“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Monday, May 30, 2011

Faith Vs. Works

"Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:17
We have all read this very familiar passage. This is the passage of scripture which various sects of Christianity, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, take out of context, misconstrue, and misinterpret. However, salvation by works is not what this passage is implying. The main point of this passage is that a faith that does not produce good works, is not a truly saving faith. When Christ calls us unto Himself, and the Holy Spirit breathes the breath of life into us, He creates in us a desire to serve Him. When someone claims to have faith, but does not live for Christ, this person is not truly saved. James 2:15-16 describes a person who is hungry and in need of clothing. What good is it if you tell this person to get food and clothing if you do not provide the means for it? You cannot tell a person to eat if you do not provide them with food. "Dead" faith is not a faith that had previously been alive. Dead faith is faith that never had life.
Sacrifice of Issac, Rembrandt, 1635

Good works do not provide faith, but are merely proof of faith (James 2:18-26). Your faith is made visible by your works. You cannot demonstrate true faith by simply believing in God, for even the demons believe in God (James 2:19). You show true faith by doing good works. James provides us with another example. Abraham showed his faith by his godly life (James 2:21-23). He showed his faith in God by leaving the land of his ancestors and blindly following God's call to an unknown land. Furthermore, he demonstrated his faith by offering up his only son Issac, in a symbolic act of obedience to God, as a blood sacrifice. God honored his faith and works by sparring the life of Issac, and ultimately making Abraham the father of Israel. Let us strive to honor God and demonstrate our faith by doing good works, not by necessity or compulsion, but out of true love and obedience to Him.   

Thursday, May 26, 2011

True Love

According to the Miriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, love is an emotion which yields strong affections. It is characterized by a personal attachment to that which is loved. In today's society, love is an emotion that is passive and easily discarded. But as for Christians, love is something that should be embedded in their very being. Only Christians can demonstrate true love. This is why.

God has a myriad of attributes. But one of His many attributes is love. God showed His love by giving His perfect Son as a blood sacrifice for fallen humanity, even when they did not deserve it (Romans 5:8). God showed love to His people, who were wallowing in their unregenerate life. His people were previously slaves to sin, and in fact dead in it. By God's love, His people were brought to life (Romans 4:25).

The mark of true Christianity is love. Christians should model the selfless love that God shows for His people. Christians can show God's love by striving to be obedient to His Word (John 14:15). The only true mark of Christianity is love for and obedience to God and His Word. 

Another way to demonstrate Christian love is to love others. "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers" (I John 3:16). It is impossible for us to lay down our life as a sin offering as Christ did, but we should model His selfless love for others, even those who are enemies to us. We may never have to lay down our lives for someone, but we should be prepared to do so since Christ died for His people.

First Corinthians 13 is known as the "love chapter". In this chapter, Paul outlines the way Christians should love. In the first part of the chapter, Paul writes that spiritual gifts are useless if love is not present (1-3). If God has given us the gift of eloquent speech, our speech is asinine if not used in love. If God has given us the gift of knowledge, but we use it without love, we will sound dumb. And if we give away all our belongings to bring glory unto ourselves, but do not love others, then our sacrifice is in vain.

Secondly, Christians should imitate Christ's love (4-7). Paul lists characteristics of love, which happen to be characteristics of Christ. 
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Finally, true love endures forever (8-13). Paul writes that prophecies, knowledge, and speech will eventually pass away, but "Love never ends." When Christ returns, we will no longer need our spiritual gifts. When the hope of our faith is finally realized with the return of Christ, the only thing that will exist is our eternal love for Christ, with which we will abide with Him forever. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Problem of Evolution on College Campuses

One of the most controversial problems on college campuses today is a racist fallacy that is taught and regarded as supreme truth by most college professors. It pervades the minds of unquestioning college students, not only polluting their views and opinions, but also polluting the way they live and shape their lives. This racist fallacy has corrupted the fields of science, medicine, politics, physics, law, and even education.

This racist error, regarded as truth in colleges worldwide, is Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Darwin, in his 1859 book entitled The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, explains that all life came from a process known today as “the survival of the fittest”. This concept has never been proven to be an accurate account of life, but yet it is regarded as truth by most college professors, who dismiss any other arguments as to the world's existence. As a matter of fact, many proponents of this philosophy have a hard time explaining how this process actually works. Statistical studies conducted by mathematician Murray Eden in 1967 have shown that pure chance could not have produced the world we live in. No one has proven how man has been brought forth by chance, nor will they ever.

Charles Darwin, 1854
Since Darwin proposed his theory, other scientists have based their theories on his. For instance, Herbert Spencer, who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest”, extended Darwin's theory to all of life, including ethics. He believed that only the strong and capable should survive and flourish, and the weak and incapable should be left to die. There was no need for Spencer to extend Darwin's theory to “Social Darwinism”, but he wanted to explain life through science. He wanted to rationalize, instead of find real truth. Men like these did not want to believe that the world was created by God. They did not want to believe that He could have supreme authority over the affairs of the world. Social Darwinism is now the frame of reference for self proclaimed intellectuals to rationalize the existence of themselves and the world around them. 

These ideas had a great impact on Adolf Hitler's Nazi movement. The Nazis believed that the law of nature must take its course--that the strong will survive and the weak must die. This can be seen through the horrors of the Holocaust--the destruction of peoples the Nazis deemed weak, unclean, and undesirable. 

Social Darwinism is also being used in today's genetic engineering fields, as scientists attempt to produce a stronger generation through means of science, while holding to a position that the weak and undesirable should not be kept alive. In fact, when parents find out that their unborn child will be mentally handicapped or disabled, they are encouraged by many doctors to abort the pregnancy.

These are just a few of the many reasons that evolution should not be taught in universities as truth. It never has been truth. It has always been just a mere theory. Instead of teaching the theory of evolution as supreme truth, professors should give both sides of the argument. 

Creationists hold to the view that the universe was created by God. Instead of the universe evolving over a period of billions of years, God spoke it into existence in mere mili-seconds. Intricacy and precision took place during creation, not chaos and confusion as proposed in evolution.

Colleges and universities should insist that their professors give both sides of the argument, instead of teaching only the error of evolution. Students should have the opportunity to hear the arguments given by both sides, not the brainwashing of evolutionist professors.    

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sin and the Grace of God

Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden, by Michelangelo
Sin is a deformity that strikes the heart of every person from the point of birth. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Both the mind and the will are evil. Sin is a condition which we have inherited from our father Adam. I Kings 8:46 says "for there is no one who does not sin". According to Romans 3:9-23, no one is righteous.
"None is righteous, no, not one;
 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
   no one does good,
   not even one."
  "Their throat is an open grave;
   they use their tongues to deceive."
 "The venom of asps is under their lips."
  "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
 in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known."
 "There is no fear of God before their eyes"  (10-18).
The consequence of sin is that we have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The penalty of this is death (Romans 6:23). Furthermore, Paul writes "nothing good dwells in me" (Romans 7:18).

We do not have the power to believe God or His Word, unless we are drawn by Him. Romans 8:7-8 notes, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Anyone who has not been renewed by the Spirit is an enemy of God and is incapable of submitting to Him. We cannot positively respond to the gospel of Christ unless we are called by God (John 6:44).

John writes,
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (I Jn 1:8-10)
God grants us grace when we admit our need for the forgiveness of sin, which brings me to my second point.

Without the grace of God, we would all perish. His grace is a gift, one that we have inherited by the work of His Son (Romans 3:24-25). By the death of Christ, His people have been released from the bondage of sin. His death satisfies God's judgment on us for sinning against Him. Grace abounds through Jesus (Rom 5:18-21; Eph 1:6-7; 2:5-8; 4:7). God has called His people to grace (Gal 1:15). God chose to create faith in His people. God's call to salvation is one in which His people have inherited. It cannot be earned.

The grace of God is what prevents His people from being as evil as Osama Bin Laden. He has even bestowed common grace on those who do not know Him. Common grace is not saving grace, but it does allow the ungodly to experience the benefits of God's creation. We should not be arrogant that God has called us to grace. Instead, we should be humble, knowing that without Christ, we are dead in our trespasses and sins.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Should We Rejoice Over the Death of the Wicked?

As most of us already know, Osama Bin Laden was killed in a covert operation by the United States on Sunday. Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist, responsible for plotting the 9/11 attacks, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 1999, and countless other acts of terror. Many people throughout the world celebrated his death.

However, should Christians respond in jubilation? Since the news of his death, many Christians have spoken out against the celebrations of Bin Laden's death, condemning others for taking part in the jubilation of death. Should we rejoice when evil people are killed? Let's consider the examples in God's Word. As David and Saul returned home after the defeat of the Philistines and their champion Goliath, they were met with much rejoicing and celebration. I Samuel 18:6-7 says,
"As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands'." 
The people rejoiced that the battle had been won, and that the enemies of God had been destroyed.

In Exodus chapter 15, Moses and the children of Israel rejoice when the army of Pharaoh was swallowed up by the Red Sea. Moses writes, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea." (1) The people had spent years enduring the slavery and persecution of the Egyptians. After watching Pharaoh's army drown into the depths of the Red Sea, the people praised God for His salvation.

When Queen Esther saved the Jews, the city rejoiced (Esther 8:15-17). The evil Haman, who had planned a genocide against the Jews, had been hanged on his own gallows. The people rejoiced that justice had been done. They follow this celebration with more rejoicing in 9:17-19.
Finally, Proverbs 11:10 offers probably the most convincing example of celebration over the destruction of evil. "When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness." Civil societies must recognize the difference between good and evil. Celebrating the defeat of an evil foe is a reward for God's just retribution. Regarding this passage, The Reformation Study Bible notes, "There is a proper rejoicing when the perpetrators of evil, corruption, and human misery are destroyed." I think Bin Laden embodied those words.

I believe the Bible says that a response of jubilation and rejoicing is appropriate when evil is defeated. As Christians, we should be saddened that the wicked are perishing to face eternal damnation. But we should also rejoice that God is sovereign and just, ruling over the affairs of men, and destroying evildoers.