Sunday, February 23, 2014

Triple 'J' versus Triple 'N'

No, this isn’t a battle for ratings by two radio stations. It isn’t a wrestling match by two sides of three each. This is a battle for the mind and destiny of individuals and nations. It has consequences far beyond a play on words.

An old quote by a railway station sticks in my mind: ‘What you eat today walks and talks tomorrow.’ Turn that saying around and make it say: ‘What you believe today will guide your life and destiny.’ This undergirds the very issues of ‘J’ and ‘N’. The triple ‘J’ team points out Jesus, Justice and Judgement.’ The triple ‘N’ team comprises, No God, No absolutes and No Judgement.

If ‘N’ is correct we live in a world without a moral and spiritual compass. It makes every person a ‘god’ and therefore they expect due allegiance. What we witness in much of life is a classic battle of ‘the gods.’ However, beyond that, the cry for justice is meaningless. What do we mean by the term? Justice requires a standard. That standard requires absolutes. Breaking the standard implies judgement. There’s the problem for atheists, evolutionists or those who believe either death ends everything or we all go to heaven: Where is judgement exercised and justice meted out?
If we imagine it will be in this life then we are disillusioned and irrational. Where is judgement given to the Mafia bosses who rule by terror, live in luxury and die feted? Where is justice for all those who were never caught before death who abused children, corrupted individuals and institutions, even countries? What about the drug barons, war lords and slavers? Where is accountability to the religious wolves posing as sheep who rip apart the body of Christ, the Church? These pariahs of life imagine that belonging to the Triple ‘N’ team is to win. Their victims die as losers screaming for judgement to fall on the depraved destroyers of their lives.

Into this arena jumps the triple ‘J’ team. Jesus, Justice and Judgement bring a moral imperative for life. The ‘J’ team declares that this world is unfair and therefore unjust. Some perverted principle, power or person usurped creation and plays out its wickedness through the lives of people. Jesus is recorded as entering this world to deal with such poison. To do that He had to confront it, drink it, experience its killing power on behalf of the world. To break its power required His personal resurrection from the tomb. Only then could there be verification of victory. Here is the utterance that shatters the universe “Jesus, He is not in the tomb. He is Risen!” He is the testimony that offers a moral compass for living in time and eternity. Jesus is the guarantor of a future judgement day.

How can we be sure of this? It is the testimony of secular and sacred history. The existence of the Christian Church points to it. Lives transformed from the realm of Triple ‘N’ with its despair are an ever present testimony. Read the bible and sense the risen Lord’s presence. Jesus tells us that before Him every knee will bow. Every person will be accountable for his or her faith, unbelief and actions. Christ’s Jesus standard is Himself and His Word. When will this take place? After death comes the Judgement, Hebrews 9:27. and Revelation 20.

Those in the Triple ‘N’ team will know Heaven’s justice through Judgement. As there are degrees of rewards to those in the Triple ‘J’ team so there are degrees of punishment for those outside it. Both are eternal (Matthew 25:46). Some feel God is unfair to do such a thing. Such views are the warped thinking of those who don’t believe in God anyway. They really don’t have any concept of righteousness, justice, accountability and the Supreme Judge of all things. His judgements flow from His intimate knowledge of each of us. He looks at us to see whether or not Jesus is our Lord and Saviour. His decision is flavoured by His holiness, mercy, truth and justice.

The ‘N’ crowd may hypnotise themselves into imagining oblivion waits and therefore they will escape any form of judgement. The bible describes the after effects of such believing as producing an eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those who cling to Jesus and belong by faith with Him in the ‘J’ team will know the price paid to belong has an eternal reward. In this world the Lord says to His followers they will not experience justice because they belong to Him. However, as Christ’s followers they are to give justice, express love and to live faithfully. Jesus is our moral compass. He will be our eternal reward.

The bible has forecast the end result of the contest between Triple ‘J’ and Triple ‘N’. Read it especially in the Gospel of Matthew and the book of Revelation. For followers of Jesus throughout eternity ‘J’ will stand for joy, jubilation and justice.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Did Jesus Believe His bible?

‘The Divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures, the only infallible rule of faith and practice in all religious matters.’ is part of many statements and constitutions of numerous Denominations. How many leaders and members believe what they have agreed too in agreeing with those words?

Many are under pressure to be spiritually ‘schizophrenic’ in regard to the bible. Such a split attitude or double mindedness arises from compromising pressures from the world of Science and Higher Criticism. Believe the bible but don’t take Genesis too seriously, especially creation up to the flood is their mantra.

Accepting that line of thinking brings us onto a collision course with Jesus. ‘Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” and do not do what I tell you?’ Luke 6:46. It makes us His judge not His servant. It declares twentieth century ‘Man’ knows more than He whom we call Lord, Creator, Saviour, Emmanuel. Why is there a collision? Because over and over again Jesus affirmed the authority of Moses and the Law! That Law does not by–pass Genesis. In one of His many debates with the religious leaders Jesus is quoted: ‘Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would have believed me, for He wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?’ (John 5:45–47) Are Australian Christians, and especially their preachers/teachers, in danger of worship God with their lips but with hearts far away from Him? Matt.15:7–10.

The Gospels vibrate with the prophetic energy and insight of the prophets about Jesus. This is one of the strong factors unveiling the promised One, the Messiah. Aspects of their statements are applied to Jesus with similar comment to ‘All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophets.’ (Matthew 1:22) It was these scriptures which convinced Philip about Jesus and to share it: ‘Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “we have found him about whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”’ (John 1:45) Jesus moved in the atmosphere of the Jewish scriptures and declared ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.’ (Matthew 5:17). In our day there are those who either question or ridicule the Genesis account of Creation, Adam and Eve, life’s longevity, Noah and the worldwide flood. Such people also scoff at the account of Jonah. Jesus affirmed them all. Where does that leave those who claim greater knowledge that the risen Lord Jesus Christ?

We rejoice in the wonder of our Lord triumphing over the horror of the cross. We have filled our minds with the typology (shadows, pictures) of this event in the Passover celebration. We see it foreshadowed in Psalm 22 and remain awestruck to think Jesus read Psalm 118 at the Last Supper.(There He declared ‘this was the day the Lord had made). The fingerprint of God on the work of Moses and the prophets is readily seen in Christ’s crucifixion. ‘It is written’ was the clarion call of the early church and it hasn’t changed for us today. So it comes back down again to that simple, searching statement of Jesus about believing or disbelieving Moses’ writings. ‘He (Abraham in the passage) said to him (the rich man in Hades) “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rose from the dead.”’ (Luke 16:31)

Two disciples were given a most wonderful bible study as they walked the Emmaus road. We do not have a detailed account of its content but as we know the Teacher it would have been spellbinding. The account is in Luke 24:13–27. We have been given a summary of the contents of what the risen Lord Jesus talked about. His opening remarks are not very complimentary to the disciples. Unfortunately the words are applicable to many today. ‘”Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.’ Did you notice that three letter word ‘all.’

When Jesus said that His followers would walk the ‘Narrow way’ we may imagine it being lonely, even difficult. There’s truth in that but we imagine the ‘Narrow way’ being separated from the ‘Broadway.’ I see the ‘Narrow way’ as actually taking the believer up the ‘Broadway’ with very marked lines and against the throng who are travelling that wide path to destruction. As we journey we will be bumped and hassled, even bruised and taunted by those who see us as fools, or merely being in their way.

As we hold to the truth and authority of the scriptures as did our Lord we are not to take them lightly. Those with the skills, training and knowledge are called upon to defend the veracity of Genesis through to Revelation. Those of us less qualified are to share our testimony about the power God’s word has had in our lives. We will not have the charisma of Paul but we can have his conviction. Acts 24:14: ‘I worship the God of our ancestors, believing everything laid down according to the law or written in the prophets.’

May the Lord deliver us from spiritual and biblical schizophrenia so as to be of one heart and one mind believing that which has been written for our benefit.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Boundary Breakers of the Law

The book of Proverbs has great sayings about life and relationships. The one in chapter 29:16 is so apt for our world today. A look down history’s ‘corridor’ verifies its truth. ‘When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases …’

What do we mean by ‘transgression?’ It means crossing the boundary into unlawful territory. When the sign says ‘keep out’ and you don’t. Why would such conditions prevail under the rule of the wicked? Usually such reigns are cruel and oppressive. The standard set is what the unprincipled, the oppressed and the unrighteous will follow. If all that they can expect is defined by this life then the saying ‘let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die’ rings true.’ Perhaps we could rearrange the saying a little. ‘Let us cheat, lie and be violent for tomorrow we die.’

When religion overtly or covertly endorses such attitudes what was meant to erect boundaries actually destroys them. The treatment of women of all ages, as ‘things’, is in the news as they are used and abused by violent men! From Papua New Guinea to Pakistan, from the Western to Eastern cultures men crash the barriers of respect and restraint. The tragedy of child abuse and slavery has destroyed so many lives. So true is Proverbs 29:2b ‘When the wicked rule, the people groan.’ In Australia a Royal Commission is being set up to investigate corruption in the Union movement. There are numerous areas around the world which also needs such a Commission.

When the wicked smash the boundaries ‘Hell’s horror’ stalks the land. However who defined the boundaries? 1 John 3:4 ‘Sin is lawlessness.’ The word for sin means a falling short of a standard. Which standard? Mohammed’s! He was a mere man who fell short of the standard. Buddha? Offered fine words for selfish living but also missed the standard. The standard must be set by the Lord God of Hosts, the Creator. He has recorded these in the Bible. No other book can measure up to its standard. No other book can endure the scrutiny it has endured. No other book spells out the benefits for staying within the boundaries. No other book reveals dire consequences for breaking through the moral and spiritual boundaries God has set. No other book reveals the way to restore the broken boundaries and lives. No other book points the person to the One, Jesus Christ, who can give you a clean heart and a new beginning. He also gives the power and wisdom to live within the boundaries.

If you took the time to look at society you will notice some interesting facts. It is the Law of the Lord Jesus which is attacked by the nice and not so nice lawless ones. As one ‘T’ shirt worn by a young women put it ‘No god, No shame.’ Such an attitude leads to ‘No shame, no blame’ and ultimately they hope ‘no consequences and no condemnation.’ In every case the ‘T’ shirts will be wrong. However in the meantime that personal view will spill over and dominate politics, morality and the treatment of the unborn, the aged, infirm and the needy around the world. It is such lawless people, views and behaviour the Lord Jesus declared His people must resist. Indeed Jesus calls upon us to be boundary riders preserving righteousness, truth and caring for the poor and despised. It is by such men and women of faith Proverbs 29:2 speaks about ‘When the righteous are authority the people rejoice.’

Jesus made a promise. To walk with Him will prevent you from walking in the darkness of the lawless. To walk with Jesus is to walk in His light of righteousness, truth and grace. It will be a blessing to some. Others will be offended, guilt-ridden and curse you. However as you live within the boundaries He has set, you will know a hope, peace, health and meaning no lawless participant will ever experience. By the power of our risen Lord Jesus, He will keep us safe. By His grace we will measure up to His standard.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bullying's Antidote

Bullying has taken on new dimensions through Social Media. Some of the results have been deadly especially to the young and vulnerable. Reports indicate that this attitude has increased substantially in recent years. At the moment Governments are establishing commissions and committees to see why it is increasing and what can be done.

However in the context of global conflicts and the loss of a moral compass about what is right and what is wrong, should we be surprised? With young and old captured by the electronic world of violent games why be surprised by similar behaviour. When children are spectators to their mother being assaulted by her husband what lessons are being taught? Even those who have a religious tendency don’t seem immune from perpetrating acts of violence, deceit and oppression.

In Australia the Islamists appear on the news insisting their religion is one of peace. With the backdrop of Syria and a host of other countries such words are a sad and unfunny joke. Some like the Buddhists try and sidestep violence by renouncing desire. The problem is passion and pain are on the ‘doorstep’ when they come out of yoga or meditation. Christians cannot claim any moral high ground. Church history can be a record of Denominational blood letting. Is there any hope for our world of violence?

In essence the problem is personal. When there isn’t any inner peace there will always be relational turmoil. In the bible book of James is the following quote. ‘Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts.’ (James 4:1–2) Multiply this by what ever number add into the mix national vested interests and racial divides and we soon enter various ‘war zones.’

There isn’t any doubt individuals and nations want peace. However they want it their way. The Lord has given Governments authority to rule according to law. Unfortunately the human heart is devious and seeks to circumvent or overthrow such well intentioned laws. The bible says there will be peace talks and calls for peace, but sudden destruction always crashes the ‘peace party.’ Because the human heart is so devious and corrupt before peace can reign the heart must experience a great big makeover. How can this take place. In reality there are two options. One is highlighted by Islam, especially by the extreme expressions of Islam such as Hezbollah. Imposing Sharia law, restricting the rights of women and adhering to the teachings of Imans from the Koran is their solution. All right if you are a male without any emotional capacity for the well being and education of your wife and daughters.

The other option is promoted by the Christian Faith. It seeks to work from within the mind and heart of a person. The teachings of Jesus Christ are designed to dominate the human nature with His love, grace and mercy. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and offers this quality of life to His disciples. Notice, Jesus is not a pacifist! His peace comes at the point of the sword, not to the body but to the heart. His sword is actually the cut and thrust of His teaching which aims to cut away ungodliness and replace it with righteousness. It is when a person is at peace with God through yielding to His Son, Jesus, that the person is able to control his or her tendencies for bullying and abuse.

The bible is God's directory to peace.

For inner peace to penetrate a believer’s realm of influence the Lord has supplied His Holy Spirit and the holy scriptures. Neglect these and peace is squashed by selfish obsessions. Walk in step with Christ’s gifts and you will bless others with peace. There is much, much more on this subject from Christ’s perspective. Secure a bible and a concordance and go on a journey of discovering the peace which passes all our understanding.