Monday, April 19, 2010

Sin? Why Not?

Want to live with poisonous snakes? A guy from England has decided he does. Here's a report from SkyNews:

A Sussex carpenter is hoping to break a world record by spending nearly four months in a room with some of the world's mos venomous snakes.

David Jones, 44, from Crawley, will carry out his 121-day challenge in Johannesburg on April 24.

His room-mates will include deadly puff adders, snouted cobras, boomslangs and green and black mambas.
That's CRAZY! I can, without a doubt, say that's something I would never do. But there are plenty of things I have done, and will probably do again, that are dangerous to my life, peace and joy. Daily we walk right into sin despite its deadly consequences. Why is this? Maybe its because we have an incorrect perspective of what sin is. Maybe its because we don't believe the consequences.

Here's a quote to help you get the right perspective of sin:
Sin, biblically speaking, is not only the absence of good. It also entails our active opposition to God. It is, then, the defiance of his authority, the rejection of his truth, the challenge to his sovereignty in which we set ourselves up in life to live the way we want to live. It is the way we wrench ourlseves free from obedience to him, cut ourselves off from his grasp, and refuse to let him be God. It is therefore all the ways we live life on our own terms, to our own ends, with accountability to no one but ourselves...the target missed, the path abandoned, the authority defied, the law transgressed are in each and every case God's. Sin is all about taking issue with God, defying him, refusing to submit to him, and displacing him from the center of existence.

David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant, Page 102
Sin is not just about breaking a rule, its about defying God directly.

And this God that we so quickly and easily defy on a daily basis has given us ample warning as to the dangers of sin. Check out a few from Hosea 13:

Sin leads to death (v1)
Sin encourages sin (v2)
Sin is a waste of the talents God has given you (v2b)
Sin is a waste of the small amount of time you have (v3)
Sin ignores the goodness & greatness of God (v4-7)
Sin invites the wrathful discipline of God (v7-11)
Sin continued makes repentance difficult (v12-14)
Sin’s pleasures won’t last (v15-16)

There comes a point where you have to take the warnings and the consequences is the time!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 18

...if we begin to see the nature of sin, we are on the road back into reality. We are on our way back into the presence of God through Christ. It is not that the knowledge of sin alone suffices, but rather that it pushes us to seek our deliverance from it. Knowing about sin is therefore vital knowledge. There are none quite so lost as those who know little or nothing of their sin. Knowing about our sin, therefore, is something for which we should be deeply grateful.

David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant, p128

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Systematic Theology Part 23-A Sweet & Sour Creation that Matters Part 2

What if you woke up one morning and some important truths were suddenly no longer true?

What if, instead of bringing life, water now brings death?
What if, instead of remaining constant, the force of gravity was subject to change at any moment?

Would life change? You better believe it would!

What if one morning you woke up and scientists had proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God DID NOT create humanity? What if even the biggest advocates of creationism were jumping ship due to the new discovery? Would it change our beliefs? Is God's creation of humanity in the way the Bible accounts for it really foundational to other beliefs?

The Bible continually points to the truth that God created man, and not just in Genesis 1 & 2. We've already seen what happens when we don't believe in a common ancestry through a historical Adam and Eve, but what happens if we altogether reject the truth that God is the creator of mankind?

6 Significant Changes if Creation is Not True

1. Genesis 6:7-So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them."

Have you ever built a sand castle, block tower or house of cards and as you step back to admire your work of art someone comes along and destroys it? That can be upsetting...but why is it so upsetting? Because that person had absolutely NO authority to knock down your creation. You created it, so you have authority over it: to keep it intact or wipe it out.

If Creation is True, the creator God has authority.
If Creation is false, God's authority over man is undermined.

2. Malachi 2:10-
Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?

Blood is thicker than water. If it is true that God crated humanity then there should be a unity among all people. No racism because we are all the same race...the human race.

If Creation is True, the creator God unifies.
If Creation is False, divisions between men increase.

3. Psalm 100:3-
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

We do not exist independently, roaming around freely with no protection. We have a shepherd who loves us and cares for us...even better than this shepherd:

If Creation is true, the creator God provides security.
If Creation is false, security is overcome by worry and fear.

4. Psalm 139:13-15-
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

If Creation is true, the creator God cares about life from the beginning
If Creation is false, respect for all life (no matter how small) diminishes

5. 1 Peter 4:12-13, 19-Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed...Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

I love the idea that we can still do good, even in the midst of suffering. A realization that we can still do good and that our creator has everything in hand will sustain us through suffering. Without that hope we succumb to despair and hopelessness.

If Creation is true, the creator God gives hope in suffering.
If Creation is false, hopelessness in suffering overcomes peace.

6. Revelation 4:11-
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

If Creation is true, the creator God is worthy of worship.
If Creation is false, idolatry surpasses the worship of the true God.

A loss of the truth of creation puts man on top.

What humans are understood to be will color our perception of what needed to be done for them, how it was done, and their ultimate destiny. (Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, p481)
God's creation of mankind is not just foundational to the doctrine of humanity but also to our beliefs about God, the world, revelation, Jesus and salvation.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Good Things Vol. 1-New Music...FREE!!!

Here's a new feature I'm calling "The Good Things". In these posts you'll get music, movies, books, web-sites, and maybe even a recipe (probably involving bacon). Just some good things for you to check out when you have nothing else to do (or maybe instead of doing some other things that you have to do)

Let's start with some free music...good music!

Site 1: Come & Live!

Come & Live! free music downloads. All types of music. Check out the site to listen to samples then downloads something new...and GOOD!
Here are the bands:

Holding onto HopeSo Long Forgotten
Ascend the Hill
Great Awakening
Ian McIntosh
Preson PhillipsThe Ember DaysThe Frozen Ocean
Sons of God
White Collar Sideshow
I Am Alpha and OmegaReality LA
Daniel Bashta

Site 2: Brite Revolution

Brite Revolution is a collection of music from independent artists. These are new recordings that go up each month from each artist. You do have to register, but it's free to download the music.

Site 3: NoiseTrade

NoiseTrade is another place where artists can offer their music for free (or suggest a donation). It's not all Christian music, but there is some really good stuff on here worth checking out.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cross Central-Worse off than Frogs

You may have heard it said that the greatest display of love is the cross, and, in fact, it is an intense display of love. But what makes it such an intense display of love?

1. God shows his love by the intensity of his sacrifice

In Revelation 19:16 Jesus is described as the King of kings and Lord of lords. John 3:16 defines Jesus as the only Son of God. Hebrews 3:18 reminds us that Jesus is eternal and unchanging.

This isn't just some man dying for other men. This is the infinite, eternal ruler of the universe dying for his creation.

We tend to place men at a high place, separate from all other creation, but he true separation is between God and all he has made, including man.

There is a saying that goes:

Christ didn't die for frogs. So he was responding to our value as humans.

This saying implies that we deserved to be died for because we are so awesome. John Piper has a better way of looking at our position as humans:

We are worse off than frogs. They have not sinned. They have not rebelled and treated god with the contempt of being inconsequential in their lives. God did not have to die for frogs. They aren't bad enough. We are. Our debt is so great, only a divine sacrifice could pay it. (50 Reasons Jesus came to Die, p29)

2. God shows his love by the intensity of our unworthiness to be saved
According to Romans 5:7-8 we deserve divine punishment, not divine sacrifice, but that is exactly what we get: divine sacrifice that leads to eternal life.

While we were still sinners Christ died for us!

We benefit from the riches of his grace!

It's true that the cross is a great example of God's love for us. It is an intense example of God's love for us. But remember that its intensity is related to our sinfulness and his sacrifice. Don't let the cross make you proud by thinking, "Jesus died for me!" Instead let it humble you as you think, "Jesus died for me!"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Systematic Theology Part 22-A Sweet & Sour Creation that Matters Part 1

People are sweet.

People are sour.

Humans are capable of great acts of love, can create majestic works of art, and can even enter into a relationship with an infinite God; yet they are equally capable of horrific evil and cruelty and share many features in common with other animals. In the end, despite all their efforts to resist it, they die, and most are quickly forgotten. Scripture compares us to a mist 'that appears for a little while and then vanishes' (James 4:14). No wonder the psalmist marvels in amazement that God is mindful of us (Psalm 8:3-4).
(John S. Hammet, A Theology for the Church, p340)
And it is amazing that God is mindful of us, and even created us, knowing how sinful and rebellious we would be. But we do see special attention given to man in the Bible starting with the creation account.

There is a change in language used in Genesis 1 from "let there be" to "let us make" when God is making man. This shows that in some way the act of creating man is special and deserves special attention. The creation of man is described in much greater detail than any other act of creation. Animals and plants are mentioned in large groups, we don't even see the creation of the angels and the universe, galaxies, and planets are mentioned in just a few words.

So, what is man that God is mindful of him? Why did God bother creating us?

When people create or invent it is usually to fill a need, for convenience or for happiness. But God did not need to create us. It certainly didn't make things more convenient for him, so why did he create us?

4 Reasons God Created Man

1. God created man that man may glorify God (Isaiah 43:7)
2. God created man that God may delight in man (Isaiah 62:3-5; Zephaniah 3:17)
3. God created man that man may delight in God (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 27:4; Psalm 73:25-26; Psalm 84:1-2)
4. God created man that God may share life with man (John 10:10)

But when God created did he really just start with one man and one woman, Adam and Eve?

The Hebrew word "adam" actually means "dust, man, or mankind" and the Hebrew word for eve, or "hawwa" means "living one". These generic terms have led some to translate Genesis 1 & 2 as "mankind" and "human race" instead of the specific people Adam and Eve.

Does this mean that Adam and Eve are just metaphorical representations of all men and women? Are the two people that we know as Adam and Eve actually historical or did God create the whole human race at one point in time?

Paul (in Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15 and Acts 17) certainly taught that Adam and Ever were actual people and the belief in Adam and Eve as real people provide an important foundation for other doctrines, beliefs and traditions. If we lose the foundation of Adam and Eve the actual historical beginning of the human race then an tower of beliefs crumble around it.

If Adam and Eve are not the historical beginning of the human race then...

...Traditional marriage collapses (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9)
Jesus points back to Adam and Eve as the starting point of marriage. God institutes marriage immediately after creating eve from Adam. Without Adam and Eve marriage dissolves.

...Racist ideals are strengthened (Acts 17:26)
If God created Adam and Eve first then the rest of us are descended from the same family line. This is part of Paul's argument in Athens. There are no races, only the human race. We are one big family. No one color is better than another because we all come from the same gene pool. Without Adam and Eve racism explodes.

...The universal sinfulness of mankind and the need for a savior disappear (Romans 5:12, 19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
Paul points back to Adam as the source of all sinfulness and the need for Jesus. Without Adam and Eve there is no universal sin or need for a savior.

The creation of Adam and Eve as real people, and the first people through which the rest of mankind came, is foundational to important social concerns and eternal truths. We have seen the crumbling of marriage and family, the strengthening of racial tension and the loss of personal responsibility and understanding of sin. Much of this can be tied to a loss of the belief in the historical Adam and Eve which then turns into a rejection of the rest of God's revelation to man: the Bible and Jesus.