Posts Tagged ‘Son of God’

Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! An Easter Message On 1 Corinthians 15

April 20, 2014

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  That millennia-old paschal greeting sums up the essence of Easter.  Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, as prophesied in the Old Testament as a future event and as described in the New Testament as a historical fact, was crucified and His dead body was placed in a guarded tomb.  But on the third day, on that first Easter morning, He was raised from the dead.  And by being raised from the dead Jesus was able to offer His resurrection life to anyone who would believe in Him.  According to Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

In our modern age, the Christ of Easter has been replaced by what we can call an “Easter Bunny Jesus.”  2 Corinthians 11:4 points out that false culture, false religion and false science manufacture false Jesuses.  The Easter Bunny Jesus was a good man, a moral teacher, who was killed for preaching socialism, pacifism, and whatever other politically correct “-ism” is in vogue with the secular humanist, anti-supernaturalist, postmodernist, existentialist, moral-relativist crowd that has anointed itself the arbiters of truth.  Their Easter Bunny Jesus, of course, died and is still very much dead.  One of their favorite assertions is that the biblical accounts of Jesus are myths and fables written after the fact by people who were not eyewitnesses.

The problem with the Easter Bunny Jesus is that such a Jesus, like the Easter Bunny itself, ultimately means nothing, because he is nothing but a fabricated story with a fabricated theological meaning.  And a dead Messiah can’t do anything for anybody for the very simple reason that he is DEAD and BURIED.  And it is a doubly fabricated story because it has no connection whatsoever with the real Jesus and what the real Jesus really did on Easter.

So what really happened on the first Easter morning?

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 we have an early Christian creed that dates to within the time of the crucifixion of Jesus that defines the meaning of the Gospel of Easter and defends the HISTORICAL REALITY of Easter.

Turn with me in your Bibles, if you have them, to 1 Corinthians 15:

   1Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

What is the meaning of the Christian Gospel of Easter?

First of all, the Easter Gospel is that by which we are saved.  According to the Bible, there are ultimately only two kinds of people: those who are saved, and those who are lost.  Jesus believed in the reality of hell.  We avoid discussing hell, because a lot of modern people find the concept very unpleasant.  But the fact is that Jesus talked more about hell than anyone else in all of Scripture.  In fact, Jesus talked about hell almost more than everyone else in Scripture COMBINED.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:23 that there will be many to whom He will say, “Depart from me.  I never knew you.”  In Matthew 8:12 Jesus spoke of a place of outer darkness, and said “in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”   According to Matthew 25:41 Jesus will say to those who are not saved, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

No Easter Bunny Jesus can save you.  Only the power of the real Resurrected Son of God can save you.

What do you have to believe to have the Easter Resurrection Life of Christ?  1 Corinthians 15:3-4 tells us: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”  Forget the Easter Bunny Jesus; we’re talking about the REAL death and the REAL Resurrection of the REAL Christ Jesus who came in fulfillment of the Old Testament that prophesied the coming Christ.  And this real Jesus REALLY died.  The body of this real Jesus REALLY was buried.  And the body of this real Jesus was REALLY raised from the dead.

Who is Christ?  As Peter confessed to Jesus in Matt 16:16, He is the Son of the Living God.  He is God the Son.  The Gospel of John begins by teaching that Christ was with God the Father from the beginning, and ALL things came into being through Christ.  Colossians 1:16 confirms this truth about Christ Jesus, teaching that “in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

God the Son took on a human nature.  He created man and woman in His own image knowing that one day He would assume our image, so that He could live the perfect life in our place that we could not live, and then die the death that we could not die in our place for our sins.  And all you have to do to be saved, according to the Bible, is accept what He did for you on the cross, and believe that God raised Him from the dead with the kind of Resurrection Life that He alone can offer to YOU right here and right now as He takes your sin and gives you His righteousness.

Now comes the question: why should anyone believe this Gospel?  Why should anyone believe that this Christ came, died in our place for our sins that separate us from God, and was raised from the dead as the Lord of Life to offer that Life to us?  What evidence does St. Paul present that he’s telling the truth about the first Easter?

In verses 3 through 7 of 1 Corinthians 15, scholars identify an early Christian creed (there are SEVERAL early creeds preserved in the New Testament that were passed on from the very first Christian witnesses).  St. Paul – who began his own career as a Jewish rabbi and a Pharisee – in saying, “For what I received I passed on to you” – is actually using technical rabbinical terminology for the receiving and passing along of established oral tradition.  He’s pointing out that he received this creed from someone else and is now passing it on.    Paul points out that he had ALREADY given the Corinthians this creed on his first visit, which history confirms happened in 51 AD.  He uses the past tense: “I passed on to you.”  So we’re already within twenty years of the cross, aren’t we? But St. Paul tells us that just as HE passed the creed on, it had been previously passed to HIM, right?  So who did St. Paul receive the creed from?

It gets exciting: most scholars argue that Paul had to have received this creed when he made the trip to Jerusalem described in Galatians 1:18-19 to meet with Peter and James – the very people specifically named in the creed. That event is fixed historically: it happened in AD 38.  That’s just a few years from when Christ was crucified.

But the stylized, structured wording of this creed strongly suggests to many scholars that it predates even Paul’s visit to meet with Peter and James.   The underlying wording is clearly Aramaic rather than Greek, for example.  When the passages are re-translated into Aramaic, they possess the rhyme and rhythm that clearly reveals they were originally developed in that language.  That is why it’s “Cephas” rather than “Peter.”  And in the words of this creed, we are back right to the moments right after the Cross, to the Resurrection, as the eyewitnesses described what they saw and who saw it with them.

Let’s look again beginning with verse 5: “and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”

For the first thousand years after the Crucifixion of Jesus, the ONLY polemic from Jews – who saw the rise of Christianity as a threat to Judaism – was that Jesus’ disciples had stolen His body from the tomb.  That was the only rival explanation that was offered.  Jesus died and stayed dead, and His disciples stole His body and started preaching a lie.  But here’s the thing: that explanation has largely been abandoned by even the most skeptical scholars today.  Do you know why?  Because in the thousand years SINCE the end of the first millennia, critics have had to contend with a brutal fact of history: that these twelve men who claimed they had seen Jesus resurrected from the dead CHANGED THE WORLD preaching about that resurrected Jesus they claimed they saw and heard and touched.  The calendar on planet earth is dated in A.D., Anno Domini, In the Year of Our Lord, BECAUSE of the testimony of the apostles about Jesus.

History records the fact that Jesus’ disciples traveled across the known world preaching about what they witnessed that Easter morning.  With the sole exception of St. John – who was himself tortured for his testimony – all of these men gave their lives as martyrs proclaiming that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, whom they had seen crucified and whom they saw raised gloriously from the dead.

Here’s the problem for skeptics and for those who prefer the Easter Bunny Jesus: these disciples were in a UNIQUE position to know whether or not they had really witnessed what they claimed they had seen and heard and touched.  While it is possible for people to be sincerely mistaken, the disciples were in a UNIQUE position to know for certain whether they saw, heard and touched what they claimed they had.

Would you be willing to die for something that you categorically KNEW was false?  Do you think you could assemble a dozen other people who would likewise all be willing to die for something that they knew was not true???  No.  Nobody dies for a lie.  Everyone pretty much agrees that the disciples clearly, sincerely believed that they had seen their Lord Jesus gloriously alive after His death by crucifixion and after having spent three days in a tomb.  There are some who want to argue that Jesus was the one who pulled off the fraud, having somehow survived being crucified, having a Roman spear shoved through His heart, waking up in a tomb and climbing out to deceive His disciples.  But the problem with that is that it makes JESUS a horrible, lying fraud and in fact the greatest villain in all of human history.  Does that work for you that the Man regarded as the greatest moral teacher who ever lived was a dishonest imposter???

So modern skeptics have devised a phenomena of mass hallucination, whereby all twelve of the disciples over and over again all thought they were seeing the same thing, hearing the same thing, even TOUCHING the same thing, but of course they had to be somehow mistaken every single time.  And when 500 people all saw and heard the same thing at the same time, well, what else could have happened except that they were suffering from a mass delusion?  A delusion so powerful most of them ultimately sacrificed their lives as martyrs for what they thought they had seen but of course hadn’t really seen.

I find it easier to simply believe that there really is a God who can do what the God of the Bible says He can do.

St. Paul provides three specific witnesses that we have to briefly discuss: Cephas (or Peter), James, and last of all, Paul adds himself to the list in verse 8.

These three men cover the panoply of possibilities and responses to Jesus: When Jesus was crucified, Peter – who had believed in and followed Jesus – was a completely broken man even before Jesus was crucified.  He had fled like a coward from the One he had previously declared he would die for.  He had denied Jesus three times that night while Jesus was on trial for His life.

Question: what would it take to make this completely broken man the boldest of the disciples who would preach until his own martyrdom by crucifixion?  What would it take to make such a man – facing his own cross of execution – ask the Romans to crucify him upside down because he did not feel worthy to die in the exact same manner as his Lord Jesus?  What would it take to restore Peter?  Only one thing: an appearance by the resurrected Lord of Life who forgave him and restored him and gave him a mission that he would doggedly pursue to the moment of his own martyrdom.

Take James, the half-brother of Jesus.  The Gospels record that James was highly skeptical of his half-brother Jesus.  John 7:5 openly declares that James didn’t believe.  Mark chapter 3 indicates that James was one of those who literally thought that Jesus had lost His mind.  Here comes the question: what would it take for you to believe that your oldest sibling was the Creator God of the Universe???  Because THAT is the point that James the brother of Jesus had to somehow arrive at.  What would it take?  How about seeing his half-brother, having been crucified, gloriously risen from the dead in proof that everything He had said about Himself was true and that He really WAS the Savior of the world???  We know that James became a believer at the worst possible time, right after his half-brother was brutally executed by Rome as a warning to anyone who would believe what Jesus had believed.

And history records that James, known as James the Just for his godly character, was murdered by a mob as a martyr for preaching, yes, that his half-brother Jesus really was Lord and God.

And we arrive at St. Paul.  Verse 8 says, “and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”  St. Paul started out as Saul, a rabid Jewish Pharisee who despised Christians and literally wanted them all either dead or in chains.  Until something knocked him off his high horse when he was on the road to Damascus to persecute more Christians and changed his mind – and more – his heart forever afterward.  And so Saul the most ardent persecutor of the Church became St. Paul, the most ardent evangelist of the Church he had tried to destroy.  What could cause such a transformation?

Paul repeatedly offered only one answer: he saw the risen Jesus and he believed what he saw and heard.

On this Easter morning, I it is my privilege to declare to you that it all really happened just as the Scriptures declare: that Jesus the Christ, the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, really came, really lived a perfect life in your place, really took your sins upon Himself at the cross, taking the blame for what you’ve done, and really rose bodily from the dead so that you could be raised to the Resurrection Life of Easter with Him.

And all you have to do to have that eternal Easter life is believe in the Lord of Life, believe in Jesus.

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Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God (Part 1): The Fool Says In His Heart There Is No God

November 4, 2013

What is this class going to be about?  It’s going to be about Jesus according to His words in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  This class is going to be about Jesus as the only possible fulfillment of desperate human need.

I titled this, “Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God.”  Let me try to explain why.  The Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus was fully human in every way, human in every way that it is essential to be human, and fully God.  Passages such as Philippians 2:6-8 teach “the kenosis,” the emptying of Jesus as He laid aside aspects of His deity – WHILE REMAINING IN HIS NATURE GOD – in order to become fully human and experience the essence and the angst of human limitation.  How was He able to do this?  The short and simple answer is the Virgin Birth in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6.  Jesus, according to John 1:1-3, was the Word who was with God and was God.  We’re taught that ALL THINGS CAME INTO BEING BY CHRIST.  And so when we read Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” we now know that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”  And so when we read Genesis 1:27 which says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

God created man.  But we can be even MORE specific: The Son of God created man.  Christ created man.  Christ, who would assume human image, created that very human image that He knew He would one day assume.  How could Christ assume human image?  Because Christ created man in His image, and more precisely because Christ created man in an image that He could one day assume Himself.

There’s a beautiful, simple poem: He came to die on a cross of wood, but made the hill on which it stood.”

Consider again John 14:6.  No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.  Jesus is the unique answer to the human condition, the only antidote to the fatal disease of sin.  He is THE way, THE truth and THE life.

So the title: Jesus as the Son of Man, in His humanity, shows you what is necessary to live a life that is pleasing to God.  Jesus as a human being showed us what kind of life – THE ONLY LIFE EVER LIVED – can earn/merit/deserve the reward of heaven rather than the judgment of hell.  If anyone thinks he or she is good enough to deserve to go to heaven on their own merit, all he or she has to do is live as perfect a human life as Jesus did.  What we find in studying Jesus’ life is that if you ever had so much as a single sinful THOUGHT, let alone act, you don’t measure up to God’s standard of a righteous life.  Everything Jesus thought and said and did were in perfect alignment with the will of the Father.  YOU try living up to that.  But Jesus in His humanity, in coming to seek and to save us, lived a perfect human life on earth because He knew we could not in our fallen state live the sinless lives a perfect holy God demanded.  As the Son of Man, Jesus lived a perfect human life in our place – the same way that Adam as the first man stood in our place and represented us (but led mankind into sin).  And Jesus in His deity, Jesus as Son of God, showed us what kind of life – AGAIN THE ONLY LIFE EVER LIVED – can gain heaven for any other human being.  In His deity as the Son of God, Jesus was able as GOD ALONE IS ABLE to save the entire human race by uniting in Himself as the Son of Man and the Son of God.

But having said that by way of introduction, let’s step back and consider the alternative to Jesus as “Son of Man, Son of God.”  Let’s suppose that the human race were left to its own devices, and that we were the answer to our own salvation, as secular humanists and atheists claim.  Let’s present the alternative scenario that the human race is the byproduct of meaningless, purposeless, random evolution and take some time to see where this scenario leads mankind in the question, “Where does morality come from?”  I want to argue for God on the basis of the simple fact of moral laws and our resulting moral intuitions .

When I got out of the army my knee was ruined and I was broken more than merely physically.  I was like many who couldn’t understand why God would have allowed me to go through such an ordeal or why He hadn’t healed me.  Frankly, had I had a better grounding in the Scripture, I would have known that God never said that bad things would never happen to His people.  I would have known that God has a plan that weaves things that we consider bad at the time to create an ultimately much greater good for us.  But I was young in years and young in my faith.  And I became bitter.  I went from wondering where God was, to wondering if He cared, to wondering if He was even there at all.

It’s interesting that the Bible never really seriously addresses the objections raised by atheists, other than to say it is fools who say that there is no God.

Here’s a great quote about “intellectuals” and “fools” from George Orwell: “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.”  It is amazing to contemplate how utterly divorced from reality many – if not most – intellectuals are.

Basically, God is simply presented as a fact of reality in the Bible.  And if you want to know why you should believe in God, all you have to do is look around you and see the purpose and beauty and design of creation (e.g. Romans chapter one).  God is an obvious brute fact, and it is fools who entertain foolish speculations to suppress the truth in their wickedness.  They can’t believe because they won’t believe.  All the evidence in the world won’t change what amounts to a bitter, cynical, poisonous attitude.  I think this is true, and as an example I think that the field of psychology backs it up: you can’t change a heart or mind that doesn’t want to be changed. Until someone is ready to change, all the logic, all the reason, all the facts in the world simply won’t matter.  And I present myself and my weight as an example.  Until I was ready to do what I had to do, NOBODY was going to be able to argue me into doing what I had to do to lose weight and get healthy.

There’s an appropriate line of dialogue that was said many times in Three Stooges episodes: “I can’t see, I can’t see!”  “You’ve got your eyes closed.”  “oh.”  When you are finally ready to open your eyes, you can see all the light you want to.  I was NEVER an atheist, but I had been spiritually traumatized into closing my eyes to God.  And I simply couldn’t see all the reasons I had to believe because I wasn’t looking.  Now I can see so many; but atheists won’t look at all those reasons.  Their eyes are closed.  2 Cor 4:4 takes it even further, pointing out that Satan as “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel.”  Open your eyes.

Last night on my walk, it occurred to me at a certain point as I walked in the dark that I’d better check for coyotes.  Once a coyote had tried to come up from behind and ambush my dog at this point.  So I turned on my flashlight and my blood pressure shot up as I saw a coyote moving toward us.  Only it wasn’t a coyote; it was a plastic bag caught in a shrub at just the right height to fool me.  We tend to see what we expect to see, don’t we?

But let me take you to a realization that I had during my quest for light (while like a “stooge” I was wandering around with my eyes shut).  I realized something important: it occurred to me that if in fact there were no God, and if evolution were true, that there was no real, objective morality – and that I could literally do whatever I wanted no matter how “evil” society claimed it was.  Murder, rape, you name it: there is no ultimate penalty for these things if there is no God who rewards or punishes.

I knew enough about the natural world at that point to understand that it is impossible to look at nature and find any grounds apart from God or religion for morality.  As an example, many matings in the insect and even mammalian world would for us constitute acts of rape.  And in the case of praying mantises or black widows, the females often get even by killing and eating the father of their children as soon as the mating is completed.  I watched a documentary about higher primates that showed a dominant female chimpanzee’s baby dying because she couldn’t produce milk.  As dominant female, what did she do?  She seized the baby of a less-dominant female.  And what happened?  That baby died because the dominant female couldn’t produce milk.  Is that wrong?  That’s NATURE, baby.  In the world of nature, do we arrest lions for crimes: “You murdered that zebra.  We’re going to have to put you in prison for your crime.”  It would be idiotic.  Anyone who understands the nature that humans ostensibly come from according to evolution understands that nature is utterly cold, utterly cruel and utterly amoral.

You can’t give what you don’t got.  Nature can’t “evolve” morality in humans because it never had it to give to begin with.  And the entire history of the natural world screams that cold hard brutal fact.

Does morality come from nature?  Not.  Would you like to depend on the amorality of nature to save you from anything?  I sure wouldn’t.  What about “herd morality”???  Does morality depend on what society says?  When we stand before God, will he turn to an opinion poll to judge us for our sins???

Where does morality come from, then?  Does it come from human government?  We can look at THE two most totalitarian forms of human government in history – communism and fascism – and see that theory get blown apart.  Surely if morality comes from government, then the more control exercised by government the better, right?  It turns out that the more government the WORSE.  Communism is identical with “state atheism”; every officially state atheist government with the exception of the French Revolution has been communist, and every single communist regime has been officially state atheist.  And no form of government has crushed the human spirit with more brutality than communism – which is responsible for the murder of more than 100 million of its own citizens just during peacetime alone.  Communism is the closest thing humans can come to “a boot stomping on a human face – forever.”  We can also consider the Darwinian and atheist project of Nazi fascism.  One of the greatest scholars of fascism, Ernst Nolte, defined fascism as “the practical and violent resistance to transcendence.”  I.e. a transcendent God and an objective, transcendent moral law.  The great French thinker George Steiner noted that “By killing the Jews, Western culture could eradicate those who had ‘invented’ God.

Proto-Nazi 19th century German scholars such as Julian Wellhausen and Friedrich Delitzsch began in the 19th century with the theological project to undermine God, undermine the Bible and undermine the Jews who wrote the Bible.  Proto-Nazi 19th century German philosophers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche and then Martin Heidegger, savagely undermined any grounds for God, for Christianity, or for any kind of objective moral values.

Nazism was inseparable with the “Gottglaubiger,” the Nazi Party member who declared that he had officially rejected Christianity.  The men closest to Adolf Hitler noted in their personal journals that Hitler was an atheist.  Consider Joseph Goebbels, who in a 1939 diary entry noted a conversation in which Hitler had “expressed his revulsion against Christianity. He wished that the time were ripe for him to be able to openly express that. Christianity had corrupted and infected the entire world of antiquity.”  Hitler said, “Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.”  And just as Hitler wanted to solve “the Jewish problem,” we find that he also intended to solve “the Christian problem.”  In 1941 Hitler declared: “The war is going to be over. The last great task of our age will be to solve the church problem. It is only then that the nation will be wholly secure.”

Adolf Hitler summed up the ultimate Darwinian philosophy, saying, “If the German Volk is not strong enough and is not sufficiently prepared to offer its own blood for its existence, it should cease to exist and be destroyed by a stronger power.”

What else is Darwinism if not the struggle for survival in which the stronger kill or replace the weaker???

Does morality flow from the power of human government?  Adolf Hitler certainly believed it did.  He said, “We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany.”  Chairman Mao certainly believed that it did.  He said, “Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people. If they stand up and dig together with us, why can’t these two mountains be cleared away?” God is the State.  The State is God.  And whatever the State decides is moral is moral and whatever the State decides is immoral is immoral.  Does that work for you???

The Bible reveals a big problem with “human morality” from the LAST TIME God judged man’s sins: “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Gen 6:5).  I see this as something that neither nature nor governance can solve.

One of my problems with morality coming from government or human culture is the way morality “evolves.”  I think of the United States and homosexuality.  On April 17, 2008, as epitomized in Barack Obama, morality was the view that: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”  But that view is no longer “moral”: now a person holding to that view is intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded and cruel.  Now the moral thing to believe according to our culture and recognize that homosexuals’ relationships are every bit as valid as those relationships between a man and a woman and that the moral person must respect the full and equal rights of gay citizens.

I mentioned Nazism’s project to destroy objective, transcendent morality: such morality holds that objective moral laws apply to all times, to all cultures, period.  It is wrong to torture a baby for fun.  It has always been wrong.  It has always been wrong no matter what any culture or any group of people thought about it.  And it will always be wrong even if the whole world says otherwise.  That view of morality has largely been destroyed as much in our world as it was in the world of Nazi Germany.  And it has been replaced with the secular humanist/atheist concept that morality (like everything else) “evolves.”

What makes something “right” or “wrong”?  What makes something “moral” or “immoral”???  If something isn’t moral just because Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin said so, why would it be different if Barack Obama – or ANY leader ANYWHERE – said so???  Who makes human rules for humanity?  If it’s some group of humans, just what is it that makes them so superior to the rest of us that they get to make the rules for the rest of us?  And if there is no group of humans that gets to make the rules, then where else would any true moral laws come from???

Is it human nature to merely be a herd animal, which chews its cud and does what the rest of the herd does?  That doesn’t seem to be the way we are, given all the arguing and discussion rather than all the cud-chewing and mindlessly following.

In my own case, to return to my realization as an adrift young man, if there is no God, there ARE no moral rules.  I could do anything I wanted.  No one had the right to tell me that something was right or that something was wrong.  They were merely imposing their own values on me and they didn’t have any more right to make the rules than anybody else.  The Bible described such thinking: “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

What kind of world do we invariably end up with when it is up to human minds to decide what is right and what is wrong???  I think history has already declared that it is a very ugly world.

Is mass human death a tragedy?  Not according to the leaders of big government, who don’t care how many of their own people die as long as they have enough others to continue to do their bidding:

Chairman Mao:

“The atom bomb is nothing to be afraid of,” Mao told Nehru, “China has many people. . . . The deaths of ten or twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of.” A witness said Nehru showed shock. Later, speaking in Moscow, Mao displayed yet more generosity: he boasted that he was willing to lose 300 million people, half of China’s population.”

Chairman Mao:

LEE EDWARDS, CHAIRMAN, VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM MEMORIAL FOUNDATION: In 1959 to 1961 was the so-called “great leap forward” which was actually a gigantic leap backwards in which he tried to collectivize and communize agriculture.

And they came to him after the first year and they said, “Chairman, five million people have died of famine.” He said, “No matter, keep going.” In the second year, they came back and they said, “Ten million Chinese have died.” He said, “No matter, continue.” The third year, 20 million Chinese have died. And he said finally, “Well, perhaps this is not the best idea that I’ve ever had.”

CHANG: When he was told that, you know, his people were dying of starvation, Mao said, “Educate the peasants to eat less. Thus they can benefit – they can fertilize the land.”

I submit to you that we’re seeing the exact same demonically ideological disregard for the lives of one’s own people in Barack Obama with his ObamaCare rollout.  There was no question that the website was not ready, that it would crash, that it was unsafe and that people who trusted its use would be subject to widespread identity theft and hacking.  Obama didn’t care; he cared only about getting the turkey to fly whether it was ready to fly or not out of pure political considerations rather than any concern for the American people.

We’re seeing pure lies pumping out of the Obama White House to justify the fact that the president of the United States lied to the American people and became, in effect due to all his exposure, the most documented liar in the history of the entire human race.  White House officials and their spinners are claiming that there’s nothing about the Affordable Care Act that is causing millions of people to lose their insurance, and they demonize the greedy insurance companies and say that Obama can’t do anything about what the insurance companies do.  That is – just like Obama’s promise ,”If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.” – a complete lie.  Not only are 15 million Americans finding that out right now, but 93 million more Americans are set to learn it the hard way in January 2014.  The insurance companies are cancelling millions of Americans’ insurance policies because ObamaCare loaded up policies with required regulations that none of these plans can meet.  Again, the White House knew in 2010 that ObamaCare would FORCE insurance companies to cancel over 70% of individual insurance plans within three years of ObamaCare’s implementation.  And so we are now seeing horror stories such as a woman with severe cancer who had not “substandard insurance” but “WORLD CLASS INSURANCE” in mortal danger of losing her insurance and therefore her LIFE because of ObamaCare.

Obama: “No matter, keep going.”  And none of the catastrophe he’s created matters because like Mao Obama is a rabid ideologue who demands his “signature legislation” be implemented now matter how awful it is or how terrible its consequences will be on America and its people.

What I’m trying to tell you is that when it comes to looking to your government for morality, you can’t look at the communists and the fascists – who ought to have THE most moral governments if morality in any way, shape or form comes from government – and say, “that’s just them.”  No government is moral, and morality comes from no government.  Least of all our own as we have now nearly completely abandoned the Judeo-Christian worldview that gave the United States a chance at becoming a moral city on a hill.  No nation that has mindlessly spent itself into well over $200 trillion in unsustainable and unpayable debt has any right to call itself “moral.”

I previously told you how bloody and dark and amoral and indifferent “the world of nature” apart from God was.  Does the morality of human government seem any better?  It has been frequently pointed out that any government that can give rights can just as easily take them away.  Now we are living in a time when what was right has become wrong and what was wrong has become right.

I think of some of Jesus’ most powerful words: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  What did He mean?  Is He referring to people that nature lost?  Is He referring to people who aren’t yet eligible for some government program to help them?  Or is He referring to a far deeper and more fundamental problem with human nature that can’t be transformed by Nature and can’t be transformed by Nurture (i.e. a government nanny state)???

The Bible reveals something that we should all know from our self-introspection:  “ He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecc 3:11).  That is that we have eternal souls.  No temporary fix will work for beings that live on forever long after our bodies are dust.  The only solution is an eternal solution; and therefore the only one who can save us is an eternal God.

Nature cannot save us because amoral nature cannot give us what it never had to begin with.  Herd morality, society says morality, or government morality can’t save us because human beings are individuals and not herd animals and because governments are THE most immoral entities on earth rather than the most moral.  And human beings cannot save us because no matter how they present themselves as messiahs, the fact of the matter is that they are fallen human beings tainted by sin and they are merely liars and charlatans and demagogues.

We are a world in desperate need of salvation.  My generation was literally born into a world that had become capable of utterly destroying itself within a matter of minutes with nuclear annihilation.  And that threat continues to hang over this world that common sense assures will one day erupt into WW3.  We need a Savior.  We need a Messiah.  And no human government and no human leader can take the place of the true Savior of the world that the world needs – Jesus of Nazareth.

Click here to see Jesus, Son Of Man, Son of God (Part 2)

Click here to see Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God (Part 3)

On Celebrating The Virgin Birth Of Jesus With Both Heart And Mind

December 25, 2009

I take my “Santa cap” off to the American Spectator – which is such a strong force for political conservatism – for providing articles such as this one.

There is more than health care, or cap-and-trade, or deficits, or any part of the ideological battle between Democrats and Republicans.  Because long before we were fighting any of those issues, we were celebrating Christ.  And we shall be celebrating Christ long after all of these other, lesser issues are gone.

The Case Against the Case Against the Virgin Birth

By Jeremy Lott on 12.22.09 @ 6:07AM

Every year at about this time, readers can count on a few Christmas-themed articles appearing in newspapers and magazines that question the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. It really is something to see the wide variety of people who get worked up over this ancient Christian belief.

Scientific reductionists — the Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins set — will tell us that it’s impossible. By definition, a virgin cannot be with child. Certain biblical scholars will be trotted out to poke holes in the dogma, by making points about the Bible passages in question that sound convincing to non-scholars. And moderate, embarrassed believers such as Newsweek editor Jon Meacham will try to smooth things over. The Virgin Birth, they will say, is symbolically but not historically or scientifically important. It’s about new life or specialness or some other non-offensive, wooly-headed thing.

The scholars will say that the verse in Isaiah (7:14) that prophesies a “virgin shall conceive and bear a son” is a mistranslation. “Virgin” could be “young woman,” you see. They will point out that only two of the four Gospels of the New Testament mention the Virgin Birth and that the Virgin Birth Gospels (Matthew and Luke) do not agree about many details. They will say that the earliest Gospel (Mark) leaves it out entirely.

Therefore: Who can say what really happened? The point of this exercise is to paint defenders of the virgin birth as narrow fundamentalists who cling to two tenuous, unscientific, conflicting scraps of the biblical text that rely on a questionable translation of Old Testament prophecy. There are perhaps a dozen problems with this approach. We’ll focus on three:

One, it manages to misrepresent all four Gospels at the same time. Matthew and Luke have miraculous conception and birth narratives. Mark and John are rooted in the first chapter of Genesis. That itself says something about Christ’s origin. According to the first chapter of John, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God.” In Jesus, “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

In fact, all four Gospels are rooted in Genesis. Modern audiences tend to focus on the creation narratives of the first few chapters and skip over the genealogies. To a first century Middle Eastern audience, those lists were far more important. Echoing this, both Matthew and Luke attempt to construct genealogies of Jesus, and in the process both books finger God as the father and Mary as the mother.

Two, in pointing out contradictions between Matthew and Luke, scholars and more progressive believers think that they are scoring points against literalism and fundamentalism. The supposed contradictions do present a problem for some believers, but they help make their case as well. Historians are trained to suspect collusion of sources: if two accounts line up too neatly, then one is likely based on the other and thus less valuable. It’s better to have two divergent accounts — even wildly divergent accounts — of the same event to serve as confirmation of the details where they agree.

The stories about Jesus’ conception and birth in Matthew and Luke are far enough apart — the “wise men,” the flight to Egypt, and the murder of innocents are in Matthew but not Luke; the census, the shepherds, the meeting between the mothers of the still unborn Jesus and John the Baptist are unique to Luke — that they must come from different sources. They both agree about the Virgin Birth.

Three, the case for a mistranslation of Isaiah is simply beside the point. Yes, the word in Hebrew could be rendered “young lady” but that’s irrelevant. When an angel tells Mary that she will have a child and she wonders, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) she’s not saying “since I am a young lady.” The Gospel writers, the popular early Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, and the early church all understood it to mean “virgin,” and their understanding is what matters here.

None of this is indisputable proof for the Virgin Birth, nor is it meant to be. We can give evidence for miracles but cannot replicate the results in a laboratory, and the chasm between history and mystery is where faith comes in. However, the hostility of scientific reductionists to the idea does not make nearly as much sense as it used to. Now, with advances in reproductive technology, a woman who was biologically a virgin could in fact conceive a child. Experiments in animal DNA are showing that you can manipulate eggs in such a way that sperm is not necessary to create a whole new creature. If scientists in the 21st century can manage it, is it really such a stretch to say that God 2,000 years ago would have been up to the task?

You should go to the American Spectator site itself to read this, as there are some excellent and informative comments that follow the article.  But I have a few things to say, myself.

The Septuagint was the translation into Greek by Jewish scholars (it is often abbreviated as “LXX” because tradition holds that 70 scholars were involved in the translation), and was undertaken and completed between 300 and 200 BC.  It was not written by Christians.

It is, however, particularly noteworthy to Christians that the Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew word “almah” in Isaiah (which basically meant a young woman of marigiable age still under the protection of her family) as “parthenos,” which is the Greek word that clearly means “virgin.”

Some scholars rigidly maintain that the Hebrew word “almah” does not necessarily mean “virgin.”  But the fact of the matter is that in Hebrew culture/tradition, a young unmarried girl under her family’s protection was basically either a virgin, or else she was stoned to death as an adulteress.  When you add the fact that the LXX scholars – who clearly were more in touch with the understanding of the ancient Hebrew Bible than we are today – deliberately chose the word “parthenos,” you have a rather ironclad case that the Jews understood Isaiah 7:14 as prophesying a virgin birth (i.e. an immaculate conception).

Only Jesus – in all of recorded human history – has been proclaimed as having been uniquely born of a virgin.  And the two largest religions in the world – Christianity and Islam – recognize and affirm that Jesus of Nazareth was born of a young Jewish virgin girl named Mary.

The passages presented in the New Testament then eradicate even the tiniest shred of remaining doubt.

The so-called “scientific reductionists” claim that the miracle of the virgin birth was impossible.  What is interesting is that a “virgin birth” is quite possible today, given our medical technology.  I bring this out just to say that these are philosophical atheists, who don’t believe in the virgin birth simply because they do not believe in God.  Otherwise, their view toward the virgin birth becomes asinine: they would literally be arguing that God the Creator of all matter, energy, space, and time would be unable to replicate a feat that humans today routinely perform.

As one who accepts the possibility of God, I have no problem whatsoever accepting the possibility of miracles.  Some atheistic thinkers have defined a “miracle” as “a violation of the laws of nature.”  But they are trying to load the issue and tilt it toward philosophical naturalism by doing so.

Let me explain it this way.  Suppose someone accidentally knocks my cup of coffee off the table and I catch it.  Is this a “miracle”?  After all, according to the law of gravity, that cup should have continued to fall and strike the ground – and that didn’t happen.  What did happen was a personal agent possessing sufficient power chose to intervene and change the outcome of natural laws by themselves.

A miracle is God – the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe – intentionally choosing to reach down and intervene in the affairs of men, usually by a means we our limited understanding cannot fully understand.

Please allow me to explain why Christmas is so important to me, by means of a series of declarations of faith:

I believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.

I believe that God supernaturally implanted into Mary’s womb (and specifically into one of her unfertilized eggs) a human baby possessing a perfect human nature, uncorrupted by the effects of the Fall.

I believe that this baby, Jesus, possessed every single property essential to human nature (flesh and bones, a human brain, etc.) such that He was 100% man.  Sin is not essential to human nature; God created both Adam and Eve without sin.

I believe that this baby, Jesus, simultaneously possessed every single property essential to Deity, particularly the Deity of The Word, the Second Person of the Triunity of the Godhead.  Such that He was 100% God.  As He grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52), He came to recognize His unique Christ-consciousness.  And specifically, He began to become aware that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7, and Micah 5:2 (among some 300 other unique and amazing prophecies).

I believe that when God created human beings in His image (the Imago Dei) in Genesis 1:27, He was in fact creating beings whose image and nature He Himself would one day assume.  He created Adam in His image so that He could ultimately assume Adam’s image and so save mankind from the Fall (Genesis 3).

I believe Jesus voluntarily restricted the use of His divine prerogatives prior to His assumption of human nature, such that He lived His life on earth as an ordinary human being who had to rely completely on the Holy Spirit for His power (just like every Christian since has had to do).  Please read Philippians 2:1-11.  And then read it again and again.

I believe He came to live a perfect life on earth as a human being so that He could fully and truly represent the human race.

I believe that He died in my place – and in the place of everyone who believes in Him – so that I could be fully restored with God the Father (Luke 19:10, Mark 10:45).  I believe that I am a sinner (Romans 3:23; 6:23), saved only by grace and by faith in the name of Jesus (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 5:1; 10:9).

I believe in the words of a simple poem,

He came to die on a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood (see John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17).

I believe that Jesus had to become a man to die in my place – or even (as God) to be able to experience death on my behalf – and that He had to be God to have the power to save me from my sins.  Only Jesus, as true God, and true Man, could save me (Hebrews 9:24-28).

And I believe that, because of His finished work of sacrifice in my place, that I will live forever with Him in heaven, celebrating an eternal life more magnificent and more exciting than anything I have ever begun to imagine.

And all of the wonder of God coming to His creation, all of the wonder of the most loving act in the history of the universe, all of the existential cries that are answered by God taking my place and saving me, are all answered in the birth of Jesus.

And so I read Job 19:25-27 and say with him, “For I know that my Redeemer lives…”

And so I read with tears of joy the words of Mary in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

And so I recognize in that First Christmas not only joy to the world, but hope for the world.  And the source of that Christmas joy and hope is Christ.

Merry Christmas.