What Can We Say About Jesus?

According to the gospel writer John the number of things that could be said about Jesus are innumerable:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.
– John 21:25

Today I suppose the popular answer to the question, what can we say about Jesus, would be, Jesus is loving. Perhaps second in popularity, though I suspect, a distant second, would be, Jesus is our Savior.

I wonder if anyone would come up with what I think might be most true about Jesus. Yes, He is loving because He is Love, but that is not His only trait. Yes, He saves and therefore is the Savior, but not in a universal sense.

What I think is most true about Jesus is that He was and is misunderstood.

When He was a baby, Herod misunderstood the announcement that a king had been born, and tried to have Him killed. His parents misunderstood when He, as a twelve-year-old, stayed in the temple, going about His Father’s business. His mother misunderstood when she asked Him as an adult to turn water into wine.

But that was nothing compared to all the misunderstanding He was about to suffer. The 5000 He fed thought He would always be good for a free lunch. The crowds that pressed around Him for healing, that saw Him raise the dead or throw demons out of possessed people, thought He was on His way to Jerusalem to establish His rule. Meanwhile, His family thought He was crazy, and the men He chose as His apprentices wouldn’t believe Him when He said He was going to die or that He would rise again on the third day.

Then there were the guys who hated Him. They were convinced He would start a riot, bringing down the wrath of Rome on Judea. They feared Him for what He never claimed or intended to be and rejected Him for what He openly called them to believe.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was Pilate who thought he was in charge, not Jesus. There were the mockers at the foot of the cross who didn’t think He could come down if He wanted to. And afterward, there were His followers, packing it in, ready to go back to fishing because the last three years had been a bust, they thought.

Of course none of it was a bust. All of it was according to Plan. But the misunderstanding hasn’t stopped. People still think wrong things about Jesus. Some say He is a myth or that He was an awfully nice man, dead though He now is. Others think He came to earth to live a life of kindness and generosity so people everywhere could see how it could be done and then go and do likewise. Still others divorce him from his Father, thinking that he either was a secondary god or god in an evolved form from his Old Testament self.

Some people say that He is, in fact, the Son of God, but they think He can be manipulated by His words and because of His character. He’s a promise keeper, they say, and here is His promise in black and white, so I know I can ask for a beach house in Malibu and He HAS to come through for me or else.

Clearly a good number of His promises have been misunderstood by the very people who claim to be His followers. Meanwhile His pesky commandments so out of step with society at large, seem to be twisted or ignored, which is easy to do since fewer and fewer people read them for themselves. Consequently, if someone of standing comes along and says Jesus was this or that, thousands believe no matter if the this is a lie or the that a fabrication.

So what can we say about Jesus? Maybe the best thing would be to spend more time reading God’s Word so Jesus has the final say on the matter. πŸ˜€

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm  Comments (4)  

What Are We Believing If We Believe In Jesus?

The Bible says in John 3:16 that whoever believes in God’s Son will have eternal life. Jesus Himself spoke those words.

The Gospel writers sprinkle evidence throughout their books that Jesus was that Son. Consequently, we would be accurate to say that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life. But what exactly are we to believe about Jesus? That He existed? That eternal life is in Him? That He is God’s Son?

Perhaps we should start by saying what this phrase does NOT mean.

We are not to believe that Jesus was a good example. Yes, He was, and we are to follow Him, to live as He lived, to obey what He said. But doing all that is 1) not possible apart from supernatural power; and 2) not going to give us eternal life. We know this from the totality of Scripture.

Let’s use a sobering example. Say a married man is unfaithful to his wife just once, but in that one act of infidelity, he contracts a venereal disease. No matter how faithful he acts from that time forth, he will not cancel out his faithless act. His fidelity is what he owed his wife all along, and giving it to her before or after his adultery does not scrub out the faithless act or its consequence.

So too, if someone says he believes in Jesus as a model for how to live, good for him. If he could actually do so, he would now be living as he should have all along. But this new behavior would not scrub away the life lived in contradiction to Jesus’s example. In other words, living as Jesus lived cannot bring that eternal life John 3:16 promises.

Believing in Jesus also does not mean believing that He will make this life more comfortable for us or that He will fix our heartaches, keep our loved ones safe, help us to get a better job, or make us better wives or husbands. He may do those things. But the truth is, He wants to do more.

Two missionary couples were killed last week by Somali pirates. If their belief was in Jesus making them happy, they must have been sorely disappointed when their yacht was captured. I suspect they were not, because their chosen mission was to distribute Bibles. I suspect, therefore, they believed the Bible and knew that their lives were more than comfort and ease.

Today in LA a fireman who died in the line of duty was buried, his funeral televised for all the area to see. His pastor, among others who spoke, gave a stirring testimony of this man’s faith — not in Jesus who would give him a comfortable life, but Jesus who assured him of eternal life.

Believing in Jesus is also not taking to heart His teaching. Like the challenge to live as He lived, this one is also impossible and insufficient.

What, then, does it mean to believe in Jesus?

First it means to believe in who He is — God’s Son, the promised Messiah, the suffering Savior, the risen Lord, the soon to return King.

Second it means to believe in what He has done — while we were yet sinners, He died for us, bearing the punishment we deserved for our wayward hearts and willful rebellion; then He rose again that we too who were dead in our sins could be alive to God. We also must believe that His sacrifice as our substitute is sufficient to reconcile us to our Holy God. That, after all, is the point and purpose of the promise — eternal life means life with God enjoying his abiding love and fellowship and presence, here in part, after this life in uninterrupted fullness.

Published in: on February 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm  Comments (8)  
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CSFF Blog Tour Wrap – The God Hater

As the tour for Bill Myers’ The God Hater winds up, I realize that I missed an opportunity to dive headlong into one of the knottier theological topics — free will. After all, the story revolved around the need for a group of scientists creating a virtual world to give their e-humans free will. Fortunately a couple of our bloggers, Rachel Briard and Thomas Clayton Booher, addressed the issue.

The question theologians have wrestled with in the past, but which we today seem to dodge, is this: Do we humans have free will? That question is often married to another on: Is God truly sovereign over all creation?

My answer to both is yes and yes, and I think The God Hater gives a good picture of how this apparent dichotomy is true.

The scientists, before they created their virtual world, decided their e-humans must have free will. It was their “sovereign” choice to give their “creations” the ability to choose. However, when those virtual people chose self-destruction, the scientists “tweaked” the program, introducing ideas to affect those choices.

In the end the e-humans were still free to choose because the “sovereign” scientists had determined that they could. Of course this is a simplistic view, but I thought it merited more space in the tour discussion, and I’m sorry I didn’t bring it up sooner.

On to the wrap. A total of 40 bloggers posted 76 articles about The God Hater, making this the biggest tour since Stephen Lawhead’s The Skin Map tour back in November.

As you might expect, we have a long list of bloggers eligible for the February CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award. Please take time to review these articles (you’re in for some interesting reading) in the next ten days, and vote for your favorite.

Published in: on February 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm  Comments (3)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – The God Hater, Day 3

The Review

Of course, I’m talking about a review of the February CSFF Blog Tour feature, The God Hater by Bill Myers (visit his author page on Facebook). Please know that, of necessity, I will give some spoilers. I’ll try to alert you to any major reveals, so you can skip those sections if you, as I most often prefer, want to hold onto the surprise of first reading.

The Story. An atheist philosopher, befriended by a Christian biologist, becomes embroiled in corporate intrigue as he tries to help his brother save the virtual world he’s created with his inventive technology.

That’s it in a very small nutshell. If you’d like more detail, other participants such as Jessica Thomas have done a much better job telling what the story is about.

The Strengths. I’m not sure I can do justice in this short review to how much I liked the The God Hater. It was an entertaining story from the first page to the last. As I said in my first post about the book, I connected with the atheist protagonist immediately. I also felt like I knew most of the others — co-worker Annie and her son Rusty, brother Travis, his assistant Rebecca, and most especially Alpha 11, his wife, daughter, and (to a lesser degree) his son.

Beyond interesting, believable characters, I found the story to be engaging. I was caught up by the corporate intrigue and danger, the possibility of a little romance, and the fate of the e-community Travis had created.

But most important was the truth the story revealed. The theme was powerfully woven through the story. With the word “God” in the title, there’s no doubt that the book is about spiritual matters. The opening scene confirms this, as does an interplay between Professor Mackenzie, the atheist, and his Christian colleague, Annie Brooks, in chapter two.

From that point on, apart from an interesting exchange between Mackenzie and his former student, Travis’s assistant Rebecca, the spiritual issues are addressed metaphorically through the means the problem solvers use to keep Travis’s e-world from self-destruction. It’s interesting and effective. It certainly brought up spiritual and philosophical issues — the incarnation, legalism, self-sacrifice, friendship evangelism, the role of religion in society — that are thought-provoking.

As far as the setting is concerned, this was probably the least significant element in the book. But because I grew up in Santa Barbara where this story purportedly occurred, I was especially interested in the scenes that revealed place. And yes, I could picture them quite well.

Weaknesses. When I closed the book … even before, if I remember correctly, I thought, I want more. That’s a good thing, to be sure because if the book wasn’t working, I’d probably think something like, Thank goodness it wasn’t very long! But the truth is, the story did work, and consequently, I wanted it to go deeper.

For example, I found the “debate sections” very engaging. I thought those scenes revealed our atheist protagonist on one level, and I wanted more of that. I also thought the corporate intrigue sections were gripping, and I wanted more of that, particularly things that would reveal motives of those who apparently sold out. And I loved the scenes in the virtual world with the e-humans, but I wanted more of that.

On each level, it seemed to me that the theme could have taken on a deeper dimension if parts of the story had been developed further.

One other point, with a * * * MAJOR SPOILER ALERT * * *

There were a couple character deaths I didn’t like. One was the baby-sitter who seemed to die needlessly and who seemed quickly forgotten and never mourned. I think I noticed because with the mention of her extensive computer hardware, I expected her to play a bigger role (other than providing the tool by which Rusty found his mom).

The other, of course, was Nicholas. I thought the book would have been stronger if he had lived and had to then confront what he had learned from his virtual self’s sacrifice. Having him sacrifice himself freed him from having to grapple with the truth. It gave a teary moment, but I’d have preferred him to be in a corner where he needed to change or to turn his back on what he now knew. Maybe that’s just me.

That’s it. * * * End Spoiler Alert * * *

Recommendation. I unhesitatingly recommend this book. But to whom? Will Christians like it? Those of “free will” persuasion (such as Rachel Briard) will. Some members of our tour (see for example Emily LaVigne‘s post) specifically mentioned what a spiritual impact the book had on them. And Bruce Hennigan says,

If I could purchase 1000 copies of this book, I would give it away to every college student I meet and every young adult faced with the challenge of maintaining the Christian faith in today’s society.

But what about non-Christians? I like Thomas Clayton Booher‘s conclusion:

The God Hater confronts the reader with some heavy philosophical and theological ideas. Whether these would be a challenge to the Atheist’s faith, I’m not sure. But it may cause him to pause and think about some things that he never thought about before, and that could be the starting point of a journey to understanding.

So I guess I’d say, I highly recommend this book for Christians who want to read a good story, for those interested in learning more about interacting with people holding an atheistic worldview, but especially for Christians who want a resource they can use as a conversation starter with their non-Christian friends.

Be sure to check out what the other CSFF Blog Tour participants listed at the end of the Day 1 post have to say about The God Hater.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm  Comments (5)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – The God Hater, Day 2

    “This should be ‘Structuring Children’s Fiction’ and I should be Bill Myers.”

So was the first line of a workshop I attended years ago at a Southern California writing institute (and no I didn’t memorize it — I have it on tape). Lo these many years later, I have the privilege of participating in the CSFF Blog Tour featuring Bill MyersThe God Hater, not a children’s story but an adult novel.

What’s interesting is to compare what Mr. Myers taught us writers — things he said should be true about stories for adults as much as for children — and what he has written. His first point was that the story should appear to be written primarily to entertain. The character should be relate-able (likable, easy to hate, or one readers will identify with), he said, or have some mystery that drives readers to want to know more. And on and on. Good things. Elements I see in his work yet today.

Perhaps someone may not know why Mr. Myers was teaching about writing for children when the book we are touring is an adult novel. Just so happens, he is the author of the very successful McGee and Me series put out some years ago by Focus on the Family. (In fact, in the seminar he explained that the name for this imaginary character came from a code Mr. Myers and his wife shared when they were in a public setting — watch yourself, McGee, she would say. πŸ˜‰ )

Thinking about Mr. Myers and his career makes me wonder about writing for children and Christian publishers. You see, the seminar I went to was in an auditorium because there were so many writers attending who hoped to publish children’s fiction. Yet where are the hundreds of children’s books written from a Christian worldview?

I attended that institute with the thought that I wanted to write books for the age group I taught — 7th and 8th graders, who had very little literature written for them, and the books they could buy were more and more apt to encourage a worldview opposed to God.

Sadly (though I know God used this in my life) I learned that publishers were not at that time interested in publishing books for that age level. No money in it, essentially.

It was a blow, but I re-focused my writing toward adults, something I believe God wanted me to do.

Surprising, isn’t it, that YA books have become the hottest, fastest growing segment in publishing, at least in the general market. But I still wonder, where are the Christian YA books? Happily, fantasy has become an acceptable Christian YA genre, thanks in part to Bill Myers. Yes, he wrote imaginary fiction, speculative fiction, for children and teens. One such series was The Bloodstone Chronicles.

I suppose I’m highlighting Bill Myers’ work with children’s fiction in part because of yesterday’s Novel Journey post dealing with the purpose of writing for children. It reminds me of the need to reach young people as much as adults with good stories.

Happily, no matter who he’s writing for, Bill Myers writes the kind of stories we need.

Tomorrow I’ll give my review of The God Hater.
For specific posts about our featured book, check out the links at the end of yesterday’s article. Among the many thought-provoking and interesting ones, I’d recommend Bruce Hennigan’s posts (1 and 2).

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm  Comments (2)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – The God Hater, Day 1

This month the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Good Hater by Bill Myers, a Howard Books publication. As you might imagine from the title, the protagonist of the story is a renowned atheist.

Because I had the privilege of attending a debate between atheist Christopher Hitchens and Biola University professor William Lane Craig, I was especially interested in the opening scenes of The Good Hater.

Atheist philosophy professor Nicholas Mackensie is sharing a stage with a pastor for the TV show God Talk. The discussion quickly turns into a debate in which Mackensie shreds the poor megachurch pastor (who had hoped to hawk his latest book rather than engage an atheist). In chapter two, Mackensie tangles with molecular biology prof Annie Brooks.

The arguments were familiar though some of the facts were not, and that author Myers wrote his atheist protagonist as the winner of both these encounters set the tone for the book. This was not going to be a didactic one-sided look at the existence of God. The fact that the exchanges regarding religious views was interspersed with mystery and danger showed that the book was above all, a story.

What a concept — a Christian work of fiction, featuring an atheist protagonist. A real atheist, one that sounded a lot like Christopher Hitchens, attacking religion because of the wars and killing done in the name of God and because of the hypocrisy of those purporting to represent Him.

It’s an ironic twist, I think, that the atheist is a philosophy professor and the Christian teaches molecular biology. Quite the reversal from the scientist atheist versus the theological Christian you might expect.

My only issue with this part of the book was that it was too short. But I’ll get to that point when I do my full review of The God Hater later in the tour. For now, I suggest you take some time to read what others participating in this month’s CSFF tour have to say:

Published in: on February 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm  Comments (6)  
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Book News Announcement

Merrie Destefano, a guest poster at Spec Faith a couple weeks ago, is holding a contest for a free copy of her next book, Feast.

In line with full disclosure, I am posting this announcement so that I can earn more points in my own quest to win a copy. But I can also tell you what a talented writer Merrie is, so you should either enter the contest, pre-order a copy, or buy her first book, Afterlife.

Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm  Comments (2)  
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Believe In Jesus

I have to say, I’m glad I didn’t sit under some of the Bible teaching I’ve heard lately. Don’t get me wrong. I respect the preachers and I believe what they say, but it’s not what I needed to hear as a young, immature Christian who often doubted my salvation.

The message these pastors are giving is a counter to “easy believe-ism.” This false teaching wasn’t familiar to me, but apparently some people claim that as long as you say “the sinner’s prayer” you’re going to heaven no matter what you do thereafter. It sounds sort of like a “works” salvation, with “works” reduced to one — saying a prayer “accepting Jesus into your heart.”

I understand why pastors are standing against this approach to salvation. There’s so much it leaves out. Where’s the part about repentance, about taking up our cross and following Christ, about entering into a relationship with Him, about obeying God, loving Him first and loving our neighbor more than ourselves?

The truth is, though, I became a Christian by asking Jesus into my heart.

I was young, a small child. I don’t remember the specific time I first prayed to receive Christ (yes, first — I’ll get to that in a bit), but I do remember asking a Sunday school teacher how Jesus, pictured as a man on a flannel graph, could fit into my heart.

Chuckle if you must, but I think that’s a good question. It’s not normal to invite a person “into your heart.” Anyone who does so without understanding what he’s doing, very well might not actually be doing it.

That poor, dear, wonderful teacher did her best to explain that it wasn’t Jesus’s body that would come live inside me but His Spirit. So, I wondered, why don’t we say we’re accepting the Holy Spirit, but I don’t think I actually asked that question, possibly because the teacher explained that it was Jesus who died for me, Jesus who paid for my sins.

I got it. But I had another question. Again, I don’t have a clear recollection of the sequence of these events, but at some point when I was six or seven, I wasn’t so sure if I agreed that all had sinned and come short of God’s standard. I knew a few Bible stories by this time, so I figured if I could just think of one person in the Bible who hadn’t sinned, then maybe I could be like him. (I shared a little more about this incident in a post last fall, “My Deceitful Heart.”) I mean, what evil had I done, at six? Obviously I hadn’t yet learned about pride and self-righteousness.

I was probably in fifth grade, maybe fourth, when I came across John 3:18. I was playing alone in my room, pretending to be a preacher (I hadn’t learned yet what the Bible says about women and teaching in the church, either πŸ˜‰ ). I opened my Bible to about the only passage I knew by heart, John 3:16, and started in explaining what it all meant to my pretend congregation. But when I got through that verse, I had more sermon I wanted to preach, so I went on to verse 17, then verse 18. And when I explained the part about Jesus not coming to condemn but that those who didn’t believe in Him were condemned already because they didn’t believe, I got it.

Salvation wasn’t about toeing the line, because none of us could. We were all condemned. Believing in Jesus gave us a pardon.

I was still confused about a lot of things — most particularly why I continued to sin. It gave me no end of doubt about my salvation and contributed to my “accepting Jesus” any number of times because I just didn’t know if it was enough that I meant it when I said it but later acted like I didn’t.

What was it I meant? That I knew I was a sinner, that I knew Jesus had died in my place, that He would forgive me if I believed in Him, and that I would have everlasting life, which meant I’d go to heaven.

I didn’t want to go to heaven particularly. Everything I heard about it made it sound kind of boring, but I knew I didn’t want to go to hell, so I pretty much just wanted to keep living on earth.

That changed, many years later when I read C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce and came to understand that eternal life is Real Life.

I could go on and tell how one by one God added to my understanding and corrected my misunderstanding. But the point is, my “faith journey” — actually my walk with Christ — started because someone asked me if I wanted to pray to accept Jesus into my heart.

Are there false conversions, people who prayed “the prayer” and who have not continued with Christ? I’m sure there are. That’s what Jesus said in the parable about the sower and the seed. Some seed sprang up, but weeds choked it. Some seed fell on the side of the road and was trampled or the birds snatched it away (Luke 8:5-7). Jesus explained it this way:

Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
– Luke 8:12-14

So who, then, believes in Jesus? I’m convinced I was “born again” when I first put my trust in Him as a small child. My faith wasn’t grounded in theology and it wasn’t mature. It didn’t need to be. It only need to be, because the work wasn’t mine. It was and is Christ’s.

After all, that’s what Scripture says:

but these [signs] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
– John 20:31

And after [the jailer] brought [Paul and Silas] out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved
– Act 16:30-31a

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm  Comments (28)  
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The Wages Of Sin Is Death

If sin is a tough sell these days, imagine what the proclamation of its wages has become! I mean, western culture is still not fond of talking about death unless its in the context of a crime scene television program.

But everyone is thinking about it. That’s why books about heaven sell so well. People are wondering, What’s it like after death? And of course, the popular assumption is, heaven’s it, unless it’s nothing.

The only other question that might be more on our minds is, What’s it like when the world self-destructs? No one’s really sitting down to ask that question — except novelists who are writing end-times or dystopian fiction. But the people reading those books are lapping them up, because they want to know what somebody else thinks it might be like.

Thankfully we have the Bible and God hasn’t left us totally in the dark.

One thing we can know from Scripture is that there is physical death and there is spiritual death. A number of verses indicate that people separated from God by their sin are already dead. Here are a couple verses of the many:

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart
– Eph. 4:17-18 (emphasis mine)

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace
– Rom. 8:6 (see the following verses also)

In brief, this is what I believe the Bible teaches about death. When sin entered the world, so did death — both physical and spiritual. This was the very consequence God warned Adam and Eve about.

Physical death is the incontrovertible consequence of rebellion against God, one that we, and the world, must all suffer — with the exception of Enoch and the believers who will be alive when Christ comes back. Spiritual death, at the least, is separation from God.

Christ doesn’t undo death. He does one step better. He offers new life. By shedding His blood, He washed away the sin that separated us from God. Consequently, believers have spiritual life here and now. In addition, He promised eternal life — a new, better body we can enjoy for eternity — and He Himself was resurrected from the dead, giving us a glimpse of what a resurrected body is like.

But new life is conditional, as are many of God’s promises. All through the Old Testament, God told His chosen people He would bless them if they obeyed Him. So too, in the New Testament, the promise of life is conditional.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
– John 3:16-18 (emphasis mine)

Apparently there’s some confusion regarding what it means to “believe in Jesus,” so I’ll address that another time.

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm  Comments (1)  
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What Makes Good News Good?

Since I’m a fiction writer, let’s pretend.

You’re rich. Not just comfortably middle class, but within reach of Bill Gates. We’re talking loaded, filthy rich, a billionaire. One day, you get an email notification that you have won a new car, the latest low-end Nissan — a stripped down car with no radio, antilock brakes, air conditioning, or automatic transmission. Did you receive good news?

But let’s pretend you’re a twenty-year-old college student with mounting loans, and the only way you can get to work from school is public transportation — if the professor lets class out five minutes early, and then you have to make a dash for the bus stop. One day, you get an email notification that you have won a new car, the latest low-end Nissan — a stripped down car with no radio, antilock brakes, air conditioning, or automatic transmission. Did you receive good news?

I suspect someone in scenario number two would be ecstatic with such wonderful news, but why? It’s the same news the person in scenario number one received. In all likelihood, that individual would either look at the prize as just one more thing to have to deal with or more probably, as something to hand off to an assistant to dispose of. He might not give the matter a second thought.

Clearly the different reactions are based upon the differing circumstances.

In the spiritual realm, while we all have identical circumstances to deal with, our perception might be that we don’t.

All mankind labors under the weight of our selfish, prideful, self-righteous hearts that want to see us enthroned, not God; that want to see us first, not our neighbor. Our condition leaves us separated from our Creator and at odds with the people around us.

Some of us have learned to mask our disappointment at our isolation and some have learned to numb it by activity or some destructive behavior. Some try to overcome it, thinking it is possible to do enough good things to crawl out of the abyss. None of it works, but we keep trying because we think perhaps we just haven’t found the right key.

On the other hand, some seem to have it all figured out. They are successful, on the way to fulfilling all their dreams, happy in the truest sense of the word. They are the spiritual billionaires.

But the truth is, they are no less dead in their sins, destined for destruction. They just don’t know it. Their perception is, All is well. Their reality is, The wages of sin is death.

If I were to come up to one of these spiritual billionaires and say, God loves you; His grace is available for you; His forgiveness is free — that individual would most likely think I was offering him the equivalent of a cheap car he doesn’t want, a burden he’ll have to get rid of as soon as possible.

It takes thirsty people to want water, hungry people to want bread. It takes lost people to want to be found.

Enter God’s law. Scripture calls it a tutor. Without the law I wouldn’t know that my covetousness or lust or hatred is not OK.

Jesus Himself expanded the Ten Commandments. In fact one of His first public discourses was all about how the Law was not only external but internal — lust was the same as committing adultery, hatred the same as committing murder. In the end He said, Be perfect as My Father is perfect.

As if!

When you put it in the terms Jesus did, we all know we aren’t perfect, can’t be perfect. And therefore, that we stand in need of a Savior.

We — all of us — need the good news, but it will only seem good if we know we need it.

This post is a follow up to Who Believes In Sin These Days? and Sin Is Not The Problem.

Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm  Comments (4)  
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