66 JELL WAST-MUSH! Is it an insect repellant, a conducting lubricant, or a hippy’s face paint? Is it a video game based on Darth Sidious’ ascent to power?
Actually, it’s the third acronym I contrived to help keep and defend my own faith. This one, like the second, specifically concerns the God of the Bible. It may be rather lengthy in places, so please scroll down if you wish.
The opening part of my acronym is borrowed from the introduction to Chuck Missler’s radio show (“66/40”), since it succinctly and eloquently captures a profound truth missed by those who ignore the possibility of divine authorship of the Bible: The Bible contains sixty-six books written by forty different authors over thousands of years, and yet it’s an “integrated message system” from beyond our own time domain.
The Bible was not contrived by one man sitting down to wonder how he could start a new religion and fool everyone. It’s a collection of books written by many different authors over a long time period, which tells a unified story of human history and the universe from beginning to end and beyond. It claims in many places to be inspired by God himself-by a being who knows the end from the beginning, and who authenticates that claim in ways such as those I’ve outlined under all my acronyms.
J IS FOR JUSTICE. Biblical justice works beautifully, when it’s applied.
Yes, astute reader, the word “justice” was in my first acronym, but there it referred to the fact that we can only have an innate sense of justice if we are more than animals, and if we’ve been designed and created to love truth and fairness. Here the word “justice” refers more specifically to the Biblical model. God is given a bad rap these days by those who want us all to forget about Him. They say he’s vengeful, hateful, misogynous, and a whole host of other derogatory terms which really do not stand up to honest scrutiny. They are also in error, ignoring the fact that since God is the creator and sustainer of all things, he has every right to do as he pleases: we are entirely at his mercy.
Here are a few examples to right the accusations. First, God reluctantly commanded the eradication of the Canaanites only after hundreds of years of mercy and patience towards them (Genesis 15:16) because they had descended to such degrading practices as burning their own children as sacrifices to their idols. It’s God’s world-not ours, but his judgements are fair and necessary, not arbitrary or hateful.
Biblical justice is said to be hard in the Old Testament-the time of the Law, and soft in the New: this is seen as a contradiction. The truth is that the “Old Testament God” while setting hard and fast guide lines, showed his mercy in many ways. For example, the establishing of “cities of refuge” (Numbers 35:6-34), where people who had either accidentally killed someone in a fight or an accident, or who were accused of murder falsely, could go to be immune from vengeance; the sins of the people were forgiven by a simple sacrifice of a lamb or a goat; God sent a prophet to a decadent and violent Nineveh because he did not want to judge the city (Jonah 4:10-11), and when Cain killed Abel and feared retribution from his brothers, God put his seal of protection on Cain as an act of love and mercy (Genesis 4:15).
The “New Testament God” actually warns of the same ultimate judgment upon his enemies as the OT God did, but extends his mercy to its ultimate extent by making a way for anyone willing to respond to escape that ultimate judgment, through the sacrificial death of his own Son. Jesus forgave the adulteress, the thief on the cross, and Paul who had persecuted Christians to the death.
Some things are right and some things are wrong in God’s eyes, and he has the right to determine those things, whether we agree or not. When we declare that something is right when God has said it is not, we are not avoiding his justice or accepting his mercy. The OT God and the NT God are one and the same, and although God’s sense of justice and his determination to carry it out is unchangeable throughout time and history, his love and mercy are clearly seen to be available to all of us-until the final Judgment.
The same love is supposed to be seen in his followers, by way of forgiveness, mercy, kindness, compassion and so on, without negating the fact that wrong is still wrong and must be corrected, disciplined or even judged if not repented of. Love and mercy come first-consequences only follow if there is no change in our hearts. This is real love and fairness. I would say it’s fairer that any human system of judgment. If the police catch you breaking into a bank once, you’re going to prison, and the judge isn’t going to forget your crime even if you say you’re sorry and that you won’t do it again.
However, our judicial system is based on the Biblical notion that some things are wrong and that other people are to be protected from criminals: you pay for your crime. How many other “animals” have such a system?
The Bible adequately Explains the meaning of Life, and the origin and reason for evil, suffering and death. Without claiming to have all the answers (I do not), I wrote about these extensively in an eight part series I wrote called “Why Do We Suffer?” (search for it at the top of this page) and in the following:
L is for Literature. The Bible has been seen by millions over many centuries as the apex of all literature, and more copies of it have been printed and sold than any other book despite the endless attempts to eradicate it. Again, it claims to be the inspired Word of God: his message to humanity. So many examples could be picked, but here’s a well-known one:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…” (Psalm 23: 1-4).
The Bible tells the stories of “warts-and-all” characters. If the Bible were written by men to draw converts to a club or religion its central characters would all be faultless, unfailing supermen. There is no attempt to whitewash the sins of its heroes and heroines: we hear about their weaknesses as well as their triumphs and their righteous acts.
As examples, read about God’s mercy towards Cain who killed his brother Abel. Read how Abram lied about his wife being his sister in order to save his own skin. Jacob deceived his father and essentially robbed his brother of his inheritance. Moses fell into a bad temper a few times. Elijah, the powerful and bold prophet, was afraid of a woman. David had an innocent man killed and committed adultery. His family was “dysfunctional” because of his many relationships and, his bad example, and his inability to control his step-children.
In the New Testament Peter, the most enthusiastic disciple of Jesus, denied him in his hour of need, and Paul and Barnabas fell out during their missionary journey together.
ST IS FOR STORY. The Bible has a few central themes running all the way through it, including both testaments. The most significant is the story of God’s redemption of fallen man-his commitment to providing salvation for humans who would otherwise be beyond his perfection and holiness. The first mention of the gospel, known as the “proto-evangelion” appears immediately after the Fall (Genesis 3:15), and the gospel message continues all the way to the end of Revelation.
M IS FOR MORALITY. The Bible’s brand of morality is hated by the secularist, the atheist, the polytheist, the pluralist, the evolutionist, the Universalist, the existentialist, and just about every other “ist”: yet it’s loved by those who’ve accepted God’s mercy. God’s standards of right and wrong were loosely followed by Western culture until the last few decades: they were the “glue” that vaguely held everyone together, and they worked as far as they were followed: love and commitment within families, faithfulness within marriage, the recognition that each life-including the unborn- is to be protected and valued, honor and dedication towards community, religion and country, and the rejection of all that threatened the moral fiber of society and all that God said he hated. How dramatically things are changing in the opposite direction now.
U IS FOR UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is one of unconditional love from God to us-available for anyone who will accept it. This is not a human idea or quality: it’s entirely divine.
S IS FOR SIN. The Bible exposes man’s true nature. Yes, this one was in the first acronym also. But more specifically, the Bible describes the origin of sin, its effects and consequences, and its remedy. The answers the Bible gives are, for me, adequate, believable, true to life and beautiful in the light they shine on the human condition.
H IS FOR HOPE. The Bible not only describes man’s condition but provides the answer for it. It offers hope for everyone, not just for this life, but for eternity.