now not only “dead to the law” (v. 19), but he is also dead to himself.

Dying to oneself is not easy.  “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15).  Even though he considers himself “crucified with Christ” Paul says, “nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”  Just as salvation is solely the work of God, so the Christian life is solely the work of Christ.  The Christian life is impossible to live in one’s own strength.  The Christian’s responsibility then is to “live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” – crucified with Christ, dead to self, but alive through the power of Christ within us.

Comments Off on Crucified With Christ

Filed under Christianity, Religion, Theology