Do you really believe?

What we believe, as Christians is crucial.  Faith is what salvation and our relationship with Christ are based on, and faith has everything to do with what we really believe.

So I ask you, do you really believe that what you believe is really real?

And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.  (Genesis 15:6)

Do you really believe in the gospel message, or do you just acknowledge it without having faith in it?  Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the two.

We can demonstrate the difference between faith and belief with a chair.  You can look at a chair and say you believe that if you sit in the chair it will hold your weight, but you do not really have faith in it unless you go over and sit in the chair.  Only then do you display that you have faith the chair will hold you.

That is a decent analogy, but how exactly does it apply to our faith?  I sit my butt in a pew at church every Sunday, isn’t that showing that I have faith?

My favorite analogy is that of two guys getting onto an airplane.  Both are greeted by a flight attendant addresses them with a smile on her face saying “there is a high probability that this plane will crash during this flight.  You will want these parachutes.”  (At this point I would be getting off the plane personally, but these guys are tough, they can handle the risk.)

So they get on the plane, but only one guy puts on the parachute.  He isn’t scared at all, not hanging on for dear life, he just put on the parachute and went about his business.  The other guy just tossed the parachute in the back of the plane and went about his business.

Now I ask you, which of these guys had actually believed the plane might crash?  The guy who put on the parachute, right?  How do you know he had faith?  It is because of his actions; he acted according to what he believed.

So how do we apply this to our Christian faith? By our actions.  You can tell one who has faith because he acts like it.

Actions of faith

Faith saves us, but only faith that produce actions.

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”(James 2:17)

Avoid Sin!

The number one action that shows a person really believes in God is how they live their life; a life of righteousness.

Sin is serious, but we tend to down play, to make it seem like it is really nothing.  To us it may be nothing if we lie, cheat, watch pornography, are a homosexual, have sex outside of marriage, or any other sin. To us, these may seem like nothing, but to God they are horrible!

We can see this all through the old testament.  Read the laws and you will see there are huge penalties (i.e. death) for sinning.  Why?  Because God really hates sin.

The New Testament still talks about how much God hates sin and demands we avoid it.  One passage we will look at is the book of 1 John.

God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (1 John 2:1,4-6)

These passages should make it clear, living for God means we will avoid sin.

Loving God

I really want to focus on verse five of the passage above. “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.” (1 John 2:5)

We do not avoid sin to gain salvation or impress God, but because we love Him.  I buy gifts for my wife from time to time, not to impress her or try to win her love, but I do it because I love her.  In the same way, we must live our lives absent of sin (as much as humanly possible at least, more on this in a minute).

To understand why this is an act of love towards God we need to understand more of what sin is, or more importantly who God is.

God is perfect, no darkness is in Him, no sin, no blemishes; everything about Him is absolutely perfect.  God is Holy, set apart.  And to sin is to do something contrary to His nature.  Sin is horrible.

Sin is an incredibly disgusting act in the sight of God that goes against His perfect holiness.  Even the best we can do, most righteous deeds, are nothing more than “filthy rags” to Him (Isaiah 64:6).  How much more filthy are our sinful deeds to Him?

Our sin also hurts God.

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. (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus was tortured, literally tortured, beaten, and killed, why? Because of our sin.  And you can honestly tell me that you want to choose to live in sin over living for God, and that God is okay with it?

One way we justify this is to separate the act of sin from the person committing the sin.  We say “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  I think Leonard Ravenhill brings a fresh perspective to this topic.

“I don’t believe there is a man on the whole TV that preaches salvation. They preach forgiveness. Forgiveness is not salvation. … “Oh you know the Lord loves you just as you are.” Well then why get changed? Commit adultery as much as you like. He still loves you. Be a cheat, be a liar, be a thief, and be a failure. He still loves you. But there’s a scripture. Isn’t it the Psalms 7… where it says “God is angry with the wicked every day.” I heard somebody quote today “God loves you but hates your sin” that’s bunken. God hates you for committing the sin. Is God going to take your sins and judge them at the Judgment and leave you alone?”

This is why, if we love God, we must avoid sin.  If we don’t then we are just fooling ourselves.

If you are living in sin right now, as in purposely doing something you know is wrong, then you are choosing sin over loving God.  Christians are ambassadors, we take the name of God and we represent Him on this Earth, you are saying that you want Him to be the Lord of your life.  Yet you choose your filthy disgusting worthless sin over Him?

That fact alone has to disgust God greatly!

Living in Sin vs slipping up

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we will ever be perfect this side of heaven, for we are still in these sinful bodies.  What I am talking about is the purposeful, intentional, and continuous choice to sin.

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)

The choice to keep looking at pornography, the choice to keep watching those shows on tv that have “questionable” content, the choice to sleep with someone you are not married to.  It is your lifestyle, things you choose to keep on doing.  You cannot have a lifestyle of sin and serve God at the same time.

You Must Make God Number One

To sum it up, you absolutely MUST make God first in your life.  There is no way around it.  Jesus did not die on the cross to save us from sin just to allow us to continue sinning.  He freed us from sin so we could stop sinning, so we could serve Him.

Easter: Getting back to the basics

Today will no doubt be a busy day for most people.  You have clothes to get ready, get to church on time, find the eggs with the kids, easter baskets to pick through for favorite candies, and a big family easter dinner to prepare.  To many people it seems that they spend all day celebrating easter, and little time celebrating Jesus.

Besides the hour and a half spent singing praise songs and listening to a sermon at church, very litte thought is given towards God today with all of the business distracting us.  Like many western traditional celebrations easter becomes less a celebration of the resurection of the cross and more of a celebration of the celebration itself.

Today is the day that we remember the most unfair sacrifice in all of history. Today we remember Jesus, the creator of all things (John 1:3), being perfect and without any sin (Hebrews 4:15), but was raised from the dead, conquering death, so we could be called righteous before God! (Romans 5:19)  Do you get the impact of that statement?

You have sinned, a lot. Do not try denying it, you are a filthy sinner. Every lie, every lustful thought, every greedy or selfish action you take, all of it, is detestable in the sight of God. Don’t believe me? Just look at the old testament, at how God wanted those who sined to be punished. It gives a glimpse of how much God hates sin.  Yet God, the one you sin against every day, sacrificed Himself, for what? To erase every evidence of sin in our life. To declare us righteous and allow us to serve Him, the living God!

“Are we sorry for grieving the heart of God… for denying God the right to own our personality… to own our mind… to own our thoughts… to own our emotions? (If not) we’re robbing God.” – Leonard Ravenhill

Instead of making today about easter bunnies and new clothes and business of making big dinners, spend today focusing on your sin, repenting from your sin, and thanking God for the wonderful act of Grace that He has provided freely for you. Take some time to celebrate that, what easter is supposed to be all about.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. – Romans 5:7-9

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation … – Hebrews 2:1-3

Isaiah 53

 1 Who has believed our message
   and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
   and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
   nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
   a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
   he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

 4 Surely he took up our pain
   and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
   stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
   each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.

 7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
   yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
   and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
   so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
   Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
   for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
   and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
   nor was any deceit in his mouth.

 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
   and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
   and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
   he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
   and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, 
   and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
   and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
   and made intercession for the transgressors.

The Humanity of Christ

It is well known that Jesus came in the form of man, and He experienced life on earth, going through all of the problems we go through, all of the hurt we go through, and experienced pain, suffering, and loss just like the rest of us.  We all know this, but in the back of our minds is a thought that since Jesus is God made flesh, He really did not, or could not have gone through as much pain and suffering as we go through.

Great Loss

When thinking of how Jesus went through loss of personal relationships, two people come to mind.  First is Joseph, his father.  We do not know for sure what happened to Joseph, but we do know that Joseph was there when Jesus was twelve in the temple (Luke 2:28), then we never see him again in scripture. When Jesus was dying on the cross he tells John to take care of his mom, something Jesus would not have to do if his father was still alive (John 19:26-27).  This also shows that Jesus cared about his mom, he wanted her to be well taken care of, something any of us would want.

Another powerful passage in the Bible is when Jesus’ close friend, Lazarus, died.  Jesus got word that Lazarus was not feeling well and then after he died Jesus made his way to visit.  Seeing the women weeping over Lazarus and then seeing the grave himself was too much for Jesus, and “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  This simple verse showing that Jesus had compassion, felt pain, even though he knew Lazarus would not be dead for much longer, it was still painful to him.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Great Suffering

I think it is downright impossible for us to understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.  All to often I hear others, or even think in the back of my own mind, that what Jesus went through was bad but at least he knew the end result so it was not that bad.  How wrong can we get? Not only did Jesus get tortured and executed, but his status with God was, for the first time in all existance, severed from the Father (Mark 15:34).  Can you imagine what this would have been like? Do you think Jesus was anxious at all, or wished that he could avoid what was ahead?

Jesus did not want to go through with what was ahead and prayed for God to remove this trial from his only begotten son (John 22:42).  Jesus, “being in agony, prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (John 22:44)

Yes, Jesus was human, he had compassion, felt the pain of loss felt great anxiety. Jesus went through the pain that we went through, even more so.

So why did He do it?  Jesus prayed “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (John 22:42).  Do you not think that the loving father would take such trials from His only begotten son? But he did not, why?  Because it was the only way.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

“He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever.” (Hebrews 10:12)  Jesus died, do you really understand that? Jesus, our creator, was beaten, tortured, betrayed, and executed for you!

Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

John Piper, in Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ writes

Therefore, this man of indestructible joy was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). This “great high priest” is not unable to sympathize with us in our weakness, becasue he was tested in every way as a man like us (Hebrews 4:14-15). He wept with those who wept (John 11:35) and rejoiced with those who rejoiced (Luke 10:27, 21). He was hungry (Matthew 4:2), he was weary (John 4:6), he was forsaken (Matthew 26:56), betrayed (Matthew 26:45), whipped (Matthew 27:26), mocked (Matthew 27:31), and crucified (Matthew 27:35).

Jesus can and did relate to us, he felt pain suffering and loss.  Why did he go through all of this pain and suffering?  Because only through Jesus can we be reconciled with God.  Jesus went through all of that, only for you, what do you do for him?

Theistic Evolution

A huge debate going on right now is on the topic of Naturalistic Evolution (also known as Neo-Darwinism) and Intelligent Design.

Advocates of evolution seem to have the popular view, or at least they are the loudest, since if you ask most people they assume that evolution is the only theory on the origin of species. According to the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, even mentioning another side of the argument can cause many to lose their job, which continues to promote the idea that evolutionary theory is the only theory out there.

But there is another theory, Intelligent Design (I.D.). Intelligent Design is often times viewed as a “religious” or “theological” view, but it isn’t. It is a scientific theory that states that certain things in nature are so complex that it is impossible for them to come to where they are in a fully natural way. This tends to be a common belief among Christians as Christians believe that the God is the designer.

One other theory, called Theistic Evolution. This theory states that God used evolution in the creation of the world. This is mainly a way to try and merge what the mainstream scientists believe with what the Bible says.

Theistic evolution however, is nothing more than an attempt to harmonize God’s perfect Word with man’s imperfect thoughts. Let’s look at what the Bible states on this issue.

Origin of Man

Genesis 1:26-28

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

According to this passage man is an intentional creation from God, made in a distinct way different than the rest of the animal kingdom. None of the other animals were ever created with the description of being made in the image of God.

Another interesting point, is that when God created every animal, He spoke them into existence, but man, God formed man with His hands, and then breathed the breath of life into them.

Genesis 2:7

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

According to evolutionary theory:

Human evolution, or anthropogenesis, is the part of biological evolution concerning the emergence of Homo sapiens sapiens as a distinct species from other hominansgreat apes and placental mammals.

Where the Bible says that Adam is a specific man created by God distinct from all the other animals where evolution says that man emerged from other animals in the animal kingdom and eventually became a distinct species. These views are completely in contradiction. Jesus mentions Adam as being a specific individual, so if we say that Adam was not an actual created person then we say that Jesus is lying.

So when your world view challenges what the Bible says, which will you decide is right?

Origin of Death

Pay careful attention to this point, because it involves one of the basic fundamental beliefs of Christianity.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

The Bible is clear that Death is a product of sin, a product of one man breaking God’s laws. This world was intended to exist without death, and one day we will return to the perfect state of the world.

The theory of evolution states something quite different. According to evolution, death has been around for millions of years, and it is necessary for natural selection to take place. Death is a natural process a part of the natural world.

Don’t miss that point, according to evolutionary theory, death is a natural process necessary for life to evolve, but according to the Bible death is unnatural, it is a product of our sin. If death is a natural product that God created from the beginning for the process of evolution then Jesus’ death would be in vain, because it would not be a penalty for sin it would be a natural process.

Jesus knew no sin

Hebrews 4:14-15

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Romans 6:23

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

Isaiah 53:5, 12

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

2 Corinthians 5:21

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

So if you believe in Theistic evolution, then Jesus’ death was for nothing, it couldn’t have been a penalty for sin, it couldn’t be Him paying that penalty for us, and we are lost still. This whole concept is deeply important to our salvation. In the old testament it was the slaying of a lamb that would be sufficient as a sacrifice, again, the death of an innocent would cover the sins of man.

So when your world view challenges what the Bible says, which will you decide is right?

7 Days of creation is in the wrong order

Day 1: God creates the world and light
Day 2: God creates the sky, and separates it from the ocean
Day 3: God creates dry land and plants
Day 4: God creates the sun and moon
Day 5: God creates sea creatures and birds of the air
Day 6: God creates land animals and man
Day 7: God rested

Some say that God used evolution but that each day was really a representation of a long period of time, thousands or millions of years per day. But we have a problem here, plants are created before the sun is, and we all know plants can’t survive and reproduce without sunlight. Also, Birds of the air are created before land animals, and according to evolutionary theory birds evolved from land animals.

So does this mean that man lived with dinosaurs? Just read the last two chapters of Job where God talks about 2 “prehistoric” creatures that Job is actually looking at, or search or lake beds where we find men’s footprints along side dinosaur footprints.

Also, when God created the plants, and each animal, He commands them to reproduce according to their kind. According to neo-Darwinism each animal reproduces and eventually creates a different kind, this is completely against what the Bible says.

So we have a big discrepancy here, these two accounts of creation cannot mix at all.

Biblical Age of the Earth

Genesis 5 gives us a detailed account of how old the age of the earth is. This gives us 2 important pieces of information. For one it shows that the Bible considers these people to be literal humans, giving them specific dates that the were born and died on. Neo-Darwinism blurs the line of when the first human appeared, there are several stages of advancement and there is no distinction of when the first human appears in history.

Also this tells us clearly how old the earth is. We know that Adam was created on Day 6, “And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth” (Genesis 5:3).

Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old, so he was born in the year 130. “Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begot Enosh.” (Genesis 5:6). Enosh is born when Seth is 105, since Seth was born in the year 130 we can easily calculate the year that Enosh is born (130 + 105). Enosh is born in the year 235.

This process can be repeated, Genesis 5 goes all the way to Noah, and then you can continue through other chapters of the Bible such as Genesis 10 and Matthew 1. Not all chapters give an exact date, but you can easily estimate the life of one person. Through this process you can estimate that the Earth is aproximately 6,000 years old. Obviously not long enough for macro-evolution to create life.

If the Bible meant for the Genesis account to be taken as an analogy or a symbol, then it wouldn’t give such details. Doing this research is very interesting, you can see how the lifespan of people was much larger before the flood, so we can assume that something major happened in the flood that changed the climate so humans couldn’t live as long. These are all interesting topics to consider and research but they are outside the scope of this blog.

The point is that the Bible is clear on the creation account, it gives specific details and the gospel message itself is founded on the very beginning, that God created us unique and different than the animal kingdom, making us with souls where other animals don’t have souls. It is because of our sin that death is in the world and it is for that very reason that Jesus was able to come and live a sinless life, and die taking our place on the cross, He took our place under God’s wrath.

Conclusion

Theistic evolution however, is nothing more than an attempt to harmonize God’s perfect Wordwith man’s imperfect thoughts

The main reason people do try to mix these theories is because evolution is popular right now, but the popular scientific theories are not always correct. We need to rely on God and not man.

For those who think that this means we check our brains at the door and follow the Bible blindly, you couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many websites on Intelligent Design that talk about the science that proves that there must be an intelligent force behind the creation of everything. We as Christians know who that intelligent force is.

Check out some other resources such as http://apologetics.org, or subscribe to a podcast called Darwin or Designwhere they discuss these issues and interview some top scientists on a weekly radio show. If you have questions feel free to ask us at http://www.EternalTruthMinistry.com

Don’t compromise your beliefs just because someone says they have evidence to the contrary, we know from courts that both sides have evidence, but both are not correct, just because you have evidence doesn’t mean you have all the facts about the evidence. Look into all sides for yourself, know the facts for yourself. God gave you a mind, use it.

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