Monday, August 25, 2014

Catechism #34

Q. What does God require of us that we may escape His wrath and curse?
A. To escape the wrath and curse God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ and repentance unto life.

As we saw last week in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” We lack the ability to go back and “un-sin,” and no amount of good deeds can erase the sin we have already committed.

There are two things we need to do, but they are not accomplishments on are part; rather, they are acknowledgments of accomplishments on Jesus’ part.

The first thing we need to do is put our faith in Jesus Christ. This goes beyond believing He is real or that He died on the cross. To put our faith in Him means that we put all of our trust in Him and Him alone. We put all of our eggs in His basket. If it turns out that Jesus is wrong, we will be wrong with Him. To put our faith in Jesus means to go all in, risking everything, and yet ultimately gaining everything.

The second thing we need to do is repent, which is a 180-degree turn. We repent in our minds when we realize we are headed in the wrong direction. We change our minds and acknowledge how sinful and separated from God we really are, and we stop thinking that some deed on our part will propel us into God’s good favor.

After we change our minds our actions will follow suit. While trying to give up sinful habits and adding the fruit of the Spirit does not save us, it is the evidence of a life of repentance.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Catechism #33

Q. What does every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse.

Humanity has developed its own system of crime and punishment, where not all sentences are the same.

A person caught smoking marijuana may pay a fine, while a person caught selling it may go to prison. There are harsher penalties for a rapist who has a deadly weapon versus an unarmed rapist. First time offenders usually get off easier than repeat offenders.

But God’s system does not match our system. There is no difference between the first time offender and the career criminal; God does not rank and weigh one sin against another. His law is clear: all sins are equally offensive and each deserves the same sentence: death.

There will be no plea except guilty, for “all have sinned (Romans 3:23, 5:12).” There will be no attorney to argue a loophole, for “the wages for sin is death (Romans 6:23).”

We need to see sin for what it really is—a gross offense to a holy God that invites the curse and forever separates us from Him. Were it not for the second half of Romans 6:23 (“…but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”) we would all be doomed.

Forgiven Christians must never forget what they are saved from. It is baffling when believers nonchalantly say, “I’m glad Jesus died to forgive me for doing this.” That person has lost sight of the fact that he was once headed for hell because of that very sin. Forgiveness is not a license to sin; it should remind us just how much God hates sin, and motivate us to hate it as well.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

You Stay Classy, Maryland

There's nothing classier than abortion.

That's why Pro-Choice Maryland is gearing up for their 25th Annual Evening of Chocolate Gala. This fundraiser helps the Maryland branch of NARAL continue their mission by "electing pro-choice candidates and defeating anti-choice politicians."

If you are pro-choice you are a candidate, but if you are "anti-choice" (pro-life) you are a politician.

People don't like politicians. They are self-serving individuals who return favors to those who put them in office. And yet, despite Pro-Choice Maryland's manipulation to make the anti-choice crowd the evil politicians, they are admitting to being one of those groups who put the politicians (sorry, the candidates) in office.

Their stated goal is to put their people in office, who will in turn keep their interests intact (abortion is a multi-billion dollar industry). There is nothing wrong with that; both sides do it, but it is disingenuous to make it seem like it is only "anti-choice" Conservatives who do it.

So how do they raise money to keep their candidates in office? By throwing a ritzy chocolate gala at a swanky locale. Perhaps while these generous donors are indulging in decadent chocolate, they will think about the 55 million babies who will never experience a candy bar.

Maybe during this event on September 20th they will consider that 4,000 babies were ripped from their mother's wombs that same day.

Sorry. Didn't mean to put a damper on this glamourous soiree. Back to the gala. How does one dress for such a venue? Is a black tie in order? New heals? Perhaps they will go more casual and attire themselves in the classy Planned Parenthood t-shirt that says, "I had an abortion." Yep. Another fundraiser.

You can easily end that sentence by pointing out that all she got was a truly lousy t-shirt. 

The doctor, of course, got a quick $2,000.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Catechism #32

Q. Do we make it to heaven based on how well we keep the Ten Commandments?
A. No, we have all broken God’s law; our only hope is through the Savior, Christ Jesus.

Many people believe that if they are a good enough person—if they never kill, commit adultery, or rob a bank—then they will go to heaven when they die. But this mistaken idea assumes that God only cares about a few commandments.

The truth is, God is just as concerned with coveting as He is with killing. We might rank the commands in order based on our criminal justice system, but our ways are not God’s ways.

In fact, it doesn’t matter if we have never murdered or cheated on a spouse; the Bible tells us that if we have broken one part of God’s law, we are guilty of breaking all the law (James 2:10).

We cannot stand before God on Judgment Day and brag about how well we kept the Ten Commandments. Even our best efforts fall pitifully short.

What this all amounts to is a guilty verdict. We are totally depraved and thus separated from a holy God. Instead of jail, we face hell.

That’s where the Savior comes in. Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves (He is the only one to never break a commandment). His death on the cross as our substitute satisfied the Father, and if we will repent and depend on the ransom that Jesus paid, we can be saved.

The verdict is guilty, but the Judge sentenced Jesus on our behalf.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm One of Those Reasonable People Gungor Says Don't Exist

Michael Gungor made headlines this week when he stated that he does not take the Bible literally. This revelation came after his Dove Award-winning (and Grammy-nominated) band Gungor had a show cancelled for that same reason.

In an effort to explain himself, Gungor apologized if any fans were duped into thinking their Christian band had Christian beliefs. Taking a page out of the Emergent Church playbook, Gungor said, “We have always tried to be upfront about our wrestling with doubts and questions of faith.”

That’s fine. Many people wrestle, and it often takes years for a person to really understand what they believe. But Gungor goes a step beyond mere wrestling with doubt. He stated, “NO REASONABLE PERSON takes the entire Bible completely literally (emphasis in original).”

Well, Mr. Gungor, I am one of those reasonable people you say do not exist.

In the same post Gungor makes clear that they are not young earth creationists (meaning they believe in Darwinian evolution), and that they do not believe in the biblical account of Noah’s Flood.

To make his point, Gungor continues, “The Bible says God is a rock. Do you take that literally?”

What he fails to realize is that the Bible is the most unique book ever written, and for a variety of reasons; not the least of which is that the Bible contains every type of literature. It uses personification, comparisons, metaphors, similes, parables, and poetry, to name a few. This means that a REASONABLE PERSON can both take the Bible literally and appreciate the literary device that paints a picture of God being a rock (in this case, pointing out God’s immovable, unchanging protection).

For Gungor to reject Biblical creation is to reject the Bible’s opening sentence (he referred to it as a “myth”). If that part is wrong we might as well throw out the whole thing. Next time we sing Gungor’s song we should add a line:

You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust (in 4 billion years).

His stance on the Flood is also puzzling. "Even if God miraculously fed all of these species and kept them from killing each other on the boat, how big would that boat have to be? And what sort of ecological systems would have to be in place for all the species to survive? Genesis puts the ark at 300 cubits long, 50 wide, 30 high. (a cubit is approximately 45 cm) If you do the math, there is really just NO way to fit two of every kind of animal species on an ark of the dimensions that the Bible purports.”

Most reject the 45 cm cubit in favor of a much longer cubit, but that is beside the point. God is capable of miraculously feeding the animals—He has used manna and the beaks of birds. And He can keep them from killing each other—the lion will lay down with the lamb, and He closed the mouths of lions when Daniel was in their den. God is sovereign and can do with His creation what He wants.

God, who created ecological systems, can create whatever ecological system would be needed on the ark.

But Gungor wasn’t finished: "So let's get imaginative and say that God shrunk these animals Rick Moranis style so that all the animals can fit…” Instead of rushing to Honey I Shrunk the Kids (starring Rick Moranis) to interpret the Bible, did it ever occur to Gungor that, perhaps, God thought to use baby animals?

From there Gungor attacked the Bible’s reference to the “corners of the earth” as proof that the Bible should not be trusted. First, we need to realize that “corners” is a poor translation that newer translations have changed. That same word is translated as borders in Numbers, and the Greek equivalent literally means angles. Quadrants, borders, even extremities, would be a good translation. Second, Gungor ignores the references in Job to the earth being spherical and suspended in space on nothing. NO REASONABLE PERSON believed that the earth was round 4,000 years ago, and yet the Bible was right when science was wrong.

Mr. Gungor, you can align yourself with the academic elitists who reject the Bible, but there are plenty of reasonable people who will not sell out to remain relevant. You might think it is safe to deny things like creation or the flood, but what are you going to deny next? The crucifixion? The resurrection? It’s a dangerous game you are playing, and your liberal friends will not be content until you reject it all.

NO REASONABLE PERSON should be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why Barack Obama's Grandfather Left Christianity (and why the Bible was not written by man)

One of the most common criticisms of the Bible is that it was written by men and not God; my response to this is always the same: man would not write a book like the Bible. Let me give a quick example.

In President Barack Obama’s first book, Dreams From My Father, he records the story of his paternal grandfather in Kenya, Hussein Onyango Obama. For a brief period in time the elder Obama converted to Christianity and changed his last name to Johnson, but that was a short-lived venture. Here is part of his description:

“But he could not understand such ideas as mercy towards your enemies, or that this Jesus could wash away a man’s sins…this was foolish sentiment, something to comfort women. And so he converted to Islam—he thought its practices conformed more closely to his beliefs[1].”

Had man written the Bible independent of God then the idea of mercy toward enemies would not be in it. A man like Hussein Onyango, who was physically abusive toward each of his wives, and who would beat up any person who disagreed with him, mercy is a sign of weakness; you don’t show your enemies mercy, you show them your strength.

And the idea of needing to be forgiven by Jesus goes against the grain. It presupposes that there is something wrong with me that I cannot correct myself.

Contrast this to the religion to which Obama converted—Islam. Instead of being merciful to enemies, Islam’s tenets are told to kill anyone who refuses to convert (this is happening all over the world while the media largely chooses to ignore it). This religion, written by man, lined up with the natural depravity (“conformed more closely to his beliefs”) of Hussein Onyango Obama.

The Bible was technically written by men, but they were just the pen in the hand of the Almighty God, conveying a message that no man who ever write.

[1] Obama, Barack, Dreams From My Father, p.407