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Archive for the ‘Finding Purpose’ Category

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:1-6 ESV)

Are all religions essentially the same? Aren’t they just superficially different? As the Beatles have said in song, “Love is all you need.” Yet love seems to be in short supply! It is not as easy as they make it seem, because Love for God is the only command God has given us and yet how many of us have loved God with all our heart a single day of our lives? Jesus taught that the love of many will grow cold and people will be judged for their evil thoughts and activities unless they believe Jesus was the real deal. And our text today shows that the original preachers did not consider their message of “first importance” to be “love is all you need.” Rather they preached that Jesus physically resurrected and that his innocent death on the cross paid for the problem many refuse to admit, that we love ourselves more than God.

At least love seems to matter to us, but does the truth about reality matter to us? Should we not love truth as well? Everyone seems to have an opinion, but does our Great Designer have His say in the matter? Christianity is essentially based on what Jesus said and did. And He didn’t come preaching about kindness and love. He came preaching forgiveness from a Holy God who has promised wrath and judgement for the loveless sins you and I have committed. He came offering himself as a substitute “ransom” to pay for the sins of many who will trust and believe him. Sin is a debt. Sin is misplaced love. Sin is an evil crime. Sin is setting our own purposes for our life above and against God’s purposes for us. In short, sin is a refusal to love the truth.

What is God’s purpose for us? We exist to worship him and to enjoy him forever. How do we accomplish that? It can only start by trusting that Jesus told the truth that he came from God to fix us and that all others who claimed the same were “thieves and robbers.” All religious founders cannot all be correct about God and eternal life because all religions fundamentally contradict each other. How does one begin to sort through all that confusion? Ideas and theories are abstract and hard to test. But the story of Christianity has, from the beginning, been a story that tangibly enters into human history for us to test.

God offers us Jesus as a test for truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father but by me.” How do we know that Jesus was telling the truth? The whole religion stands or falls, according to Paul if we continue reading this chapter, on whether Jesus really did rise from the dead or not. If so, then God has given us proof about who he is and how to relate to him and proof that Jesus’ warning of hell is not just some fear tactic to gain converts. If not, then the search goes on into ever foggier territory, but I have found that Jesus’ claims and the original Christians’ claims about Jesus are all true. Whether we know it or want to admit it or not, all the historical evidence points to the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, and in this hope, we are saved from our pride, from the devil, from death itself, and from God’s eternal punishment for our otherwise unquenchably rebellious spirit. Would you begin to consider Jesus and his resurrection? And consider the Word of God. These have been given as accessible proof, not only of our desperate condition and the frightful punishment for evil, but also for the good news about Jesus and his cross and resurrection which saves us from it.

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Who is God? This neglected question is more important than any other. Why? Because the answer to the question of who God is (or who you think he is and even including whether you think he is not) is the foundation for how you live your whole life. If you believe God is unimportant or does not even exist, then something else takes the place of God so that all of your priorities will reflect this belief. But if you believe God is the God of the Bible, then all of your priorities will reflect that belief. Now, I am not suggesting that we are all so very consistent as to live perfectly in line with our beliefs all the time, rather I am pointing out how the logical priority of our beliefs about God affect our driving passions. That is why it is vitally important that we not neglect this question, because neglecting it is actually an admission of guilt.

A question which goes unanswered is a question answered implicitly. If I asked you a “yes or no” question, such as “Do you want to take this job?” but you refused to answer or even to think about an answer, then your answer implicitly becomes a “no” answer. The same is true about the question of who is God. If we fail to consider it deeply, or cling to a never-ending agnosticism, then we have answered the question with a wrong answer and have shown by our lives that we don’t think the “God who is” (who is the answer to the question) matters very much. If we have believed an answer which is false, then our lives are lived for a false god who truly is unimportant since it does not, in fact, exist. Now, we may never know God exhaustively, but we can know him by what he has revealed about himself. Yet, if we never put prayer in our schedule to ask the questions which he has graciously answered in his Word, then what hope do we have left? A false one.
(John 6:56-69; Luke 11:9-13)

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Is purposeful “chance” even a reasonable alternative to purposeful design? “Chance,” by definition, “never purposes anything. If it did, it would not be chance.” Chance is just a synonym for non-purposed “accident”. When we say “by chance I happened to be going to the store at the same time as you,” we don’t mean that chance arranged or planned or otherwise caused the meeting. On the other hand, if you were to look at my schedule book and see the time and place and purpose to meet you at the store written there, then we’d have evidence for a purpose in that “chance” meeting so we should reject that chance had anything to do with it even if we could imagine a scenario where the notes in my schedule book were the result of a pencil dropping on it. Explaining that which has a purpose as caused by chance is self-refuting because chance is the non-purposeful. Can it be that “without purposing to do so, the non-purposive produces the purposive”? Perhaps “chance” is a more confident sounding way of saying, “I don’t know how this purposeful event came to be.” But “if it has a purpose in it, it is no longer chance.”*

Do you agree? Chance is thrown about like a god-force substitute so often that’s it is hard not to speak of it as a cause, but it isn’t, properly speaking, a cause of anything. The intent of this line of argument is to show that the universe’s design is not merely “highly probable” but actually “compellingly certain.”

*(Quotations from: R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, Arthur Lindsey in “Classical Apologetics: A rational defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics,” 1984, p133.)

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Is it foolishness or blind faith or devoid of intelligence to believe that God created the world? The bias against views of creation in favor of more “scientific” views that random events from nothing made it all mindlessly are clearly dominate, but are they beyond reasonable questioning? Should we call either side mindless or unscientific if we can find good reasons and thoughtfulness in their work rather than name calling?

Reasonable inquiry calls for an explanation for the cause of the universe because we can be fairly sure that it began to exist. How did that happen? “God made it” isn’t a cop out if He really did make it. But how can we know if a mind is responsible for the universe rather than mindless forces of chaos? We know because we can see the evidences of design and mindful purpose in the information of DNA and in the fine-tuning of the universe. Accidents don’t create a life-permitting atmosphere, they take it. And accidents cannot assemble intelligible information. Even if they could, the odds would well be in our favor if we dismiss accident as a cause. Chaos never purposed anything, so it is a very poor explanation for all purpose.

“The God who made the world and everything in it . . . gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us…”
(Acts 17:24-27 ESV)

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The way you answer that question impacts the way you are living your life. It impacts not only the individual, but your relationships, and eventually society as a whole. It’s not hard to prove this point. If you believe there is no God, you will live a certain way, as if God, His ways, and His existence doesn’t matter. And if you believe God and His will is vitally important and relevant to life, you will live another way. Either way, you can see that how we think about God is relevant to our entire society and life. How much more relevant would it be that God actually exist or not exist? That He actually has a perfect moral standard, and that Jesus really is the Son of God, the only one who can fill that standard on our behalf?

But how can we know the mind of God? It is popular today to think that no matter what we “decide for ourselves” to believe about God, we can’t know it for certain, so we must just “do our best” according to our own standards of good. Then God will just forgive our moral failure to meet His standards. But on whose authority is this opinion based? Is it in fact true? Or is it true that God is Yahweh as described in the Bible who “will by no means clear the guilty?” (Ex 34:7)

On what authority would you base your beliefs about God? Your opinions? Feelings? Experiences? Sort through the confusion and consider how you know who anyone is. Unless they reveal to you what is on their mind, you can’t know it. So are there, for example, reliable documents which God has had transmitted to us to do just that, revealing these very things? Yes. Test the Bible and see.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord [Jesus], and it was attested to us by those who heard… (Hebrews 2:1-3 ESV)

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Nativity Scene by G Cuffia

Either Christmas happened or it didn’t. To call the gospel historically false and yet try to save it in order to make it matter, to create a metaphorical middle ground that can inspire us all, is to be patronizingly dismissive to the audacious level of the claim itself. No matter how inspiring a legend may be (say Robin Hood for instance), the details themselves aren’t truly significant (that is the poor people that Robin Hood allegedly helped weren’t in fact helped). But if the legend were true, then it does not merely inspire or instruct but can actually affect the course of human history. Take that to the level of an account about God becoming human for you and I (“What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?”) and then we see just how patronizing it is to make it into some kind of useful fable to merely inspire happy or holy feelings. If it didn’t happen, there’s absolutely no need to “fall on your knees” to a false god. Wisdom indicates we not simply justify whatever sounds good. Rather, a humble “ask, seek, knock” seems the best method for coming to a conclusion about life and death issues like this. Take a moment to examine your heart and mind. Do you find yourself asking or telling? Seeking or hiding? Knocking or walking on by?

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A comment on raising our children “gender neutral”:

(Referenced article and this photo from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13581835)

We ought always be alert and humble, asking ourselves whether what we believe follows from good reasons or merely follows good sounding reasons. Do the parents in this article follow the spirit of the age or are they really examples of reasonable and wise, cutting edge thinkers? If this were a matter simply for opinions, it wouldn’t matter one way or the other no matter how strongly one felt. But if there are strong reasons to believe that these people aren’t “just different” (and there are plainly many or else it wouldn’t be news), then with those reasons in hand we’re fair in avoiding their genuinely confused thinking. I don’t expect their methods will become the norm, but even the few are valuable enough to worry about here. Will the next generation of these “cutting edge” thinkers be raising kids without “imposing” a “species identity” on them? Or a moral identity for that matter? The poor little kids… or will they call them little-beings?

These parents are a prime example of the extremes that can come out of a “follow your heart” purpose for life—as if life were for us to custom design. We can become blind to whatever purpose was already plainly there and we miss it. Just telling someone “It’s a boy!” is “voyeuristic?” Come on, that’s really twisting the truth. Isn’t gender a bit more than what’s between our legs? Isn’t it also embedded deeply within our DNA at conception? Living with reality is complex enough without this sort of confusion!

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