God Knows Your Sin. Deal With It.

God knows everything, yet many still come to Him. How can this be when what He knows about us aint all good?

The woman at the well is a prime example of God’s knowledge on display.

Jesus tells the woman to go get her husband.

“Husband, what’s a husband?” is along the lines of her response.

When He lets her know that He’s aware of her five husbands, she changes the subject.

One would assume, after having your sin pointed out by a guy who just met you, she would be terrified and run for the hills.

Instead she goes to the city and tells others about Jesus. Note what she says to them

Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

“Hey, come check out this guy who knows all my sin!” Quite a witness!

One would think that all the people in the town would say, “Ah, yeah, no thanks.” But nope, the next verse says, “Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.”

They were attracted to the message that there was a man who can tell you about everything you ever did! That’s amazing!

God knows everything about you. If that terrifies you, then you better learn some things about Him!

New Study–Calvinists Are Demented

“Cynics are three times more likely to develop dementia than those who have faith in humanity, a study has shown.”

“They were asked how much they agreed with statements such as “I think most people would lie to get ahead”, “it is safer to trust nobody” and “most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it.”

“Those taking part were monitored for eight years, during which time 46 of them were diagnosed with dementia.”

In other words, if you believe in Total Depravity, you are, or soon will be, demented.

Hey, I didn’t write the study, just reporting the facts.

Since I know there is a large portion of humanity that can’t detect online humor, let me say that I am quite cynical about this study and my comment about it is a joke.

 

God Remembers that We Are Dust

God knows everything.

Depending on how you look at it, this can be a good or a bad thing.

If God knows everything, then He knows everything about you–your thoughts, acts and words. Depending on what that is like, God’s knowledge may be terrifying!

On the other hand, God’s knowledge may give you comfort.

You either find God appealing or terrifying. I think the Bible expresses these thoughts.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Here the Psalmist finds God appealing, can’t wait to appear before Him.

In Psalm 139 the psalmist talks about all that God knows and says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

God knows all these things, so where can I go to get away from Him?!

His answer is–nowhere. But by the end of the Psalm he says

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

God knows everything about us. If we were perfect, this would present no problem. But we’re not perfect, so we need to know something about God that might draw us to Him even though He knows our sin.

It’s the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. God is good. God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and willing to forgive. If God were bad and knew everything, we’re in serious trouble.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

One of the things God knows about us is that we are dirt. He graciously desires to make us new creations in Christ, to remove our sin and bring us into right relationship with Him.

This is a great thing to know about God knowing us!

Meditating to Death

“The family and followers of one of India’s wealthiest Hindu spiritual leaders are fighting a legal battle over whether he is dead or simply in a deep state of meditation.

“His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, the founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious order with a property estate worth an estimated £100 million, died in January, according to his wife and son.

“However, his disciples at his Ashram have refused to let the family take his body for cremation because they claim he is still alive.”

Nice to know Christianity isn’t the only religion that has followers where one wonders if they are dead or alive.

I’ve been to a few churches where I wondered if the leader was dead.

Trust me, if your religious works make you appear to be dead, you’re doing something wrong.

10 Reasons it’s Easier to Judge Others and Not Ourselves

It was recommended to me that I should watch a certain movie. I was told that it had some cuss words and some violence, but it had to because it was “just showing the reality of the situation.”

I’ve heard this excuse/justification for watching trash many times. A group of people who would never dream of doing things even remotely like what happens in a movie, talk about all the sin and how “real” it made the movie.

People understand the reality of sin. Even movie makers know it. Not only do they make filthy films to “depict reality,” they put R-ratings on them to let you know how bad even they think they are!

Trust me, if the people who make this filth warn you it’s filth–it’s filth.

So, we all know reality is filled with sin. What is perhaps harder to realize is that you are filled with sin.

Judging other people’s sin is easier for several reasons.

1) It’s not ours, so we can feel good about ourselves.
2) We are immune to much of our own sin. As one man eloquently put it, “Every man’s farts smell good to himself after a while.” Hey, I didn’t say it, someone else did. Quit judging me.
3) We give ourselves the benefit of every doubt and rarely extend the same honor to others.
4) We know where we’ve come from and we have little idea where others come from, so we assume the worst about them.
5) Other people’s sin doesn’t make me feel guilty.
6) I can be part of God’s right arm of justice by not only pointing out, but helping punish the sins of others, you know, for Jesus and stuff.
7) Watching other people’s sin is kind of fun! The entertainment industry proves this daily.
8) If we weren’t so good at seeing faults in others, we’d have little to talk about. What would we gossip about then, how nice our neighbors are?
9) We are biased in our judgments. We do not judge righteous judgment. We judge our opinions of brief snippets of external behavior rather than hearts.
10) People are always sinning in front of me, what else am I supposed to do?

We all know the realities of sin, that’s not the problem, we see it in others constantly. The problem is being real with ourselves and with our own sin. That’s why most keep their lives so busy and loud and take so little time to be still and know God.

Knowing God results in knowing yourself and your sin. Before love, joy and peace take root, shame, guilt and oops must take root. Few are willing to come to Christ for fear of what they’ll see in themselves.

The Spirit Reproves the World of Sin

The Spirit of God and the Word of God work together. In fact, Jesus said His words were spirit and life.

One cannot come to Christ or His Word without running into the work of the Holy Spirit.

When Christ was preparing to leave, He told His disciples His departure was good so He could send the Spirit. And, when the Spirit comes, “he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment

“Reprove” means to find fault with something. It even goes so far as to shame the person who did or has the fault. It brings to light and exposes bad stuff, thus making the doer of the bad stuff fell, well, bad.

What is being exposed exactly? He convicts the world of sin “because they believe not on me.”

The ultimate sin is unbelief. Paul later says, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Faith is hearing God; sin is not hearing God. “Hearing,” in the Bible, is always linked with obedience, not just whether your ears work or not.

To reject Christ is to be in sin. If your sin is not forgiven, there is punishment awaiting. Coming to Christ by faith is how sin is dealt with and removed.

The Spirit will bring many into an awareness of sin, in fact, I’d go so far as to say all are brought to this by the Spirit.

But then it’s up to the person to figure out what their next move will be: come to the light or run from the light.

Men love the darkness, but there’s no hope in the darkness. Yes, our God is a consuming fire, a burning light, but the only way to be safe is to come to Him in faith. Counter-intuitive perhaps, but the only answer.

One Main Reason People Avoid Reading the Bible

The Bible calls God the “living God.”

Our Bible is God’s Word and, get this, it is living!

This only makes sense. When the living God speaks, He speaks living words.

As Peter says of Christ, “thou hast the words of eternal life.

Earlier in that same passage, Jesus says, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

His words are spirit and life. They reveal and, in some mysterious way, ARE the living God.

As John explains in John 1, “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God.” Later John says, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Jesus Christ is the word. The Living Word. He reveals the Living God.

The Bible is God’s living word and is God’s living Spirit.

This all seems totally cool! By God’s Word we get to know God and interact with His Spirit. How is that not awesome?!

I’ll tell ya how, cuz one of the main jobs of the Spirit is to convict men of sin.

If you don’t mess with God’s Word, you avoid God’s Spirit, thus you avoid guilt and the painful reality of sin.

One Main Reason People Avoid Knowing God Through Christ

The Son, Jesus Christ, is the only one who can reveal God, the Father, to a person.

With all the talk of God these days, one would think Jesus would have many followers, but He does not. Why do so many want to play games with knowing God, but so few want to know Him through Christ?

–People blow themselves up crashing airplanes into buildings to know God.

–People live in caves and eat bread and drink water for years to know God.

–People whip themselves to know God.

–People obsessively keep rules that some guys made up to know God.

Why are people so willing to do that, but so few are willing to come to Christ?

Remember, Christ says when you come to Him He reveals the Father to you, and this gives you rest.

Why is rest thrown away for laborious effort that does nothing more than make you obsess over yourself and take you further from God? Isn’t it easier just to come to Christ?

Apparently not. The long list of religious duties people keep shows us that knowing Christ must not be all that pleasant for some reason.

I think I know why: As Christ reveals the Father to you, He also reveals you to you. Having yourself revealed to you makes you aware of your SIN.

That aint no fun. Most would rather observe days, beat themselves with a whip, and live in a cave than deal with sin and guilt.

My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light

Creation lets us know there is a God. The Son, Jesus Christ, reveals to us who the Father is. In order to know the Father we take our weary, heavy-laden selves to the Son.

What does that mean?

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

The point of coming is to learn. We learn from Christ and He reveals to us who the Father is.

We have a burden, we come to Christ and yoke ourselves with Him. A yoke is a thing that binds two things together to pull a weight. Notice Jesus doesn’t say He eliminates your burden; He says He’ll pull it with you. He has a burden, but it’s light.

It is my contention that the burden is the burning desire to know God that was never helped by anyone or anything but Christ alone. Jesus doesn’t eliminate the burden; Jesus helps us with the burden. He also eliminates all the other stupid options that were wearing us out before. What a blessing that is!

As long as we’re on earth we are not with the Father fully, therefore, this burden of knowing Him remains.

However, with Christ, I am yoked with Him, being moved toward the Father and this gives me rest knowing that one day I will be like Him for I shall see Him as He is! What a day! It’s that day that pushes me through these days.

Ye that Labor and are Heavy Laden

“Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Only the Son can reveal the Father. How do you have the Father revealed to you then?

Do you sit around and passively hope you are one of the few whom the Father arbitrarily chooses to reveal Himself to? Or is there something we can do to know the Father?

The verse quoted above is Matthew 11:27 and you know the next verse! It’s one of those cliche verses thrown around left and right.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

All we have to do is come and learn. Unfortunately, there is only one group who will truly come, those who are laboring and heavy laden.

“Labour” means those who are weary, tired and exhausted. “Heavy laden” are those overburdened.

What is the burden and weariness from? He doesn’t specify, so I hesitate to. My guess is that it’s spiritual burden, knowing you aren’t making it, tired of failure, tired of the games that life runs you through.

I JUST WANT TO KNOW HIM!

I don’t want burdens, toil and effort in everyone’s stupid games they’ve invented. I JUST WANT TO KNOW GOD!

Ever felt that?! I hope so, because that’s where faith begins.

Robert Redford as Oral Roberts?

A new movie “about the world of evangelical ministers” is in the works, and they are hoping to cast Robert Redford as Oral Roberts.

“The film, which will be financed and produced by Endgame Entertainment (Looper), chronicles the true story of Carlton Pearson, a renowned evangelical minister in Tulsa, Okla., who stirs up controversy with his revelation that there is no hell. He loses everything and must rebuild his church and his family and find his own personal faith.”

“Roberts, an early pioneer of TV evangelism who reached millions of followers worldwide over more than six decades, served as Pearson’s mentor. “

Well, that oughta be a fine movie. I’m sure Evangelicalism will be treated well.

Hey, if it gets one person saved, aint it worth it? I guess God will tell.

Is Jesus the Slave of Allah or the Son of God?

God wants to be known. We know this because He chose to reveal Himself. Generically He reveals Himself through Creation. Specifically He reveals Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Knowing the person of Christ is essential to knowing God. That being the case, all religious roads do not lead to God. Although many Christians have backed off this point for the sake of “coexisting,” most other religions have no problem claiming exclusive rights to God.

Take this recent article as an example:

In an hour-long lecture on the history of Christianity to more than 1,000 students from the Universiti Teknologi Mara here, Masyud S.M also argued that the parts of the Bible based on his teachings should simply be called “Tales of Jesus” instead of the “Gospel”.

“Jesus is only a human slave to Allah. So his words should not be treated as gospel,” Masyud insisted, claiming that gospel was an amalgamation of the words “god” and “spell”.

If you think Jesus was a human slave of Allah, you will never know the Father.

The speaker went on to say that “experts on the New Testament have said 82 per cent of the words ascribed to Jesus in the gospel were not actually spoken by him.”

I imagine some of the words ascribed to Jesus that they threw out are the bit about Him being the only one who can reveal the Father.

 

Roger Olson on “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism”

“We have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually only tenuously Christian in any sense that is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian religion.

“It is not so much that U.S. Christianity is being secularized. Rather, more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by quite a different religious faith”

“The religion that is replacing “actual historical Christian religion” in America, especially among young people, is labeled “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism” (MTD for short). Dean, a professor of youth culture and ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, summarizes MTD with five beliefs:

“1) A god exists who created and orders the world and watches over life on earth,
2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions,
3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself,
4) God is not involved in my life except when I need God to resolve a problem,
5) Good people go to heaven when they die.

“I am afraid that it is becoming increasingly harder to find the gospel in America. It is either wrapped so tightly in the flag as to be virtually invisible or relegated to a footnote to messages about “success in living,” being nice and including everyone.”

Read the whole article here

The Son Reveals the Father

I am reading a book about a fiber optic line laid from Chicago to New York to gain a 4 millisecond advantage on stock trading. A millisecond is a thousandth of a second. People are amazingly smart, especially if there is money to be made!

If we are smart enough to figure out how to gain milliseconds to rip off slow people, how could we miss God’s revelation of Himself in Creation?

According to Paul, there is no excuse for missing the evidence for God by creation.

At the same time, you may be able to know God by creation, but there is no way to know the Father except through the Son.

Yes, the stars and trees point to God, but you can’t know the Father apart from the Son. I know this because the Son said so. “neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Knowing God exists and knowing God are two separate things. Seeing God by creation should drive a person to know more about who God is. This desire to know will drive that person to the Son, Jesus Christ, for a full education.

Thou Hast Hid These Things from the Wise and Prudent

Jesus seemed stunned that people had no idea what He was talking about. At the same time, He was stunned when someone understood what He was talking about!

At one point, Jesus thanks the Father “because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”

I think this explains some of His amazement! Wise people don’t get it; simple people do.

The literal translation of the Greek word “babe” is “a non-speaking one.” This refers to an actual baby and metaphorically to a simple-minded person.

Paul repeats this idea in 1 Corinthians 1-3, especially where he says not many wise are chosen.

God gives grace to the humble. Be careful of outsmarting yourself from God’s revelation.

The issue is not to be dumb though. Some Christians have thought education and faith are exclusive. The anti-intellectual stream of Christianity has not helped the general flow of Christianity much.

The issue is to value God’s wisdom above man’s wisdom. The world thinking you are wise means nothing; God thinking you are wise means everything.

Lying About Church Attendance

Many Americans claim to be religious and claim to attend their religious services regularly.

Many Americans are liars.

A new study shows that when asked on the phone more people said they attended services weekly, while when asked on the internet the number of attenders shrunk. Conclusion being:

“The existence of religious participation inflation demonstrates that church attendance remains a strong social norm in the U.S. The impact of these norms is that respondents talking to live interviewers on the telephone are less willing to admit lower levels of participation in an activity deemed to be socially good. Respondents completing the survey privately online are less apt to feel this pressure.”

In other words, there is a perceived pressure by Americans to attend church, so when asked by a live person people will lie about church attendance.

I have my own interpretation of this study:

–People who don’t go to church regularly are liars.

There’s news.

 

 

How Do You Know You Love God?

Love is a huge word in the Bible, a huge word in the character of God.

But I think our concept of love is rather squishy compared to God’s view of love.

Love has come to mean any number of things, and seemingly every person has a different definition of what love is.

We know that God loves us. We know this primarily through the Gospel of Jesus Christ–God’s love was demonstrated to us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down His life.

We know God loves us, but how do we know if we love God?

Do we know we love God because we have squishy feelings for Him? Do we know we love Him because we tell Him we do every once in a while?

The Bible helps us out with this one quite nicely, makes it rather simple. I’ll begin with a verse I partially quoted already–greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Christ laid down His life for His friends, who, pray tell, are His friends? The next verse answers that, Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

I imagine this freaks many people out. “Are you saying we are saved by works?” Nope, just saying that we love Him because He first loved us. How do we love Him: We obey Him.

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” in John 14. 1 John 5:3, says, “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 2 John 1:6 puts it this way, “this is love, that we walk after his commandments.”

As Paul says over and over, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Law consists of commandments. Love fulfills the commands of God.

Not only is it true that those who love God keep His commandments, the opposite is also true: those who hate God don’t keep His commandments. “The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him.”

We know God loves us because He sent His Son to die for us. God knows we love Him because we respond to His love with a grateful heart willing to obey. He gave His life for us; we respond by giving our lives to Him. Present your bodies a living sacrifice.

This is love. Whatever other definition you have for “love” here is wrong.

A Non-Creepy Application of The Song of Solomon

A very wise person recently shared with me a view of Song of Solomon that was highly intriguing.

Song of Solomon has to be the weirdest book in the Bible. Good Lord, what is going on there?

Generally the book is applied in two ways:

1) It’s a picture of the Gospel and Christ’s love for His bride the Church and all the various members that grab His attention, even though Paul says the unseemly parts should get some pub too.

2) It’s a guide for MARRIED people to lust after their spouses and have sex on a regular basis.

Neither of these fully seems to connect, and both leave you feeling a tad creepy.

That being the case, I am all for a better view of the book. I have never heard this particular theory, but the more I think on it, the more I like it. Here’s the theory.

Song of Solomon is the third book by Solomon in a row after Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Solomon was a wise man who messed up. God talked to Solomon two times and yet Solomon still disobeyed.

Solomon was told in the Law not to marry foreign women, but Solomon lusted after foreign women. He then married or concubined (?) a thousand of them. These foreign women brought in their foreign gods, Solomon was turned after them, and the kingdom was doomed from then on.

He was commanded not to marry foreign women. Although we can’t know this for sure (no one really knows who a “Shulamite” is), the bride may have been one of these foreign women. She says she has black skin and she is called a Shulamite, not a Jew.

Perhaps Song of Solomon shows how Solomon was led down the path to forsaking God–by lusting after a woman’s external appearance.

In Proverbs, Solomon even warns his son about lusting after saucy women, perhaps this is a story about how he didn’t listen to his own advice. How fleshly lust is no basis for a healthy relationship, and your kingdom will be doomed soon after.

Hmm. Interesting.

John Calvin on Why People go to Hell

Why do people go to hell?

Most would say it’s because people are unrepentant sinners who did not come to Christ by faith for the forgiveness of sins.

According to John Calvin, it’s because God is pleased to create people to send there.

“Many professing a desire to defend the Deity from an invidious charge admit the doctrine of election, but deny that any one is reprobated…. This they do ignorantly and childishly since there could be no election without its opposite reprobation. God is said to set apart those whom he adopts for salvation. It were most absurd to say, that he admits others fortuitously, or that they by their industry acquire what election alone confers on a few. Those, therefore, whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children.”

— John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Henry Beveridge), Book 3, Chapter 23.

He said it, not me. It’s one more reason I’m not a Calvinist.

HT: SEA

Where Does “There but for the Grace of God Go I” Come From?

I have heard people say “There but for the grace of God go I” many times. I must admit, I hate that phrase.

I imagine there are many who think it is biblical.

The reason I bring it up is because I was reading a commentary that said:

“And Paul goes on to say that when we see a man fall into a fault or sin, we would do well to say, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.'”

That irritates me because that quote isn’t from Paul, yet is worded to make it appear as though it were.

The main reason I don’t like this statement is because it makes sin God’s fault. God’s grace prevented me from sinning, but apparently God’s grace wasn’t given to you enough, so you totally blew it. Aint I special?!

This quote impugns God, displaces blame from the sinner, and turns the non-sinner into a self-righteous snob.

Now, sure, grace helps us overcome sin, don’t get me wrong, but not all overcome sin and it’s not the fault of God’s grace when sin wins out.

The phrase smacks of fatalism. I know it’s trying hard to be humble, but as with most admissions of humility, it is quite arrogant.

The phrase has been attributed to John Bradford, John Newton and Philip Neri, none of whom are the Apostle Paul, nor authors of Scripture.

Worship, Pride and Social Media

Came across this quote from Edmund Burke about French politicians, but can be carried across all humanity quite easily.

“Statesmen, like your present rulers, exist by every thing which is spurious, fictitious, and false; by every thing which takes the man from his house, and sets him on a stage, which makes him up an artificial creature, with painted theatric sentiments, fit to be seen by the glare of candlelight, and formed to be contemplated at a due distance. Vanity is too apt to prevail in all of us, and in all countries.”

 

Putting yourself on a stage can be devastating. People are better off keeping home, out of the spotlight, not putting on a show.

There is a time and a place to stand and do your thing in front of others. This is not a fear thing, but a humility thing.

Worship too often can be a stage-driven. Look at me and my awesomeness that is more awesomer than your pathetic non-awesomeness. I have the Spirit, you don’t, ya pathetic loser.

When we depend on external things in our worship, I think we are tempted along these lines more.

I think the true context of worship is in the heart, in the Spirit. That can take place anywhere and I truly hope that a small percentage of your worshipful moments occurred in church. I hope many occurred in private, off the stage.

Again, this is not to say you can’t worship in church or in front of others, you can, I just wonder how much pride plays into our worshipful expressions. I’m a pastor, on a stage every Sunday. I know whereof I speak.

This is also the danger of social media. Places where we can edit what others see, where we put our best foot forward and put on a good show for everyone to watch and praise us for. Putting yourself up to be contemplated from a due distance.

Maybe that doesn’t bother everyone on Facebook, maybe I’m a rare one who struggles with that.

Pride is a killer of spiritual growth and must be guarded against. We also need to guard against using pride to judge others’ presumed pride.

“God gives grace to the humble,” so I imagine we ought to be concerned with how humble we are.

Judging How Others Worship

Worship can be a tricky thing.

David danced in front of people in his self-forgetful joy of worship, humiliating his wife. To all appearances, David was just showing off, but in David’s heart he was alone before God.

One problem with worship is that we judge other people for how they do it or not. I’m not a hand waving kind of guy. I have been judged as “not having the Spirit” because I don’t gyrate the way the Spirit apparently makes people gyrate.

At the same time, while I’m being judged for not gyrating, I am judging the gyrators. If I did what they were doing, I would be so self-conscious there is no way I would be worshiping! But that doesn’t mean they aren’t!

It’s like people who get mad when someone says God healed their knee problem, “Well, God didn’t heal me.”

“Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” should impact us way more than it does.

We assume this means, “Hey, don’t laugh at a funeral, bub.” When in reality it might mean, “Maybe you should shut up about your petty jealousy here and just be happy someone had a good thing happen to them.”

Pride is humanity’s number one downfall. It gets us all the time. Worship can look like pride. A guy fully absorbed in the wonders of God can come across like a real jerk.

I think we need to be careful with pride in relation to our worship: either because it is making us grab attention, or because it makes us judge others.

I’m a guy who gravitates toward keeping it hidden, to stay out of the spotlight, just ignore me in the corner over here. I think that’s a safe place to be. Has it hampered my worship? Maybe when I’m in a group, but I have never really felt worshipful in a group really.

My greatest times of worship have been when I’m alone. When I don’t have to worry about what others think, or have to consider myself at all. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully worship God in a context where other people are involved.

I think the Church should be understanding of this and not force it’s “You know you have the Spirit if you do this like us” mentality. It doesn’t help the group who partakes, nor the one who doesn’t.

Early Picture of Jesus, or Perhaps an Early Picture of a Man

Spanish archaeologists have discovered what may be one of the earliest depictions of Jesus in an ancient Egyptian tomb.

Painted on the walls of a mysterious underground stone structure in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, about 100 miles south of Cairo, the image shows a young man with curly hair and dressed in a short tunic.

jesus tomb picture egypt

The reason they think this might be Jesus, besides it being a young man with curly hair wearing a tunic is because he’s also holding his hands up.

“He raises his hand as if making a blessing,” said Egyptologist Josep Padró, who has spent over 20 years excavating sites in the area. “We could be dealing with a very early image of Jesus Christ.”

Or, as is more likely, we are dealing with an archeologist who wants so notoriety for finding a picture of a man in a tunic raising his hands.

Physical Stuff and Worship

God knows who we are. He knows how we operate and is willing to work with us. Psalm 103:14, one of the coolest verses in the Bible, says, “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

That’s a good thing!

One attribute of humanity that God works with is our desire to have physical things in our religion. We need to be very careful of this tendency, but God has thrown us a bone or two on this front.

Baptism is a physical picture of the spiritual reality of being placed into the Body of Christ.

Communion is done “in remembrance” of Christ until He returns.

Marriage is a physical demonstration of oneness as well as Christ’s relationship to the Church.

Creation reminds us of His nature and the work of His hands.

Just because a physical thing has a part in your religion doesn’t mean you’re an idolater.

The problem comes when we depend on these things, when these things (even Communion or marriage) become enough for us that we never get to God behind them. Those who celebrate how great their marriage is because of God, rather than celebrating how good God is because of their marriage.

If taking communion or being baptized is the substance of your God-awareness, or if you have little desire to know God as long as you have these things, you might be in trouble.

Physical things can also be used as a natural outpouring of true spiritual growth. We don’t take Communion to get brownie points with God; we take Communion to remember the Lord’s death until He comes. Communion is no substitute for heart worship, but it can be an expression of heart worship.

In the end, God is the judge of our worship. One good way to determine where your focus is at with worship is whether you are doing it for yourself and the fine feelings, or if you are doing it for God, regardless of whether you “benefit” or not.

Yes, all true worship will benefit you, but if you just do it for you, idolatry aint far behind.

W. E. Vine–Christ Did Not Keep the Law For You

I read the Bible a lot. Based on my reading, I come up with theories. I then test out my theories, lots of times on this blog.

Occasionally I come up with something I haven’t heard other people say, which doesn’t mean no one else has said it, mostly it means I never paid attention when people said it before!

For the last couple years I’ve been thinking about this atonement stuff, particularly the idea that “Christ kept the law for me,” or that “Christ’s deeds are added to my account.” I have never seen those things in Scripture, but so many people say them.

The other day, in preparing my sermon on Galatians 4, I was reading in Vine’s Commentary on Galatians by W. E. Vine, also author of Vine’s Dictionary, and came across this:

Neither the incarnation of the Son of God, nor His keeping of the Law in the days of His flesh availed, in whole or in part, for the redemption of men. Apart from the Incarnation death would have been impossible for Him; hence this was the condition necessary for the accomplishment of the redemption, but was itself no part of that redemption.

“His redemption work began and ended on the Cross; accordingly the statement of the Savior’s relation to sin is invariably made in terms that confine that relationship to His death. Hence it is nowhere said in the New Testament that Christ kept the law for us.

The fact that Mr. Vine said this doesn’t mean it’s true, but it does mean I’m not the only on who has ever expressed such thoughts, and that’s encouraging!

Being Dependent on Ritual = Pagan Idol Worship

Christians all know that idol worship is bad. “Make no graven images” is a law that’s been around for a long time.

However, images still drive much of Christianity, and I aint just talking about Catholics and their crucifixes and statues of Mary and the saints.

Idolatry is a reliance on an image to evoke certain feelings or responses. Idolatry is evil because it makes you dependent on physical objects rather than God. Obviously, with true idolatry, the object represents something false, there is no god behind the idols of false gods.

Religion under Moses’ Law relied heavily on external things as well–priests, sacrifices, holy-days, and such things. Unfortunately, those objects began to take precedent over the God behind them.

When God Himself showed up on earth, in the person of Jesus Christ, the Jewish leaders would rather have their symbols than God. Jesus just didn’t give them the same feelings and sensations as their physical religious deeds.

Galatians is a book written to confront false notions of the Old Covenant that crept into the New Covenant. Galatians 4 has two fascinating verses:

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”

Paul’s is saying that they (Gentiles) used to worship false gods. They were caught in bondage to external things to evoke spiritual feelings, but missed God entirely through these things.

But now they have a better knowledge of who God is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why, after getting the substance, do they desire to go back to symbols? He uses the word “again” twice–you are going back to pagan ritual again.

Earlier in the chapter he talked about Jews also being in bondage to elements of the world as their worship until Christ came.Now that Christ has come, God has been revealed to both Jew and Gentile, therefore, they know God and shouldn’t need temporal, sensual, elements of the world anymore.

Paul then says:

Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

Paul is saying that now that Christ has fully revealed God, going back to Old Testament rituals is like pagan worship of false gods!

Point One: you used to worship gods that weren’t God
Point Two: Now you know God through Christ and Paul’s preaching
Point Three: But you go back to weak and beggarly elements–externals–again
Point Four: Externals such as esteeming days better than others.

To Paul, observing special days is a return to pagan idolatry. To Paul, substituting a physical thing to “get you in the mood” is idolatry. Worship leaders often call this “preparing your heart to enter His presence,” and such things. This is fancy talk for “let’s get in the mood.”

People are suckers for this stuff. We want that THING that is going to make us feel like we just “met God,” or we need that picture to remind us to think about God.

I really think we need to be careful with this stuff.

*If you need certain types of music in order to worship God, you might be an idolater.

*If you need pictures, images or statues to remind you that God is there, you might be an idolater.

*If you need movies about little kids seeing visions of heaven in order to remember that heaven is for real, you might be an idolater.

*If you need movies about the Son of God to get you to feel emotions about the Gospel, you might be an idolater.

*If you need to be in a certain building to feel you are “in the presence of God,” you might be an idolater.

*If you need special days to do special rituals (traditions) to make you thankful to God, or to think about Him, you might be an idolater.

*If you need special clothing to make you feel holy, you might be an idolater.

Once Christ came and revealed God to us, we don’t need images, shadows and types–we have the real deal. Getting sucked back into these things is bondage, says Paul. Even going back to Old Covenant external forms of worship is now akin to pagan worship, according to Paul!

Fight off that urge to feel certain emotions that are dependent on physical things. We worship in Spirit and in Truth.