The Book of Hebrews and the Sabbath Rest

The Book of Hebrews and the Sabbath Rest

Heb 3:7-4;11

 

Because the section of scripture we about to study is so larger you should get your Bibles out and follow our study along in your own Bible. This section of scripture if not written by the apostle Paul can  surely be traced to his thinking  and is therefore, like many of his writings can be hard to understand and is subject to misunderstand. One of the things that will help us to avoid an erroneous interpretation is to keep the immediate context of this section in view, which is the book in which is found and the overall context of the Bible.

The book of Hebrew was a lengthy letter sent to a group of Hebrew Christians who were contemplating going back to Judaism or at the very least bring Judaism into the Christian Faith. In the letter, the writer warns them that to do so would mean the loss of their salvation which salvation he refers to in chapters 3 and 4  as the Sabbath-rest. This problem of bring the law or Judaism into the church was no new problem. The apostle Paul addresses it in many of  his writings. For example, we see it in the book of Galatians when he says to that church “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4-5). In the book of Ephesians, he calls the law the dividing wall of hostility, which separates believers. ” For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations (Eph 2:14-15).  From this, we can gather that the overall context of the book is a warning against apostasy and arguments demonstrating that Christ and the gospel are superior to Judaism and the law. Keep this in mind as we study together.

First let me point out that this section of Scripture is not talking about the Sabbath day per say[i]. Its focus is on the consequence of  disobedience and reward of obedience. It is about what the writer calls “Today.”  The expression “Today is used in 3:7, 3:13, 3:15, and twice in 4:7. It seems to be an expression that the writer uses to denote the Christian dispensation, i.e. the time between the resurrection and the second coming of Christ. He refers to this dispensation in verse 3: 8 as a time of testing and compares it to the 40 years that the Israelites were tested in the wilderness. He continuously admonishes these Hebrew Christians not to follow the example of their forefathers in unbelief  and disobedience.

His line of thought runs like this, the Israelites were tested for 40 years on their journey from the land of Egypt to the promise land, which was the land of rest from their trials and temptations. However, the major did not enter the land of rest[ii], because their faith failed the test and they were found to be unbelievers, who did not trust God. Christian are to take heed to their example and persist in faith, or they too will miss the eternal rest of God.

In this section of Scripture, the writer uses the Old Testament story of the wilderness wanderings of the Jews as an allegory that points to the last day or the Christian dispensation and lays down a basic rule for interpreting the Old Testament. He says in 10:1 “The law[iii] is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves.”  We can gather from this that much of the Old Testament is a preview of what is going to happen in “Today” or the Christian dispensation. To take the old as the reality is to miss the wholly point of the narrative in the Old Testament.

With this rule of interpretation, we can look at text and see how the writer speaks of two separate rest and uses them both to point to the eternal salvation that we have in Christ. He speaks of the rest that God entered into at the end of creating the earth 4: 4.  He also talks about the Canaan land rest, which was promised to the Hebrews that obeyed God in the wilderness; that number was two Caleb and Joshua. All the rest fell in the wilderness and never entered the land of rest.

In verse 4:8, we find a key verse, which confirms our interpretation. “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day” Here the writer is saying that Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land did not fulfill the promise of a rest for the people of God. It would take a different leader, Jesus the Christ, and would have to be a different rest, which he calls the Sabbath-rest. The expression Sabbath-rest is the author’s way and the Holy Spirit way of pointing out that the new rest is the ultimate and final rest. In this, we have a better Leader, a better covenant and a better rest. I can hear the writer saying to these Hebrews who were contemplating going back Judaism,  why in the world would you what to go back to Moses and the law, and to observing the shadows when the reality is here in Christ ” Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col 2:16-17). LD

[i] The word Sabbath means rest. The Hebrews were command by God under the Old covenant to rest on the seventh day and to do no work. The Sabbath day was a memorial of God delivering them from the land of Egypt (Deut 5:12-15). It was a day of rest and not worship in the tradition sense of worship. The lack of working was the worship. The Hebrews worshipped in the tradition sense in the tabernacle and Temple, and then later in the synagogue. That is, if they were within a Sabbath day’s journey from these place of worship.

[ii] Deut 12:9 “For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.KJV

[iii] What is the law referred to here? The Jews in the first century view the entire Old Testament scripture as the Law. The law was the covenant made exclusively with the nation of Israel and was never given to the whole world (Deut 5:1-5, Rom 7:4-8, 1Cor 14:21).

Reason, Faith and Certitude

Reason, Faith and Certitude

“From about half-past ten in the evening until about half-past twelve … FIRE … God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and not of the philosophers and savants. Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.”[i] Blaise Pascal

Reason will never take you to the certitude of God.  If it’s pure, which it never is, it regularly leads to doubting.  On the other hand, love will always lead to trust (faith) and acting on faith will lead to certitude.  However, in the end certitude is a gift of God, given to those who love Him and have true faith in the Christ.  The apostle John says, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” ( 1 John 5:10).  In chapter  two of his letter John refers to this inner witness as an anointing of truth.

Moreover, Jesus also speaks about faith as a revelation from the Father.  When he asked his disciples who they believed he was, in Matthews gospel, the conversation reads like this; “Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-17).  This inner witness that Jesus speaks about is the revelation in the believer’s heart through the spirit of God, which gives them certitude that Jesus is the Christ.  It is this revelation in the believers heart that is the rock on which Christ would build his church[ii].  This measure of faith cannot be accessed by reason alone or any human effort.  It is a gift of God given to all true believers.  It is being born from above.  It is given to all who truly put their faith in the Christ and love God.  It is for the pure in heart

This inner witness, that Jesus is the Christ, is not the same as the promise which Jesus made to his apostles that they will be led into all truth (John 14:16).  The all truth promise was made to his apostles who form the foundation of the new temple of God (Eph 2:19-22).  The early church looked to the apostles as the ultimate authority in matters of the faith and except for a few Gnostics heretics, never claim, “the all truth promise”.. It is obvious, that if every Christian had received “the all truth promise” there would have been total unity and no division in the church from the beginning, to which we know there is, and therefore was not the case.  Plus there would have been no need for the first-century church to ask the apostles questions about the faith, as we see early Christians do in the New Testament.  Many of the writings in the New Testament are made up of the apostles answering questions that were sent to them by individuals and churches.

From the above we gather that when John said, “all of you know the truth”, he was taking about the fact that believers had received through the gospel the revelation that Jesus was the Christ. (1John 2:20-21).  There is no reason to separate this faith experience from the acceptance of the gospel and hearing the word of God preached, for that Word or Gospel is the bearer of the Spirit. This simply means that if a person hears the good news preached and believes it, the Holy Spirit will confirm their faith in their heart that Jesus is the Christ resulting in a certitude giv

[i]  Pascal’s conversion experience was recorded on a small piece of paper and sewed into the inner lining of his coat and was found after his death. It read, “The year of grace 1654. Monday, 23 November, feast of Saint Clement. . . From about half-past ten in the evening until about half-past midnight. Fire. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Not of the philosophers and intellectuals. Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace. The God of Jesus Christ. My God and your God. Forgetfulness of the world and everything except God. One finds oneself only by way of the directions taught in the gospel. The grandeur of the human soul. Oh just Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy. I have separated myself from him. They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water. My God, will you leave me? May I not be separated from him eternally. This is eternal life, that they may know you the one true God and J.C. whom you have sent. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. I have separated myself from him. I have run away from him, renounced him, crucified him. May I never be separated from him. One preserves oneself only by way of the lessons taught in the gospel. Renunciation total and sweet. And so forth.” (pp. 95-96

[ii] it is incorrect to assume that the rock was Peter or Peters faith. The rock is the revelation that Jesus is the Christ given to believers by the Holy Spirit.

Ratings and Ravings of Atheists And other Nonsense

Ratings and Ravings of Atheists And other Nonsense

Ravings-irrational, incoherent talk-A rant-extravagant or violent declamation 

Sometimes there is fine line between truth and nonsense, and we live in a culture where that line is being increasingly blurred.  One reason for this is the volume of information and the corresponding specialization that is needed to consume it. In some ways, this knowledge explosion is good, but it is also is dangerous, because with it comes with a lot of pseudo-knowledge that the average person has a hard time sorting out from the truth.  Plus, given the intelligence of the new atheist and their ability to communicate, it is easy for them to deceive large numbers of people.  Therefore, many of my articles are not about the existence of God, because to me, the existence God is a self-evident truth, which needs no proof.  Therefore, you will find many of my writings are more about atheism, its belief and its rants and ravings.

The new atheist’s deception is often in the form of pseudoscience or by making assertions that are not grounded in truth or facts[1].  They are experts at the use of rhetoric in spreading misinformation about science and religion.  At their best, most of their material is based on very thin scientific hypothesis and theories. Consider as an example, Richards Dawkins’s hypothesis of selfish genes as the driving mechanism for natural selection.  Unfortunately, thousands have read this book and have accepted it as fact when it is nothing more than a hypothesis[2], which is n more like a guess without any evidence.  Not only is the evidence for his hypothesis nonexistent, it is a hypothesis that can never be proven by the scientific method because genes cannot be observed being selfish or for that matter, of having any direction or motives.  People need to remember that an explanation of something is not in itself the evidence and that assertions are a very poor map to the truth.

In their rants and ravings, the new atheists are constantly claiming that explaining everything naturally destroys the need  for God and proves that he does not exist.  They use the expression, “the God of the gaps” when they’re inferring that a belief in God was only needed to explain the mysteries of the universe.  In their thinking, now that we have figured out the universe, we no longer in need of a God[3].  The problems with this idea are too numerous to be expressed in this article, but one of the greatest is the self-evident truth that the more science discovers about the universe the more mysteries appear.  Quantum mechanics has created a world of possibilities and of mysteries.

An even more fundamental question about the God of the gaps’ hypothesis is, do we really know that much about the universe?  I have read that the universe is made up of 4.9% ordinary matter, 26.8% dark matter and 68.3% dark energy.  Since we don’t know what dark energy or dark matter are, we would have to conclude that we don’t know much about 95.1% of what is known as the dark universe or space.  Remember, we are talking about the known universe which we observe today and some scientists believe that this universe is just one of many.  Moreover, how much can we truly say that we know about the 4.9%  part that we call ordinary matter? And out of this ordinary matter how much do we really understand?  Even when we try to explain this 4.9%, our explanations are veiled and shrouded in metaphors.

For example the question of, what is light. Is it is wave or a particle?  Is it really a wave or a particle or does it simply behave like a wave or particle? Aren’t the word’s wave and particle just similes or metaphors that describe what light does or how it behaves?  Can we say that we truly know something if we understand it metaphorically?  In view of how little we actually know about the universe, I would think that atheists would be cautious about throwing around the God of the gap’s hypothesis as their source explanation of faith.

I personally believe that the new atheist’s argument on the God of the gaps says more about them than it does about the how’s and why’s of faith in the existence of God.  It tells of their intellectual arrogance and their ‘know it all’ attitude toward the universe, which borders on ridiculous.  They actually believe that specks of dust like human beings, can know enough about the universe to say that there is no God.  The God of the gap’s hypothesis also demonstrates the complete misunderstanding, which the atheists have, of faith and people of faith.  At best some atheists who were religious can understand a religious man, but a religious man many not be a man of true faith and only a man of faith can totally understand faith or a person of faith.  The God of the gap’s hypothesis infers that atheists know something about the source of faith and people of faith, which is simply an assertion that comes from their intellectual hubris.  The truth is that they know little about true faith and for that matter, humility.  Their God of the gap’s hypotheses actually reflects an archaic view of human knowledge set forth by the philosophers of the Enlightenment who believed in the perfection and completion of human knowledge, which most thinking people would laugh at today.

At the outset, I want the readers to know that I am not writing to address the old non-theist type of atheist, whose unbelief was either grounded in faulty reason or perhaps an indifference to religion.  My writing is about a group of atheists called the “new atheists” whose beliefs are grounded in a hatred for religion and an exaggerated faith in science.  Unlike, the old atheist type the new atheists are organized and evangelistic in trying to convert people to their faith.  In this, they seem to be taking on the very nature of the thing that they disdain and hold in contempt i.e. organized religion.  The new atheists, like organized religion in the past, are now using the strong arm of government to spread their faith by the hindrance of religious expression and by using the courts to restrict religious freedom.  They also are twisting the Constitution so it also can be used to hinder the free expression of religion instead of protecting it.  Ironically, all the time that they are doing this, they are depicting themselves as Angels of light that are liberating the world from faith, which they claim poison’s everything.

However, are the new atheists really Angels of light as they claim, or are they really Angels of darkness?  I will let one of the old atheist types answer that question.  An honest unbeliever, Dr. E. Wengraf once confessed, “Every piece of anti-religious propaganda seems to me a crime.  I surely do not wish it to be prosecuted as a crime, but I consider it immoral and loathsome.  This not because of zeal for my convictions, but because of the simple knowledge acquired through long experience, that, given the same circumstances, a religious man is happier than the irreligious.  In my indifference and skeptical attitude toward all positive faith, I have often envied other men to whom deep religiosity has given a strong support in all the storms of life.  To uproot the souls of such men is an abject deed.  I abhor any proselytizing.  But, still, I can understand why one who believes firmly in a saving faith tries to convert others.  But I cannot understand propaganda of unbelief.  We do not have the right to take away from a person his protecting shelter, be it even a shabby hut, if we are not sure, we can offer him a better, more beautiful house.  But to lure men from the inherited home of their souls, to make them err afterward in the wilderness of hypotheses and philosophical question marks, is either criminal fatalisms or criminal mindlessness.”

If by chance a new atheist reads this, they will immediately dismiss Dr. Wengraf’s statement that religious folks are happier than unbelievers.  However, science seems to be moving in the direction of proving that people of faith are happier than unbelievers.  For example, Jonathan Haidt who is an atheist has written a book on his study of what makes people happy and concedes that faith in a transcendent is one of the things that makes people happier than others[4].  Ernest Becker in his book “The Denial of Death” points out that religion helps people to meet their basic psychological needs which in turn make them happier[5].  Arthur C. Brooks has written a book entitled “Gross National Happiness” and it demonstrates that people of faith are happier than those that lack it.  Of course, the new atheist will reply, “that’s not science.”  My reply is, that it is more scientific than you’re ranting and raving about the God of the gaps and how religion poisons everything.  Where are the real studies which prove that people believe in God because they do not understand something about the universe?  Where are the statistical studies that religion poisons everything?  These are nothing but assertions of angry and desperate men who want to poison’s people’s mind with their propaganda and rhetoric.

Now, this brings me to one of my rants and ravings against the new atheists.  My rant is that, they have super stars who remind me of the TV evangelist that sells religion.  In fact, almost all of the leaders in the new atheist movement have become quite wealthy by selling their new brand of atheism.  The high priest of the movement Richard Dawkins has made millions of dollars selling books.  But even worse is the herd that follows Dawkins and the other super stars of the movement.  How can these atheists criticize religion when their movement looks more like a fundamentalist religious cult every day?[6]  Lenin once referred to his followers as “useful idiots”.  I often wonder what Dawkins and his cronies actually think of the people that follow them and y give credence to their rants and ravings.

You will find that my writings are not only about the rants and ravings of the new atheists, but also about some of the nonsense and myths propagated by believers of different sorts.  This nonsense continually provides ammunition for the new atheists, and also can be the very cause of some unbelief.  I will address their nonsense and myths in the context of answering the attacks on Christianity by the new atheists, who often allege that nonsense and myths are part of Christianity.  I will demonstrate that these subjects are not a part of the faith handed down to the Christian community by Christ, but rather they’re just theories or subversions of the ancient faith.  Much in the same way  these atheists are subverting science to prove their hypothesis. I have addressed a number of these religious subjects in my book “From Jesus to Religion.”

In many ways, I am thankful to the new atheists, for they have forced believers to refine and bring the faith to higher levels of reason.  Moreover, they have forced believers to re-examine and correct some ill-conceived ideas about God, human knowledge and science.  Sometimes God uses the most unlikely people in his effort to grow up mankind.  Of course, the new atheists will deny that religion even corrects its hypothesis and theories, which again is one of their fallacies that I’ve addressed in other articles.

Some have accused me of being anti-scientific, which is just not true.  I love science and enjoy reading it and exploring its ideas.  However, I do believe that many in science have made a grandiose assertion that it alone has true knowledge, an assertion which I cannot accept.  This assertion has led to almost every discipline claiming to be science.  This in turn has led to the discrediting of true science.  If science is going to maintain its place of authority, it must cease its over-speak about its ability to know certain things.  It also must rigorously enforce the scientific method.  Like all human knowledge, science has its limits and it should know and confess those limits.  When I speak of science in a negative way keep in mind that I am not denying science or human knowledge, but rather I am simply trying to whittle it down to a realistic size.

Moreover, I want to emphasize that my articles are not written to be read by atheists for if they were, they would be read by few people.  In the numerous encounters I have had with atheists of all flavors, I have had little luck in getting many to read anything meaningful on theism.  In this, I see little difference between them and a fundamentalist religious person who bases their beliefs on dogma and feelings, and seems to be satisfied with an argument or feelings, instead of the truth.  Most of my writing is for believers and honest agnostics that wish to know more about atheism, science and God, and how they fit together.  I am also hoping to introduce several new ways of framing a number of old ideas.  Not for the purpose of creating new ideas, but simply to stimulate thinking and a different way of looking at old truths.

I hasten to point out that I do not speak for all Christians in anything I write.  Christianity is a big tent belief system, which can accommodate a large diversity of opinions.  However, in most of my writings I will attempt to stay within the parameters of the scripture and the ancient faith.

[1] They pray on people who cannot tell the different between a fact and a presupposition.

[2] It does not rate the label of a theory.

[3] The expression the God of gaps was first used by theologians to discourage using the gaps in human knowledge as an argument for the existence of God. God is not the god of gapes. He is the God of natural law and nature, and works through natural laws and the miraculous. He does what he wants through any means he wishes.

[4] “The Happiness Hypothesis, Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom” By Jonathan Haidt.

[5]  Ernest Becker in his book “The Denial of Death” makes a strong case for faith as a plus for dealing with life and death. Thought is arguments do not prove the existence of God. They do demonstrates that faith does not poisons everything as the new atheist claim, but rather is beneficial to many people.

[6] John Gray an European intellectual and naturalist see the new atheist as a religious cult. “Heresies: Against Progress And other Illusions”

The Good News for America

The Good News for America

In a society that is all about comfort, ease, pleasure and feeling good, how can we call a person to suffer and die to themselves and live for others?  In other words, what is good about the good news of Christ?

What is the good news of Christ?  Is it good health and worldly blessing or is it something different? The gospel is that Christ died for our sins, and that God raised him from the dead,  nothing more and nothing less. Why are the death and resurrection of Christ the good news?  Well, it is only good news if you recognize that mans greatest enemies are sin and death.  If you recognize this, then the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news in all the world. Let’s take a look at the trouble that the apostle Paul called the law of sin and death.

The literal meaning of sin is, to miss the mark.  It was the term in which the spotter, who stood next to the target, would yell back to the archers when an arrow missed the bulls-eye.  You sinned; you missed the mark you were aiming at.  When the New Testament says you have sinned it is saying that you have missed the mark that God has set for you as a human being created in His likeness. You have missed what it means to be truly human.

What is his likeness?  Now the likeness of God is a deep subject, but we can easily grasp some things about it. The Bible tells us that God is love and from this, we can gather when we were created in his image that we were created for love.  That is we were created to have a love relationship with God and reflect that image to all around us.

But, how can this be if God is a spirit?  How can we love a spirit?  That is a tough question for a three dimensional being to comprehend.  Even so, one thing I do know is that we can reflect God by loving those that have been created in his image.  Human beings are living symbols of the living God. In fact, they are the only thing in all of creation that image’s God. So, to love or hug a person is to hug God. To smile at another human is to smile at God.  To do good to another human is to do it to and for God (Matt.25:30-40).  It is here we can also see what sin really is.  It is doing something to hurt a fellow human created in God’s image or neglecting to do something one ought to do to help a fellow human.  It is breaking or being unfaithful to the love relationship we have or should have with our fellow-man.  When you act in an unloving way toward your brother, you have sinned.  If you break faith with the image of God, you have sinned against God.

Now the next question is what is love? We have seen that God is love, and this is where Jesus comes in. Jesus came here to reveal the father (John 17).  He came to teach us what true love looks like.  In making known the father he made known what is true love.  He did it by living and dying a sacrificial life for others.  In this, he lived for God and fulfilled the great commandment “to love God with your whole heart, soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  This work of revealing the Father as sacrificial love reached its peak and fulfillment in his death on the cross. As he died, he said, “it is finished.”  In this act of dying for others Jesus fulfilled the law of love and opened a new living way of approaching God, not through religion but through love, not just any kind of love but through the kind of love demonstrated by Jesus.

The atonement is God demonstrating his sacrificial love in Christ for his creation.  How can the death of Christ be reduced to a payment of a debt, to a broken law?  The atonement must be grounded in God’s love, not the law.  Love freely given,  never demands its pound of flesh as the law does. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”  In the death of Christ, God deals with the sin problem by covering it with his love; while at the same time demonstrating his love to man by covering over with his love their anger and hatred. “Father forgive them, for they know not, what they do.”  In this act of love, he revealed his love,  by forgiving freely, mans hatred and anger. (Colossians 1: 21, 22)

In the death of Christ, we also see a revelation or a revealing of man’s nature. Man is angry and filled with hate and a false sense of justice and righteousness.  Man needs his pound of flesh. The law is broken, someone must pay; someone must be punished for the law is their God.  I find it peculiar that many in the Christian movement have embraced a theory of the atonement which image’s God in exactly the same way as sinful man, strange indeed.

This work of revealing the Father is to be continued by his body, the church.  This revealing of the father begins in the church by believers loving one another, just as Christ has loved them. In loving one another as Christ has loved them, they show the world the Father even as Christ showed them the Father.  When the church fails to do this, it is missing the mark and is living in sin.  When it is living in sin it is living under sin and is walking in the flesh and cannot be pleasing to God.  It is a terrible sin to hurt or hinder the work of the church from revealing the Father.  This happens whenever a member of the church acts in an unloving manner toward a brother or for that matter, another human being.

We are not alone in this work of revealing the Father to the world. God has put his Spirit in the body of Christ and in each of its members, to help them in this great work of revealing the true God.  In truth, this work is the work of God and when he calls us, He calls us to join him in that work, and if we accept that call, we become his fellow workers.

We can gather from all this that we are most human and most godly when we are loving our brothers and honoring the love relationship with God and man. When we fail to do this, we sin. We miss the mark of loving one another, the very reason for which God has created us.

The gospel of Christ is the message that God has forgiven our unloving acts and has taken them on Himself. Furthermore, it tells us if we put our faith in Christ, he will put his divine life in our hearts to help us to become like the Father. When a person believes, they begin to find themselves being transformed into the image of God as their love for God and man grows.

However, the gospel could not be the good news of God unless it addresses the problem of death. In actuality, most people think of death as a problem at the end of one’s life, but when we take a closer look, it is something that affects all of life.  It is as the Bible said, the king of terrors that cast a shadowing doom over all of life.  It is the shadow of the abyss that robs life of all meaning. In the classic book, the “Denial of Death,” Ernest Becker shows how the fear of death operating on a subconscious level influences and actually controls a lot of our thinking and actions.  In view of this, one would have to conclude that to bring one’s life under control you would have to have something to deal with death on a conscious and subconscious level. Well, God gave us this when He raised Jesus from the dead. The message of the resurrection is the best news that mankind has ever heard.  It frees us from the fear of death and empowers us to live a life of freedom and meaning.

Of course, we did not need Mr. Becker’s book to tell us about the power of death, for scriptures long go echoed the same thought.  The writer of the book of Hebrews says, ” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death, he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Heb. 2:14-16).  The apostle Paul actually says that death is the catalyst for mans sinning. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:56-57).  Note that Paul does not say death is the sting of sin but rather that sin is the sting of death. Though Paul does not tell us how death causes us to sin it is  plain that he is pointing to the fear of death as the source of much of our sinning. However, he also shares with us the good news that Christ has overcome death in his resurrection.  In the resurrection, God has placed us with Christ above sin and death giving us a victory over them in Christ (Eph.2:6). Now, that is good news. LD

 

 

 

 

A Parable for Atheists

A Parable for Atheists

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery? “The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?” The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.” The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.” The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.” The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?” The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.” Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.” To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”

I saw this on the net and had to pass it on. It speaks of the final transformation in the birth of the sons of God into a new creation.”

Coming Up Against God-C.S Lewis

Coming Up Against God 

“In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 

What Lewis is taking about is probably one of his forms of experiencing God, but is something seldom experienced in our age.  Why is that?  It’s because we moderns look down on everything, even God, and have forgotten the meaning of pride and humility.  We have set ourselves up as judges of the world and of God Himself.  I often hear people say “I cannot believe in the God you believe in because He is too hard or that He is too easy.”  In this they are simply saying that any God which they believe in must conform to their standards and taste.  Now think about that for a minute.  What are these people really saying?  Are they not setting themselves up as the judge of God?  Moreover, if you were to stumble upon an all knowing and powerful God, how likely would it be that all of your values, judgments, and appetites would line up with His?  Before you answer, take awhile to think about it, for your answer will tell you where you stand with Lewis’s God.

Now that you have thought about your answer, let’s analyze it in view of Lewis’s remarks.  If you said that your values, judgments, and your will line up with the God you believe in, it simply means that you have not experienced what Lewis refers to as “coming up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself.”  Moreover, it would mean that you are prideful and that you have not experienced the true God or at the least Lewis’s God, or if you have, you have forgotten the experiences.  However, either way it is a strong indication that you do not know the true God.

A further test of your standing before God could be calculated by asking a question of yourself which God might ask you someday.  What would your answer be if you knocked on heaven’s door and a voice said, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  Would your answer be something along the line of, “Well, I am a good person.  I kept your commandments.  I did the best I could.  I was fair and honest.  I never hurt anyone.  I went to church every week.”  Unfortunately, there are some real problems with these answers if it is Lewis’s God that you are talking to.  One is that they are all self-judgments based on comparing oneself with others, which has little to do with the question.  Do you think God is concerned about how you compare with others?  His reply might be, “So you think you’re better than others?”  Furthermore, for most human beings these statements would, in themselves, be a lie.  Yes, you might be a good person, but by whose standards—yours or your neighbor’s?

What is the right answer?  It is an answer that only those who have experienced what Lewis is talking about can know.  Here it is.  You will lead me into heaven because that is the kind of God You are, and I know this because I came up against You in the person of Your Son and from that day on I knew You and my true self.  I knew that I could never measure up to Your standards, and if I were to be saved it would only be through Your grace and love.