Tag Archives: Christian

95+4 of 6–Jesus=Father

Mirror Image-3

Jesus is not the Father, but He is God. God, the one we call Father, He is God. And there is one other, the Holy Spirit, He is God, too. The doctrine of the Trinity is still debated between churches, but it’s what I believe–there are three distinct beings with the same essential, eternal, timeless qualities. But what may be even harder for people to believe are Jesus’s words, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9; NKJV)

Most people are comfortable with the God of the Old Testament being different from the God of the New Testament, or the God of judgment being different from Jesus, the God of love and grace. Many believe that Jesus’s main purpose in coming to this world was to placate, to appease, to pacify the God of Justice; thus, they must be different. Jesus is nice but the Father is…well, you know. But Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the Father–that’s profound! That’s mind-bending!

How do we put those paradoxes on the same platter? It helps me when I consider two facts. First, it was really Jesus who led Israel throughout the Old Testament.

1 Cor 10:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. (Emphasis mine)

It was Jesus who led Israel through the desert. It was Jesus who gave the 10-Commandments and the laws in Leviticus. It was Jesus that gave the command to stone the Sabbath-breaker and destroy Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. It was Jesus who spoke and created our world.

Jn 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

The second reason we have a problem seeing Jesus and the Father as one, as having the same character, is, we have misunderstood the legal system as being punitive and not protective, and we have overlooked several other reasons why Jesus had to die. Jesus’s death was a demonstration, not an appeasement; it spoke to much more than merely a legal transaction.

In light of the great controversy between God and Satan, a controversy over God’s laws and character, God proved that He too was selfless and giving, that He loved this world, you, me, us, even though we had sided with Satan. He showed the universe what would happen if beings worshiped a god they were afraid of, demonstrated by the ruling Jewish leaders when they crucified Him! He demonstrated that He did not lie in the beginning when He said if we sin we die. His statement was not a threat; it was an undeniable fact, and He proved it, much to Satan’s shame.

Bringing God and mankind back together, knowing what God is really like, knowing God is love and wouldn’t lie, knowing God loves us more than life itself, and knowing God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit will heal and save all those who trust Him again, this is the atonement!

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Don’t go to church; be the church!

Every time I see that sentence pop up in an email, I feel the weight of truth punch me in the chest, then I’m nauseous because it fits and it’s profound. Don’t just go to church and spend a few hours singing songs and listening to others talk about the relationship you should have with God–have that relationship. Be that person who knows and understands and then resembles God. God wants us to be like Christ–that’s the goal–the hope of glory is Christ in us: to love and care and be like God. So how do we do it? The Bible says that God loves us and is already working in us and through us to do His good pleasure, so we are off to a good start. It mentions we need to be born again, casting off our old rebellious self, and it commends the reading and studying of the scriptures. If we were to imitate Jesus, we would get up in the misty morning, long before the daily pressures begin, seek out a place of solitude and read and pray. Jesus must have been up with the birds every day, because it seems like He had the Old Testament memorized when debating the Jewish leaders. Today we have a multitude of versions to choose from or listen to and an endless source of references.

Adding one concept made a big difference in my studies: knowing the Bible is not a code book. When I was young, I read the Bible as though it were merely a list of dos and don’ts. I was always looking for just one more rule to keep, for one more verse to memorize, or one more fact I could remember; so I could be perfect. Then it dawned on me, God was God in both the Old and New Testaments, and He changes not. What was changing were the circumstances. Sometimes God was working with newly freed, ignorant slaves and vile, evil countries with despots, other times with religious hypocrites and autocrats, and still others with willing but ignorant people. We wouldn’t treat each group the same and neither does God.

The Bible is a compilation of carefully crafted case studies documenting God’s actions, both in heaven and on this rebellious planet. In many and various ways God has demonstrated His faithfulness and recorded the events of this great controversy in the Bible. It’s not a code book; it’s a case study.

 

 

Evolution vs. Creation Philosophy Part IV of IV–Where is History Headed?

Part IV of IV—Where is history headed?

Think back to the 1920 stock market crash, to 9-11, or as recent as November 20th, 2016, the Trump election—no one saw them coming. We are not good at predicting the future, but the Bible is. Hundreds of predictions have been made and come true and some of them came thousands of years in advance. God’s word has predicted world shaking events, such as the time and place of Jesus’s birth, how and when Jesus would die and who would be by His side when He died, the name of the man who let the Israelites go after 70 years of captivity—Cyrus—and my favorite, what nations would pass across the stage of history (Daniel 3, 7, 9 and 11).

God showed Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, his golden kingdom would be replaced by the Meads and Persians, who would be ruled by Greece, and then Rome, and eventually Rome would fragment into 10 countries (Dan 3, 7, 11). It even gives the details: Greece would fall and divide into four parts (Dan 8), and three of the ten countries comprising the fallen Roman Empire would be plucked up by one unique power, and it did (Dan 7). It predicted the fall of the Vatican State, and its healing (Rev 13), and it even predicted the United State’s rise to power. But all of these events are past; does the Bible tell us what’s coming? Yes it does.

  1. The world will become more and more wicked, while it looks more and more religious (Rev 12, 13). Think hypocrisy and false religions.
  2. Countries and churches will unite to control the masses (Rev 13).
  3. A remnant of zealous Christians will give three moving messages to the world (Rev 14).
  4. The world will attempt to silence then destroy this small number of reformers (Rev 13); while
  5. Satan will fake Jesus’s return in an attempt to control the world.
  6. Jesus will come again just as society implodes; He’ll come to resurrect the righteous dead, translate the living saints, and take all of the saved to heaven for 1000 years (Rev 14).
  7. For a thousand years Satan and his evil imps will be confined to planet earth to contemplate their gloomy future, while the saints are reviewing the history books in heaven.
  8. At the end of the 1000 years, Jesus, God, the heavenly city New Jerusalem, and all the saints will descend back to earth;
  9. The rest of the dead, those lost, will be resurrected for judgment; they will see themselves and how they have despised God’s love and how they have unfitted themselves to live in God’s presence; and God will reveal Himself—giving life and vitality to those who love Him, but sadly destroying those who don’t.
  10. And forever more the saints will live in paradise made new. God will recreate the earth, probably in the same way He did it before, one day at a time, so we can watch and be amazed. He will wipe away our tears and all traces of sin; not a drop will remain except for the scars in Jesus’s hands, feet, and side.

It’s hard to believe the world could become any more wicked than it is, and could it really be worse than during world War II when 60 million people were slaughtered? It’s possible, but what’s unique this time is, it will be cloaked in religion. Already churches and countries are lining up: Catholic Europe, Central America, and South America; Muslim Middle East, and Protestant America; and within them the sins of pride and domination rule. It is one thing to humbly protect your own, but another completely to dominate and compel the conscience.

Coming out of this montage of religions a small group of zealous Christians will shake the earth with three simple messages:

Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying, “Fear God and give Him Glory for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” And another angel followed saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornications.” Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. (Rev 14:6-9)

These three messages are much more complicated than they appear, and understanding them without the context of the rest of the Bible is really not possible. The Bible is internally consistent; it uses its own stories to define terms. For example, “forever” to us, means a long, long time, but Biblically, a slave could serve his master forever, so forever really means for as long as you live. We know we will live forever (using our modern definition) because the Bible says there will be no more death, not because it says forever. And wrath to us means an intense anger, but the wrath God is talking about, is God giving up on us, finally abandoning us, leaving us to drink the cup, to reap the natural consequences of our choices; and nobody really wants that to happen. When God did that in the past, Jerusalem was sieged, sacked, burned, destroyed, and demolished when He stopped protecting them from those Satan had control of.

What do the three-angels messages mean to you? What do you think are the most important terms and ideas? What do you think the everlasting gospel is, or the judgment, the mark, the image, and the beast? I’d like to know.

Philosophy-Part II-What happened that it’s broken?

petri-dishI just read a few journal articles with titles like: “Is humanity a failed experiment?” “Is Humanity Failing?” “Why is humanity failing as a whole?” and “Humanity is a failed experiment”. The thought that something has gone wrong in the universe, and more importantly that something has gone wrong right here, is not just an isolated, random, or outlier thought. Thousands, possibly millions of people think something has gone terribly wrong. But what happened? What has happened that society is so broken? Why do people murder, lie to each other, cheat each other, and steal from each other?

In the naturalistic, big bang/evolutionary scenario, with its prime drivers—random chance and natural selection—humanity is not failing; it’s thriving; it’s doing exactly what it’s expected to do when a population increases to the point where there is an intense competition for resources. It’s true that the prognosis is not what we’d like: a massive die-off at the end, like a bacteria culture that has consumed all the nutrients from the petri dish. The whole batch dies leaving only a few, only the toughest, only the few mutant-like cells that were a little more tolerant, a little more adaptable to the harsh environment than the rest of the herd; and they will live on, repopulating the dish with an improved genome until the cycle repeats.

In a natural selection scenario, competition encourages lying to survive, hording money and groceries and houses and resources to out-compete your neighbors. You can do anything and say anything; you can even kill to survive, and it’s not considered an unnatural or immoral act: it’s just natural selection. So the fights, the wars, and the troubles we see and hear are normal; it’s just the survival of the fittest. The riots, the drug abuse, the immorality, the cruelty and the resulting poverty are only the results of following the natural ways of evolution to select out an even better genome. Through it all, evolution should produce, an even better, stronger, more cunning, and maybe a more ruthless, smarter race.

The Bible on the other hand suggests a more sinister plot to our plight. Our social problems are not the results of natural selection merely, but rather the desperate consequences of a galactic war gone bad, a spiritual war between good and evil, and it’s being played-out right here on planet Earth. God was accused of lying about the results of rebellion in His universe. Satan insisted that God was lying when he said rebellion brought on death; and when the chips were down, Adam and Eve sided with Satan.

What happened that society is so broken? Our planetary representatives rejected God’s personal leadership, and we are reaping the results. Fortunately, God did not wholly abandon us to Satan’s influence—we have been given a choice as to whom we will serve and which principles we will follow. The question is: will we follow our Creator or something less?

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Excerpt

Chapter 1

Why are things this way?

In your mind’s eye, look outside your door and peer into the ghettos and dark alleys of this world. In your heart, you know this is not what God had in mind for our planet. Sure, there is good out there, but there is bad too. There is beauty in bright smiles and romantic sunsets, blue oceans and painted deserts, quasars and star-studded skies, but there is ugliness in disease, decay, and death. And there is pain, a lot of pain. Why are things this way? Why do lions and tigers eat Bambi and Thumper? Why are the good often bad and the bad sometimes good? Why does the song say, “Only the good die young”? And why did someone as loving as Jesus have to die?

Many people have offered answers to that question. Some explanations revolve around some type of ransom being paid to the devil; others say that Jesus paid a debt to His Father, to the angels, or to sin itself. Are these the only options? Has the question been adequately addressed? Why is it that no earthly court would ever allow some saintly fellow to take the punishment for a criminal, yet many religions think it is okay for God to do so? Could punishing Gandhi ever atone for Hitler’s crimes? Could Mother Teresa’s virtue ever negate the lack thereof in Stalin, Pol Pot, Nero, Hirohito, or Osama bin Laden?

Surely it is arrogant to suggest that humanity has exhausted all the possibilities or that we could actually comprehend it all. So with that, I would like to throw one more possibility into the theological hat for consideration: the Great Controversy-Demonstration Model. Several people have incorporated great controversy concepts into their theology, but none have risen to the level of Graham Maxwell PhD, University of Chicago. Many of the ideas presented here were first learned from this great man.

This book is divided into four sections. The first is historic, tracing the biblical story to the cross. The second is allegorical, using train-wreck metaphors to compare theologies. The third section looks at issues one by one, and section four defines terms.

Geologic Dating and Assumptions

Assumptions. We have them in religion and in science. Both sides are pots calling the kettle black. Face it, we all make assumptions. Let me list a few. We say the Bible was inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16) and tell people to believe it by faith, without any additional explanation. Though the Bible makes this claim of inspiration, is it backed up? Is there evidence? Sure, but is it proof?

On the other hand, science says the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and aging. That is a claim. Is their evidence? Sure, but is it proof? Science has used several methods to determine the age of the Earth and living things. We look at the current processes, calculate their rates of deposition, erosion, or disintegrations, and then back calculate. Using Niagara Falls for example, the falls erode approximately 1-foot a year and have cut a canyon 6.8 miles long; thus using this dating method the river has been cutting for almost 35,000 years. Today, geologists estimate the fall’s origin to be about 10,000 years, because now they use higher flow rates.

We have improved dating the earth and living things by using C-14/C-12 and U/Th dating, but there are still assumptions. It doesn’t matter what method is used, every decay-type dating method has to assume they know the ratio of parent to daughter products when the clock starts ticking. If the ratio is wrong, the results will be wrong. Let’s look at C-14/C-12. After the above-ground nuclear tests and WWII, the concentration of C-14 in the atmosphere about doubled. Today it is much closer to the theoretical 1950 standard, but it still has to be corrected for. If a similar event occurred in the past, one we couldn’t measure, we would not be able to recalibrate; we would not be able to accurately date the material. For radio-dating to work, we have to assume nothing has happened to affect the equilibrium.

The Bible claims that several events may have drastically altered the environment in the past, events that could have changed the concentrations of C-14, uranium, and other radioactive elements; and if so, we would have no idea of their original concentrations. After the act of creation and after Adam and Eve sinned, God left our planet to pretty much fend for itself, and when He left, the world was greatly changed. It’s possible that elements started to age and decay along with the rest of the Earth. Two thousand years later, the Bible records a dramatic flood where the fountains of the deep exploded and rain fell in torrents for months. Massive, worldwide changes were recorded. Could these events have affected the concentrations of these radioactive particles?

Using the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim model, if in the beginning, let’s say 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, there were no C-14 atoms in the atmosphere to decay, and if we happened to test one of the plants Adam ate, it would show an infinite age, because there would be no C-14. It would be assumed that all the C-14 had decayed to C-12, taking 50,000 years or more. However, if C-14 had increased in the atmosphere at a linear rate, gradually, until it reached its 1950 concentration, there could be organic matter that dated 5,000 to 50,000 years old, when it was really much younger. Radioactive dating depends on the assumption that current atomic concentrations and processes are the same now as those that operated in the past.

In the late 1700’s James Hutton, a Scottish Geologist, coined the phrase, “the present is the key to the past.” This was incorporated into the concept of uniformitarianism or gradualism, and combined with Lyell and Darwin’s work, became one of the strongest pillars of evolution. But saying the present is the key to the past, is an assumption. Does the rock record support Hutton’s theory? Do modern geologists echo Hutton’s mantra? No, most geologists today think the past was not just like today.

The processes we see today are only a sliver of the possible events that could have occurred. The basalt flows of the past, like the Columbia River basalts, dwarf any lava flows we see today, even in Hawaii. The river channels of the past, like the Grand Coolie and Grand Canyon, are giants compared to the scrawny rivers of today. There were thousands of glaciers and thousands of volcanoes in the past which dwarf those we see today. No, the world we see today is not the key to the past. If scientists hold tightly to uniformitarianism, they are standing on unsupported assumptions.

As Christians we need to point out to our geologist and biologist friends that their belief in an old Earth, at the expense of believing in the Bible, is built on assumptions; and we need to realize that our beliefs have assumptions. We just have to show them the solid basis of our assumptions. There are facts and data to support what we believe to be true. All scripture that is inspired of God is profitable, we just need to show how profitable it is, and show how the Bible is supported by archaeology and history. And consider the following video clips on the Missoula Floods, then ask yourself, is the present the key to the past? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V1LAG9eA14 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C9JLBzDu2Q

God is Not

It’s been said that God is love. But love never gets defined. Isis says God (Allah) is love, and Islam says the same. The Jews say God (Yahweh) is love. And Catholics say God is love, too; but they say it differently than Lutherans, who say it differently than Methodists, who say it differently than Anglicans, Adventists, Mormons, Church of Christ, and Evangelicals. If God really is love, how can He be like what all these churches and religions describe, when each presents a picture of God that is so different?

Strangely, we may not agree on what love is, but most people will agree on what a friend is. A friend sticks by your side even when the going gets rough. A friend can tell you the truth when you need to hear it, and they will do it with a smile or when needed, a tear, and with loads of compassion. A friend looks out for your best interests. A friend won’t ever throw you under the bus.

I think its better to define God as your best friend than to say, He is love, because there are so many types of love. I love my dog! I love your shoes! I love my cappuccino! And, I love my God? But we all know what we mean when we say, my friend sticks closer than a brother. My friend has never let me down. I can trust him or her with any secret.

Let me tell you a secret. I have found God to be the best friend a person could ever have. He is always there to talk to; He never leaves you or forsakes you, and He comforts me when there are no others. When you read His written word, its like He is right next to you, talking to you, encouraging you, telling you just what to look at and what to do with those heart-rending decisions that always crop up. And reading and praying to Him gives you peace, peace of mind and heart, peace that the world can not give.

Another way to describe God is: what God is NOT. He is not rude. He is not arrogant. He is not proud and not puffed up. He does not lie. He is not arbitrary. He is not an exacting task master. He is not severe or unforgiving or vengeful. And how do I know? I have studied the life and death of Jesus, who said before He went back to heaven, “If you have seen Me you have see the Father.”

What is God like? If you use the definition of love given in 1Corinthians 13, then, God is love. But you can also describe Him by saying, what He is NOT. And if you want, you can say with me, He is the greatest friend I have ever known.