Short Theological Subjects
This morning I heard someone preaching on the radio that in every situation, we should respond by thinking "What would Jesus do?"
I've heard this many times before, but I always think it strange. No one can anticipate what Jesus would do. Jesus always surprised
everyone, even His disciples, by what He did. How do we think we can know what He would do? But Jesus explained that everything
He did was what His Father in heaven told Him to do. The apostles told us also to "put on the mind of Christ." Thus the best
advice for each believer is to emulate Jesus' practice of doing what He heard from the Father. We're not to anticipate Jesus'
behavior, but to obey God's specific direction which He gives each of His children by the Holy Spirit within us. We must have the
mind of Christ.
I just finished reading the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, something that every Christian should read. If you do, you'll never
forget it. I know, because I read it back around 1970, and when I saw it on the Internet, I wanted to read it again. It'll move you, for
sure. Who's Polycarp? He was a comtemporary and disciple of John; the same John who wrote five books of the New Testament.
He became bishop of Smyrna, one of the seven churches in Asia addressed in the Book of Revelation. You can read the account of
the faithful stand he took for Christ, even unto death, at the
Wesley sites. There's lots of other good stuff there too!
He who insists upon a strictly secular view of God has no view of God at all.
I suppose more than one million pages have been written to defend the authority, authenticity and divine origins of the Bible . . . to
confirm that it really is God's Word. Still, there are many people who doubt it or who live as if it weren't so.
But whether the Bible is true has never been purely an intellectual issue. In fact, most of its
defenders weren't originally convinced by the types of arguments over which they now labor. Before they began,
they already knew the Bible was true. That's what drives them, and their conviction comes from God
Himself. He conquers our intellect with His love. Then the question is settled.
Every Christian knows why others may see him as stubborn or exclusive: he has first-hand, experiential knowledge of the truth.
No intellect, authority, argument, proof, theory, philosophy or religion can counter this simple logic: "Once I was blind, but now I see."
Most prophets on television and radio and those who write popular books on prophecy are false prophets. They
appeal to sensationalism and like to "tickle the ear," but their words are nothing but fantasy, fabrications of the mind designed to keep
the naive buying their products and sending donations. This includes some very famous personalities.
Some have no heart for the truth and rob their Christian family of both material and spiritual assets.
They misappropriate the Scriptures to their own ends and fail to prepare their followers for the future. Others are
themselves deceived, nevertheless leading many astray. For when Christ returns to gather His own, He'll
also come to judge the world, leaving no one behind to wonder what happened. The faithful won't just disappear,
while everyone else puzzles over it. There's not a verse in the Bible to support the notion of a pretribulational
rapture and those who teach it should be ashamed of themselves.
Many Christians and Jews believe that God brought forth the nation Israel, the chosen people, for some kind of everlasting and exclusive mutual benefit. But He did not. The purpose of Israel was to bring redemption to the entire world; to be a light to the nations. This was accomplished through the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the whole Law of God and now reigns as King over all the earth. Those who believe in Him have life and may enter His Kingdom. Those who refuse to repent and follow Him remain excluded, whether they are Jew or Gentile, and are left without hope in this world or in the world to come. So today, a true Jew is one who fulfills his heritage by believing in Jesus, His Messiah. Neither Jew nor Gentile has any advantage with God and all must come to Him by the same route, that is, via Jesus. He is the way and now His followers alone are God's chosen people.
Everyone says Christianity is a religion. Maybe so. But Jesus never talked about starting a new religion.
He spoke mostly about the Kingdom of God as a present and future reality. It's even in the Lord's Prayer.
The Kingdom encompasses everything and touches everyone -- the entire created universe and the unseen spirit world.
All nations, governments and authorities are subject to it. Yet only the chosen ones can see it and enter. They are the seekers, the
willing, the humble believers, the poor, the powerless, and the servants of all. They will live forever.
We have a genderless pronoun for those who don't like to think of God as being male. It's "one," as
in "One who laughs last laughs best." But the word "he" can also refer to "one," "anyone," or any person,
according to Webster. It doesn't have to designate gender. I like the sound of it better,
and, in using it, I don't need awkward phraseology like "He or she will be the lucky winner."
People who would eliminate the use of "He" and "Him" as references to God, or worse, who would use "She," simply have an axe
to grind and add nothing to either the English language or the subject of theology.
Neither science nor reason can apprehend God, but He contradicts neither, for He made both.
By what criteria do you measure the value of a human being? Is it by his role as a parent or spouse; by his
contribution to society; by the valuation of his possessions; by his cleverness, wit, intelligence or intellectual achievement; by the
number of friends he has; by the respect he commands; by how widely he’s known; by the development and expression of his talents;
or by the love others have for him? God doesn’t use such measures to value us. They’re all
relativistic, subjective, and unequal. God purchased us with the price of His own Son, assigning immeasurable
value to each one of us. Without Him, any concept of human worth is worthless.
Miracles happen. But witnessing them doesn't produce faith. Faith identifies the miracle.
Jesus encouraged people to search for the truth: "Seek and you will find." But a lot of people aren't looking for faith.
That doesn't necessarily mean they won't find it. The apostle Paul was on his way to round up and kill
Christians when he was stricken by God. He found faith without really wanting to.
That kind of thing happens all the time. It shows that belief in Jesus is a gift from God, and the way faith comes
isn't always gentle. Faith in Jesus comes from outside of ourselves. It's revelation.
So we know we're not making any of this up. God initiates. What else can we do but respond?
by Jim Venable
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