Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Playdough Scripture Hebrews 11:1-2

Now faith is being sure of our systematic theology what we hope for and certain that our Biblical worldview is truth of what we do not see. This is what theologians in recent centuries have worked hard to figure out for us the ancients were commended for.

Hebrews 11:1 - 2 (Playdough Version)


What do you think? Have we re-defined what faith is?

Is our faith more like a box of answers or like an unfinished puzzle?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jesus Models How to take Up Cross

Matthew 16:24 (NIV)
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Matthew records Jesus saying something like this twice, and Mark once.

So what is Jesus asking of us? Should all Christ followers be crucified?

Or is this another image of what it means to make Jesus Lord? Deny oneself - allow God's will to be done instead of our will. The type of cross or sacrifice will likely be different, but it will be something that fits into God's grander plans that we don't see clearly.

And then we see Jesus model this attitude for us before he takes up His cross.

Luke 22:42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
And Paul explains this further in Romans 6. When we are baptized with Christ, we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection. We go with our sins to the cross with Christ. Our selfish ways die, and we find new life with Christ.
Related Posts:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Polycarp the Atheist


Just read about the Martyrdom of Polycarp, who is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers.

Quotes taken from here: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/martyrdompolycarp-hoole.html
9:2 Then, when he had been brought in, the proconsul asked him if he was Polycarp. And when he confessed, he would have persuaded him to deny, saying, Have respect unto thine age, and other things like these, as is their custom to say: Swear by the fortunes of Caesar; Repent; Say, Away with the Atheists. But Polycarp, when he had looked with a grave face at all the multitude of lawless heathen in the arena, having beckoned unto them with his hand, sighed, and looking up unto heaven, said, Away with the Atheists!
I find it interesting that the Christians were called Atheists in this period. Why would Christians be called Atheists? Was it because they did not believe that Caesar was Lord? Interesting.
9:3 And when the proconsul pressed him, and said, Swear, and I will release thee, revile Christ; Polycarp said, Eighty and six years have I served him, and in nothing hath he wronged me; and how, then, can I blaspheme my King, who saved me?
So the story goes that Polycarp was burned in the arena at 86 years of age, but the fire could not kill him so they killed him with a sword. All because Polycarp remained faithful to his King.

His final words:
"O Lord God Almighty, Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received our knowledge concerning thee, the God of angels and powers, and of the whole creation, and of all the race of the just who lived before thee, I thank thee that thou hast deemed me worthy of this day and hour, that I should have my portion in the number of the martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, unto the resurrection of eternal life, both of the soul and body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. Among these may I be received before thee this day as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, even as thou hast prepared and made manifest beforehand, and hast fulfilled, thou who art the unerring and true God."
Polycarp saw this as partaking in the cup of Christ. His Lord's words to take up his cross and follow Him were very real. I also see a similarity here to Paul in Romans 6 where we learn that those who are baptized into Christ died with Christ on the cross and are raised into new life with Him.

Related Posts:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Slaves to sin or God

What's our relationship to sin now that we are part of the kingdom of God?

Paul describes it well in Romans 6. This is just my attempt to internalize Paul's teachings.

We used to be slaves to sin. We used to let our own selfish ways rule in our lives.

Now with Jesus on the throne, we are now ruled by His will, guided by the Holy Spirit. Paul uses the word slave, and in a sense we are slaves to God. (Yet I think God still gives us a free will, and at any point we can go back to our own selfish ways - so the slave analogy breaks down.)

So what happened to the sin that once ruled our lives? It died on the cross as we died with Jesus on the cross... That's hard to imagine, but in some sense my sins and I died with Jesus on the cross. My being baptized into Jesus means I am united with Him. In some mysterious way I died with Him, and rose victorious over sin with Him, and will live with Him for eternity.... Wow.

It would be foolish to let our selfish ways reign in our lives again. We know that our selfish ways lead to death, and that our selfish ways have been put to death on the cross... so why would we go back to being slaves to death when we've been given the Holy Spirit which will guide us in ways that lead to holiness and life.

Don't just take my word for any of this, read how Paul describes it in Romans 6.

Related Posts:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Is Caesar Lord?

Who is Lord? Caesar or Jesus?

This was the question for the early church. The Roman Emperor claimed to be Lord. Romans were asked to declare "Caesar is Lord". The title King of Kings and Lord of Lords was a title reserved for the Emperor.

Into this time and place comes Jesus preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. That He is King... but that His kingdom is not of this world, it is not a kingdom one can say "10 miles north and you'll find the kingdom of God". The kingdom is mysteriously within those who follow Him.

What was different for those who followed Jesus the messiah was that they confessed that "Jesus is Lord". Jesus ruled in their lives. His Holy Spirit lived in them and through them, and they were members of this body of Christ, this kingdom of God.

These Christ followers refused to acknowledge Caesar as Lord but insisted that Jesus was Lord. It is said that many were so stubborn about this that they were martyred as a result of this confession.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the God who is Love and light wants you to be part of His Kingdom. That's great news! ...but not necessarily easy news.

So the question still is: Who is Lord?
You? Some mortal man/woman? Your selfish ways? Or some other idols in your life?
Or is the loving God of the universe sitting on the throne of your life?

Not only was this the essence of the good news of the kingdom of God that Jesus and His disciples preached, it was a central belief of the early church. Here's a collection of related verses and the apostles creed.

2 Cor 4:3-5 (NIV)
"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake."
Philippians 2:11 (NIV)
"and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Romans 10:9 (NIV)
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
1 Corinthians 12:3 (NIV)
Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 8:6 (NIV)
"yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live."
Eph 4:4-5 (NIV)
"There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism;"
Acts 2:21 (NIV)
"And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Acts 2:36 (NIV)
"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Philippians 2:8-11 (NIV)
"And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
Apostles' Creed
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and life everlasting.
Amen.
Related Posts:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Introduction to Gospel of the Kingdom


In a previous posts we have Angels proclaiming to the shepherds that He is Christ the Lord. In another an angel tells Mary that Jesus will reign on the throne of David, and that His kingdom will never end.

Here is a third miraculous event in our Christmas story that introduces us to the good news of the kingdom of God.

Matt 2:1-6 (NIV)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
Here at His birth are three miraculous stories introducing Jesus as King or Lord.

The gospel message that Jesus and His disciples shared was that Christ was King, that He can reign in our lives now and into eternity. God's power is available to us. We don't have to do everything in our own strength and wisdom. If we allow God to rule in our lives, instead of our selfish ambitions He will restore our lives to what they were intended to be.

At Christmas reflect on who is on the throne in our lives. Do our selfish ambitions reign, or are we acknowledging that Christ is King?

Related Posts:

Friday, December 18, 2009

He is Christ the Lord

Is this another gospel proclamation in the Christmas narrative?

Luke 2:10-11(NIV)
"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
(Sorry if I'm beating a dead horse here. But I'm blogging this primarily to track my learning.)

For some the 'gospel' is defined by atonement.

I think the gospel message that Jesus and His disciples preached was about Him being King or Lord. And I think we may be missing something if we over emphasize a different part of Scripture and neglect the message that Jesus focused on.

So here's another clue in the Christmas story of the good news of Christ being Lord.

Are we still proclaiming the same good news message?

Related Posts:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Throne of his father David

I'm just taking a fresh look at the Christmas story. Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom of God. Does anything in the Christmas story point to this message as well?

Luke 1:30-33 (NIV)
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

Now, I'm not 100% sure on this. I'd rather if this said "The Lord God will give him the throne of our hearts", and "he will reign over those who follow him forever".

But I'll take a stab at understanding what this may mean.

Option 1:

It could be still a future prediction. That Jesus will reign in Isreal over the Jewish nation.

But if this is so, I find it odd that this is what the angel says to Mary before Jesus is born. And then add to that that Jesus spent his life teaching about the present realities of the good news of the kingdom of God.

Option 2:


What was the throne of David? It was the throne of the kingdom of Israel. And the kingdom of Israel was the nation who had God's revelation given to them so they could share God with the world.

So could the throne Jesus claims be the throne of the people whom God has revealed himself to?

It would then make sense that He would reign over these people forever, and this kingdom would never end.

Are we as followers of Christ part of this present kingdom of God? Does Jesus reign in our lives now and into eternity?

John 18:36 (NIV)
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
Matthew 21:32 (NIV)
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Luke 17:21 (NIV)
"nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

Are there any other ways to interpret this?

Related Posts:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Playdough Scripture Matt 24:14

"And this gospel of the kingdom of God’s saving activity in the person and work of Christ, including his incarnation in which he took to himself full (yet sinless) human nature; his sinless life which fulfilled the perfect law of God; his substitutionary death which paid the penalty for man’s sin and satisfied the righteous wrath of God; his resurrection demonstrating God’s satisfaction with his sacrifice; and his glorification and ascension to the right hand of the Father where he now reigns and intercedes for the church will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

Matthew 24:14 (Playdough Version)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Commanded to Love

If someone put a gun to your head and commanded you to love them - would you?

Or would you just pretend to love them?

Is this similar to the way you started your relationship with God?

We can't force ourselves to love God if we don't know and feel loved at our core. Do you believe God loves you no matter what? Or is it like Santa who knows if you've been good or bad and will give you good gifts only if you've been good? Being told to love God or He will torture you in Hell for eternity is not going to produce true love. It may produce obedience, and and religious duty, but we will be confused about our love.

1 John 4:18-19 (NIV)
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."
If any of our doctrines or teachings have portrayed God as something other than love, lets take another look at them. Yes God has other characteristics, but they can not contradict or ever take away from His love for us. God's love is Holy and pure, His love can be demonstrated through his justice, God's love for us can be shown by His anger against the sin that would destroys us.

Romans 8:39 (NIV)
"neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Yes, we could quote some scripture either way. The words Love and Holy both show up in the Bible about the same number times (547 & 549). They must be both true of God at all times.

1 John 4:10 (NIV)
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
We can only really love God when we first know and feel loved by Him. It will then be a natural response to His overwhelming love for us.

Who is God really?

This is a question we all need to work through. And there is no better way to find the answer to this than asking God himself. May He reveal His true nature to each of us.

Related Posts:


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Immanuel

This Christmas season be reminded of this passage.

Matthew 1:23 (NIV)
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" —which means, "God with us."
It just reminded me of the truth that Jesus is "God with us". Jesus was "God with us" when he walked on this earth 2000 years ago. Jesus is still "God with us" when he lives in and through us. That is what the new covenant we live under is all about.

Hebrews 8:8-12 (NIV)
But God found fault with the people and said:
"The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."
Related Posts:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Playdough Scripture 2 Timothy 3:16

OK... I may not be popular for this one... :)

I'll try to explain my concern.

2 Timothy 3:16 (Playdough Version)
"All Scripture (the 66 books we call the Bible, some of which were not even written before 2 Timothy, yet including these and all New Testament books which would be compiled into a canon a few hundred years later by the early Catholic Church) is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (and the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God)"

My concern here is how this verse is frequently used as the main proof that the Bible passed down to us is word for word God's words. It is often presented as a simple proof without acknowledging the stuff I added above in red.

It may be true that God moved the pen for every word of our Bible. But I don't see any verse in our Bible stating that this was the case.

And even if the Bible ended with the line "Every word in this volume of 66 books is God's inspired words", would that prove on it's own that it is true? If the Da Vinci Code ended with "Everything in this book is 100% true"... would making that claim make it so?

Young's Literal Translation gives a different look to 2 Timothy 3:16:
"every Writing [is] God-breathed, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for setting aright, for instruction that [is] in righteousness,"
But I'm still not sure what that means. Every writing? Which writings? That's what I'm concerned with. Did Timothy know which books would be included in the canon that came together over a few hundred years of the early church?

OK... so what I am left to hold on to? I think the early church confirmed that these books were the best books describing the life of our Lord, and the life and teachings of the early church. There are other early christian writings that may also shed light on the early church. But there was reason for enough doubt and they were excluded from the canon.

I believe the 66 books we cherish do point us towards knowing the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God. I believe it is possible that God spoke clearly to the authors as they penned the books in the Bible. I hope all of it is 100% accurate. It would make sense that a loving God would want to preserve an accurate written account of who He is. But even if it isn't 100% accurate, I am thankful that I hold a book that reveals to me who God is, and that He wants to relate to me in a personal way. In that relationship I can hear God's words to me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why are there divisions and schisms?

Why are there strifes, and tumults, and divisions, and schisms, and wars among you? Have we not [all] one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ? Why do we divide and tear to pieces the members of Christ, and raise up strife against our own body, and have reached such a height of madness as to forget that "we are members one of another?" Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how He said, "Woe to that man [by whom offenses come]! It were better for him that he had never been born, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my elect. Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones. Your schism has subverted [the faith of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continues.

(First Clement Chapter 46, 80-140CE)
Yes, I think it is clear the members of Christ's church have 'reached such a height of madness', and have forgotten that "we are members one of another?".

Interesting connection here with Mark 14:21
"...But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
Is there a connection between 'betraying the Son of Man' and not recognizing that Christ's Church is one body? Would a similar 'woe' apply?

It is true that the divisions in Christ's Church have discouraged, given reason to doubt, and destroyed the faith of many. Yet many Christ followers see no reason to change, and continue to protest and fight over who is right and who is wrong.

In a family, when battles go on too long, there is a point when it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong. The members of a healthy family will recognize the need for reconciliation.

I pray we can seek wisdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, and he will guide us towards love and respect.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

O Lord Remember Your Assembly

"O Lord, remember your assembly, remember to rescue it from every evil and to make it complete in your love, and to gather it from the four winds into your kingdom which you prepared for it--it, which has been made holy. For yours is the power and the glory for the age." - Didache (50-120 C.E.)
The early church remembered to pray for Christ's global Church. It was much smaller then, rooted closer to Christ's teachings, and had thousands fewer divisions - yet they still prayed.

May we also remember to pray for Christ's Church. May each member find their fullness in Christ's love... and those who do will be united in Christ.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thanks Robert Stephanus

Thanks Robert Stephanus, for the gift of numbering all the verses in our Scriptures in 1551.

Without those numbers it would be much harder to win any theology debates. :) When quoting Scripture to support your ideas, you'd have to just point someone towards reading a whole chapter (or the whole book before 1227).

And maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

... but I'll keep using those numbered verses if they help prove my points. :)

The rest of you... you should stick to seeing bigger picture. :)

Playdough Scripture 1 Corinthians 14:26

"What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn sing a song, or and one of you give a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church."

1 Corinthians 14:26 (Playdough Version)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Word In You

James 1:18-25 (NIV)
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
As Christians we are often encouraged to 'be in the Word'... and I see no problem with that.

I've usually read this passage thinking it was encouraging us to be in 'the Word'... you know... the 'Word Of God'... the 66 books we call the Bible.

However there's another way it can be read, and we may miss out on some truths if we don't consider this interpretation.

Was James talking about the 66 books we call the Bible? Likely not considering the book of James was probably written before any of the other New Testament books. In context I don't think he was referring to the Old Testament writings. He may have been referring to partial written works circulating at the time, but certainly not the OT + NT Bible we usually think of when we hear 'Word of God'.

What else could James have meant by "the word of truth", "the word implanted in you". What 'word' was James saying we should listen to?

Was James use of 'the Word' similar to the use in John 1:1 & 14 (NIV):
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is 'the Word'.

The 'Word' is implanted in us, Jesus lives in us (or the Holy Spirit... I'm not clear on a difference here)

Listening to the Word could mean listening to the Holy Spirit, or Jesus who is living in us.

And of course... don't just listen to what the Holy Spirit tells you... but do it.

So don't just be 'in the Word', but learn to recognize and listen to 'the Word' that is in you!

P.S. I am not stating here that the Bible is not also the Word (or words) of God. I'm not debating here whether the writings in the Bible are inspired by the Holy Spirit... and therefore also 'the Word of God'.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Funny Link - are you a Calvinist?

purgatorio: Help! I'm Going Hyper!

A humorous way to discover if you are Calvinist. :)

Let Your Alms Sweat In Your Hands

From Chapter 1 of the Didache:
" it has been said, Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give."
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html

Interesting.

I'm guessing for the early church alms giving was different than putting money in a plate that gets passed around on Sunday morning. We may sweat over how much to give, but do we sweat over who to give it too?


Related passage - Matt 6:1-4 (NIV)
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Good Works

What is required for salvation? Works? Faith?
Can you be saved if you have faith but not works?
Can you be saved if you have works but not faith?

It may help to define what we mean by being good, or doing good works.

Is being good adhering to a list of do's and don'ts?
Is being bad breaking that list, or breaking those laws?

Or

Is being good doing whatever our Father, our Lord asks of us.
And being bad (sin) is not doing what our Father, our Lord asks of us... but doing what our selfish hearts want.

Without knowing God's will for us, is it possible to know right from wrong? To really do good?

If doing good is defined as doing God's will, then it is impossible to separate good works from faith... or faith from good works. You can not believe Jesus is Lord of your life without letting Him be Lord.

Yes it is possible to do things that look good, but do them for selfish reasons. It comes down to who is Lord of our lives. Us or God?

Romans 10:9
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Does that make any sense?

Related Posts:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pharisees

(Note: In case someone reads this thinking I'm directing this at you - I wrote this last week after watching a video - so it likely isn't you... unless the person who made the video is reading this... which I doubt)

Over the years I've heard an accusation about the Pharisees of Jesus day.

That they took the law, and kept adding more and more to it. They believed that it was their duty as interpreters of the Mosaic Law to come up with a right and wrong answers to every scenario that could arise.

What have we learned from this?

Has Christianity stuck to the same simple message that Jesus came to share?

Or throughout the centuries, have we taken the Bible and built a system of beliefs and doctrines based on it to the best of our abilities?

Do we hold tightly to our doctrines or to the Jesus of the Bible?

Do we spend more time teaching and defending our doctrines than we do introducing people to Jesus?

The Pharisees thought they were doing well. They had taken the message that they had been given, and created a complex system of beliefs that they believed fit well with the original message.

Whenever I read some doctrinal belief, I always wonder... if this was the message God wanted us to believe, why didn't He have the Bible written this way? When we have to pick snippets from all over the Scriptures and string them together with some logical argument, I'm frequently becoming suspicious. Why wasn't the Bible written like a list of doctrinal beliefs?

I used to wish the Bible was written as a clear list of beliefs.

Now I suspect it wasn't written as a list of doctrines because then we would take it and use it as a rule book to create some legalistic religion... Where what God wants is a relationship with Him. If all the answers to life's questions were clearly listed, we may not feel the need to seek Him personally for guidance.

Yes I believe many Christian doctrines are true. I think the Apostle's Creed could be considered a list of doctrinal statements... and I'm not questioning those. But is there a point when we have gone too far? Have we created too many? Have we given them too much emphasis?

What do you think? Have you ever wished there was less room for interpretation in our Scriptures? Is it our duty to take the Scripture and create a Biblical system of beliefs from it? Or is the Bible primarily stories introducing us to a God that wants a relationship with us?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who's The Man

The man was given life by God.

The man was loved by God, every detail of his life was made just the way God saw best.

God made sure the man's environment was also an excellent place for the man to live.

God made provisions to take care of all of the mans needs.

God had great dreams and ambitions for the man.

But the man also had great dreams and ambitions for himself.

The man was faced with a choice.

Should he do what he wanted, or what God wanted.

The man wanted to be in charge of his own life, he was confident he'd be OK on his own.

So the man did what he wanted.

This was a mistake, there were consequences to follow.

The man no longer got to live in the perfect environment God had set up for him.

The man had to work harder to take care of his own needs.

Work was hard for the man.

God still loved the man, and provided for the man, but over the years the man frequently chose to do what he wanted and ignore what God wanted.

The man and God had an on and off relationship. Things always worked out best for the man when he did what God wanted, but the man often let his own desires get in the way of God's desires.

.... and they lived happily ever after. :)

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So the question is: Who's the man?
There is a similar story in Genesis where our Bibles translate 'The Man' to the name 'Adam'.

However the man in this story also tells my story.

Is the story in Genesis a story of a man that fell from being good to being evil... and now the rest of us are now born in this evil state.

Is it the story of the fall of just one man? Or is it also a story that all of mankind repeats over and over again?

Unfortunately I often choose to be 'The Man'.