• Tag Archives Jesus
  • Featured Image A stone of stumbling…a rock of offense

    Romans 9:30–33 (ESV) (30) What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; (31) but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. (32) Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, (33) as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

    In case you hadn’t heard, the gospel is offensive.

    1 Peter 2:7–8 (ESV) (7) So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” (8) and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

    The gospel (good news) actually begins with bad news. Very bad news.

    That bad news? You are a disobedient criminal (sinner, wicked, corrupt, pick whatever synonym you want) by nature and by choice.  Wanna hear worse news?  Payment for your crimes is demanded and will come due.

    Can it get even worse?

    Consider this … that payment that is due is made throughout eternity, with no chance of parole. No bail. No visitation.

    Offended?

    Nobody wants to hear that they are a criminal facing an eternal prison. Nobody wants to hear that no matter how hard they try, their best will never be good enough to earn them a stay of execution.

    There is no reduced sentence for good behavior.

    And lest you think it’s “just them”, this prison sentence isn’t just for Joe who thinks he’s a woman, Sue who married her girlfriend, Jim who he beat his wife, or Bob who’s a creeper, it’s all encompassing – the gospel leaves no room for “acceptable” rebellion …

    Romans 3:10–19 (ESV) (10) as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (11) no one understands; no one seeks for God. (12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (13) “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” (14) “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (15) “Their feet are swift to shed blood; (16) in their paths are ruin and misery, (17) and the way of peace they have not known.” (18) “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (19) Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

    Notice carefully what Paul says it is that causes of all of this – not that “Joe thinks he’s a woman” or “Sue married her girlfriend” or “Jim beat his wife” or “Bob looks at women lustfully.”

    Far from it!  By quoting Isaiah, Paul says that the reason everyone has “become worthless” is not the individual ways in which sin manifests itself in our lives, it’s this:

    “All have turned aside.”

    We have all turned aside from and rejected God. We have all spit in his face. We have all thought that we know better. We have replaced the true God with ourselves.  Even when we thought more highly of ourselves.  Even when we thought that we didn’t really hate God when we only ignored Him most of the time.

    Yeah … that was hatred.  Calling it something else to make yourself feel better about your rebellion doesn’t change what it is or was.

    Rebellion.  God is your king regardless of whether or not we acknowledge it.

    And we replaced Him with anything else because “Ain’t nobody telling me what I can and can’t do!”

    And that rebellion, no matter how it plays out in our lives, is worthy of death.  Which leaves us with only two options (that is, if we don’t want the death penalty):

    1. I can pay for my own crimes for eternity
    2. someone else, someone who is able, can pay for my crimes

    And here is why the gospel is good news.

    The good news, though it starts off with a death sentence, ends with the hope of freedom! That the death sentence that we all deserve was already carried out, on a cross, 2000 years ago, on a hill outside of Jerusalem.  Executed by the only righteous judge in the entire universe, against the only person in the entire universe whose humanity demonstrated that he deserved life – someone who willingly chose to take the bullet for his enemies.

    Romans 5:6–11 (ESV) (6) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— (8) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (10) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (11) More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    There is only one way to be pardoned, one way to be free, and it goes right through the person of Jesus the Messiah.

    Acts 4:8–12 (ESV) (8) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, (9) if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, (10) let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. (11) This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (12) And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    And yet, even in that great news, there is offense…

    John 14:1–7 (ESV) (1) “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (2) In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (4) And you know the way to where I am going.” (5) Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (7) If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

    The “no one” that Jesus is referring to is literally “no one.”  Not one person in existence.  Not one person who has ever lived, is currently living, or who will live from now until the end of time.  Not you, not me, not anybody in the history of forever has any hope throughout forever except through faith in Jesus.

    Could it be that some of the best news of the gospel is perhaps the most offensive thing about it?  That you can do nothing to earn grace, nothing to deserve a pardon.  You can’t “out-good” your bad.  You can’t work off your sentence.

    And perhaps the saddest thing is that we try so hard.  Only to fail so miserably.  It never ends well when we try to do Jesus’ job for Him.

    And oh how we try.

    Remember Paul’s admonition?  Remember the condemnation he proclaimed?  That we have all turned away from God?

    Now hear the hope – turn away from yourself and trust in Jesus as your only hope of pardon, as your only escape from the eternal prison that awaits you, and set your eyes on this…

    Revelation 21:1–5 (ESV) (1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (2) And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (4) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (5) And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

    He is powerful to make all things new.

    Even you.



  • Featured Image Jesus is Risen!

    Up from the grave He arose!
    With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
    He rose a victor from the dark domain
    And He lives forever with His saints to reign.

    He arose!
    He arose!
    Hallelujah Christ arose!

    1 Corinthians 15:50–58 (ESV) (50) I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (51) Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (53) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (54) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (55) “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (56) The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

    Today is the celebration that Jesus defeated death forever for those who believe in Him.  Today, we celebrate, not because we get chocolate and candy, but because Jesus’ tomb is empty.  Today, we celebrate that because of Jesus, those who believe will never face the wrath of God.

    Today, we celebrate the promise of eternal life, because Jesus is alive forevermore!

    Today, we celebrate Jesus.

    John 14:6 (ESV) (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    What are you celebrating today?

    Have an AWESOME resurrection day, and glorify Christ in your coming and going, in your work and play, in your eating, in your family!

    John 11:25–26 (ESV) (25) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (26) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”



  • Featured Image Jesus is Sacrifice…

    Simple entry tonight on this, as one friend called it, “the best worst day in history”.

    Please think on who you believe Jesus to be and compare that to who the bible says He was and is and forever will be.

    Matthew 1:21–23 (ESV) (21) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (22) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: (23) “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

    1 Peter 2:21–25 (ESV) (21) For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (22) He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. (23) When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (24) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (25) For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

    If you don’t believe that we are all sinners in need of a savior, if you don’t believe that Jesus is God in the flesh who died to save His people from their sin, then you may as well believe that unicorns will come and sweep you away to a land full of Skittles, because that’s all the hope you have.

    Read this carefully, because it tells us who we are…and it ain’t pretty.  But it also shows us our savior!  Here is Jesus…born to die…born to save His people.

    Isaiah 53:1-12 (ESV) (1) Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? (2) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. (3) He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (4) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (5) But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (9) And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. (10) Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (11) Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

    As you remember the darkest night in history, also remember Him.  Remember the pain He suffered.  Remember the reason He suffered.  And if you belong to Him through faith, rejoice that the wrath of God meant for you was laid upon Him instead.

    John 14:6 (ESV) (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    I’ll say it because it needs to be said – faith in Jesus is the only way you’ll avoid hell.

    There’s no alternate.  He’s it.  Do you believe?



  • Featured Image Jesus is Healer…

    You still with me?  Great!  Thanks for reading!

    We started with the idea that Jesus is Truth.  Then we saw how Jesus is Freedom.  Last time, we saw how Jesus is Knowable.  Jesus is a lot of things … a lot of things that the world denies exists.  The world denies that there is truth, yet it constantly makes truth claims.  The world denies that freedom is good because people want power and they think the best way to attain it is to subjugate others.  The world denies that you can have absolute knowledge about something because it sounds arrogant, and God forbid that anyone actually act as if what they believe is true is actually true!

    The world is messed up.  It’s broken.  It needs to be fixed.  The government can’t fix it.  Money can’t fix it.  Being nice can’t fix it.  We can’t fix it.

    Because we are the problem.

    The solution to this broken world must come from outside of ourselves, contrary to what Gene Roddenberry would have you believe.  Star Trek was great fun.  It was fiction.  Humans, as long as are like we are now, will never rise above this.  Star Trek reflected our desire of Utopia.  But all we see around us is a dystopia.

    But it wasn’t really different 2000 years ago.  Humans have been pretty much the same for a very long time.

    In chapter 7 of his letter to the church at Rome, Paul recalls his own struggle with sin.  He writes:

    Romans 7:15–20 (ESV) (15) For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (16) Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. (17) So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (19) For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (20) Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    He is basically saying “Why do I keep doing what I know is wrong?”  And he answers it honestly – “I want to do what is right, but I am not able to do it.” In fact, this realization makes him cry out:

    Romans 7:24 (ESV) (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

    As long as we humans are like we are, we may want to do the right things, but we will be unable to do so.  That does not bode well.  We are wretched.  We need someone else to deliver us from our bodies of death?  Have you ever wondered why people are so wrapped up in the idea of finding other intelligent life in the universe?  One reason that always somes up is this – “If there is a race of aliens out there who have lived long enough to travel here and visit us, surely they are better than us, and can teach us how to save ourselves.”

    The world is arrogant enough to say that we can overcome our own evils and save ourselves.  But that is foolishness.

    Paul on the other hand, gives a much more grounded answer.  One that testifies to the truth of our condition.  He says:

    Romans 7:25–8:4 (ESV) (25) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (1) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (3) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (4) in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    God has done what we could not!  He sent His own son to live the life we couldn’t so that the righteous requirement of His own law would be fulfilled.  Jesus stood before His people and took their place!

    We couldn’t even fix ourselves, so how can we expect to fix the world?  God must do what we cannot.  And He will.

    Revelation 21:1–5 (ESV) (1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (2) And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (4) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (5) And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

    What great news!  Jesus is making all things new.  Because we can’t.

    Jesus is healer.  He’s the healer of the heavens and the earth.  But he’s also our healer.  Healer of our souls.  He may heal our bodies, our circumstances, our lives.  He may make them better.  But He doesn’t promise that like He promises to heal our very souls.  That may be a hard pill for you to swallow – that you may pray your entire life that Jesus would heal some affliction of yours.  But remember Paul?  That guy who wrote the things I quoted above.  He also wrote this:

    2 Corinthians 12:7–8 (ESV) (7) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. (8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

    Imagine pleading with God that He would heal your body, only to hear what Paul heard in response:

    2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) (9) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

    “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.”

    In other words – “No Paul, I will not heal your affliction.  You will show the world that you can still love me even if I don’t do everything you want me to do.  My power is made perfect in your weakness.”

    And Paul’s response is more amazing to me than the fact that God did not heal him.  “OK Lord.  If your power is made perfect in my weakness, then I will boast about my weakness so your power will be displayed all the more.  I don’t need to be healed of my affliction.  I need Christ. May His power rest on me.”

    I am reminded of a song lyric that goes like this …

    If hope if born of suffering
    If this is only the beginning
    Can we not wait, for one hour
    Watching for our savior
    This is what it means to be held
    How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
    And you survive
    This is what it is to be loved and to know
    That the promise was that when everything fell
    We’d be held (Held, Natalie Grant)

    Can you respond this way?  Do you know that the promise was not “you will never fall”, but it was “when you do fall, you’ll be held.”

    Here’s that promise:

    John 10:25–30 (ESV) (25) Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, (26) but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. (27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (28) I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (29) My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (30) I and the Father are one.”

    If you belong to Jesus, if you are one of His sheep, you are in His hands, and He will never let you go.

    John 6:37–40 (ESV) (37) All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (38) For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (39) And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (40) For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    If you belong to Jesus, if you are one of His sheep, you have been given to Him by the Father, and He will never lose you.

    Why?  Because He lived, died, and rose from the dead to fulfill a promise made thousands of years earlier.

    So, can you see past the “now” of your circumstances, of your affliction, of your struggles?  Can you see the power of God in your weakness?  Is His grace enough for you?  Can you hold onto the promise of the future and fight through the now in His power?  Even if you must die to see that promise fulfilled?

    Or do you want more?  Do you expect Jesus to give you what was never promised?  Is His grace sufficient for you?  He says it is, do you accept that?

    But remember that thing about knowing the truth and the truth setting you free?

    John 8:36 (ESV) (36) So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

    But before I ask any of those questions, I should have asked this one – “Do you know the Truth?  Notice that I did not ask “do you know that there is such a thing as truth”, but “do you know the truth?”

    John 14:6 (ESV) (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    There is truth.  There is freedom.  He is knowable – do you know Him?  Are you free?



  • Featured Image Jesus is Knowable…

    By now, you ought to know that truth matters, and defending truth is important.  You should also know that truth leads to freedom and that knowing truth is required if we are to have any meaningful relationship with God.

    Because relationships based on falsehood are not really relationships.  They are fantasies.

    Think of it this way – let’s say that you have a mother.  Let’s say that she is 5′ tall, her name is Linda, she has short dark hair, she’s been married for 45 years to the same man, she was born in October, etc.  You probably know a ton of things about your mom, right?  You also know that these things are true about you mom, mostly because she raised you, cared for you, fed you.  Heck, that means that you also know that she is kind, caring, generous, etc.  Lots more things you know about her.

    So, let’s now say that a friend introduces you to a man named Lane.  In getting to know Lane, the topic of moms comes up, and you talk about how great your mom is.  After a while, Lane starts acting like he knows her, and confirms your suspicions by blurting out “Dude!  I totally know her!  She’s like 6′ tall, long blonde hair … what’s her name … Kris … Kris Kremmins!!  I can’t believe it!”

    What would you say?  Probably something like “Um … no, her name is Linda.  She’s 5′ even, short dark hair.  I don’t think you know her.”

    But Lane presses – “Yes I do!  She’s also kinda witchy – those cheerleader types always are.  Dated the basketball team, not just certain members of the team, the whole team!  Couldn’t ever talk to her though, she never gave me the time of day.”

    It wouldn’t take you very long to see that Lane has a completely different person in mind.  He might be thinking of a female, but apparently, that’s where the comparison ends.  He can’t even get her name right!

    Would you defend what you know about your mom to Lane?  I hope so!

    Absurd, right?  It may even seem like I got this idea from a movie (truth – I did.  bonus points if you know which one).

    But it’s all too real.

    Worse? Lane’s not talking about your mom.

    He’s talking about Jesus.

    “Yeah, I know who Jesus is.  He’s some revolutionary that lived in Israel a long time ago.  What he taught got him in trouble with the law, and he was killed.  Poor guy.”

    (Yeah, I know your mom. She’s some law breaker that was arrested for stealing food.)

    “Yeah, I know Jesus. In fact, I believe in him, I’m a Christian.  He was the son of God and some mother goddess, I can’t remember her name, and he had a brother too – Lucifer.  He showed us how to become gods!”

    (Yeah, I know your mom.  She’s that crazy woman who is always on the news talking about how aliens abducted her.  She’s nuts.)

    “Yeah, I know about Jesus, but he wasn’t real.  He is merely a story people dreamed up to keep others in line.  Eternal punishment is a pretty good bogey man!”

    (Yeah, I know about your mom…your real mom.  Didn’t you know you are adopted?  That lady you think is your mom really isn’t.  You’ve been lied to all these years.)

    Wait…what?

    Heard any of those?  They even use the name of Jesus, but they have no idea who Jesus really is.  Whoever they are talking about is not the real Jesus, he’s some made up Jesus.  If this were unique to atheists, Muslims, or other religious groups, it would be bad enough – spreading falsehoods about anyone, especially Jesus, is pretty bad.

    I wish I could say that “Christianity” doesn’t suffer from this.  But I can’t.  It’s close to home.  Too close.

    “I not only know Jesus, I know what He taught.  He’s the Son of God all right, and because He loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives, He wants us to be healthy and wealthy.  He said that if you are sick, it’s because you don’t have enough faith.”

    (Yeah, I know your mom, she was such a great second grade teacher.  I learned so much about the world from her, like the reason alligators are so mean is because they have all those teeth and no toothbrush.)

    “Yeah, I know Jesus.  He’s God, so that makes him the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  He’s part of this trinity thing – you know three Gods in one God or something like that.  It doesn’t really matter though.  He’s God!”

    (Yeah, I know your mom.  She’s your aunt and sister too, right?  You’re thaaaat family.)

    Absurd in the highest!

    It’s almost like we don’t really care because for whatever reason, we just let people keep spreading lies about Jesus.  You don’t even have to go too far to see it/read it/hear it.  Why do we do that?

    I do know this – if Jesus were as real to you as your own mother, if you believed with your heart of hearts that everything the Scriptures proclaim about Him is true, you would reject all of those caricatures of Jesus and seek to correct the errors about Him.  Just like you’d correct anyone who spread falsehoods about your mom.

    All that to ask you this:

    Do you truly believe that Jesus is knowable?  Not only knowing things about Him, which is important, but also knowing Him, which is vital.  Your eternity depends on it!

    That said, we’ll never know everything about Him.  But we can certainly know some things about Him.  Some very important things about Him.  Some vital things about Him.  Things like:

    Luke 2:11–12 (ESV) (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

    He was born.  Born in the City of David.  He is the Messiah (Christ).  He is Lord.  He was born as a baby.  He was the fulfillment of prophecy.

    Hebrews 1:1–2 (ESV) (1) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, (2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

    He is the final word from God.  He owns everything.  Through Jesus, the world was created.

    Hebrews 1:3–4 (ESV) (3) He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (4) having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

    He is God.  He is powerful to hold everything together, simply by His word.  He atoned for sin ONCE, that’s all that was needed, and finished that work.  He is not Michael the archangel – He is much greater than angels.

    Romans 5:6–10 (ESV) (6) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— (8) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (10) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

    We are weak, but He is strong.  And while we were weak, He died for sinners.  While we were enemies, He died for us!  His death and resurrection saves His people from God’s wrath (yes, God is wrathful as well as merciful), and reconciles them with God.  No longer enemies.

    And we can know Him…

    1 Corinthians 2:1–5 (ESV) (1) And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (4) and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

    So, there it is.  Jesus is knowable.  Things about Jesus are knowable. The entire bible, all 66 books, 1189 chapters, 31102 verses, all of them tell us something about God – something about His character, His nature, His actions, His interactions, His laws, His grace, His mercy, His TRUTH.  There is no excuse.

    Jesus certainly is knowable.  He’s as knowable as your mom.  As real as your mom.

    And He’s so much more than your mom.

    He’s God.

    John 14:6 (ESV) (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    Do you believe that?  Because if you do, if you truly do, it should affect you to your core.  Does it?

    You know your mom well.  You should know Jesus better.  Do you?

    If not, there’s this one book…



  • Featured Image Jesus is Freedom…

    In my last post, I talked about truth and the importance of standing for it.  I hope we all see the value in standing for what we believe in.  Everyone stands for something, and everyone has truth standards, even if they don’t think you can know truth.  Probably the most absurd thing I have heard anyone say in regard to this is…

    “There is no such thing as absolute truth.”

    …because they never follow it up with…

    “Well, except for what I just said.”

    The statement “There is no such thing as absolute truth” is itself an absolute truth claim – a claim, by the way, which is self contradictory.  But that is the world in which we live – people don’t care about being consistent.  Being consistent takes work and guess what else…yup…consistency.  And in this day and age, people seem to care more about what others think is true than what is actually true.  You need look no further than Indiana’s plight right now to see that.

    Proverbs 12:15 ESV (15) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

    It seems that we’d rather believe we are right than actually be right.  I suppose it’s because in order to be right, there must be truthotherwise, it’s all opinion.  And we do so love opinion…

    But contrary to popular belief, that knife cuts both ways.  If someone says to you …

    You can’t tell me what’s right – what’s right for you might not be right for me”

    … all you need to reply with is something like …

    Well, according to you, I certainly can.  You just told me what I can and can’t do, what’s right and wrong.  So, why can’t I tell you what’s right and wrong?  Did you really mean to say ‘I can tell you what to do because I’m right and you are wrong?'”

    … because what that person did was give you a moral truth claim:  “you can’t” followed by what you can’t do: “tell me what’s right“.  The unstated reason: “because I don’t agree with you.”  Chances are very good that, if this person was talking with an ally, they would be more than happy to give all sorts of moral imperatives.  They are proving what they scream to deny – that there is a truth out there somewhere – and in fact, that they are closer to it than you.

    But they’ll never admit that.  That would be arrogant.  And God forbid anybody speak as if they really believe what they are saying!

    But that’s really beating around the issue.  Moral relativism (at it’s core is an illogical fear of calling anything right or wrong) is a symptom of a deeper, much more serious problem, denial.  Not just denying that we can know truth, but the denial of truth altogether.  A couple thousand years ago, there was a very important discussion about truth.  It went like this…

    John 18:33-37 ESV (33) So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (34) Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” (35) Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” (36) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (37) Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

    … and Pilate responded to this assertion with a question…

    John 18:33-37 ESV (38) Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

    And given what we know about Pilate, there is a good chance that his words conveyed this sentiment: “Whatever.  As if there is such a thing as truth.

    But what riled Pilate so much?  What was Pilate responding to?  Listen to the words of Jesus:  “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.”

    According to Jesus, there is such a thing as truth!  Imagine that.  And it’s not simply that there is such a thing, it’s that you can know this truth because Jesus testifies to it!

    Now, it gets really serious, far more serious than your belief that 1+1=2.  It’s serious because Jesus believes and teaches that there is such a thing as truth, and He came to testify to that truth.  So, if you want to know truth about Jesus, where should you go?

    Joel Osteen?  Oprah Winfrey?  Hollywood?

    Sadly, that’s where a great number of people go, and they come out with all sorts of crazy, wrong ideas about Jesus.  Ideas like:

    • Jesus was simply a good teacher
    • Jesus never really existed
    • Jesus is love, and Jesus wins, so Love Wins!  Hell isn’t forever!
    • Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers born from a father god and mother goddess
    • Jesus is merely a god, not the God
    • Jesus existed, but he didn’t really die
    • Jesus existed, and died, but didn’t resurrect
    • Jesus existed, died, and resurrected spiritually, not physically
    • Jesus wants you to live Your Best Life Now
    • and on … and on … and on

    But, if you really cared about truth, I mean really cared, you’d go to the source of truth, wouldn’t you?  But, that would require you to not only accept truth as a concept, it also requires you to accept truth as a person.

    Jesus, the way, the truth, the life.

    And if Jesus is actually the Truththen what Isaiah said is actually true…

    Isaiah 45:19 ESV (19) I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.

    God’s truth is not spoken in secret.  God speaks the truth.  God declares what is right.  And since Jesus is God, He speaks the truth and declares what is right.

    So, what does that mean for you?  It means that if Jesus calls something true, right, or good, it is absolutely true, right or good no matter what you believe about that something.  It also means that if Jesus calls something false, wrong, or evil, it is absolutely false, wrong, or evil no matter what you believe about that something.

    And here is probably the biggest and most controversial thing I’ll say all post:  this also means that Jesus is the Lord of the entire universe, even of your life, even of your circumstances, whether you believe it or not.

    But why did Jesus come to testify to the truth?

    John 8:31–32 (ESV) (31) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, (32) and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    Are you ready to believe that?  Will you submit to your Lord and abide in him and be set free by knowing Him…the Truth?

    John 8:33–35 (ESV) (33) They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” (34) Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. (35) The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.

    Or will you continue to rationalize why you don’t believe what He says and remain a slave forever?



  • Featured Image Jesus is Truth…

    I’ve been thinking about something a lot lately – a little thing called truth.  And if that was the only thing I was thinking about, that would be enough.  But my thoughts have not been on only truth, but also on our willingness to stand up for it.  All of us believe in things, and all of us are willing to stand up for those things to some degree.

    For example, do you believe that 1+1=2? (No, it’s not a trick question).

    I hope so!  But suppose you were in a math class (or had kids/friends/relatives in math class) where the teacher believed and taught that 1+1=0.  But take it further, what if this teacher didn’t just believe this without proof, what if he actually had a proof, and it went like this:

    Suppose we have two numbers, a and b, both of which are equal to 1.  We write that like this:

    \(\text{1) Let } a=b=1\)

    One thing we know is that if two numbers are equal, we can square both of them, and their squares are equal.  So, in our example, squaring both sides gives us:

    \(\text{2) }a^2=b^2\)

    If we subtract the same number from two numbers that are the same, the result is the same.  Therefore, we can subtract \(b^2\) from both sides and get:

    \(\begin{align}\text{3) }(a^2-b^2)&=(b^2-b^2)\\(a^2-b^2)&=0\end{align}\)

    Now, this requires a bit more than “basic math”, but equations in this form are called “the difference of two squares” and can be written like:

    \(\text{5) }(a-b)*(a+b)=0\)

    Now, if we have two numbers that are equal, we can divide them both by the same value and the result will be equal.  For example, if 10=10, we can divide both sides by 2 and get 5=5, right?  Doing this gives us:

    \(\begin{align}\text{6) }\frac{(a-b)*(a+b)}{(a-b)}=\frac{0}{(a-b)}\end{align}\)

    The left side reduces to (a+b) since the (a-b)’s cancel out.  The right side is still 0 because 0 divided by anything equals 0:

    \(\begin{align}\text{7) }\frac{(a-b)}{(a-b)}*(a+b)&=0\\1*(a+b)&=0\end{align}\)

      So we are left with:

    \(\text{8) }(a+b)=0\)

    If we substitute our original values, we arrive at:

    \(\text{9) }(1+1)=0\)

    There you have it!  We have just proved that 1+1=0!

    So, now do you believe that 1+1=0?  I still hope not!  You know that 1+1=2, not 0…so where’s the problem?  The proof looks reasonable, doesn’t it?

    But this isn’t about math, it’s about truth.  And more than truth, it’s about our desire to defend it.

    My guess is that if your child/friend/relative/self had this math teacher, you’d be pretty upset.  In fact, you might even complain to the board to get him suspended or fired or transferred.  You’d stand for this truth, right?

    Time for the hard question, and no, it’s not “where’s the error in the proof” (hint – it’s in step 6)…it’s this:

    Does the truth claim “Jesus is God” hold your loyalty as much as the truth claim “1+1=2”?

    If you are a Christian, you must say yes.

    And here’s the “hard part” – saying “yes” means something.  It means that anyone who says “No he’s not” is just as wrong as someone who says “1+1=0”, even if they have some sort of proof.  It means that saying “Jesus may be God for you, but not for me” is just as absurd as saying “1+1 may equal 2 for you, but not for me.”

    Christian, do you truly believe that Jesus is the one and only Son of God?  Do you believe that we are all sinners in need of a savior?  Do you believe that sin is wrong and not only separates us from God for a time, but if left unatoned for, will separate us from God for eternity?  Do you believe that God’s word is true?  Always?

    If you believe these things are true, then you are obligated to defend them as if they actually are true, just as you would defend the truth that 1+1=2!  Do you?

    Or, by your words and actions, do you show that you really don’t believe those things are actually true, but only true for you?

    During this week leading up to the celebration of the ultimate display of Truth the world has ever seen, would you reflect on how you view this truth…

    1 Corinthians 15:3–5 (ESV) (3) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (5) and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

    … or this truth …

    John 8:21–24 (ESV) (21) So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” (22) So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” (23) He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. (24) I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

    … or this one …

    John 14:6–7 (ESV) (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (7) If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

    The Truth.

    Jesus is the Truth.

    Will you submit to the truth of scripture?  The truth of Jesus’ words?  Or will you be quiet when the world around you assaults Him and His truth?

    Will you curl up in defeat and give in to the world who says:

    “Jesus may be your truth, but don’t you dare say he is THE truth!”

    or will you boldly proclaim, to all who would oppose you:

    “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  You will never see heaven except through Him!”



  • Featured Image What must I believe to be saved? (Part 3 of 3)

    You’re still with me?  Great!  ‘Cuz this final post is a tad longish…and by “a tad”, I mean, “very”…  🙂

    We’ve talked a bit about how Christianity is indeed a religion.  Jesus didn’t give up heaven, live as a human, suffer, die, and rise from the dead simply so you could live however you want and ignore His commands.

    He died so His people would live, and now lives so they will never die!

    That should mean something.

    If you desire to follow Jesus but don’t want to obey His commands, there is something very wrong.  In fact, if you come across a Christian who’s message is simply “all you need to do is believe”, that person is telling you the truth for sure, but he’s only giving you the beginning of the story…

    Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) (18) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    What did Jesus say?  His disciples are expected to make disciples by baptizing and teaching.  But teach what?  Is it simply things about Jesus? Jesus tells us that we are to teach His disciples obedience, and specifically, obedience to His commands.

    If you call yourself a Christian, but do not want to obey Jesus’ commands, something is very wrong.

    It’s not that obedience saves you, it’s that obedience is a natural outflow of a heart that beats for God.  If you love God, you should obey Him.  True belief produces change because true belief is the result of the Holy Spirit making you a new creation.

    But the obedience part of religion, and the fuller understanding that comes with growth is a topic of another post.  This is about the belief part of religion.  When we teach people about Jesus, what do we teach them?  When they believe, what do we expect them to believe? Continue reading  Post ID 93



  • Featured Image What must I believe to be saved? (Part 2 of 3)

    Last time, we saw that there are actually many questions we must answer about belief.  Which Jesus?  Do I believe?  Are there things I must believe? and so forth.  So, let me start off with a word of encouragement – when you listen to the voice of the shepherd, when He calls you from death to life, when He renews your mind and makes you a new creation, one who’s heart beats for God, one who’s thoughts are focused on things of the Spirit and life, you will be saved.  Period.

    And here’s the but…BUT…that new life actually, literally, changes you.  God meets you where you are, that’s true, but He doesn’t leave you there.  He moves you.  He guides you.  He teaches you.  He changes you.  He resets your worldview as He moves you from death to life.

    If you say you love Jesus, but remain unchanged, something and someone is horrifyingly wrong.

    And it’s not God. Continue reading  Post ID 91



  • Featured Image What must I believe to be saved? (Part 1 of 3)

    There is a popular idea going around…the idea that religion is bad and Jesus is good.  This idea spawns other ideas like “religion gets in the way of Jesus” or “Jesus hates religion”.  There is a sense in which I agree with these statements, but only if we define “religion” as “man made doctrines that substitute for Jesus.”  The bible certainly speaks out against that kind of religion in passages like Colossians 2:20–23 and James 1:26.

    However, the bible is pretty clear that in order to call yourself a Christian, you must believe certain things. The fuller context of James 1:26 is:

    James 1:19–27 (ESV) (19) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (20) for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (21) Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (23) For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. (24) For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (25) But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (26) If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (27) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

    If we are to call ourselves Christian, we must not only be hearers of the word, but doers of the word as well.  And the “doing” of the word is pure and undefiled religion.

    So, Christianity is both a relationship and a religion.  A relationship in that you must know Jesus, and a religion in that once you know Jesus, there are things He expects of you. Continue reading  Post ID 78