God and the Gospel

What would evidence of God do to change your life?

What would change if your eternal destiny depended on what you do with this information?

 

For centuries intelligent men believed the universe was eternal.  Now we know an eternal universe is impossible and unscientific. An eternal universe means everything that could have happened would already have been done before the present moment since the past is infinite (confusing, right?). So, we are either living in the past, or time is infinitely cyclical and everything we’re doing has already happened. Recent discoveries in science declare that the universe had an absolute beginning. What could have caused the beginning and existence of our universe?

The cause was likely volitional (willed/logical) because the foundations of mathematics and morality are definite/absolute; It is always wrong to torture children; Two plus two always equals four. Mathematics seems to be implanted on nature and morality in our minds. The only thing that can comprehend mathematics and philosophy is a conscious entity, a mind. Therefore, it would seem that only a conscious entity could have created math and morality.

The cause must have been incredibly powerful. For example, “If all the sunlight energy striking the Earth’s surface in Texas alone could be converted to electricity, it would be up to 300 times the total power output of all the power plants in the world!” There are billions of trillions of stars in the universe! The sun isn’t even the biggest star! That is an unfathomable amount of energy to exist spontaneously and then organize into planets, stars, and galaxies.

The cause of the universe must be outside of time and space. “Nothing” cannot bring something into existence, because “nothing” is, well, nothing! The progenitor of creation must exist outside of the creation itself. Logically, the universe was caused by a creative free will who is powerful,  supernatural, outside of time, and infinite.

If you’re thinking that this cause sounds a lot like God, you are thinking like millions of other people on the earth. Ancient philosophers (Aristotle), without the use of sacred texts, have come to the conclusion that God exists necessarily. The apostle Paul wrote, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…” (Romans 1:20).  The Wall Street Journal shared an article that Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God.

It is not just under-educated men and women who believe in God. Doctors, physicists, cosmologists, rocket scientists, and people of any other respectable position believe in a Creator. Even atheists must remind themselves that “Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the illusion of design and planning.”

In order to deny the existence of God, one must have all knowledge in the universe. Men must suppress what seems to be an obvious and inherited belief, that God created the world, in order to be dogmatic about atheism. So, what does this have to do with you?

The moral compass we are born with and which governs most societies ties us directly back to God. Each society has a list of things which are “wrong” and punishments for the crimes. We do not trust or respect those who lie, cheat, steal and abuse their power. These wrong doings are called sins. Although all sin, we tend to be harder on others than ourselves.

The greatest cause of suffering on earth is the pain we cause each other through selfishness and hate. Galatians 5:14-15 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Every selfish deed is a breaking of God’s law of love.

Similar to man’s judicial system, every selfish action, thought, or word caught by God will be punished. Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. This a fearful thought. God, who created mankind, will also judge those who inflict pain on His creation. When you wrong another person, you are wronging God.

He is angered by how we treat each other with such disregard and impatience and hate. Psalm 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. A God who is not angry at evil would not be loving on the victim. When we die, we will give account to God.

Yet, God is merciful. He came to earth robed with the flesh of man to teach us how to live and love. He came to save us from hell. Jesus, God in the flesh, said,

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:43-45)

This is an impossible standard to live up to. We are all guilty before God, but He made a way for us to be forgiven. In His love, God delivered Jesus as the scapegoat for our sins.

Here is a prophecy about Jesus written years before His birth:

Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity (sin) of us all.

God placed all of your sins on Jesus as He was being crucified. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24) Jesus wants to take your sin, and make you a new person.

He died on the cross, but rose three days later to prove He was God and to show that He had the power to forgive our sin and give us the gift of heaven. Jesus appeared to hundreds of people after His resurrection and they preached this gospel truth to the rest of the world: Romans 3:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus offers you a gift of forgiveness, and life after death with God who loves you.

This gift must be received. Like all gifts, it is not earned or deserved. It is given freely out of love. No one will be in heaven because of their own goodness. We are all selfish, but we can all be saved through Jesus. He has done everything necessary through His sinless life to satisfy God’s righteousness, and by taking your sins in His body on the cross He has paid for your badness. If you are willing to admit you are a sinner, simply believe that Jesus has saved you by dying with your sins in Himself and rose from the dead to prove His deity, then He promises you can be forgiven.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.fullsizeoutput_1c

Believe on Jesus. Just trust that He has saved you and rely on His promise of everlasting life. He is the only one who can save you. He will not lie. When you believe on Him you are given the gift of spiritual life. Once you have trusted in your heart that Jesus has saved you, God sends the Holy Spirit to empower you to do what is righteous.

Pray and ask God to help you live a good life which is pleasing to the One who died to set you free from your selfishness. Welcome to the family of God!

Two Great Sins Of American Christianity

I remember my first time at Disney World. What an amazing experience! The pyrotechnics (I love fire), musicals, 3d rides, and pineapple ice cream were fantastic. I enjoyed every moment, except having “It’s a Small World” stuck in my head. I noticed something interesting and alarming while at the happiest place on earth though; one of the least common sites was a smile. Thousands of people with nothing to do but eat, drink, and be merry with hardly a smirk to be seen.

As I walked throughout the park those two days I looked and looked for people who seemed joyful and happy. There were few. Even when getting off crazy rides, the average person lacked enthusiasm.

What could be the cause of such a tragedy? Was it the heat, or the lines, or the cost? Perhaps it was everyone had “It’s a Small World After All” running through their minds driving them closer to insanity? I don’t think these were the causes of such widespread unhappiness.

We have a problem in America. Ok, we have a lot of problems in America, but this one is frequently overlooked. This problem has infected us individually, in the home, societally, and in the church. It has spread to all of us.

The evil is bothersome in large quantities, but in little doses it can be enjoyable. Sometimes we share it with others and infect them. At times, groups of friends and family members comfort one another with its poison. I am guilty too.

This grave issue is unthankfulness: murmuring, complaining, ungratefulness, ingratitude.

This “little” problem seeps through our minds and speech going unnoticed and rarely confronted.

As Americans there is little reason to perpetuate this evil, but so much focus is on ourselves that we can’t see how selfish it is-how disastrous to our happiness. We cannot see how it affects those around us, including the lost world.

kids-not-sharing

We often ruin what could be the best moments of life through this wrong focus of ingratitude:

Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

What is presented in this passage is a group of people who have a knowledge of God and reject it because they don’t esteem God as great and are unthankful. The results are: the darkening of man’s heart and affections, vile lusts toward one another, and sinful self-destructive behavior. All of these downfalls are in America today, but I would like to note that the key causes (dethroning God/unthankfulness) are found too frequently in the lives of Christians.

People like you and me, who claim to follow truth, are also perpetrators of America’s downfall.

  1. They Glorified Him Not as God

The greatest command in Scripture is to love God, but Americans worship idols. It’s not by bowing down to statues, but lives in general give a nod to religion and focus on entertainment. New devices are more desired than a meaningful life. Trendy clothes become more important than reaching the needy. Social Media “likes” overtake spreading the gospel. Pure religion is to care for the fatherless and widow-the highlight of America’s religion is a new outfit on Easter.

Carnal people respect talents, looks, riches, athleticism, and personality more than Christlikeness. In the church being “cool” or funny is often a prerequisite for acceptance, not a person’s genuineness or love for Christ. It is forgotten that talents were given by God. There is a tendency to take pride in others and ourselves.

Millions of Christians can tell you the names of their favorite athlete, musician, or actor and would even call them a hero, but don’t esteem (or even know of) a young woman like Katie Davis or faithful men like Richard Wurmbrand who risk their lives to feed the poor and rescue the persecuted. These people, missionaries and ministers sacrificing for the benefit of others, should be more admired. They are not relying on talent or giftedness to gain fame and fortune, but have made the hard choice to lay down their lives for others. Ultimately, they have chosen to esteem God by living the gospel. My point is this:

When we make more of entertainers, and less of God and His servants, we aren’t glorifying God as God. We are erecting idols.

Every talented individual on this planet was gifted by their Creator. They may have developed those gifts, but they didn’t choose to be born musical, attractive, intelligent, or athletic. When men are glorified, and hearts fail to praise their Creator, He is not glorified as God. He deserves thanks and glory for all the pleasurable things we enjoy.

I am not against entertainers or athletes (go Broncos), but selfish lifestyles are promoted and men over God by an unbalanced attention to the trivial. When temporal success is lauded by the church more than eternal values it’s as though God exists to fulfill our dreams of success, instead of believing that joy comes from fulfilling His will. Can an athlete fulfill God’s will for their life through sports? Yes! Most important though is the reflection of Christ in this person’s life, not the gold medal.

Blessings come from seeking God, but we are not to seek God simply for the blessings.

A focus on ourselves and worldly achievements leads us into ungratefulness. Seeking pleasure and notoriety more than His kingdom causes ingratitude to intensify. Chasing happiness is the hardest way to catch it.

It isn’t true that if one isn’t in deep sin and attends a church then he can enjoy the American Dream and God expects little more. The Biblical truth is that God calls all His children to center their lives around Him (Deut. 6:4-15) regardless of their profession.  

God desires a loving relationship with us. This is why Jesus’ call to Christians is about more than living a clean comfortable American life and following a few moral obligations. Jesus calls us to join Him in the work of the gospel by giving up everything, being inconvenienced, and even persecuted to spread God’s love.

 Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Jesus teaches that true blessing comes when we surrender all we hold dear for God’s glory, not the pursuit of happiness.

We do not esteem God as God when we live for our pleasure and not His, for we were created for Him (Rev. 4:11). 

Are you living to pursue greater pleasure and leisure, or to further the eternal kingdom of God? Are You willing to be inconvenienced, even mocked, to make much of the gospel? 

Living for one’s self breeds ungratefulness.

2. Neither were They Thankful

Back to the illustration of Disney World; The reason so many seem unhappy is because of unthankful attitudes (I overheard this while standing in lines). Sure, Disney World is expensive, but such a small part of the world’s population gets to enjoy such an experience. It was hot, but cold drinks and ice cream are available when desired: most slept in a resort with air conditioning. The lines are boring, but it could be a bread line instead.

Ingratitude grows by focusing on temporal pleasure and minor inconveniences instead of daily blessings. For some, days of leisure, laughter, fun, and family are wasted by ingratitude. Our own lives are ruined when the focus is on negatives. I wonder how many incredible experiences are wasted by being unthankful?

This video gives in an adequate illustration of how one can waste their life.

 

You ruin what you have by seeking what you don’t.

I’ve been blessed to travel the world for four years. As I’ve ministered to orphans in cemeteries and people eating mice, it struck me as absurd how unthankful I can be: how focused I am on myself. America has a culture of envy, dissatisfaction, and covetousness. Americans are constantly aware of all the things they don’t have, concentrating on those objects which they desire to gain, instead of humbly focusing on that for which they can be grateful. This attitude does not please God or aid the church (Col. 3:15).

The sin of ingratitude portrays God as distant and uninvolved, instead of the gracious provisional Father He is.

Being unthankful disables from serving others because it places focus on oneself. Generous people typically focus on what they have to give, not on what they desire to gain. I want to be like that. I want to be like Jesus who, although He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor (2 Cor. 8:9).

Jesus is the physical image of God. He came to heal, restore, and give rest. Throughout the world God uses dedicated people to feed the poor, be a father to the fatherless, and free the addict. He uses those who make much of Him. He uses those who are thankful.

There is always someone with more than you, but there are millions more with less. We will never grow as Christians, or individually, until we focus on gratitude.  A person’s life does not consist in the amount of things he gains, but in the abundance of compassion he gives.

Are you looking for ways to be thankful? Are you looking for ways to give to those with less? Are you positively affecting those around you through a grateful outlook? 

Make much of God, His love, His grace, and His goodness: through your words, through your attitude, through your giving.

Give thanks to God for His love, His grace, and for His goodness: through your words, through your attitude, through generosity.

1 John 4:7-9  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that liveth is born of God, and knoweth God.He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.