Category: The Meaning of Life

MY FAITH, MY TESTIMONY

Why am I a Christian? How did it come to be? In answer, an entire book could be written, which would have quite a few racy, dramatic, well-thumbed scenes. However, it’s likely that no-one, or almost no-one, would read it in todays racy, well-thumbed, sound-bite world, so instead here’s a brief, somewhat clinical summary.

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(Not me-I was nowhere near being that cute!)

I was raised in Britain in a Christian home, and I was a born thinker. I thought deeply about most things from whatever age I was at all conscious of the world. I also suffered acutely from loneliness, particularly as my hard-working and wonderful dad was never at home, and my wonderful mum was preoccupied with housework and TV soap operas.

In my teens I fell in love with a girl, and she seemed equally in love with me, but when she dumped me four years later my world came crashing down. What was life all about? What was the point of it? Was anything worth living for? God didn’t enter my mind here. God seemed far, far away, like my dad was.

I took to drink and drugs. The pub and party life was my church where I found fellowship, conversation and a lot of laughs. I was looking for love, whatever that was, but my second serious relationship with a girl ended the same way as the first. I suffered terribly with rejection, and the drink and drugs got stronger. They numbed the pain, at least for as long as I was high. However, two things had come into my life which turned out to be milestones in my journey to faith. First, the second girl’s mother had taken me to church, mostly against my will, and she herself was the real deal- a warm, kind person. The second influence was a professional musical- “Godspell” which I toured with as a musician. The actors themselves were for the most part hedonistic, but one scene in the show, which I could view clearly from my on-stage vantage point, enacted in an abstract way the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every night for ten months, as the lead actor, a Christian, died and rose again, my heart was burning inside me. God, I now know, was calling me. Sadly, I continued to get high for another three years, not knowing any other way to cope with life.

By that time, when I wasn’t high I was suffering severely with depression, and I can remember one night calling on God-whoever or whatever God was-to help me. It was just a simple two-worder, but packed with sincerity! Not long after that, the warehouse I worked in found itself short of work, and I was laid off for the Christmas period. I decided to use the time, and some money I had saved for the first time in my life, to go to visit my eldest sister, who lived five thousand miles away in the United States, just to get away from it all for a while.

(Also not me)

What I wasn’t expecting was that she would hook me into attending her church. It may be that the influences I had experienced before helped me to feel safe enough to go along just to please her. There the minister, one Earl Hargis, turned out to also be the real deal. When he preached, my spirit inside me was hugely and deeply aroused, as though God himself was speaking to me: He was. Hargis faithfully relayed the gospel-the good news-of Jesus Christ. That is, that the Son of God came to live among us, and to suffer God’s judgment in our place on the cross. God could then overlook our sin nature, and give us eternal life with Him. On the third day Christ rose from the dead. He will come again to subject the world to himself, and to take us home.

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I cannot relate the exact feeling I had when the pastor preached, but God had come for me, and was calling me loudly and clearly. After a month of being so called, I went back to where I was staying one Sunday, got down on my knees, and asked Jesus Christ to save me from my sins, to take over my life, and to change me. The light of God truly came into my life at that point, and very quickly life had meaning and purpose for the first time. The plan of God for me and for the world, which I now realized He had created, made eminent, beautiful sense.

Decades later, I’m still on the same road: the road to eternal life with my God and my saviour, and with all those who’ve heard the call and responded. The road isn’t all strewn with roses, but it’s going in the right direction.

A caution here-not everyone hears the call as loudly as I did: God had to shout to get my attention.

THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

Is there any evidence for the existence of God?

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Consider first that there are three possibilities as to how we all got here. 1, We were created; 2, We evolved; 3, We aren’t really here, we just think we are. Other evolution-related concepts such as “Pan-Spermia” (life evolved somewhere else in the universe and was then seeded on earth) are not really alternatives, since all life, wherever it came from originally, either evolved or was created .

I have no time for the third option: I’m definitely here, and so are you. That leaves only two possibilities: a Creator, or evolution from nothing.

Apologies to those who’ve read this post before under a different name. It’s a favourite topic of mine, and vitally important. This is a shorter version.

DESIGN

We see incredible design in all of nature. The evidence for God is all around us: its impossible to miss. When we look around at our world we see beauty everywhere, and things which fit and have meaning and purpose. We live, love and exist in a world of wonder, not a world of chaos. Science is not evidence against God, it’s powerful evidence that God is The master scientist.

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INFORMATION

As an example, one strand of DNA, invisible to the naked eye, contained in each of the trillions of cells in our body, is packed with more information than a huge library of books. Where did that information come from? So- called “simple” life forms are really incredibly complex: how did that first information arise out of nothing, or out of inanimate matter? Information has never been observed to come from nothing or from chaos, and so to believe it did is blind faith, not science. Researchers scan the skies for a radio message from space which, they are convinced, would confirm intelligent life out there, yet ignore the incredible message in plain view within life on earth, as seen in our DNA, in our brains, and in all of life.

ORDER

The universe operates in a very orderly, lawful way, as does our own solar system and our own planet. The laws of nature hold all things together and allow us to exist and function. Sir Isaac Newton, whose laws of motion and gravity are still employable and were used to land man on the moon, attributed that orderliness to a Creator.

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ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE

This principle, dismissed as mere “coincidence” by the evolutionist, demonstrates clearly that Earth is uniquely placed and equipped for life in our galaxy and in our solar system. We benefit from many thousands of extremely fortuitous conditions. As an example, if earth were tilted any more or less in relation to the sun, its temperature ranges would be too extreme to support life. If we didn’t have our moon, or if the moon were not at just the right distance from us and at just the right relative size with just the right orbital pattern, we would have no tides to keep the oceans alive and fresh, and there would be no life on earth. Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the harmful power of the sun’s radiation. Water is unique in many of its properties, enabling life to exist and continue.

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ORIGINS

Even famous evolutionists admit that they don’t know for sure how life evolved from non-life, and they’ve never seen it happen. Millions of people are convinced that life has been made, or almost made, in the laboratory: this is not the case. The Miller experiments made a few amino acids only. When the proverbial first living cell miraculously produced itself according to evolution theory, defying multitudes of natural obstacles, who did it mate with and what did it eat?

The “evolution” of photosynthesis has never been observed: it was a unique event in earth’s history, as even evolutionists have to concede. I can much more easily believe in an intelligent creator than in a rock producing all the complexity we see. In fact, try counting the incidences of evolution which you have observed-there will be none. Bacteria adapting is not evolution in the sense of one creature turning into another: it is still bacteria, and all of life has inbuilt potential in order to survive.

There’s plenty of scientifically supportable reason to believe in the Biblical view of origins. Try http://www.icr.org for a start, or http://www.answersingenesis.org

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HUMAN HUNGER FOR GOD

Man has an inbuilt hunger for the spiritual, which explains the existence of many religions throughout history and in every culture. Religion is not always a product of superstition: perhaps superstition is born of  a natural longing for God, and the realization that there’s something much greater than us.

ATHEISM

The condition of atheistic societies to date has not been impressive or endearing. Atheistic philosophy has been the cause of far more evil in our world than any religion has. Hitler, in his book “Mein Kampf” expressed the need to “cleanse” the human race for the sake of “Mother Nature” and healthy human evolution. Also refer to the regimes of such men as Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, who wanted to rid the world of God. Once man sees no God to answer to, and no  fixed, objective standards of right and wrong, tyranny is the likely outcome, along with the degradation of the value of human life. We can see this at work in our world now. Please note I am not saying that every atheist is a “bad” person: they are usually no more evil than anyone else. Instead I’m demonstrating  that having a God-less society is not the answer to our problems.

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EMOTION

Most of our emotions would be superfluous and even detrimental if we were only here to contend with other life forms so as to emerge the winner (as we have, if we evolved). The God of the Bible made us in his image, and is himself a feeling, emotional being.

LOVE

Real love produces commitment, caring, empathy, loyalty, faithfulness and truthfulness. Where does love come from if not from a loving, faithful designer? How could chemical reaction and interaction alone-born of rock-produce love? When your significant other asks if you love her or him, do you reply that yes, you are currently experiencing some chemical and hormonal interactions, and as long as they occur you will stick around and refrain from killing and eating him or her? Love in today’s popular definition is a reductionist ploy with the aim of reducing our relationships to good vibes and temporary mutual use while the going is good. Godly love, as found in the Bible, is that which produces stable relationships, happy kids, and successful societies.

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JUSTICE

Our sense of justice is evidence that we were made by a just, moral God. If we “evolved” a sense of justice, why do we still have crime, war and murder, at every level of every society, no matter how many new laws and regulations are created? And why would or should we care anyway? The fact is that we recognize naturally in our hearts that there is such a thing as evil at large in our world, and that it needs to be controlled. This recognition was given to us by a God of justice.

AESTHETIC SENSE

We have an inbuilt appreciation for beauty and for all of creation, and not merely for our mate when we’re having sex, or for the food on our plate. We desire to be creative, to entertain, and to express ourselves, and we appreciate those who do so skillfully. We love art, music, literature, and all forms of recreation and creation. We imagine-often without any practical reason but the pleasure of it. We philosophize and think deeply (some of us do anyway).

SIN and EVIL

The Bible is right about human nature: just look around. You probably need look no further than the mirror, or your own family and friends.  Those who claim that people only abuse each other when they’re impoverished are often the same people who berate the ultra-rich for abusing the rest of us. If poverty were the cause of crime and terrorism, half of India and Africa would be in absolute turmoil. And if we evolved, why shouldn’t the rich abuse the rest of us, since life is all about the “survival of the fittest”?

EXPERIENCE

In the years I’ve been a Christian I’ve experienced God in many ways. This includes an acute awareness of His presence, a feeling of indescribable completeness at times, an inner peace and joy, and answered prayers. It also includes the fact that seeking God and His righteousness has helped me to live a far more meaningful and peace-filled life than I would have without Him. It’s important for me to remember those experiences and continuous states of mind, and not to let them be dismissed as mere superstition, hormonal balance or positive thinking. I’ve seen the difference made by the Spirit of God in people’s lives, in homes, and in areas of society where God has been allowed or invited in. I’ve also seen the destruction in societies and individuals who have rejected God.

NICE PEOPLE

How many nice people do you know? Let me be a little more specific: How many people do you know who you feel at ease with; who are genuine and real; who are warm and thoughtful; who you know care sincerely and consistently about you; who you trust, and who are committed to companionship with you for life?

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Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to know a lot of such people. I’ll have to admit, reluctantly, that I could probably count the number of such people I know on one hand, and have a finger or two to spare. If I look back over my life so far, I may be able to employ all my fingers and toes in the count.

I’m not saying this to have a dig at human nature, as easy as that would be. After all, I’m human too (surprise surprise) and I suffer from the same weaknesses and faults that everyone else does. We can all be hurtful at times, or aloof or busy and inconsiderate. Just how do those few “nice people” manage it? How are they nice? What makes them kind, considerate, warm, forgiving, and all those other special endearing qualities which I am deficient in?

If I focus more closely still on what turns me on, socially speaking, I think I would have to single out that amazing ability a very few people have to make you feel welcome, wanted, loved, and appreciated, every time you meet them, even when you know you’re a nobody, and even when you have nothing to offer them in terms of this world’s perks. I can picture a few shining faces, always fixed on mine, so glad were they to see me and let me know so. They were(and are) the people who have made me feel like life was worth living, that there is a loving God, and that the world really is a beautiful place after all.

My next point is unavoidable. As I’ve considered these people prayerfully, I’ve had to ask my God why I’m not like them. Why am I not a nice person? I wish I were. I wish I could have that effect on people. I wish I could be warm, polite, kind and welcoming as a normal standard of being, rather than having to stretch to a minute or two of pleasantness before I lapse back into my normal modus operandi: being distant and preoccupied.  And as many professing Christians as I’ve met over the years, I must confess that the bulk of them have been, like me, in various stages of brokenness, selfishness, business, worldliness, and yes, sinfulness. We go to church (in normal times) in the hope of meeting people who are going to reflect the love of Jesus Christ, not realizing that everyone else is doing the same thing.

How many of us rise to the occasion?

The answer must lie in genuinely becoming Christ-like. I don’t mean a fleshly spirituality in which we think we’re just like Peter and Paul and can do all their magic tricks: I mean loving, selfless, warm, patient, faithful, godly behaviour as a way of life.

The few who achieve that level of walk with God in this life will be the ones to shine like stars for ever and ever.

ULTIMATE FREEDOM-IF YOU WANT IT

Sometimes I don’t think about God. Sometimes I don’t speak with Him. Sometimes I’m not completely honoring of Him in the way I live my life. But here’s the good news: God is still there: He’s everywhere. He is where you are, right now.

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When I fail my God, and when I ignore Him, and when I let Him down, He doesn’t act like a petulant jilted lover. To put it another way, He doesn’t act like we do. God is merciful and loving and patient. And herein are the riches of freedom in Christ. I’m not talking about a license to sin, or about being consistently luke-warm and uncommitted. I’m saying that God is far more patient and forgiving than we are.

We Christians are free to worship or not. In fact, all humans are free to worship or not to worship. God forces no-one to serve him, unlike the gods of other world religions I could mention. Jesus Christ imposes himself on no man, even though men have attempted to impose themselves in His name, denying the very grace that their claimed Lord brought to them.

It’s human nature, not divine nature, to want to impose ideas and philosophies upon others. Even in our supposed Western “civilization”. The philosophy of evolution is forced upon us from the earliest age, without a hint of evidence to back it up (have you seen any?). Try gaining a degree these days while opposing the theory and you’ll have problems.

In our “democracy” we’re all assaulted with political and social ideology, pushed onto us  without any real love for truth or for what’s genuinely best for everyone or for society. In the world of religion, and even under the umbrella of Christianity, there are plenty attempting to foist their own ideas and goals upon us. They work to take away the freedom we all have to choose Christ.

In this vein is the entire misinterpretation of predestination, in which certain Christians have been and still are proponents of a false freedom: a freedom in which you are not really free- you only think you are. According to this view you do not choose to follow Jesus Christ-he chooses you. I agree that we cannot save ourselves and that we need His Spirit to draw us and to lead us. But this philosophy leads to the inescapable conclusion that God allows literally billions of people to come into existence only to be sent to hell for all eternity, because Christ has not chosen them. To my mind, this is itself a hellish doctrine, denying the work of Christ, the words of Christ, and the will of Christ, who himself said:

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32 KJV).

Little words are as important to our God as the big ones, and that little word, “all” is, in this subject, paradoxically one of the biggest words there could be in our language. He did not say “some”. He did not say “I will draw some men to myself”. Christ died for the sins of the whole world, says our Scripture, and as the deniers of freedom attempt to explain away such passages as meaning something they were never intended to mean, they risk adding to and subtracting from Scripture the deepest truths that are known to man. Christ died for the whole world-not just for some.

There is, however, as is also attested to in Scripture, a condition to our being accepted by the Father of the Son. That is, that we accept His Son, the will of the Son…that we become like Him… and the work that His Son accomplished on the cross. The creator of the universe holds out a loving hand of acceptance, but with that love comes the option for us to reject Him, as terrible a choice as that is, with all its immediate and long-term consequences.

Yes, some people have never heard about Jesus: I’ve written about that: please see my previous post if you’re interested in the subject.

But you have heard about Jesus. You have been blessed with the good news that there is a loving God who has done everything necessary for you to be accepted into an eternal kingdom of light and love. To you is given the incredible gift of a clear choice. Will you seek your Creator, and His Son, or will you reject Him? The best kind of freedom-ultimate freedom-comes from our submission to the One who made us, sustains us, and loves us.

WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO NEVER HEAR THE GOSPEL?

What happens to people who never get a chance to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are they lost and outside of the plan of God, never to see the blessings of heaven? Many skeptics and atheists will pour scorn, noting that not just millions but billions of humans, past and present, have never even had the chance to hear the name of Jesus, but are instead born into a totally different culture and belief system, or a different time before the life of Christ. Christians often attempt to dodge the question, believing that there is no good answer to it.

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British comedians “Pete and Dud” mocked the preaching of the gospel on TV, assuming that it was the hearing of the gospel which condemns people when they choose not to respond to it. In this case, the gospel should not be preached. “I haven’t told anyone Dud”, said Pete in his usual wry fashion, suggesting that it was only common sense, missed by the ignorant evangelist, not to condemn a man by telling him the gospel.

The truth is that we are already condemned apart from the mercy of God, and it’s the gospel which can rescue us from that condemnation.

 

GOOD IGNORANCE?

The apostle Paul was a man locked into a hard and fast commitment to the Law of the Old Testament, and his anger against anyone deviating from that Law. But then he had a very remarkable conversion experience. This was one of the things he observed about his own conversion:

“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.” (1Timothy 1:13-16).

There are three important things to notice here:

1/ Paul was shown mercy because he had acted in ignorance (lack of knowledge);

2/ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;

3/ Paul didn’t have to fulfill any formula or to get his theology right before God showed him mercy through the gospel.

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SALVATION IS A GIFT, NOT SOMETHING ANY OF US EARN

God showed Paul mercy even before Paul responded positively to the gospel. If this were not the case, a positive response would itself be a work and not an act of faith, and according to Paul and Jesus works have nothing to do with salvation (they are an evidence of salvation, not the means of salvation). Paul said:

“…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

This is not an evidence that we should all be followers of Calvin’s theology. Jesus said:

“…God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

A DISTINCTION

Jesus, when talking about salvation, frequently contrasted those who believe and so are saved, with those who do not believe and so are condemned (example, John 3:16-20). When reading the book of Revelation I’ve noticed that the people who will be recipients of God’s wrath are those who have rejected the gospel and refused to know God, not those who never heard it:

“…they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him” (Revelation16:9).

So it’s my contention here that the hearing of the gospel is not a work, required of every human before they can be reconciled to God, but the means by which those who do hear it have the chance to be made aware of their lost condition, to repent of it, and then to find mercy and forgiveness. It’s a beautiful message which offers us a “free ticket” out of spiritual darkness and condemnation, without which we are completely lost. Hearing the gospel provides us with the opportunity we need to repent of our way of life, and to be reconciled to our heavenly Father. Without this opportunity, many people, for whatever reason, may never seek God.

MERCY

Are some people “good enough” to find salvation without responding to the gospel?

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

And there is no way to make ourselves acceptable to God:

“…no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (verse 20).

It’s by the mercy of God that anyone finds salvation and forgiveness.

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NOT ONLY BUT ALSO…

Jesus died for the whole world:

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John2:2).

“…God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).

Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for “the whole world” to be saved from condemnation. This does not mean that everyone is automatically going to heaven- Jesus made that clear (John 3:18). And not everyone wants to be saved  from their sin. Not everyone loves God, and many people hate Him. If God were to take everyone to heaven, heaven would be as the world is now- full of violence, hatred, unfaithfulness, bigotry and division.

THE DANGER AND THE BLESSING OF KNOWLEDGE

From our example of Paul’s salvation from ignorance and unbelief, does it not seem possible also that others, in “ignorance”, can be the recipients of God’s mercy?

In God’s economy humans are judged according to what they are given, and not a fixed set of criteria:

“The servant who knows his masters will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 14:47-48).

This is why the Pharisees-full of pride and the knowledge of their history, their laws and traditions and the writings of Moses and the prophets- were the subject of Jesus’ scorn, since they did not actually live godly lives. In contrast Jesus associated with “sinners”, drunks, and prostitutes, the poor and the lowly, and the common thief on the cross next to him was told, “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

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If we extrapolate backwards, perhaps we can consider those who have not benefitted from Scripture or from hearing the message of the gospel. They have been given little, so little is expected of them. Old Testament characters such as Abram and Jacob were called by God when they had very little or no knowledge of Him except perhaps some awareness from nature and from history, and from the spoken word which had been passed down to them through the centuries and millennia since creation. They had certainly never heard about Jesus Christ.

So, to stick my neck out a little here, my view is that many people over the millennia, although probably a small percentage, who had never heard the gospel or the writings of the Hebrew prophets, will be there in heaven when we get there. Although they knew little compared to what we know from Scripture, they searched for truth and wisdom, and they wanted, in the best way they knew, to understand and know the One who had originated all that they saw around them:

“…he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

This is not a way of excusing sin or idolatry, or the worship of animals or stars or people: I’m not saying that humans can live as they want just so long as they don’t hear the gospel. I’m saying that those who respond to what they are given, potentially can be shown mercy.

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SILENT TESTIMONY FOR ALL PEOPLE OF ALL TIME

So what, you may ask is anyone given, spiritually, who has not read the Scriptures or been told the message of Jesus? Once again, Paul enlightens us:

“…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

Elsewhere in scripture we are told that nature shows us that God is there, and shows us many of his attributes:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

The skies proclaim the works of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

Night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language

where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,

Their words to the ends of the world” (Psalm19:1-4).

Nature also speaks to us on matters of morality and lifestyle:

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like…” Galatians 5:19-21).

“…God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another” (Romans 1:26-27).

So mankind does have a revealed set of standards and signs to live by, even when not blessed with the revelation of scripture or the gospel.

What I’m saying is that someone on the other side of the world from the Middle-East in the fifth century BC was not left without a witness: he had an idea that there is a God, and also of what that God is like. All he had to do was seek God and to look around. He only had to look to the skies to see that God could not be represented by a little hand-made idol in the shape of a dog or a snake; that He could not be manipulated to perform tricks and miracles and acts of service; that He was and is uncontrollable, un-representable, and unimaginably powerful, and that He is holy, separate from and higher than any human thought or deed. It would have been clear to the seeker that God was merciful, caring and loving to make such a beautiful world and to provide food and water and air and family and friends. God is unmistakably there, and anyone looking could not help noticing.250px-Lemon_Orchard_in_the_Galilee_by_David_Shankbone

THE ETERNAL GOSPEL

Not only did Christ die for the sins of the whole world, but he also died for those who lived before him and after him:

“…by that will (God’s will) we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

“But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (verse 14).

David, centuries before Jesus, observed:

“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,

O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness;

Therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).

So the rule has always been that we look to what we can know about God, we repent of sin and find forgiveness- the forgiveness afforded by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, even in times and places when men knew very little or nothing of the suffering Messiah.

THE WAY

And here’s the last but not least point to consider- there is no other gospel which is able to save us from our sin. This is the message of the apostles of Jesus:

“…then know this…It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead”…”Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

We spread the gospel, much to the annoyance of the skeptic and the atheist, because some people will never repent of their sin and seek the Lord until they learn that they are required to, and that there is a way-one way- to find forgiveness and acceptance with God the Father. To many people this is a liberating and an exhilarating experience, and not at all oppressive or offensive.  Yes, to some the gospel is offensive, as it must be (Galatians 5:11), but as Paul wrote:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Ignorance of the gospel is not a viable excuse for those who reject it, and who use that excuse to try to silence it:

“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).