Why Jesus?

Jesus

“Religious faith is above all a sign of faulty thinking, of ignorance;” observed noted atheist, zoologist, and author Richard Dawkins in a recent story published by The Guardian. Mr. Dawkins would further explain his desire, a call to action, was to educate the ill-informed out of their mistakes. He breaks it down into a simple explanation, in which, religion is nothing more than “an organized license to be acceptably stupid.” His two-fold mission is to promote science and demolish religion, by which he has demonstrated a very active and often times combative approach in denouncing the latter.

Christianity is seen by many as a faith of the uninformed, often dismissed by the educated elite as some form of ignorant bliss, a way for the uneducated to manage life and its many challenges while holding onto some ridiculous belief that an ever-present higher being is watching over them. As quoted above, Dawkins “acceptably stupid” label would have to be applied to some of the greatest minds of science that shared a belief in God, including Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and of course, Einstein, who famously stated, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” They will debate with great “facts” of science on their side while mocking and deriding the bible as nothing more than stories passed down from one generation to the next. This overly simplistic dismissal of theology is exactly the type of “ignorance” the atheist throws upon the believer. In reality, to claim science as “fact” versus theology as “fiction,” is to dismiss the very foundation of theory, vis-a-vis the gathering of factual data or phenomena to support a specific group of scientific propositions. I would say to this, not from a religious standpoint but from that of common sense, where would you rather cast your fortunes, on an ever-changing theory of scientific proposition or the unchanging Word of God?

Let us take the example of noted mathematician Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, who developed a mathematical solution that addressed a scientific problem regarding the highly unusual orbit of Mercury around the Sun. Mercury’s orbit did not fit any known scientific theory of its time, in fact, its unusual pattern of orbit seemed to contradict and baffle science well into the nineteenth century. Le Verrier determined, based upon his own mathematical formulations, that another planet must exist somewhere between the Sun and Mercury that was influencing the orbital patterns through gravitational energy. He went so far as to name this yet undiscovered planet, Vulcan, in honor of the Roman god of fire. Le Verrier’s theory became widely accepted, namely for putting to rest this on-going scientific contradiction, thus becoming scientific “fact” of the day, which heavily influenced European astronomers to the point that hundreds of “sightings” of this new planet began to pour in from Europe and other parts of the globe. When Le Verrier died in 1877 he was highly regarded for having discovered a new planet in our solar system, Vulcan, which had put to rest the unexplained orbital oddities of Mercury. However, the existence of Vulcan, supported by Le Verrier’s scientific “facts” and the hundreds of “confirmed” astronomical sightings that followed, became mere fiction upon the publications in 1915 of Einstein’s theory of relativity which gave new data to the orbital relationship of Mercury around the Sun. Vulcan was unceremoniously retired from existence, although given a nod of appreciation in the sci-fi show Star Trek, as the home planet for the character known as Spock. While the numerous “sightings” of the planet Vulcan became an embarrassment for the field of astronomy, they too were quietly swept under the rug and forgotten. Lacking in pomp and circumstance, the scientific community declared, “Nothing to see here, move along.”

Present this or the myriad of similar examples of scientific “facts” that were later quietly dismissed and swept under the proverbial rug of advanced knowledge, most of the educated elite will justify this as yet another example of the evolving knowledge of science, categorized as a form of progress due to their ability to admit mistakes while improving upon what we know of the world around us. They will further surmise, straight-faced as it were, that it is a credit to their superior abilities to keep an open mind, whereas the static Word of God serves to reinforce their presumptive inference of the closed-mindedness of the religious zealot. It seems beyond hypocritical to embrace science as “fact,” even as they continually change their own outcomes when boxed into the corner of their own illogical conclusions, while theology, having not the need to change the Word of God, is equated to a closed-minded worldview for nothing more than its own unfailing integrity. Science is not without great merit, and we do not choose religion over science, to the contrary, we embrace the advancements in science that allow us to improve our own lives while in many cases we come to a greater understanding of how magnificent the work of God is throughout the world he created.  Science continues to evolve due to the undeniable fact that theory only stands until disproved through the development of new theory. All the while, standing alone, unchanged through the millennia, is the undeniable Word of God. I ask you again, whether you are a believer or not, through common sense, where would you cast your fortunes?

Why Jesus? There are plenty of naysayers willing and able to speak against Jesus, as given by the example of Richard Dawkins who is seen by many today as the leader of the modern atheist movement, but what about the other side of the story, what about Jesus? Why would a non-believer seek to know more about this Christ, savior of the world, as opposed to simply going along with the status quo, taking science on its word and being content? The answer is this, whether we are brought up in the church or not, we all at some point seek to know more about the spiritual world because we are living spirits, eternal beings, made in the image of our Creator. Many atheists find it insulting that children are exposed to religion, fearing it forces beliefs upon them at an impressionable age. They will say it’s irresponsible or even equate this to child abuse. Again, Dawkins does not mince words in this matter, as taken from a recent twitter rant on the topic, “How dare you force your dopey unsubstantiated superstitions on children too young to resist. How DARE you.” At this point, I do have to weigh in on the fact these very same people, including Dawkins, want to get the “theory of evolution”…which is a theory…in front of these same young children and present it as fact in teaching. Let’s not hide behind rhetoric, this is not about the offense of pushing religion on impressionable minds, this is about getting a foothold at an early age with a pagan theory to gain influence and thereby add to the ranks of non-believers. Dawkins wants to crush religion, he is very clear about that. But believers know, whether it is allowed to coexist in the classroom or not, the spirit will search for what the spirit desires.

What we have come to understand, those of us that believe in God, knowing that we are not merely physical beings somehow conjured from the muck and mire of our planet, is that a great spiritual battle is playing out all around us. If you truly do not believe in God, then nothing in the bible should hold any relevance at all. So why does it bring so many atheists to a point of bitterness and severe anger towards the entire concept of God? The answer lies in the reality that there is an on-going war in the spiritual world. We are not just a random collection of atoms, we share in this spiritual existence as beings created by God, given free will as individuals, thus allowing for our informed decision to which side we will stand. We can ignore the spiritual question, seeking out various preoccupations to divert the mind, however, everyone comes to that place and time when you have to face up to it…the eternal question…because we are spiritual beings, the spirit must be fed. We can convince ourselves that it is our choice to accept or deny the very existence of God, when in fact, we are only able to choose which side we will stand. This is why we see atheists lash out with unbridled anger and unmitigated disgust towards believers, they have made their choice, but when they wake each day, God is still there in all his glory. They will claim they are angry because religion is what is wrong with this world and we should stop practicing our faith, it offends them. Yet in America today, religion has been all but removed from the public eye, it is not in schools, civic events, town squares, in fact, you can very easily go days, weeks, months and longer without ever having religion as part of your daily routine. So why the anger and bitterness? We all know the true answer; because each day God is still there and we are still spiritual beings with an innate desire to know Him.

Atheists postulate belief in God is to shut off all reasonable thought and close the mind to all possibilities outside of one limited reality, to purposely remain ignorant, to take the easy way out. They see themselves as true seekers of knowledge, ever evolving to the world around them, refusing to acquiesce with accepted ideas, when in fact, they are running from the truth, refusing to acknowledge their creator. They run, gathering about them as many like-minded doubters as possible as if this were some election or popularity contest, yet after all their misguided efforts to the contrary, God still exists.

Unfortunately, many that choose to ignore God, or worse, deny His existence altogether, will also devalue the very life that He created. A recent twitter thread where many dealt with the question of how to handle a pregnancy if you knew the unborn child had downs syndrome, saw Dawkins offer this flippant reply, “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” Such a cold retort, simply toss this one in the trash and give it another try, as if human life were on the same level as buying cottage cheese at the grocery store only to discover it had passed it’s “sell by” date. In his own words, vicious attacks, overall arrogance and disdain for those that disagree, he demonstrates his own distance from God. We should not expect any other type of behavior than this hatred and general disgust aimed at humanity, after all, he has purposely moved as far from God as possible, but to see it is disturbing and shocking. It brings a level of hurt for the things spoken against our heavenly Father, but also a sense of sorrow for his soul, knowing that he has not experienced the complete and unconditional love of our Creator.

What role does the church play in getting the message of faith and forgiveness to the lost world we share today? The question is straightforward, but the answer is as varied as the number of denominations worldwide. Believers are well versed in the great commission found in Matthew chapter 28, to make believers of all nations. However, the application of that charge is not so simple. Some feel persecuted, in many cases rightfully so, which generates an active response in the form of debate, legal actions, and so forth. Many believers in America choose to exercise their faith through the voting process, securing their beliefs within the electorate at the state and national levels. Some get involved in charity work in their local communities, helping feed and clothe those in greatest need. Many others simply occupy a seat on a church pew once a week and go home. I list these few examples, not to place importance on one above the other, but as an observation, while reminding us to slow down and remember the question….why Jesus?

If a non-believer approached you right now and asked you about Jesus, maybe they see something different about you which has piqued their curiosity or possibly they are dealing with turmoil and seek answers. Are you ready to give an account, a testimony, something that would bring a person to a decision for Christ? 1 Peter 3 verse 15 states, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, ” instructing the body of believers in how to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Notice within this verse, Peter points to the scenario whereby the believer is asked to give the reason for the hope they display in their daily life. This tells us, we are to go about our daily activities, at work, running errands, conducting business with others, in a manner that displays our inner hope, that peace that comes from the living Christ that dwells within our hearts. Matthew 5 verse 16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The greatest testimony we can give is in the demonstration of life with Jesus, conducting ourselves in a manner that separates us from the world, being that dependable and steady influence through the good times and the bad. Remember that the Lord places us in the path of those that are seeking the truth, we must remain faithful in our daily walk with God. Being active in the word through daily devotion and prayer, which gives us the strength we need to persevere through the trials we will face, so that in all things we will honor Christ our savior.

If the non-believer only hears from Christians when we are upset or feeling persecuted, when we litigate in the courts and shout in protest in the streets, why would they decide they need to be part of that belief? Once at a concert, I was with a group of people waiting for the venue to open it’s doors when we found ourselves under attack from a street preacher with a bullhorn. For the next fifteen minutes, he peppered us with an angry attack on our souls. In his eyes, because the music was not to his liking, he condemned us to eternity in hell unless we turned immediately from our wicked ways.  When he finished, everyone had this puzzled look and the reaction was as if a crazy person had just been set loose. I thought about it and wondered, he probably had the best intentions, but his message was lost in his own anger and disgust for sinners. Again, if non-believers were there, as I’m sure they were, I cannot imagine a single one of them walking away thinking to themselves that they want to be part of that belief. Why Jesus?

This is what I know beyond any doubt, I myself am a sinner and daily I fall short of the expectations set forth by my heavenly Father. My life has been unworthy of the love of God, yet while I am still a sinner, God gave me the incredible gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ. I have done nothing to deserve this unconditional love and even on my best day, I am incapable of any actions or good deeds that would earn this favor. Paul reminds in Galatians 2 verse 21, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” If we could earn our way to salvation, if we could uphold the laws or through any other manner of living gain a pass into heaven, then it would mean all the suffering and sacrifice of our savior Jesus Christ was for nothing. Our good deeds should come as a result of our salvation, not as a way to earn God’s favor. So let the light of Jesus Christ shine brightly in your spirit so that a lost world may see and desire to come to believe in Him. In all things and circumstances, rejoice in the Lord. Remember the exhortations of the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi, Philippians 4 verses 4 through 7, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Through our salvation in Jesus Christ, we have gained the peace of God and in our daily lives, the many challenges and tribulations we all face in this world, believers have that eternal peace that surpasses all human understanding. This as much as anything else answers the question, Why Jesus?

I ask those of you that are believers in Christ to answer this question – honestly – have you shared your testimony with a non-believer in the last week, month or year? If not, why not? We are not spiritual sleeper cells waiting for that encrypted code word to activate our mission.  The time is now! The signs of our Lord’s return are all around us, simply read the news and it’s all right there playing out before our very eyes.  Jesus explained it this way to his disciples that before the end there would be a time known as “the beginning of sorrows.”  I believe we are now in that very time period.  Read it here in Matthew chapter 24, verses 6 through 8, And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Believers are not to be troubled by these signs but should be filled with hope.  But we are not to sit on our hands and simply wait, we have been called to action.  The very last command given by our resurrected savior before he ascended to the right hand of God was to make disciples of all nations.  We have work to do and a very limited time to do it.  Be that light to a dark world, go about your activities with joy and hope, so abundant in your heart, that it shines for all to see.  God does not want any to be left behind.   

To believers, embrace the love of Jesus in your hearts, share this love with gentleness and respect, through actions and words, throughout your daily walk with God. Let those around you see the light of Christ within you, that peace that surpasses understanding so that they will want to know why you are different. Be prepared to share your testimony of faith so that non-believers will come to know that love which has been freely given as a ransom for many. Do not get caught up in angry discourse, debating the relevance of God, we do not have to reserve the last word for ourselves. God will work this out in his own time, we do not need to fight on his behalf.  Acts chapter 17, verse 25, Paul declares in reference to God, “And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”  While we share our beliefs, we do not compromise our values or water down the truth to make Jesus seem more compatible with the worldview, but at the same time, remember to be gentle and kind, mindful that your calling from Christ is to make disciples of all nations, win the lost to Jesus, that is our goal. Let this be your litmus test, when considering debate or protest in the name of God, pause and consider your actions, will they lead the lost to know Jesus as their savior, or will you sow the seeds of discontent and further drive them away? Trust in God so that you know He will defend himself according to His own plan. Shine the light of peace that you’ve been given through salvation and share this love at every opportunity. God will work out the rest.

In closing, if you are seeking answers, let us know by reaching out to this ministry with your questions and prayer requests. You can remain anonymous, but know that believers are here and waiting to hear from you so that we can share this incredible gift of salvation through Jesus Christ that we have come to know in our own lives. Why Jesus? We can answer that in a way that will change your life forever. Read our message “The Way, the Truth and the Life”  then reach out to us with any questions or prayer requests you may have.  May God bless you, we appreciate your visit to our site, please feel free to follow us, share our site with friends and family, and come back often.

 

 

John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons

J Stephen Frey

 

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Bought at a Price

passion of the Christ 2

Life is measured in seasons of time as predictable as the sunrise and sunset of each passing day.   We busy ourselves with the tasks of daily life, working, raising a family, which often leaves little time for anything else.  It can become a drudgery, these gears of life grinding away, stealing our joy, leaving us to wonder what is it all about? We surround ourselves with things, distractions from our toils, always looking and planning for the next big thing, a vacation, a new car, sometimes anything to help us look beyond our current circumstances.  But why? There it is, that ever-present question, the one we bury deep inside – what does it all mean and what is my purpose in life?

With each passing month, we work our way through this tangled existence, hoping to meet the demands that press against us.  The rent or mortgage payment is due, car payments, credit card bills, this never-ending circle of requirements often become all-consuming.  Sometimes you just want to escape from it all but it never stops, time just keeps coming at us, relentlessly, and round and round we go.  There has to be more to life than all of this…

Believers wait and watch for the hour of our Lord’s return as the world around us crumbles under the weight of transgressions and denial of the Creator.  Pressures continue to mount against those that believe in the Word, having received salvation through Jesus.  It is hard to watch as the world, blind to the truth, spins more out of control each day, while evil grows and spreads like a plague.  While seekers clamor for answers and believers seek the Lord for strength to persevere, let’s step back to the beginning and follow the path of God’s perfect plan that leads to the one true answer, the way, the truth and the life.

John Chapter 1 verse 1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Verse 14 further states, The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

In the previous reference, John speaks of the beginning, which is also detailed for us here in Genesis chapter 1 verse 1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  When we put that together with the words from John chapter 1, we know that Jesus was there at the beginning of creation.  The Word was with God, the Word became flesh.  Jesus came to this earth, walked among us, shared in the trials and tribulations we all face, then in perfect obedience to God the Father, Jesus died on a cross for our sins.  But let’s look even deeper, to gain a full understanding of why Jesus came to this earth as an atonement for sin.

The Bible tells us that God created day and night, He separated the land from the seas, He created all manner of creature, both in the seas and on land.  But something was missing, creation was not complete until God created man.  However, we also know that God created all angelic hosts, which included the most beautiful of the angels, the one called Lucifer, as referenced in Isaiah Chapter 14 verse 12,

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 

In Ezekiel Chapter 28, in verses 12 through 16, Lucifer is described in this way,

You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God.  Every kind of precious stone covered you:
carnelian, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and emerald. Your mountings and settings were crafted in gold; they were prepared on the day you were created.  You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you.  You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones.  From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you.  Through the abundance of your trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I expelled you in disgrace from the mountain of God, and banished you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.

From this, we know that God’s perfect creation, including man, was set on a collision course of good against evil, as Lucifer was cast out of heaven, along with the legion of angels that followed.  Satan, as he became known, so despised God that he made it his mission to seek and devour all of mankind, like a hungry lion prowling about as described in 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 8, 

Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

Why did Satan fall? It can be summed up in one word, pride.  It is revealed in Ezekiel chapter 28 verse 17,

Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor
you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground.

It was through the sin of pride that Satan fell from grace and turned on mankind as we read when he encountered Eve in the garden.  In Genesis chapter 3, Satan used the serpent to tempt Eve by contradicting God.  The instructions had been made clear, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God forbid them to eat.  Satan tickled the ears of Eve by deceiving her into thinking that if she ate of this tree, she would become as God with all knowledge and wisdom.  Adam and Eve both ate the fruit of the tree and became aware that they were naked and they hid from the Lord.  When God came into the garden in the evening he called out to Adam, “where are you?” God knew where Adam was but in calling out to him, he was indicating that they had become separated by sin.  Adam was asked what he had done and he blamed Eve and in a sense blamed God as he explained the fruit was given to him by the woman that God had created.  At this point, the perfect creation of God was corrupted, sin had entered into man and this sinful nature would be passed through every generation.  Adam did not repent of his sin in disobeying God’s command regarding the tree of knowledge, instead, he made excuses, blamed others and in so doing, all mankind suffers the consequences of that day.

So why did God create us if we were doomed to failure and sin? Was God lonely, was he taken by surprise that Man sinned against him? Satan would love for us to believe that he was able to sneak into the garden of Eden and ruin creation without God having any knowledge, but that is not the case.  Man was created by God and given a free will, but it is a mistake to think that man has autonomy over God’s plans, that sin was introduced by happenstance and God needed a new plan to rectify the situation.  God knows the future events as demonstrated throughout the Bible, both in prophesy and by the very words of Christ as he foretold his own destiny.  Furthermore, we know that God not only possesses foreknowledge of events, he plans those events and puts them into action.

Isaiah chapter 46 verses 9 through 11 

Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying,  “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”

We see it throughout God’s word time and again as the prophets were given knowledge of things to come according to God’s plans and purposes.  It even carried forward through Jesus as He walked on earth.  Jesus foretold the disciples of the coming crucifixion and resurrection.  Jesus told the disciples at the last supper of the betrayal of Judas and of Peter’s coming denial.  Therefore it is without any doubt that we can know there is nothing that surprises God.  Not only does he know the future, he plans for it and carries out his purposes according to His will. So we wonder why did God create mankind, was He lonely? I think it is best answered by C.S. Lewis,

“God did not make us because He was bored, lonely, or had run out of things to do. He created us to be the objects of His love! Sometimes our actions make us unlovely, but we are never unloved. And because God loves us—we have value. And nobody can take that value away. God’s love revealed at Calvary fastens itself onto flawed creatures like us, and for reasons none of us can ever quite figure out, makes us precious and valued beyond calculation. This is love beyond reason. And this is the love with which God loves us.”

When we try to fathom this abundant love, we grapple in our attempts to reason it out and often times this leads to frustration as we struggle to comprehend God’s true purposes for our lives.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans chapter 8 verses 37 through 39,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In our own limited ability to reason this out, we look for balance, a way to justify the means to an end.  However, we always come up short in trying to determine a way that we are good enough to justify the love that God shows to us.  Some will simply give up and say this is ridiculous, God would not create man simply to make us the objects of His love, but consider this undeniable extension of that love in Romans chapter 5 verse 8,

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

This brings us to the amazing grace extended to all mankind from our Creator.  Satan introduced sin and all evil into this world and he continues his all-out assault without ceasing.  If Satan hates God, then why does he attack us? Genesis chapter 1 verse 27,

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Because of God’s unending love for us, we have value in His sight, and this value causes Satan to seethe with rage against us.  We are created in the very image of God.  We are caught in a spiritual battle, a tug of war for our very souls, yet in all of this, God also created the perfect plan of salvation.  We are not hopelessly lost, for we have a way out, not because of anything we do, but because that very love that brought about our own creation is why Jesus died in our places as a living sacrifice to cover all of our transgressions.  God values each and every one of us, so much so, that he provided a path for our redemption so that we may move on from this brief time on earth, to an eternity with Him.

John chapter 3 verse 16 says,

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Bible further explains this pathway to salvation in Romans Chapter 10, verses 9 and 10;

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 

Jesus and Mary 2

Paul the Apostle of Christ reminds us in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 19 and 20,

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We give ourselves over to God completely when we accept salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We are no longer our own, we belong to God.  Jesus took our rightful consequences upon himself, and tho he was without sin, he paid the debt that we could not pay.  Jesus laid bare his back and took the scourging of a Roman soldiers whip.  Jesus then carried our cross through the streets along the Via Dolorosa or the way of suffering, where he was then nailed to that cross at Golgotha where he died a slow and agonizing death for our sins.  That is the price of our salvation, the cost paid by Jesus so that we may find redemption and avoid the wages of our own iniquities, which is death and eternal separation from our Creator.

Unfortunately today, a new religion has sprung to life, enjoying great success as they share a message of love of self, how to be happy, how to enjoy life in this world with catchy phrases of sunshine and good times with very little mention of God, or the price of sin and the payment that Christ made on our behalf.  This watered-down form of religion allows people to hold onto a form of godliness without the baggage of all that talk of sin, after all, they will tell you, “who are we to judge others?”  Paul spoke of this coming age and warned against it in 2 Timothy chapter 3, saying that people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful and proud, holding to a form of godliness but denying its power. We are warned to avoid such people.  It’s a religion of rainbows and unicorns and while it may seem harmless, Paul warned of this, to turn away from such teaching.  Don’t be confused, we are not given the authority to judge, God has given that over to Christ, and make no mistake, one day we will all stand before him and be held accountable for our lives.  But sharing and teaching the truth of the word of God is not judgment, it’s compassion for those that have not found salvation, we share the truth in hopes that others will come to a place of repentance and experience the gift of salvation.  The most basic of all truths that apply to everyone is found in Romans chapter 3 verse 23,

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

The good news continues in the same chapter as we read in verses 24 through 26,

And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This is why we share our faith, as we are instructed by Christ, so that the world may come to know the true grace of God.  This is not about holding sin over someone’s head or elevating our own status at the cost of others, that’s another lie perpetuated by Satan to keep the lost from hearing the truth.  We are all sinners and all of us, including the writer of this work, deserves to die and be separated from God forever.  Thankfully, we have come to know Jesus and in Him, we have placed our faith and trust, this is what we share, this wonderful gift of eternal life which includes a life more abundant on this earth.  As C. S. Lewis once wrote, “if you aim for heaven, you will get the earth as well, but if you aim for the earth, you will receive neither.”

How terrible for anyone to have to stand before Jesus on that day and hear him speak the words from Matthew chapter 7 verse 23,

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Satan is real, the spiritual battle is on-going, the crucifixion of Christ was a bloody, humiliating and violent death…Jesus paid the price for our sins…we are bought at a price.  Our hope comes through the resurrection when on the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead and he now sits at the right hand of our heavenly Father.

But let’s not fall into another trap, seeking the kingdom without understanding what it is and our responsibility in leading the lost towards the light.  When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time, he was lauded as a King and cheered as a conquering hero.  The people expected to see the long-awaited kingdom of God to be revealed right before their very eyes.  They were anticipating an overthrow of the system that they had come to despise.  It had less to do with their passion for the Messiah as much as their own selfish desires to see their occupiers turned away in defeat.  When this did not occur, they turned against their Messiah and joined together in rage as they called for his death.

Where is the kingdom? The people had no desire to share in the faith of Christ, to be changed in their hearts, to turn away from their sins, to love their fellow man, they wanted justice and revenge.  In many ways we see this misguided effort in our own churches, we want our institutions of government to conform to our ways, we want justice, we stand on the steps of the supreme court and shout for right and push away those that need to hear the message of salvation the most.  We say we want revival but our actions say we want political change and justice even more.  Revival will not come through political activism nor from the voting booth.  We can’t demand institutional change and expect that the hearts of non-believers will be changed from the outside in…change and revival will only come from the inside out.  We should be expending our most fervent energies on reaching the hearts of those that do not know the good news of Jesus Christ.  We have a calling as believers as laid out for us in Matthew chapter 28, the great commission, to share the love of Christ with everyone so that they might come to a place of repentance.  Paul the Apostle extolled the virtues of patience and gentleness when he spoke in 2 Timothy chapter 2, verses 24 and 25,

The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 

Yet we demand political change and justice, we call for institutional control, although we forget that true justice would be death for our own sins and eternal separation from God.  We don’t deserve salvation, we deserve to pay the wages of our sins.  Who are we to stand and demand justice? But that doesn’t stop us, we jeer at non-believers, shouting them down as if they truly deserve the punishment of God.  How easily we can forget, we are all sinners and not a single one of us deserves the love of God.  Romans chapter 6 verse 23 says,

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have traveled a long way, from creation through redemption, asking the questions of purpose in life and living in God’s amazing grace, so let’s take hold of this great redemptive story and share the passion of our Christ, our savior and Lord.  Our purpose is to strive to be like Jesus, to accept God’s unconditional love and to share that love with one another.  Paul the Apostle so eloquently taught that we should turn away from impurity and ignorance in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 20 through 24, 

But that is not how you came to know Christ, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Finally, Paul continued these teachings of patience and kindness in verses 29 through 32,

No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

We have found the kingdom of God, it resides within the hearts of believers, by the grace of our heavenly Father.  So let’s seek revival by starting in our own heart, praying on our knees that God will search our hearts and minds and show us His will as we journey through this life in preparation for the next.  We know that God’s principles and moral foundations work, but let’s not become distracted in our pursuit of change, expecting a lost world to adapt to our ways.  To bring about change, to turn the world back towards God, we should focus on the hearts of man, not the institutions of man’s creation.  We have made it abundantly clear to the world the things that are offensive to God, but in this time of greatest need for redemption, I challenge all believers to get on their knees as servants, called by Jesus Christ, and go forth with patience and kindness and share the true and unconditional love that we have come to know through our salvation.  Share the gospel anywhere and everywhere.  We are all one through Jesus Christ.

We here at Life Beyond Horizons thank you for reading and we pray that God will truly bless you and keep you.  If you have needs today and would like for us to pray for you, please share your requests with us through this link Prayer requests.  If you have questions about salvation or want to know more about Jesus Christ, please contact us through this link I want to know more about Salvation.

 

John Stephen Frey is the author of this message and serves as our director emeritus and member of the prayer team

 

 

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