Tag: Jesus Christ

WHY ARE WE HERE?

I was listening to a song* by my favorite prog-rock band, “Yes”. The founding lead-vocalist and lyricist, Jon Anderson, is a super-talented man in my opinion, but in his attempt to address the reason for our existence, his view of life and eternity, which has been based on a New-Age style of thought, fell short of answering the question. Instead he sang that at some far-off future time (I’m paraphrasing) the reason for our existence will be made clear.

Ahem, Jon, excuse me, but the answer to our vital question, and the one which is all-too politically incorrect to ask these days, has already been made clear, and there’s no need to wait for another one. We weren’t made so that we could ultimately be gods or ascended masters, or so that we could find fulfillment for ourselves-although that certainly is an outcome of our willing submission-but to bring glory and pleasure to our creator:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11)”

When we accept our correct role in the grand scheme of things, and begin to live lives pleasing to our God, then and only then will we find fulfillment and meaning in our existence.

*The closing section of “Gates of Delirium”, on the album “Relayer”.

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WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

A couple of weeks ago I discussed very briefly the three main theories humans use to attempt to explain our existence. A fourth, one which I dismissed from consideration, is that we aren’t really here at all-we only think we are. If we don’t exist, you’re not really reading this post, so there’s no point in imagining that you’re reading it, because it doesn’t exist anyway…

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I concluded, based on tangible evidence, that we do exist and that we’re here because God created us. We didn’t get here on this planet because aliens “seeded” us here, and we didn’t develop in some fantastical evolution from nothing. We were created, by a being far above our own abilities and perception. Today I’ll consider what that God must be like.

For such a universe to exist, God must be a sovereign being. There could be no order and consistency if there were many gods vying for supremacy and having different ideas about how things should be. Just look at the mess of our political scene as a contrary example, or at the Greek Pantheon and its constant quarrels and childish actions and reactions. The real God is One, and is supreme.

The farther astronomers look into space, the more they see. The closer researchers look into cells and living systems, the more mind-boggling features, processes and detail they discover. The longer we as individuals live, the more beauty we recognize. There seems to be no end to what we can discover and experience in this incredible world and universe-there’s only a limit and an end to the time we have to explore and enjoy it.

Since the universe is this way, and since things do not create themselves and do not arise and develop from disorder, we must conclude, if we’re honest with our reasoning and logic, that what we see, feel, hear, taste, smell and otherwise spiritually detect with our senses comes from what God has created. The fact that we have the ability to test, enjoy and benefit from the world around us is one evidence that God is gracious, generous, kind and loving to enable us to experience these things, and to interact with our environment and with each other. We would not even know that the universe outside our immediate surroundings existed if we didn’t have the eyes to see, the bodies to move, and the brains to comprehend what’s there.

The creator must be eternal and unlimited by time. He created time along with other things. Einstein concluded that time and space are inseparable, and that you can’t have matter without time and space also. Perhaps unwittingly, he was confirming the first verse of the Bible, which states that “In the beginning (time) God made the heavens (space) and the earth” (matter). The three had to come into existence simultaneously, and of course, secular scientists have had to incorporate the three together in their “big-bang” theory. But the Bible said it first-a long time ago. So to create time, space and matter, God must be outside of it all: apart from it and above it, and not subject to it.

God must be able to control  the universe and all it its constituent parts. That makes him omnipotent-all powerful, and omnipresent-everywhere. And so all the order we see in the universe-the precise order of the planets and their movements in our galaxy, all depending as they do on the order and consistency of the sun’s power, is evidence, as Isaac Newton concluded, that God is unfathomably intelligent, ordered and powerful, and is in fact The master mathematician and The master scientist.

The integrity of God’s design speaks of the integrity of his character. He is faithful, consistent and committed. Just as the universe hasn’t changed in its operations, laws and principles, so God must be unchanging.

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When we look around at our own world, we see beauty which constantly astounds and amazes us. This makes God not only the master of beauty, but beautiful in his nature. Beauty can only be created by beauty.

When we consider the terrible things that man inflicts on his own kind, we see the patience and mercy of God in action, because the all-powerful God, who created what we damage and destroy, endures it all- at least, for now.

As we know, large numbers of people deny the existence of God, or they twist and deny his character as expressed in creation. The apostle Paul wrote about the clear evidence for God all around us. He declared that there’s no excuse for denying His existence and His nature:

“For 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 His workmanship, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

The real truth is that God is far above any words we have available to us, and any power of imagining we can conjure up. God is great. Glory to his Name.

There will be a part 2 to this post, coming soon…

IS THERE A GOD?

Multitudes of people write off the promise and hope of eternal life, and meaning in this one, with one stroke of their closed minds. Why? Because they choose to write off the existence of an eternal and meaningful God…

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He isn’t peering through the clouds, he didn’t fix things up with their desired lover, he didn’t make all their lottery numbers come up at the right time as repeatedly requested, and the world is in a terrible mess. As if that weren’t enough to make them want to ignore the concept of God, it seems that all the people with power and influence are either agnostic or atheistic, and they must be right-right? Haven’t scientists demonstrated, for example, how some cells reproduce themselves, in which case, there’s no God making them? On one level I understand this thinking, apart from the fact that it really isn’t thinking-on any independent level.

It seems to me that we’re here-we exist. Descartes figured that one out many moons ago, and I’m sure he wasn’t the first. Amusingly, even the fact of our existence is questioned by some people determined to remove all meaning from the world.

We’re here. That seems pretty clear to most of us. But how did we get here? Did some alien race “seed” us here? Did we evolve, or did God create us? These are the most realistic options.

If we were seeded here on this planet by aliens, where did the aliens come from? Didn’t they also have to come from somewhere? Didn’t there have to be some point in time when life began and was not “seeded”? The alien race hypothesis is a total flunk, with no evidence whatsoever.

If we evolved, where’s the evidence? Ask yourself what evidence you have personally seen for evolution. What have you seen evolve from one thing into another? What physical, tangible evidence have you seen that one type of creature changed into another? Have you ever witnessed life arising from non-life? The half-baked “evidence” of bacteria developing a resistance to something proves nothing, because bacteria remains bacteria: all it’s doing is surviving and adapting, as it was designed to do.

Perhaps you like to rest in the knowledge that “all scientists” believe in evolution in the Neo-Darwinian style, and that they possess all the evidence you need that we came from the slime. No, it isn’t true that “all” scientists believe in Neo-Darwinian evolution, or even that they all believe in evolution at all in the sense of one creature gradually turning into another. But given that the majority do, does a majority prove Darwin’s tree of life, picturing life forms developing over time? Could it not be that that majority not only began their careers already wishing to sweep away the notion of God, and that they continued in that vein in order to pass exams, get degrees, get a job, gain tenure, and maintain their positions and incomes without being written off for insanity or heresy? Could it not be that they were willingly indoctrinated and brainwashed into an unproven hypothesis? Is a majority always right? Do we have to follow the herd? Do we have to go with the flow of godless thought like a bunch of obedient unquestioning sheep?

Failing the “evidence” test for evolution, the final and most logical option explaining our apparent existence is that there really is a God-a creator. Cells reproduce themselves because they were designed to do that. The universe is a beautiful, intricate, rich and orderly place because it was created by an even more beautiful, intricate, rich and orderly God. We are amazingly complicated and intelligent creatures because there is an even more complicated and intelligent being who made us: one who is immortal, eternal, and who had no beginning. Don’t sweep him away.

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS?

What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it socialism? Is it just one of many ways to God? Is it an invention of white American men? I’ve posted this message before…and I’ll post it again…

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The Greek word translated “gospel” in the New Testament means “good news”, and in the context of the Bible the gospel is the “good news” about Jesus Christ. But what exactly was and is that good news, and what does it mean for us?

In answer to the second question first, read what Jesus said:

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

The Bible speaks of a love-gift from God. That gift is forgiveness of all our sin, and eternal life. The gift-if we accept it for ourselves and change our ways-takes us from being subjects of God’s wrath into eternal life, even though for now we are in mortal bodies.

Contrary to the common view on the street, as promoted by Hollywood, the education establishment and by certain authors, the gospel, the scriptures and the essential Christian doctrines were not all invented or altered hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth.

Lee Stroebel, with an MA in Law from Yale University, and a former award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, in his book “The Case for Christ”(note 1) interviewed a number of believing scholars such as Cambridge educated Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson was a Professor at Harvard, and lectured at Princeton. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of London. Anderson said that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, which contains a clear definition of the gospel as outlined below, can be confidently dated to around 55 AD.

Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and writes that the gospel existed in the form below even before Paul’s letter:

That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum”(2).

THE GOSPEL

Here, then, is Paul’s first-century definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had given his life to, despite all opposition and threats, having once been a persecutor of Christians:

Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…(1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

So the gospel of Jesus Christ is this:

1 Christ died for our sins, as prophesied in Old Testament Scriptures. We can be forgiven for all our sin because of Christ’s death on the cross;

2 He was buried;

3 He was raised from the dead on the third day;

4 He appeared alive to his disciples after his resurrection.

The gospel is here spelled out for you. Accept it, believe it, pray it, confess it, and live it.

NOTES

1 Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” Pg 230. Pub. By Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49130. © 1998 by Lee Strobel.

2 Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

IS GOD CRUEL?

One of the countless reasons people give for not having faith in the God of the Bible is that He’s cruel, angry and sadistic. Are they right?

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Perhaps the most important answer to this question is that the universe is not a democracy. The God of the Bible created it and sustains it. He has no equal, and He therefore has every right to do with it what he wants to do. God is God, and we are not. Not only that, be we can’t stop him doing what he wants to do. So perhaps the question should be worded differently: Can I believe that there is a God such as this, one who appears to be so cruel?

Surely, even if God were terribly cruel and sadistic, the fact would not rule out the reality of his existence, except perhaps from the point of view that no all-powerful being who is also mean and sadistic could or would create and maintain such an amazing and  beautiful cosmos. So then the question must be more correctly worded this way:

Is God so cruel that I don’t want to know him?

Here we’re getting down to the nub of the problem, because such questions are usually-but not always-thrown out as an argument from people who have no desire to know God in the first place. It’s a cop-out; an excuse.

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But what about it: is the God of the Bible cruel? He doesn’t claim to be cruel. In fact, scripture says that, “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 NIV).

The gospel is all about the love of God for the pinnacle of his creation-mankind. He didn’t send his son to condemn the world, but to save it.

What about suffering? Why, if there is a God of love, do humans suffer so much, and then die? This is a subject for another post, and I’ve answered this question to the best of my ability in several posts. Please see the links below *

The skeptic will raise the subjects of God’s treatment of the Canaanites and the ancient Israelites, and the whole concept of hell.

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God told the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites under the leadership of Joshua, including women and children. This is seen as extreme cruelty. The charge is made by people who are either ignorant of all the facts, or who are determined to deny God the right to decide how mankind will behave on his earth. The Canaanites had descended to the lowest pits of human depravity, so that they were sacrificing their own children to their idols. They had abandoned their creator and were worshiping wood and stone. They were engaging in every depraved activity they could imagine. And God did not suddenly decide to swat the Canaanites without giving them a chance to change. In fact, he gave them more than four hundred years to repent (Genesis chapter 15).

We humans don’t have a “right” to do what we want without consequence, because we are owned by our maker. Our maker has standards. I’m personally very thankful for that. How could The master mathematician, biologist, scientist and philosopher, not have standards? Why should he not want to enforce and maintain those standards? Does he not have a right to run his universe his way?

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And what about hell? Is the concept really so awful? Well, it certainly is awful for anyone who may go there. But suppose for  now, if you don’t believe, that God is indeed our creator and the creator of our universe, as the Bible claims he is. Where then can those people go who do not want to know their creator and refuse to adhere to his standards? Where can they go, if once having failed his standards, they then refuse his mercy also? Can they create their own universe? Can they go and settle another part of his universe? Unfortunately, God cannot, according to his nature, tolerate willing rebellion, anywhere in his creation.

He therefore has a special place reserved which we call “hell”, away from Him and the universe which those who love him will inhabit. Without God Hell can have no light, no love, no comforts, no hope, no fun, no beauty. It can only be a terrible place without God. Choose Him or lose Him and all his benefits.

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There is, therefore, no part of His universe people can move to to escape his will. And if he sent everyone, against their will, to his heaven, it would be mean to those people who hate him, his ways, and his people, to make them endure all three for all eternity. Not only that, but it would be cruel also to those who do love him and his ways, to then have to endure the godless for all eternity. Heaven would be just like the earth is now, with war, aggression, immorality, hatred, abuse, decadence, and all the evils men and women perpetrate upon each other.

The  Bible says that “God is love”. God created love, and God is love. But that doesn’t preclude the need for right, wrong, and the necessary judgment of wrongdoing. God is as just as he is loving, and the two go hand in hand perfectly. True justice is as beautiful as is true love, for all eternity. Glory to God!

*Below is a link to the first part of my series on the subject of suffering. You can search for subsequent parts in the search box above, using the words “Why do we suffer? Part 2”, Part 3, etc. You can pay a lot for some “expert’s” book on the topic, or you can read these for nothing:

https://nickyfisher.com/2017/05/31/why-do-we-suffer-part-1/