Sunday, December 05, 2010

Station vs. Standing

I need to remember that I have the highest standing before God, but my calling is from the lowest station. Woe unto me for I am a captive of sin (my station), and yet I have cause for much joy as I am cleansed of all my sin, and called to live with the holy God himself (my standing). I am determined this day to anwer this highest calling to pursue my standing rather than my station.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Immeasurable Mercy of God

I had an interesting short discussion with my nephew recently. I am deeply envious of his going through seminary, remembering what a wonderful time I had when I went. Those days, long ago, still measure fresh with often revisited thoughts of all the truths I began to wonder about as I learned the key purpose of seminary: to begin to know how to study my Bible. My favorite class was one not listed in the course catalog: Coffeeshop 101. It was there I met with other married men, and we spent long hours analyzing our professors and classes (and sharing our own viewpoints). I learned more from my peers than I did in most of my Bible classes.

At any rate our discussion centered around the theme of the mercy of God. My nephew was inclined to emphasize the great merciful character of our God while I wanted to point out that without knowing our sinful selves that we could not possibly begin to appreciate how deep and wide His mercy really is. Lo and behold, our pastor spoke on the woman at the well this morning in church, emphasizing both of the points my nephew and I had made. I would like to write a bit upon some points on which I have been meditating.

First, notice the woman at the well (John 4). Jesus classically approached the woman, a Samarian who “good Jews” studiously avoided, with the command: “First, go and find thy husband. To which the woman honestly replies, “I have no husband.” “Well said,” responds Jesus, “thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thy now hast is not thy husband.” As I reflected on those words this morning in church, I could not help looking around the church at my peers. All of us, trying to walk the walk of faith, trying to be people of good reputation. Most likely I would reject such a woman out of hand because of her remarkably deviant lifestyle. I can’t help thinking that many of my peers might do the same thing.

But the Scripture tells us that “Jesus must needs go through Samaria”, suggesting the purpose and election of God included someone’s lifestyle which would scandalize the church today. And that point brings me to a very important conclusion: it is not what we do, or who we are that is the measure of salvation; rather it is the measure of mercy extended to those who do not deserve it. What a wonder of the universe! That God would deliberately and provocatively seek such a woman, with such a terrible life of sin, to call her with his special call of love and mercy.

But look again at the passage. I notice Jesus, before he reveals who he is, tells the women he knows of her whole life, of her five husbands, and of her current man. The first thing God tells me in my walk of salvation is that he knows me. He knows everything about me. And still He chooses to love me, to show me his mercy. I think we must come to a place in our Christian walk where we see ourselves through the eyes of God, utterly contemptible, beyond repair, and yet still loved, still wanted by God Himself.

Charlie Daniels sings Two out of Three (a song that I wish I knew who wrote) and his song asks the question “How could you love me, because when I have the choice between good and bad, I pick bad two out of three?” The writer of the song knew himself through God’s eyes- and thus is the stronger Christian who can speak of the mercies of God, because he begins to understand himself as he truly is.

Many Biblical people understood this unwarranted mercy. Paul acknowledges it when he proclaims himself the chief of sinners. In another places he says, “What a wretched man I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Isaiah says, “Woe unto me for I am a man of unclean lips.” David, after his sin with Bathsheba, says, “Wash away all my iniquity.” Did not the Old Testament people fear God so much that they thought they would die when they saw him? To view his holiness is also to view my complete sin, and I do not know how I could possibly have a meaningful walk with God unless I am able to see myself a bit from his perspective. To know God is also to know the miserable wretch that I am.

It seems to me that the converse must also be true. To not know God seems to be where people do not know their utter and desperate need. The believer has to begin along this path to believe. He may at first say that the Bible says Christ died for our sins, but believing, may not comprehend what that sin is. But how can he walk very far with God and not begin to understand his utter and desperate plight? If I as a believer, think that Jesus died for me because I broke the speed limit, then isn’t my understanding of the compassion of God going to have a small base? Jesus alludes to something of the same idea, I think, when he says “he that has been forgiven little loves little.”

My wife pointed out to me that our eyes should be on the cross, thinking that perhaps the focus should not be on ourselves. I agree totally! But part of what he did on that cross involves me looking at his sacrifice. Christ died on that cross for my sins! He was raised for my justification. I should understand my need for him to die. It was a desperate need for I was without hope. When I eat the bread and drink the cup I am required to contemplate his sacrifice. How can it be much of a sacrifice if I only think he forgave little? It is there on that cross that I was reconciled to God because my sins were part of what is nailed up there. And hope is only given me through the justification—now I can look forward to living in eternity with Christ, but only because of the tremendous payment he willingly made for me. “While I was yet ungodly, Christ died for me.”

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Thanks to Danielle for reminding me of this great essay:

"In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician."

GK Chesterton in "The Ethics of Elfland" (Orthodoxy)

“It’s magic,” exclaimed my son-in-law, as he watched me buff his plastic headlight to a soft new glaze. Of course he did not really mean what he said, for he knew that it was not magic. In point of fact he had watched me smear toothpaste on the plastic casing and then rub it thoroughly before buffing it off. What he was saying was that he thought the results were profoundly unexpected, and therefore he used the term “magic” to explain it.

His use of the term magic got me to meditating on the word and its apparent overuse in our world today. From the viewpoint of my cats or my dog, much of what we do must appear magic to them. I push a button on the wall and the garage door opens allowing the cats out. So far as I have been able to tell, the cats have never connected the push of the button to the opening of the door. Similarly, in my home office I am able to start music at the click of my mouse, something my dog apparently does not appreciate, neither understands. It must appear magic to him.

We know that it is not; but from the viewpoint of the animal perhaps it appears so. Similarly, what we falsely ascribe as magic could rather be just something about which our understanding is limited. In the Old Testament, we are told that Balaam’s ass begins to speak to him. Someone watching might falsely conclude that magic was somehow used to allow the ass to do something physically impossible, not to mention perhaps beyond its mental capability. Under the normal rules of creation it must be quite impossible for an ass to speak; much less to berate his owner for hitting him. Yet when God acts the normal rules of creation can be suspended.

Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, yet they shut their mouths and did not eat him. I find myself wondering whether they were blinded somehow to his presence, or were they rather fooled into thinking he was their friend. Did they nuzzle him all night, or ignore him totally? The Biblical account is silent and I can only speculate, but one thing is certain: it is almost as “magic” for such an event to happen. Of course I do not mean that in the literal sense, but I cannot see the “button” that God pushed to close the lion’s mouths, nor do I even understand that that button exists. Rather I see the profoundly unexpected and marvel.

In Moses’ being called, he saw the burning bush. Why did he turn aside? Because the bush did not burn up, and if Moses knew anything, he realized the rules of his world were not being followed. Again the Marvel of creation, God himself, chooses to suspend the “rational” viewpoint of our world, and shows me once more that my world is not all that it appears to be. Magical? If the definition of magical is that I do not understand the profoundly different results, then it is indeed magical.

But I do know the God who suspends the rules, and that explains the trick. The world is coming to a time soon when regular rules will be suspended. First for seven years of judgment of the world; then for the reign of Christ on earth itself. I shall be at His feet in those days, wondering and marveling at His mighty acts. I wonder how many “rational rules” of our world will be suspended then, and how often we will see what would seem to be “magic”.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Atmospheric Changes during the Apocalypse

The judgment is almost upon us. Today we are going to look at the atmospheric changes during this time of God’s judgment. First I must answer an unstated question that might be implied from the closeness of this judgment. If one finds himself in the apocalypse what must he do to be saved? In every age that God has dealt with mankind the answer to that question remains remarkably consistent.

The answer is in one short word: trust. Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who would come to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. So all of Hebrews is written as a hall of faith for those of us today who would believe. Enoch, before Jewish law, before Moses, before Christ, had to believe God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Noah, similarly before the revelation to the Jewish people, and way before His revelation to Christians, was saved by his faith. Read and study Hebrews 11, the Great Hall of Faith to see how to be accepted of God.

But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the sons of God. What does it mean to receive Christ, except that you must trust God’s message of salvation in Christ. We see things that Noah and Enoch sorely searched for, and had to trust in what was yet unseen, in order that they might be saved. Similarly you are called to trust God, even if you find yourself in the most fearsome trials of the earth, the apocalypse.

Having said that, let us move on to higher things. (pun intended) What sort of things will be the signs in heavens in those days, whenever they may come? Know first that these terrible signs are passing, and “are to be put into effect when the times have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (NIV, Eph. 2:9 & 10) In other words, these terrible times have limits, and will pass to make way for the rule of Christ.

The very end of the apocalypse is marked by, Zephaniah tells us, “On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the Lord. When evening comes, there will be light. (Zeph. 14:6) In other words, signs in the heavens finish the apocalypse with a sign unlike any other the world has ever known. Evidently God himself provides light for the earth as a sign of approval of his son.

Old Testament passages tell us that the apocalypse will be “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (Zephaniah 1:15), but it is really only in the Revelation that atmospheric changes of the apocalypse are spelled out. We are told again that the sun turns black, the moon turns red, and stars fall from the sky to the earth. Evidently what John saw was meteors or asteroids falling to the earth, streaking like stars across the sky. So horrendous is the damage from the celestial objects that it levels mountains and destroys islands. (Revelation 6)

Revelation 8 tells us of the first four angels who have trumpets. There are seven in all, but the first four are what concern us today, as they are the angels who announce the devastation from atmospheric changes. The first angel who sounds his trumpet is announcing hail and fire mixed with blood being hurled down upon the earth. So awful is this fire that it burns up a third of the earth. The second angel announces that “something like a huge mountain” (NIV) is cast upon the earth, killing a third of the creatures in the oceans, and destroying a third of the ships of mankind. The third angel announces a “great star, blazing like a torch” falling to the earth. This star, so huge that it is even named (Wormwood) will turn many waters bitter, and many people will die from the resulting poison. The fourth angel announces that the air itself becomes dark, even to the point of diminishing the light of the sun and the stars. In fact, it becomes so dark that a third of the day is darkness as well as a third of the night.

Here I am guessing a bit at what has happened, but it seems to me that with all things striking the earth a terrible (perhaps poisonous) cloud of dust is raised over the earth. It seems to fill the atmosphere and so seemingly darkens the sun and the stars. Remember the verse above from Zephaniah? Prophets across the ages of Biblical times seem to see the terrible cloud of darkness over the earth. It will be an unparalleled time of disaster upon this earth.

Know this: the judgments of God are not only righteous, but also they are measured—there is an end to them at which time the mercies of God will be extended to all the earth. At that time, the Bible tells us, there will be no need to teach anyone to know the Lord, for they will all know the Lord from the least to greatest. A long time of peace and prosperity will ensue upon the earth under the reign of Christ himself.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Simple but Hard Logic

“Logic,” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth.”
(The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

The claims of Jesus are very clear. He claimed to be God incarnate, just as God his father, and this was something the Jews of his day very much wanted to put him to death for (John 8). He said I and the Father are One. He claims to be the Savior of the world, able to forgive sins themselves, and to reconcile the alienation man and God have (John 3). He claims to have brought those who believe “another Comforter”, one whom the Father sent in the name of his son, even the spirit of truth (John 14). And in the same chapter Jesus clearly promises that he goes now to prepare a place for us, and that he intends to come back for us, that where he is, we may be also.

In the application of pure logic here, there are three clear possibilities. One, Jesus was just a good man. Two, Jesus was mad. And three, Jesus was telling the truth. I shall briefly describe the outcomes of all three choices.

First, if Jesus did lie to us, deliberately and provocatively, then he must be, not good, but the most evil human ever conceived. His grand deception has fooled millions of hapless people who are deceived and bereft of the great promises of God. Christians, as Paul says, are of all people, most miserable, if his claims are not true. Christians have broken their lives apart and chosen to live for one who is the greatest deceiver ever known.

Is this likely? In examining the narrative of the life of Jesus in the gospels, there is nothing that would indicate anything other than this Jesus is a remarkable man, devoutly holding to truth, and peeling apart the deceptions of the world. His life shows no deception.

Second, Jesus was mad. The only place in the gospels where madness might show through is when Jesus cleanses the temple, driving the merchants out and overturning their tables of wares. The Life of Christ in Stereo (a very fine book to study) makes it clear that Jesus cleansed the temple twice; once at the beginning of his ministry, and once just before the end of his ministry. Certainly his message was divisive; it has divided mankind into two distinct groups, one very large and the other relatively small. The larger portion of humans have refused his message while the smaller portion claims drastically changed lives.

Is madness a likely outcome? Jesus shows great intelligence in his presentation of parables that spoke above the heads of his enemies. He shows normal emotions when facing the death on the cross, asking his closest friends: “What? Could you not stay awake and watch one hour?” and in petitioning his Father: “Father let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will, but thine be done.” And even in the cleansing of the temple, Jesus, rather than being mad, is better seen as being angry at those who were trying to buy and sell his Father’s love. Madness is not likely.

Third, Jesus was telling the truth. He clearly said I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me. Logic clearly dictates this as the only viable alternative. Jesus was who he claimed to be. He clearly predicted that most people would end in hell because of rejecting him, and he clearly told us that only a few would find “the narrow path” of salvation.

If this is, as I present, the most likely outcome of logic, then there can be no more important thing for any man or woman to do other than study the claims of Jesus. After all he who came first as the sacrificing Lamb of God is coming the second time as the judging Lion of Judah.

A final word. I have many friends who take what they think is a viable fourth option. They commit the error of modern solipsism and try to have it both ways. My friends try to tell me that Jesus was a good man, but the gospels have hideously presented him, and that they will believe only the parts of Jesus being a good teacher, such as when he tells us to love one another, and not the parts where he is being exclusive such as when he says that NO ONE comes to the Father apart from him.

I think there are two errors of logic entangled with this view. First, as I have tried to show, Jesus could not have been a good man if we read his claims at all literally. But also it seems to me that those following the error of solipsism are remaking God into their image, a very dangerous thing to do indeed. If the claims of Christ are real, then one day every person shall have to stand before God. Do you really think that my friends will find credibility in saying to the Judge, “I found some of your claims to be offensive to my lifestyle, and so I chose not to believe them.”? Aren’t they saying I did not agree with the God presented in the Bible, and so I remade god to be more acceptable? Such a course is perilous and fraught with more problems than just logic. What will be the outcome of those who have been freely offered the truth and have sought to remake it?

“Bless me,” [said the Professor] what do they teach them at these schools?”
(The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Apocalypse Soon- Jesus Ruling on Earth

4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

Isaiah 2:4
In this study I shall try to simply exhibit some of the vast number of verses which promise the coming rule of Jesus on earth. This series that I have envisioned is what I would term bibliocentric- that is, I am trying to present the verses as they appear in Scripture. Essentially I am trying to present an inquiry based study of prophecy. In so doing I am trying to remove some of the opinion which sharply divides even Christians on this great topic.
In establishing an inquiry into what God actually says I am not trying to remove my opinion; as a Christian I have quite sharp opinions that probably do a lot to shape apocalypse topics chosen. Having said the obvious, that my biases will color my reading, it is still my contention that someone should present what God has said on this important topic.
Comments, both published and unpublished, are always welcome. I have noticed that many of those who disagree with me are evidently ignoring the scriptures; they speak for themselves. Thus, disagreements with me tend to fall into a larger disagreement with God himself. God speaks; we believe. That should be all there is to it. If we disagree on anything, we should be limited to disagreeing over what God has said and not being silly enough to contend that while God may have said it, I do not choose to believe it.
(all Bible quotes are from NIV)
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.

Isaiah 46:10
3 I foretold the former things long ago,
my mouth announced them and I made them known;
then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.

Isaiah 48:3
God clearly tells us signs of the end of our age; his purpose will stand, regardless of time having passed, and he will do as he promised. It is our job to try to figure out what he has promised; not whether he is truthful or not. Hence I have chosen inquiry. If you choose to comment on this presentation do not be surprised if I continue to present to powerful argument of Scripture back at you.
If the Bible has no value in shaping your concept of who God is I will be arguing first and foremost that you should accept the authority of the revelation of God. And that is a whole different argument than Christians commonly have over interpretation. In my introduction I purposely chose a famous passage of Scripture that has not come to pass. It is a prophetical statement and must come true. Isn’t it wonderful that God has foretold of a time when all peoples should live at peace with one another?

6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling [a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11: 6-9
The Bible clearly tells us of a time when the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD. Has that come to pass yet? Not in my study of history! It is a forward event, yet to be fulfilled.
There are hundreds of verses on the topic of the Lord ruling the earth. I present just a few of them, for I have already taken up more than a page on my blog and that is more than most are willing to read. I have chosen two passages for emphasis, (one of which we will study today and one in the next post) but if you desire for me to send the several pages of scriptures I have found thus far, I will be glad to email them to you. It does make a fascinating study.
The first passage is from a minor prophet, Zechariah. In the fourteenth chapter Zechariah reveals some very apocalyptic things to us. In verse two he seems to be referring to a sacking of Jerusalem:

2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.

But the next verse definitely skips to the end times:

3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake [a] in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

Here we learn two very important facts. First the feet of Jesus touch the Mount of Olives and cause a great valley to form, running east to west. After he provides this avenue of escape for the Jews, then the second important thing happens. He returns with all of his holy ones. Who are the holy ones? That would be the saints of God. We are already with Jesus before he makes his awesome visible return to rule on earth.

Zechariah further tells us important things about that day:
8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea [b] and half to the western sea, [c] in summer and in winter.
9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

Living water will pour out of the Mount of Olives spreading outward to the seas east and west. The Lord will be the king of the whole earth. Now Zechariah tells us more things:
12 This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day men will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.
This passage always reminds me of the famous scene where the Nazis' faces melt in Indiana Jones (The Ark of the Covenant). Evidently there is not much of a war. Such great terror and confusion strike the enemies of God that they spend the rest of their short lives trying to destroy each other.
This is the dramatic end (check out prior post here) of the seven year tribulation period as I shall hopefully later show. For the prophet Zechariah now turns to a more pastoral scene:
16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD [d] will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
Zechariah ends telling us of a Jerusalem that becomes the center of the world. All nations go there to worship the King of Kings.
In my next post I will cover the other, more well known scripture that talks of Jesus ruling in Jerusalem. Someday God will judge us all on one basis: did you believe him? You do not have to understand all that he says; you do have to be willing to believe it. The old saying is: God says it, I believe it, that’s all there is to it. An excellent Bible study to see how God looks at us is in Hebrews 11. I commend it to your study. I do hope this post has given you food for thought.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Apocalypse Soon- the Great Shakeup

My summers give me time (some might say too much time) to delve into books. This summer I became interested in lining up the many many Scripture references to latter times. I am trying to categorize the Scripture references to specific areas to make it easier to understand. Even though I knew I was undertaking a very large project I felt that the benefits would be manifold and perhaps life challenging.

Though the study is barely begun, I have noticed one factor, emphasized, which deserves an advance talk: that of earthquakes. My preliminary studies suggest that there may be no other single factor which authors of Scripture, over a thousand year span of time, saw fit to emphasize quite so much. Isaiah, many minor prophets, and John all have foreseen the same thing: earthquakes that come in such a violent degree so as to be incomparable in history.

As I start this series, I hope first to abide by one simple rule: let the Scriptures speak for themselves. As I list the Scriptures below (all from the New International Version), please do keep in mind that they reflect a beginning study from the viewpoint of just a public school teacher. There are many many more verses which describe the great shakeup.

There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
Luke 21:25,26

19 Men will flee to caves in the rocks
and to holes in the ground
from dread of the LORD
and the splendor of his majesty,
when he rises to shake the earth.
Isaiah 2:19

21 They will flee to caverns in the rocks
and to the overhanging crags
from dread of the LORD
and the splendor of his majesty,
when he rises to shake the earth.
Isaiah 2:21

17 Terror and pit and snare await you,
O people of the earth.
18 Whoever flees at the sound of terror
will fall into a pit;
whoever climbs out of the pit
will be caught in a snare.
The floodgates of the heavens are opened,
the foundations of the earth shake.
19 The earth is broken up,
the earth is split asunder,
the earth is thoroughly shaken.
20 The earth reels like a drunkard,
it sways like a hut in the wind;
so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion
that it falls—never to rise again.
21 In that day the LORD will punish
the powers in the heavens above
and the kings on the earth below.
Isaiah 24: 17 - 21

16 The LORD will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the sky will tremble.
But the LORD will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.
Joel 3:16

12I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
The Revelation 6: 12 - 14

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
The Revelation 8:5

At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The Revelation 11: 13

18Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.
The Revelation 16: 18 – 20

Summary Thoughts
These are my ramblings and not Scripture, but it seems evident even from my very incomplete list that the world is going to be experiencing the greatest series of earthquakes it has ever had. What will be the outcome of my own country, the United States?
If it is not already severely harmed by other judgments going on, it seems to me that the United States can expect, at a minimum, the following things:
1) Massive failure of dams and roads, ruining our infrastructure
2) Partial or complete failure of our power grid, cutting off electricity for most of our country
3) Levee failure, which along with the dams, will result in massive failure
4) Partial or total building collapse, similar to the San Francisco 1906 earthquake. Fires also are probable afterwards, destroying what is left intact.
5) Almost an instantaneous loss of world leadership, as the US would be totally engrossed with fixing its massive infrastructure problems.

Please note that these earthquakes will be worldwide, and the probable result, even if these were the only judgments of the apocolypse would be a greater devastation than recorded history has ever shown.

How shall we then escape?
1. In all periods of history, God requires one thing from his people: belief. The Bible says Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness.
2. Pick up your dusty Bible, and begin in John. John 3:16 says that God loves the world and sent his son that we might be saved.
3. It is not necessary to understand all that God tells us in scripture; it is necessary to trust and believe that what he has told you is right.
4. Know that if you do find yourself caught in this judgment, that it is a judgment that is measured, and at the proper time will end. Perseverance is what God expects from you until the appointed end.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wishing Meets Reality

I had a comment I chose not to publish on my blog last week, even though frankly I can’t afford to get very choosy since I have less than a dozen comments a year. (That’s what I’m talkin’ about!) The reason I chose not to publish the comment was that it was so far erroneous as far as doctrine went that I feared it might encourage that rare reader who comes to my blog unbidden.

The reader who commented evidently thought Scripture to be something which needed to be corrected; the wise person could “reset” the button on what God really meant. Thus, in the final analysis, God becomes defined by man. In this comment, the writer’s central thesis is that there is no hell, there is no judgment, and the times that Jesus did mention hell are because the “copies” of original manuscripts are errant. The comment was so full of errors that answering them one by one would probably take several responses. The author’s ulterior motive becomes more clear when I found his listed web site with a book on the topic of no hell. I thoughtfully and prayerfully did not include his website here.

But the question I wish to examine today is whether there is really a hell awaiting nonrepentant men. There is, of course, nothing more sure in this lifetime. “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17) At the outset of this discussion we need to establish that God has long established the means for everyone to be saved. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) It cannot be said that God is not inclusive as he does make the gift of salvation available to all.

But what happens to the one who does not believe? “He that believeth not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.” (John 3:18) God asks only one thing of us—that we believe him. Nothing more, but also nothing less. Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) The scripture is quite plain on this point, and Jesus does spend a lot of time warning the religious leaders of his time about impending doom if they chose not to repent.

A final word on the reality of God. God is who he is. We do not have a “wish God”. Our God is absolute and real. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change to fit our preferences. We may decide that He should do this, or He should do that, but it is not us who are in control. It is our very responsible duty to figure out from his word who he is and what he wants from us. If we decide we can make God whatever we want him to be we begin the process of reinventing God. The scripture is clear on this point in many places. God is sovereign. We may want to have a God who wags his parental finger at our nonbelief when we die, and says to us, “That’s okay, but don’t do it next time.” But it is no matter what we wish—we have a God who warns us most severely that we are “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” It remains a fact that Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only way to eternal life No one comes to the Father except through Him. Hard facts? It is who God tells us he is.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Thoughts about our world, reprinted from 2005

By Patrick Davis 2005

When I first became a Christian, others sometimes ridiculed my decision saying I was using religion as a crutch. I would rejoin that that was totally an incorrect analogy; Christianity is not a crutch. Rather it is the whole hospital, and not just a hospital, but the emergency wing of the hospital, and not just the emergency wing of the hospital, but the heart-attack room, with the patient’s heart having just quit, and the whole hospital staff working to revive even the faintest of heart beats. I am on that table now, receiving “urgent medical care” for my soul, and apart of the care of God in Christ, I shall surely come to complete and utter ruin. I could wish for the crutch analogy to be true, but it is about the biggest understandment of the need for grace that I know. I am a total wretch, a lost street urchin, a homeless soul bereft of food or clothing. There is no hope for me, until I met Christ.

And so, it is in that spirit that I wish to make the following statement. Jesus spent more of his time warning about hell and judgment than he did telling about the promises of heaven. In our day of “niceness” where no one is ever told anything distasteful, this statement must jar the ears like fingernails across the blackboard. Last month I concluded a class discussion in which someone in the class made the statement that she did not believe in a God who would judge someone evil; rather she believed in a God who saw good in people no matter who they were. The class was not religious and since I did not want to offend her, I suggested that she line up the words of Jesus. What do they actually say? I suggested that she might be surprised. Jesus spent many words warning of condemnation and coming judgment.

C.S. Lewis aptly points out that this choice is not one logically left open to us; in spite of that there are many people today who platonically state that Jesus was a good man. To say he is a good man ignores the content of his message which simply put was he that has seen me has seen the Father. Obviously we only have two choices left to us in the face of such a claim. One is that he was a delusional nut who, in evangelizing the world, committed the greatest crime against mankind ever conceived. He got the world to believe in a savior who wasn’t. The second choice is that he was who he claimed to be. The Son of God come to rescue a needy planet. He absolutely could not be the third choice, a good man.

So the record of what he said is vital to us. Was it a nice message? I submit that it mostly was a message warning of mortal judgment coming upon man except for those who heard his message and received his freely offered grace. What is the mortal judgment of which he warns?
First he tells us that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. He tells us that if we act unjustly towards others we will be handed over to the jailers to be tortured. He tells us in many parables that if we do not measure up to the standards of heaven, we will be cast out into the outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. He says that those who do not measure up will go away to eternal punishment. Not trivial punishment, not temporary punishment, but eternal punishment, where as he says, the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Whoever does not believe, he declares will be condemned. And how condemned? He that believes not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only son of God. Whoever rejects the son will not see life.

And it is on this basis that I would offer that it is necessary for Christians to warn of the coming storm. Not only is the gospel defined aptly as one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread; it is sometimes the needed thing for the beggar to tell where not to get bread.
Whatever else we may know about Christianity, we are certain of this. Christ himself claimed to have exclusive truth and to be the only way to God. No one is allowed to come to God except through him. Again, I refer you back to the logic. Either Jesus was a demented and crazed man, or he was who he said he was. There is no third option.

So what can be said for those who reject this grace of God? Their judgment includes the eternal decision of God. And where are they put? They are put into the hell which causes eternal torment evidenced by weeping and gnashing of teeth. Are there special judgments for those who are specially wicked? Revelation 21:8 seems to indicate so for it spells out the sexually immoral, the vile and the murderers.

So what shall we say about those who terrorize our society today? Who believe that their bombs will explode them to instant heaven? If we are to believe the words of Jesus, their bombs will explode them into eternal judgment where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
What an awful waste of life! And what sort of judgment will fall on those men who teach these young men to blow themselves into Hell? I shudder at the coming judgment. Jonathan Edwards had it right: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Hoopla Over Brit Hume's Comment-

The Hoopla over Brit Hume’s Comment,
from a Christian Perspective
by Patrick Davis

Before starting on this comment I wanted to tell you of an interesting article that thoroughly covers the controversy here. The controversy is over Brit Hume’s comment that Tiger Woods would be better off if he turned to Christianity:
"I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"

From my perspective as a Christian, Brit’s comments do not seem to be controversial except that I do note that in giving news a reporter should strive towards fairness. But in this instance, Brit made the comment not as a reporter, but rather as a commentator as part of a panel discussion.

I suppose what strikes me as so odd is not the number, or the vitriol of those many other columnists (very well covered in the above link), but rather the sheer hypocrisy of our culture. Hillary, as much as I hate to admit it, was right about the 3 A.M. phone call. Obama, and his administration simply do not get it: the system is not working. Islam, not Christianity, has the violent history. It is the religion which says convert or die. It is the religion that murders cartoonists and rewards its most violent with promises of virgins.

Christianity in history has certainly had its faults; we find history full of Christians who have warped the good news to their own destructive ends. But the message of Christ has remained true to mankind, and the good news is still that Christ has come to redeem a lost world. To really believe that message is apparently too much for many in America, but it has always been too much for some. Rejection of Christ is nothing new, and that part of the gospel remains as fresh today as yesteryear: “But he that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten of the Father.” (John 3:18) When society tries to have equivalence of Islam and Christianity, they are right in one respect but wrong in the main comparison.

Christians have remained meek, seeking to change the heart from decisions; it is Islam which carries the sword, and preaches destruction. It is Christianity which has brought forth the flower of mankind while Islam brings forth the thorns and thistles of mankind. There is no moral equivalence between the two; equivalence between them does lie in the fact that they are both closed systems, and preclude all others necessarily as being correct. Islam seeks to control the closing of that system by destroying those who do not believe; Christians are content to warn the world of immanent judgment.

Hinduism, if I understand it at all, would be quite comfortable with adding the God of the Bible to its ever-growing list of gods. It is our jealous God who forbids all others. It is our jealous God who tells us that He will one day judge the world, not for its many sins, but rather for its rejection of Himself. For Woods to depart from false worship to the worship of the living God would be dramatic and permanent improvement. And it seems to me, that for Brit to say so is a quite normal observation for a Christian to make. Even those who are not Christian should surely be able to see the normalness of his comment. Bully for Brit’s comment! May he find other sources to more fully express his faith in the future.

Christianity is the one great difference that has lead western civilization to the most successful and tolerant government of all time. America, contrary to what the president says, is exceptional. Denying the exceptionalism which Christianity has given us is the first mark of the great fool. Unfortunately, it seems to be a growing mark that separates liberals from conservatives.