Monthly Archives: January 2016

Picking A President

Republican-Presidential-Candidates-2016

For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.  (Isaiah 9:16)

I don’t often focus on politics on this blog; politics is not my main objective, but sometimes I just need to get things off my chest. I have no national platform from which to speak. I’ve written no books, or starred on stage or film. I never held public office of any kind or even campaigned for anyone. I am not a well-known preacher of national renown, and the FOX News Channel has never asked me for my two cents worth. But I do have an opinion on the upcoming presidential race for anyone who cares to listen.

To begin, I will not waste time in addressing the godless, socialist Democrat party. Robbing the rich to give to the poor makes a good bedtime story, but it does not work in real life. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” If one is observant, one will note how those pleading the cause of the poor tend to keep their own money to themselves, and their will for the masses does not apply to themselves. As the barnyard animals of Animal Farm said of the pigs in charge, “Some animals are more equal than others.” Democrats also fail to see that killing a baby in the womb is murder, not a woman’s right to choose. So, for this discussion, forget the Democrats!

Republicans fare slightly better in that their rhetoric sounds conservative, but their actions fall woefully short of their talk. For example, they claim to be “Pro-Life” but continue to fund Planned Parenthood.

It is 2016 and once again the time has come to elect a new President of the United States (POTUS). The Republican field of candidates includes a long list of POTUS wannabes, any one of which would be an enormous improvement over the man currently holding the office. But rather than discussing each candidate, I want to focus my attention on the front runners and particularly the front runner, Donald Trump. I also want to approach this from an “evangelical” perspective.

The first appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay, once said, “Providence [i.e. God] has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers” (emphasis mine).[1] While the Constitution of the United States guarantees that “no religious test” shall be given for holding a public office, it does not and cannot require individual citizens from applying such a test. Therefore, in accordance with Justice John Jay’s opinion, it becomes incumbent on Christians, evangelicals, to prefer Christians for public office, especially for the office of POTUS. Critics of this perspective will note that we are not electing a pastor, but a president, yet many of the same qualifications should apply. Consider the qualifications for pastor (bishop) given in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 listed here in brief:

  • Blameless, i.e. “not arrested” or “inculpable”
  • Husband of one wife – if a man cannot be faithful to his marital vows, how can we expect him to be faithful to his oath of office?
  • vigilant – circumspect, that is, “watchful, discreet; cautious; prudent”
  • sober – of sound mind; self-controlled
  • Of good behavior – orderly; decorous (characterized by dignified propriety in conduct, manners, appearance, character, etc.)
  • Hospitable – fond of guests. Presidents must entertain foreign dignitaries and constituents
  • apt to teach – this has a broad range of applications
  • not given to wine – not a substance abuser
  • no “striker” – quarrelsome; belligerent; combative
  • not greedy of filthy lucre – the kind of person that can be bought
  • not covetous – seeking personal gain
  • not a novice – no experience
  • must have a good report – i.e. a good reputation

Surely the list above is fitting for anyone aspiring for any position of leadership. Considering the list above, apply that to the top three candidates, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and (arguably) Marco Rubio.

Several high-profile evangelical leaders have come out in support of Donald Trump, and it makes me wonder how closely they have evaluated this candidate. Superficially, he seems an unlikely contender for the post. First of all, besides being an immensely successful businessman, he is primarily an entertainer. As an entertainer, he knows how to put on “a show.” As a good entertainer, he knows his audience, he knows what his audience wants to see and hear, and he plays it out for them. As a businessman, he boasts in his ability to “make deals,” and how he is able to get what he wants. In other words, he is a great manipulator; we already have one of those in the Oval Office. Do we really want another with the only exception being that this one comes stamped with an “R” instead of a “D”? Personally, I don’t trust this man, but in all fairness, his record should be scrutinized.

From CNN Politics, “3 questions evangelicals should ask about Donald Trump:” (1) What is known about Trump’s personal life and morality? (2) Where does Trump stand on moral and social policy issues of concern to Christians and to which the Bible speaks to clearly? (3) Are the love of money and pride legitimate issues to weigh when considering support for a presidential candidate? Read the article for the details, but in essence, Trump is not the man evangelicals should aspire to put in the White House.

Consider the first question. Trump has been married three different times to three different women and his divorces were “unbiblical.” His speech betrays questionable moral standards (Matthew 12:34; 15:11, 18). Trump does not feel the need to ask God’s forgiveness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:10; 2:4), which should immediately raise a red flag with evangelicals. Considering the second question, Trump claimed to be “pro-choice” at one time. He also favors “gay rights” and same-sex marriage. On the third question, his love of money is obvious as is his pride. One positive aspect of his money lies in his ability to fund his own campaign which presumably frees him from special interests. However, one special interest that supersedes all others is his own. Note how he boasts of the free airtime the media gives him and the personal offence he takes when not “treated nice.” Carefully examining Donald Trump’s history exposes a man who does what is expedient to achieve his goals. He is “A double minded man [that] is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).

Marco Rubio seems conservative enough, and in many ways makes for a fine conservative candidate that evangelicals should like. He seems to have very strong moral principles. He has expressed a personal relationship with Christ – an evangelical concept – even though he is a committed Roman Catholic. I have heard (but not confirmed) that he has been attending Southern Baptist services, so it is difficult to discern if his proclamation is genuine or simply meant to gain evangelical favor. (Please forgive my skepticism.) Rubio’s major “chink” is his association with the “Gang of Eight” and their legislation in favor of amnesty for illegal aliens. Rubio consistently affirms that he rejects amnesty of illegal aliens, and his defenders attribute his questionable association with inexperience and being “steamrolled” by the “old bulls” of the Republican Party. I can see that happening, but it also shows inconsistency.

So, unless proven wrong, I wholeheartedly support Ted Cruz[2] in his bid for the presidency. Cruz is the “real deal.”[3] Ted Cruz, although he may not make an issue of it, is a genuine, born-again, Christian.[4] He accepted Christ as his personal Savior at the age of eight and has lived his life in accordance with his commitment to Christ. Cruz has been a staunch defender of the Constitution throughout his career. Trump accuses Cruz of being “mean and nasty,” and that no one likes him. Trump’s exaggeration aside, the establishment Republicans dislike Senator Cruz because he does not make deals, and he fights against his own party to uphold conservative principles going so far as calling Mitch McConnell a liar from the Senate floor[5] for lying about a deal cut on TPA. Truth can sometimes be a nasty thing, and voicing truth to some can seem “mean” and offensive, but Ted Cruz stands for truth even when it costs him popularity. Ted Cruz is involved in politics, but he is not a politian; he is a true statesman. Is that not what we want in a POTUS?

Earlier in this post I listed the requirements for bishop from First Timothy. Review these again and see if Ted Cruz does not fill the bill. Only one perfect man ever walked this earth, and Ted Cruz will tell you that man was Jesus Christ. Ted Cruz is far from perfect, but if you will examine his life, his character and his record, I believe you will find that he is probably the best choice to be our next POTUS. I have provided some resource links in the endnotes below. Please take time to examine them before making your final judgment.

Even if Donald Trump becomes our next Republican Presidential Nominee (heaven forbid), I will vote for him before letting another Democrat take the White House. It is vitally important that evangelical Christians be fully engaged in the democratic process. As John Jay said, “it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Donald Trump says he is a Presbyterian. I don’t know what that means other than he identifies with one particular denomination. Ted Cruz does not say he is Southern Baptist, but his life and character reflect that he is a committed Christian. We need a true Christian POTUS. Whatever you decide, don’t decide to stay home because you don’t like the choices. We get the government we deserve.

Notes:


[1]  http://www.wnd.com/2015/05/americans-prefer-christians-for-their-rulers/

[2]  https://www.tedcruz.org/issues/

[3]  http://bwcentral.org/2016/01/the-real-ted-cruz/

[4]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hrms1ACMn0

[5]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE6HLbaAL0A

5 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Current Events, Evangelism, Politics, Pro-life, Religion

Eyes That See Not

Miracles 9812570_ml

Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.  (Ezekiel 12:2)

In this day of technological marvels it is increasingly more difficult to believe in miracles. It seems that every extraordinary accomplishment or phenomenon can be explained by some naturalistic means. Today we possess the ability to send men to the moon and return them safely. We send probes deep into space to explore distant planets in our solar system. Our space telescopes look deep into the far reaches of our universe. Medical science, while it has yet to find the cure for cancer, has made remarkable progress in healing patients having the dread disease. Scientists in the study of eugenics continue to make inroads into the modification of human DNA with the hopes of creating super humans with capabilities for greater physical endurance, greater mental agility and intellectual acuity, better vision with the ability to see into the infrared light spectrum, and all of this while consuming less food.[1],[2] This, of course, is for the betterment of mankind, and is seen as our next step in human evolution.

No wonder, then, that scoffers deny the miracles recorded in the Bible. However, this is nothing new. Skepticism in the Word of God has existed since the Garden of Eden: “Yea, hath God said …” (Genesis 3:1). During the Age of Enlightenment (a misnomer in my opinion) “reason” supplanted “faith” so that every effect resulted from a natural cause. Reason, then, eliminated miracles because from this perspective, everything has a natural explanation. Enlightened theologians attempted to explain the miracles of the Bible though natural means. Some who were less capable for the task simply rejected the miracles altogether and relegated them to the category of myth. Thomas Jefferson, for example, redacted the New Testament by excluding every record of Jesus’ miracles from the Gospels.[3]

Rejection of the Bible continues today in greater force due to our technological advancements. So, what is a miracle, anyway? By definition, a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause[4] (emphasis mine). By definition, a miracle has no natural explanation and can only be attributed to the supernatural. Arguably, the greatest miracle of all is the universe itself, and all that it contains – from the largest star to the tiniest subatomic particle. Even though there is great disagreement among atheistic scientists about the origin of the universe, they all tenaciously seek a natural explanation for the existence of it all. The Big Bang theory is in such crisis that some have proposed an “eternal” universe disregarding the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy – everything is dying). Yet the Bible offers the simplest explanation of all: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis mine) – beginning (time), heaven (space), earth (matter/energy) – the universe. The existence of the universe is a miracle – an immense effect brought about by a “supernatural” cause – God.

If one rejects this greatest of all miracles, which has no natural explanation despite all the theories man can contrive, then no other miracles recorded in Scripture are credible. For this reason, liberal theologians contend that the Global Flood (Genesis 6-9) was just local in spite of the unreasonableness of the command to build an Ark for the event. The confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel mythically explains the diversity of languages. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah resulted from an asteroid impact or a long-since vanished volcano. The Red Sea crossing came about by a hot easterly wind that died up the very shallow Reed Sea – a marsh. The quail with which God fed the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:13) were migrating and coincidently tired out exactly where Israel was camped so that about a million Israelites ate until full. Downplaying such miracles takes little effort, but they are equally defensible by employing some simple logic. What about the sun stopping (Joshua 10:11-13), or regressing ten degrees (2 Kings 20:11)? Can an ax head really float (2 Kings 6:5-6)? These things defy the physical laws as we know them, and since the skeptic fails in concocting natural explanations for such occurrences, these miracles are attributed to either fantasy or myth. Either way, the skeptic rejects all miracles. For the skeptic, miracles either have a natural explanation, or they will have a natural explanation when “science” learns more, or they are simply fantasy.

These are they who “have eyes to see, and see not” (our starting verse); but for those who “have eyes to see,” miracles are real, and they happen every day.  The creation of a new life in the womb occurs thousands of times daily. Those who “see not” attribute that to natural biological reproduction. But out of millions of sperm cells deposited during sexual intercourse, how does one particular sperm cell just happen to fertilize one particular ovum to create one very unique individual? Who writes the DNA code for the 46 chromosomes (23 from each parent) that make up the one-of-a-kind person we are individually? Even identical twins are not exactly identical. The naturalist has no explanation for this and attributes it to random chance. God says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee …” (Jeremiah 1:5). Those who have “eyes to see” respond, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:14-16). They who “have eyes to see, and see not” suffer from a spiritual blindness that prevents them from seeing the supernatural work of God – the miracles that take place every day.

They who have “eyes to see,” believe the words of Jesus when He said, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). When God answers their prayer, they who have “eyes to see” recognize the Source and give credit to Whom credit is due.

Recently my brother-in-law was involved in a farming accident where he was run over by a huge farm tractor. There are so many ways that he could have died that day. He tells me that when the tractor ran over him he was completely at peace knowing that he would soon see Jesus. He says, “I kept looking around expecting to see heaven, but all I could see was corn stalks.” The tractor he had been driving was pulling a trailer full of silage, and it was coming toward him to get him a second time. The tractor had crushed his pelvis and broken his hip so that he was unable to move, yet he felt that “Someone” rolled him out of the way of the oncoming trailer. Some time elapsed before his son-in-law found him and contacted emergency services. He was flown to Omaha where he spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. He had several surgeries to reconstruct his pelvis and replace his hip. Today, nearly four months after the accident, he has returned to work and is walking with the assistance of a cane. The skeptic would attribute his recovery to the excellent work of the physicians that attended him, and they completely miss the miracle that transpired. Those who have “eyes to see” know that even before anyone knew of the accident, God was already at work to preserve his life. Then as soon as “believing” friends and family were made aware of the situation, petitions to the Father started flooding the gates of heaven on his behalf and continued throughout his recovery. Those with “eyes to see” see the miracle that those who “see not” miss.

For them who “see not” the miracles that God performs every day but have a desire to see, Jesus says, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).  To have eyes that see requires only that one take God at His Word and ask. “[I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). If you have “eyes that see not,” Jesus says, “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:18). That “eye-salve” is the Word of God contained in the Bible. It will teach you how to see the miracles of God.

Notes:


[1]  http://www.inhumanthemovie.com/

[2]  Horn, Thomas and Nita Horn, Forbidden Gates: How Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Nanotechnology, and Human Enhancement Herald The Dawn Of TechnoDimensional Spiritual Warfare, (Defender Publishing LLC, January 1, 2011)

[3]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

[4]  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/miracle?s=t

Comments Off on Eyes That See Not

Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Bible, Christianity, Creation, Death, Evangelism, Evolution, Gospel, Heaven, Origins, Prayer, Religion, Salvation, Science, Theology, Worship

Knowing the Way

Dallas Hi-5 Traffic

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (John 14:6)

Traffic in and around Dallas, especially during rush hour, is an adventure to say the least. I never know from one day to the next how long my daily commute will take. Mondays seem to be the worst. Perhaps due to overindulgence over the weekend, the attentiveness of some drivers is sorely lacking. Combine that with technical distractions (aka “smart” phones), and it is no surprise the number of incidents that emerge along the way to impede and prolong one’s travel.

Except for the fact that my concentration focuses on staying alive, I sometimes find the insanity rather amusing and even entertaining. One interesting maneuver I have witnessed on more than one occasion is the last-minute dash from the far left lane across a crowded, bumper-to-bumper, fast-moving (in Dallas rush hour that means anything over 20 mph) highway, picking his way across the four-lane maze of cars to take his exit that is less than a quarter mile away. Did he not realize – a long time ago – that his exit was coming up? That is just poor planning, or else he is paying more attention to his smart phone rather than to his geographic location. Perhaps the driver is new to the area, and this is the first time he has driven this route, and the exit just caught him by surprise. I’ve been there.

This kind of frantic maneuvering generally results from not knowing the way. Unfortunately, in Monday morning rush hour, this lack of awareness culminates in the incidents that impede the progress of drivers who do know the way. I usually do not experience those kinds of problems on my commute because I know the way. I know the location of all my exits, and I logistically maneuver my vehicle into the proper lane to make my exit long before the exit comes up. I relax and enjoy the ride without stress (while staying alert for the crazies).

Life can sometimes be like rush-hour traffic full of roadblocks, near misses, and incidents. Not knowing your destination can further complicate the journey. Too many distractions often leave one unprepared for the sudden diversions one will encounter along the way. When this happens we can become desperate, and franticly struggle to get back on course or find an alternate route. Too many times our solutions lead to incidents that halt our progress and impede the progress of others.

Jesus knew the way. He knew the road blocks along the way, and He knew how to get around them. He knew the exit He must take. “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He knew the cross awaited Him, and He allowed nothing to deter Him. When well-meaning “Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22), Jesus sternly and resolutely responded, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23). Nothing was going to deter Jesus from His destination.

In the final hours before the cross, His disciples were still distracted with illusions of greatness with Jesus as king. “They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory” (Mark 10:37). – Evidently they had been watching their smart phones instead of watching the road! – So when Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2), it is not surprising that “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5).  Nor was their reaction surprising when they encountered the roadblock, i.e. Jesus’ arrest, “And they all forsook him, and fled” (Mark 14:50), but Jesus knew the way He must travel.

It’s a good thing that Jesus knew the way, and that He stayed the course. By staying true to His course, He made the way for us to follow. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine).

All life is eternal life. That is how God intended it in the beginning: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17, emphasis mine). But because of Adam’s disobedience, the end result is eternal separation from God – death. Eternal life has two destinations. One destination has many roads, many distractions, many diversions, i.e. many ways. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “destruction” is apōleia, and it does NOT mean annihilation; rather it means ruin or loss (physical, spiritual, or eternal). This is the meaning of “death,” and Jesus said that many go down that “broad way.”

The other destination is “narrow” or “strait.” “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14, emphasis mine). That destination is not easily found, but Jesus said, “I am the way … and the life.” Since He made the way, He knows best route to take. One finds the way in Christ alone; “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” He said. There is no other way; “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, emphasis mine).

The road to eternal life with God is “strait and narrow,” but it is not impossible to find or even difficult. Knowing the Way is essential. Jesus said, “I AM the Way.”

By the way, knowing the Way does not ensure an incident-free journey, but when Jesus takes the wheel, He knows how to steer you around – even through – the trouble spots. Give Him the wheel and let Him drive! He knows the way. You can know the way too!

2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Death, Evangelism, Gospel, Heaven, Hell, Religion, Salvation, Theology

God’s Laws

GodsLaw

… in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Genesis 26:4-5)

I don’t know where we, Evangelical Christians, have gotten the idea that the Old Testament laws no longer apply. A few years ago, Dr. Charles Swindoll came out with a book entitled Grace Awakening where, I think, he attempts to assuage the guilt some Christians bear due to unnecessary legalism and encourage Christians to take joy in the freedom found through Christ. I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Swindoll. He is a far greater scholar and theologian that I can ever hope to be, but I think he unintentionally opened the door to liberalism here.

Swindoll rightly affirms that salvation, i.e., “justification” cannot be achieved through the works of the Law (Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8-9), but then he unintentionally, I hope, implies that the Christian is no longer subject to the law. Here it is that we part ways, because the results of “grace living,” from my observation, are “carnal” Christians. The result is that modern Evangelical Christians are indistinguishable from the world around them, except on Sundays, when they are at their worship services.

Here is the truth: no one can be saved – be justified, have eternal life – through any act or effort of their own (Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8-9). It is only through grace – the unmerited favor, the free gift – of God. It is all God’s doing, and it happens the instant one believes – places his trust – in the saving work of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (John 1:12; 3:16, 36). Once that takes place, the matter is forever settled. One does not have to keep a long list of laws to come to that point. One does not need the proper theological understanding to come to that point. In the words of the children’s chorus, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Salvation takes place the instant one believes. That one act settles the matter. Now there remains the matter of “living” the Christian life. Here is where the Law comes to play.

Before I develop that point, let me preface the keeping of the Law by assuring the believer, especially the new Christian, that keeping the Laws of God is not accomplished through our own effort. At the moment we are saved, God’s Spirit comes to reside in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). God says, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30). The “burden” of the Law, for the Christian, is born supernaturally, so that the Christian should not suffer undue stress over keeping the law; however that does not mean no effort is required. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), so obviously some effort is involved on the part of the Christian, but that effort is aided by the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.

So, what are those commandments, i.e. the laws, which the Christian must keep? Simply speaking, they are the same laws God has always maintained. God’s laws are eternal. God says, “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6, emphasis mine). Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18, emphasis mine). In our beginning verse above (Genesis 26:4-5), Abraham lived about 500 years before the Mosaic Law was given, and yet God says of him, “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (emphasis mine). When Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17, emphasis mine).  By fulfilling the Law, He did not negate God’s law. Rather, by perfectly keeping God’s law, He qualified Himself to be the perfect, sinless sacrifice for our sins, so that we don’t have to – not that we could ever keep God’s law perfectly. As His followers, we are still responsible to keep His commandments.

How does the Christian accomplish that? Jesus gave us the simplest way to accomplish this. He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind … And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). This is good for beginners, but as the Christian grows in the faith, the “heart, soul, and mind” will want to do more out of love for “the Lord thy God.”

Love for God implies love for God’s Word – all of God’s Word, which includes the Old Testament. There the Christian will find the Law of God in the first five books of the Bible. Obviously some of those laws no longer apply. For example, we no longer have to offer animal sacrifices, because the blood of Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. Most of us Christians are Gentiles, so the dietary laws no longer apply, although, following them might make us healthier. Some of the dress code does not apply to Christians, however the principal behind such laws is still in effect.

Many of those laws were given to distinguish God’s people from the heathen nations around them.  God said, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine (Exodus 19:5, emphasis mine). That word “peculiar” in the Hebrew implies something “special” that is “shut up” and treasured. In another place, God said, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2, emphasis mine). “Holy” means to be set aside as consecrated or sacred. In fact God demands holiness from His people: “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 20:7, emphasis mine). For those who think that the Old Testament no longer applies, that command is repeated in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:15-16).

God’s people are to be distinct from the world. They should be set apart. They should be holy. God’s people should reflect God, not mimic the world. The way we do that is to follow God’s laws. Will we be able to follow God’s laws perfectly? Don’t count on it, and don’t be disheartened when you fail. But that does not mean that we don’t try. When we do fail, we can find comfort in knowing that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We can still be joyful knowing that God loves us and has forgiven us even when we fail to keep His laws perfectly. But don’t think for one moment that God’s laws can be discarded by the Christian. Indeed, Paul, that great advocate of grace said, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12) because it gives us a standard that we can follow. It helps us to recognize sin in our lives and it guides us to holy living. But on the day we stand before God’s throne, we will not be judged by the Law, but by the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for us.

2 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Evangelism, Gospel, Religion, Salvation, Theology

Piercing the Perils of 2016 « Terry James Prophecy Line

Never in my own memory has a new year appeared at its beginning to be more prophetically interesting. Never–in my thinking, at least–has one portended more perilous times, as the Apostle Paul would have it. Yet I wouldn’t trade my time on this darkening planet with anyone of any other generation.

Source: Piercing the Perils of 2016 « Terry James Prophecy Line

Comments Off on Piercing the Perils of 2016 « Terry James Prophecy Line

Filed under Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Religion, Second Coming of Christ

What Next?

Happy-New-Year-2016-Images

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:  (Isaiah 46:9-10)

The Christmas lights are down. The tree and the ornaments are put away. The year 2015 is history. As I mentioned in my previous post, the year began with great expectations, most of which did not materialize, much to my dismay.  But isn’t that the way it often happens! That aside, I did accomplish some personal goals. I donated[1] my 1/60-scale model of Noah’s Ark[2] to the Institute for Creation Research.  I read the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible through.  My wife and I signed up with a physical trainer in May and stuck with the program. I lost 25 pounds, so far, and gained noticeable strength and endurance, which encouraged my doctor to take me off of my blood pressure meds. We also took a cruise along the northeast coast which granted me a longtime dream of standing on the deck of the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides” – a wish-come-true for this old Navy boy.

In retrospect, many positive experiences and accomplishments took place in 2015, but my greatest desire did not come to pass – the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of many positive “signs,” the Lord, in His omniscience, determined that the time was not right. That in itself is a positive thing, especially for those who are lost and in need of the Savior. God in His mercy has delayed His judgment on this world (2 Peter 3:9).

So, what is in store for 2016? What comes next? Will the Lord return in 2016, or will we go to meet Him in death? Will we enjoy good health or will we or one of our loved ones experience serious illness?  Will this be the year that our lost loved ones accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior? Will our national economy implode, or will it take an upswing turn for the better? Who will be voted President, and will he (or she) have a positive influence on the country? Will our nation once more get dragged into an unwanted war?

There are so many questions for which we cannot know the answers! Certainly as we analyze world affairs, the outlook seems grim, and it makes for a good source for depression. Several coping methods can be employed to deal with the unknown and unpredictable. We can isolate and insolate ourselves from negative input. Shut off TV news, turn off the radio, and stop reading newspapers, magazines and social media. Another option is to numb your mind through chemistry, entertainment, pleasure, or other distractions. If you can’t hear it, see it or feel it, it’s not really there. Right? A third option is to face the world head on. Be aware of what is going on around you and in the world. Prepare for adversity but with hope, not paranoia. Rest in the assurance that you are under God’s protection. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father … Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-29, 31).

What next? There is no way to know what the future holds, so trust Him who holds the future. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34). The Lord knows what 2016 will bring. He knows “the end from the beginning,” and we can be sure that He has included us in His plans. Happy 2016!

Notes:


[1]  http://www.icr.org/article/noahs-ark-model

[2]  https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/03/01/building-the-ark/

Comments Off on What Next?

Filed under Christianity, Current Events, End Times, New Year's Day, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Theology