Answering Tough Questions: Death

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I truly do not believe we understand the definitive results of sin. Death is a result of sin. People seem to overlook the realization of what happened in the garden following the fall. God told Adam that if they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil the results would surely be death. Death is the cost or “wage” of sin. The severity and finality of death should help us understand God’s true feelings toward sin. When Adam sinned then death passed upon every person. Death became a certainty for every human in the known world from that point forward.

Cancer, disease, viral infections, murder, hunger, starvation, and other horrific forms of death are all results of sin. Please understand that if this is the result of sin then it should give us all a good idea of how God views sin. You might be thinking this is a little extreme for just one simple mistake. Please take a moment to consider the grace that God has extended through all this. He created man in His image, placed him in a perfect utopia without any knowledge of good or evil, and gave him one command. Man disobeyed that command and rather than dying immediately God came into the garden, killed an animal to clothe man’s nakedness, and created a redemptive plan to restore humanity back to himself through the death, burial, and resurrection of his own Son, Jesus Christ. I tend to believe that as horrific of a thing such as death is it could have been a lot worse.

When sin entered into the world it also created a decaying effect. While the world is slowly deteriorating, death becomes more and more severe. Life is now one of the most uncertain experiences on earth. We have to make our election and calling of God sure. We have to run our race effectively. We have to make the most of this life. It is but a vapor that appears for a moment and vanishes away.

Answering Tough Questions: WHY?

Isaiah 55:8-9  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Why? This seems to be a logical question? As a pastor, I encounter this question a lot. I wish people understood that even the most spiritual of leaders are constantly struggling with the same question. Learning how to understand the ways and reasoning of God is way more complicated than the human mind can imagine. This one passage of scripture gives us the ability to begin to wrap our hearts and minds around this one question: why?

When asked “why?” the only way to respond is, “I honestly do not know.” The thoughts and ways of God are not like ours. We often look at the question of why in a sense of what happens when bad things happen to seemingly good people. We must remind ourselves that the same question could be asked in accordance to God’s sacrificial love. For example, why would God sacrifice His only Son in order to rescue and redeem a world that rejected Him? You have to understand that the ways and plans of God are far greater than imaginable from both perspectives.

The only thing we can know with certainty is that God does not think like we think. Honestly, is that a good thing? I mean if God thought like we thought then lightning would be way more deadly. If God thought like we thought then He would hold grudges, hate, and become very vindictive. Thankfully, God does not think like we think. He is not contaminated with sin. Therefore, His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts and his ways much more higher. Think deeply upon this for a minute. We can only see and think in one dimension. Our vision is at best 20-20. God’s vision is eternal. We have to understand that while we only see what we can see at the present moment God can see far beyond the moment.

It is not wrong to ask God why. I have often wondered that if we had the answer to why if it would make us feel better. It is my prayer that we (me included) would come to a place where we realize that God just has a higher, holier, and sometimes hidden perspective that we may not understand until we see things in light of eternity.

Week 46 Discipleship – Answering Tough Question

This week will look at the importance of giving biblical answers for difficult questions. If we are to believe the Bible is relevant, we must be willing to search scriptures and content for the faith. This week we will see scripture that show us the need to study and find answers using scripture. It is the idea of seeing the world through the lens of scripture.

Preach the Word – Thinking Backwards

Romans 10:13-15  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Read this very carefully. The Lord teaches us the necessity of human involvement when it comes to God’s plan of salvation. We see the end result at the beginning of this series of questions. We want to see people call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. How does that happen? Paul begins to think backwards in a logical format in order to see the necessity of our evangelistic and discipleship principles. Let’s break this down so that you can see it systematically:

  • The goal is for people to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.
  • People will not call upon the Lord unless they first believe. Without faith there is no approach to the Lord.
  • They cannot believe something they have never heard. If someone does not hear the gospel then how can they believe it. If they cannot believe it then how in the world are they going to call upon the Lord?
  • How are they going to hear without a preacher? Basically, if there is no one proclaiming the gospel then they cannot hear it. If they cannot hear it then they cannot believe it, and if they cannot believe it then they are not going to call upon the Lord.
  • How are they going to preach unless they are sent? If we are not equipping people with the ability to proclaim it then they are not going to be able to properly proclaim it. If they never say anything about it then they cannot hear it. If they never hear it they cannot believe it. If they never believe then they will never call upon the name of the Lord. If they do not call upon Him then they will never be saved.

Do you now see the responsibility of the Christian? If people do not hear it then it will not be able to happen. We are living in a time where people are turning away from truth. We are living in a time where people are in desperate need of the gospel. The conditions are right and the time is now!

Week 45 Discipleship – The Time Is Now

Over the past week people have experienced anxiety, confusion, and even certain levels of fear. Regardless of the political party there is a spirit of unrest and division running across our land. We need to keep in mind that the spiritual and social conditions of our country does not change the responsibility of the individual Christian. We are commanded to preach the Word both in season and out of season. The only true change comes through experiencing the gospel of Jesus Christ. As you study this week, please consider the sense of urgency we need to implement.

The Christian Testimony – Unashamed

Romans 1:16-17  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  17  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

One of the great aspects of the Christian testimony is the willingness to be unashamed of the gospel. We live in a society where few have shared their faith with others. I remember reading a statistic a few years ago that said less than five percent of proclaiming Christians have ever shared their faith with an unbeliever. In a country based on freedom we operate with such a fear and shame toward the gospel. We cannot be scared or ashamed of the work of God being done in our lives. The greatest thing that could ever happen to a person is to experience the gospel. Yet the church in America keeps it hidden throughout our daily activity.

I am amazed at how our culture separates what we do on Sunday and how we live our lives out the rest of the week. We live in a society that has a form of godliness but it denies its power. The Christian testimony is not something that’s just supposed to be shared, but it is something that must be lived out in a world of darkness. We have this treasure in earthen vessels.

We cannot live our lives ashamed of who we are and what we are “in Christ.” We cannot live out our lives being afraid of the opinion of others or offending someone that may reject the power of God unto salvation. In a world that is growing increasingly dark, it is our duty to shine the brightest. Shining light may cost something in the days to come. We need to all realize that change does not come from who wins an election. Change happens through the word of the gospel.

Maybe it is time we quit inviting people to church and start inviting people to Christ.

The Christian Testimony – Walk in Light

1 John 1:6-7  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

What does it mean to walk in the light? In 1 John 1:5 it describes the light as God. The verse actually says God is light. So we are to walk in God and not in darkness. The concept of this entire passage centers around fellowship with God. We are to live our lives in fellowship with the Lord. Light signifies understanding, knowledge, purity, clarity, and power. Just think what light does for the human mind. It eliminates the fear of darkness. I know of very few people that sleep in total darkness. Almost everyone I know desires some form of light. Light gives understanding to difficult situations. It allows us to see something that would never have been noticed.

Christians are commanded to walk in the light as God is light. We are to walk in the purity, truth, and ways of God. We are to live our lives with a sense of being set apart from the world and unto the Lord. God does not fellowship with darkness. If we want to fellowship with God then we must not walk in darkness. If we are going to let our light shine then we must operate in the light.

The Christian testimony is one of light, but it is also one that fellowships with God. The Christian testimony hinges on its relationship with God. The passage emphasizes walking in truth, purity, and holiness. The passage emphasizes a turn from hypocrisy and a Christ-like behavior. We cannot say we have fellowship with God and then walk in darkness. Please consider our walk.

The Christian Testimony – An Equal Yoke

2 Corinthians 6:14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

This passage of scripture is usually utilized within the context of marriage. This passage definitely applies to that area of life, but it encompasses a much broader spectrum. I think many will find it hard to balance this portion of scripture with the commission to reach the lost. I mean, what does God want us to do? Does He want us to reach the lost world? If he does then we are going to have to go out among a lost world and be around unbelievers? Was the testimony of Jesus not one of “this man eateth” with sinners? Honestly, I find these questions to be out of context with what the passage is commanding of the believer.

The modern American Christian movement believes that in order to truly reach the world we must fully engulf ourselves with the world. We have to act like them, dress like them, hang out with them, do what they do, and go to the places they like to go. Basically, the more like the world we can become the more comfortable they become and the easier it becomes to reach them. This is called an unequal yoke. We are sacrificing our “new creature” identity on the altar of relevance. We are tipping the scale of fairness. The world gets what it wants (conformity), and Christians are forced to go against their new nature in order all because we think it is the only way to reach a lost world.

The context of this passage is reminding us, as Christians, that our nature does not have anything in common with the world or its philosophy. God wants us to go into the world and share the gospel. Just because Jesus ate with sinners does not mean He yoked up with them. Jesus was yoked to his disciples, not the world. He was in the world, but He was definitely not of the world. Christians should not be required to compromise who they are in order to reach those that are not like them.

The Christian testimony is one of light and salt. We are to allow our light to shine. Darkness will not fellowship with light. Light drives out darkness. The world should see a difference in those that call themselves Christian. We do not have to yoke up with the world in order to be relevant to the world. We are to be uncommon. We are called to be different. While we are in the world the world needs to see our lack of fellowship with darkness. Please do not compromise your testimony because the world desires conformity.

The Christian Testimony – It Celebrates Christ

1 Peter 2:9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

The Christian Testimony is more than just a story about ourselves. It is an account of God’s goodness, the gospel, and the glory of God. Our identity in Christ should be one that reveals the light of Christ rather than the glory of man. The sinful man has no light, nor can he/she produce light. God chooses and calls us into His family in order to draw praise. Our story should never be about our glory but it should always reflect the one who gave us light.

Who I am in Christ is an amazing thing. It truly blows my mind to be called such things by the Lord. The warning I draw from this passage is that we fail to implement the entire passage. We see a proclamation by the Lord, but at the same time we also see the purpose of this calling. He has called us out of darkness into the light. What is the purpose of all this? It is to show forth the praises of the one who has done the work.

My burden this week is that we carefully analyze our personal testimony. Our testimony should always point people to Christ rather than celebrate the individual. The Christian testimony is a very powerful thing, but does it draw praise to the Lord or man? When we share our testimony or speak of our identity does it reflect the image of Christ or does it celebrate man’s decision?

It is my hope this week that we live, speak, and share our faith in such a way that it speaks volumes about Christ rather than magnify the decision of man. We must always remember this is all a work of God. We must never take credit from something we did not do.