Jesus said “I am the light of the world”.
It is a dark hour here in America right now, yea even the whole world. I think that all but the most hedonistic and uninformed among us, would agree. There are lots of people troubled by it, while there are also those who love the darkness so thoroughly, that they are gleeful over this state of affairs. Like a pig in a mud pit. In all their perceived “freedom” to live any darn way that they please, they don’t recognize the cesspool for what it is.
Today I speak to any readers who do not subscribe to Christianity. I want you to know, that first off, Christianity is not what you probably have come to think of it as being. There are people who claim Christianity because they strive for “good” morality, and were born in a family that claims the designation, whether the practice it or not, as their heritage. There are also those who simply talk the talk but don’t live it. And that is wrong. Some of them will have a rude awakening on judgment day.
Can I tell you what the Bible says? What Jesus said? See, God created us for fellowship with Him. Back before He created us, (in His own image, including having a will of our own), He knew that our having the freedom to learn about good and evil, would lead to the bad choice. When He created us with our own will, knowing we would, as a race (the human race-there is only one race) and knew that He would have to provide a sacrifice with which to redeem us. God didn’t just come to realize that some time later down the road. He knew it going in.
Way back in the Garden with Adam and Eve, the first man and woman didn’t know a whole lot about God, despite the fact that back then, the Bible says God walked among them in the Garden.
We can only know of God, what He chooses to reveal to us about Himself
God saw fit that Adam and Eve would live in a perfect place, that provided for their every need and desire, and to give them only one “law”. Not to eat of the “tree in the midst of the garden”. Why would He do that? Why was that tree even there, considering the potential for what did eventually happen? Couldn’t God have easily omitted that tree? Sure! He’s God. He’s the guy writing the “epic”, so to speak, and He could have had it go any number of ways.
Creative folk often speak of the elusive “license” they have for doing their own thing, their own way.
Is that something we take after the Creator/Father?
God knows all, so it is not possible for us to respond to anything that He does in any such way that it can “surprise” Him. Therefore there had to have been a reason for His putting that tree there, knowing that Adam and Eve would be tempted, and would succumb. It was not because God had to “find out what they would do”, so I have to conclude that it was for the purpose of showing Adam and Eve what they would do.
Freedom to choose, necessarily includes the freedom to choose poorly, to choose badly, to choose tragically!
Adam and Eve did sin, and therefore they were banished from the Garden for their own good. Because the Tree of Life was in the garden, and they ate of that after eating of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, then they would live eternally in never-ending physical disintegration, without ever having the relief of physical death.
God also no longer walked among them after that.
Why? Was He giving them the silent treatment? No.
Listen, does a surgeon shake hands with anyone after He scrubbed in, gowned, gloved and masked for the procedure? No! Why not? Because there is no such thing as “fairly sterile”. It’s like Yoda, do or do not, there is no “try”. Sterile means sterile, uncontaminated. God’s “good” is a whole different thing, with a whole different standard, than our notion of good. To be in God’s presence, we have to be sin-free. No lies. No impure thoughts. No taking anything that isn’t ours, no matter how tiny or insignificant. Think of the court system. Anyone who has ever been on trial, to a trial, or maybe even watched a trial depicted on television, knows that “not guilty” is in no way synonymous with “innocent”. In that same way, only more so, God’s “good” is complete sinless-ness. Utter innocence. Perfect holiness!
God is PERFECTION!
He is Holy. What does that mean? Well, lets just say that sin is the very “antithesis” of God. He is all things good, pure, He is truth, and light, and “in him there is no darkness at all, the Bible tells us. You can’t “shine darkness” over a lighted area and eradicate the light. But light eradicates darkness. Light and darkness do not co-exist at the same place and time. They are mutually exclusive, and never can they “meet”.
Sin, on the other hand, is darkness. What is darkness? It is the absence of light. Blind people, that is people born blind, never know what they are “missing” because they never had it. They live essentially, in darkness, by virtue of the fact that even though light enters their eyes, some critical function of sight is missing either in their eyes, or brain, or both. Adam and Eve were not born blind, but they were born not having any concept of good or evil. Think for one moment what a different world this would be for us, if none of us knew good and evil. If, as far as we knew, there was no such concept, and all we had to “obey” was one rule, and everything would be provided to us, and not in the sense that an EBT card, free internet and cell from the government is provided, but none of us ever having to know hunger, pain, loss. Would we have succumbed to the temptation to eat that fruit, as Eve did? The answer to that question, though we would like to say no, would be yes. The rest of the Bible bears that out. So why, then? Why would we have taken the fruit just like Adam and Eve? Precisely because we had never known suffering and had no way to comprehend what we would be losing, until it was gone.
If you are a good parent, you know that sometimes you have to let the kid suffer the consequences of their choices, because that is the only way they will learn. If you don’t allow them to screw up, then when the day comes you are not there to save their hide, and they make some really “big stakes” bad choice, they will have no idea how to survive, overcome, get back up, try again. They’ll be easily overwhelmed and broken.
The rest of us never knew what it was like to live life in a perfect garden, with all our needs met, and our only purpose, to keep company with God, delight in Him, and have Him delight in us. We know that what the eating of the fruit of that tree did. It bestowed on them knowledge of the concepts of good and of evil. God had told them in the day thereof that you eat of it, ye shall surely die. Elsewhere in scripture we learn that to God, a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day. In the early centuries of mankind’s existence, humans lived a lot longer than we do. There is a reason for that. Think of what you know of genetics. We have laws on the books that prohibit people from marrying close relatives for a reason. We have learned that when there is a mutation or bad sector in the DNA of one person, there is a very high likelihood that their nearest relatives also carry that mutation, therefore the potential of any offspring that might come of a union of those close relatives, would continue to perpetuate the bad mutation. Eventually that could kill off a family line. When God said they would surely die in the day they partook of the fruit, He was speaking on His own terms of time. Time is subject to God, not vice versa. The oldest human who ever lived was Methuselah. The Bible tells us he lived to be nine hundred and sixty-nine years old. God’s thousand-year-day did not pass before Methuselah died. His warning to Adam and Eve was fulfilled.
As man became subject to death (disintegration, decline) when he sinned (the wages of sin is death), all offspring were born subject to it. That was a “universal” trait that could only be passed on, since the only two humans first were Adam and Eve. We inherit more than our genetics from the “first parents”. We inherited some spiritual realities brought upon the world and mankind by their disobedience too. Our Spirit is that part of us with which we relate with God. Adam and Eve did not EARN the privilege of interacting “in person” with God. It was God’s delightful choice to spend time with them. It was a gift for them. God tells us in His Word that like any good parent, He delights in giving good gifts to His children! That passage comes later in the New Testament. The Bible was written over a period of a couple of thousand years. It was given by Divine Inspiration (that means God-Breathed to) to forty different men, and yet it is one cohesive narrative all the way through. It gives a lot of history, and all of that history coincides with many other historical records. In places where there was doubt, a lot of times archeologists would dig, and again and again, found that the facts “on the ground” at the historical sites, proved to line up with scripture time and time again. So much so that many archeologists consult the Bible in order to determine places to dig! 2 Peter 1: 20-21 says that the knowledge contained in the Bible, did not come to us by the will of man, but that Holy men of God, spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. We are not to subject the Bible to our own “private interpretations” but must study it, comparing scripture with other parts of scripture, to glean out the exact meaning that God meant when He said what He said.
Why does anyone take the Bible Seriously?
Have you ever known, (or maybe just read about) a person who had rock–solid ambition? I mean, someone who knew what they were meant to do in life, somehow, and set their mind to accomplishing that, and never wavered from their conviction, and lo and behold, you witnessed them the whole route to their goal, never giving up, and they did exactly what they said they were going to do? That is someone who knows something worth knowing, and takes themselves seriously. Despite the fact many probably didn’t believe they’d do it, and maybe even laughed at them. I just watched a 20/20 episode yesterday about a fifty-year veteran of law enforcement, who solved a cold case almost solely based at first on hunches that arose from his finely honed cop’s intuition. He was the kind of “real life character” that people make movies about. Kept saying “that’s our guy, he’s our guy, I know it, you’ll see”. We tend to respect people like that, don’t we? Those that take themselves seriously and believe their own “press” so to speak. There is a whole market, and a very lucrative one, that spun off of the principle that if you can convince yourself you can, then you can.
Well, I think one reason why anyone takes the Bible seriously, is because people who are “thoughtful at all”, who are open enough do pick up the Bible and read it, will quickly enough discover that the Bible takes itself very seriously. By that I mean, it makes some really big claims about itself. For example, I Timothy 4:16 says to take heed unto thyself (be careful) unto (of) the doctrine (teachings of the Bible) and tells Christians to continue in them, for in doing this, they would both save themselves and any others who hear it. Jesus said, in Luke 11:28, blessed are those that hear the Word of God and keep (abide by) it. Isaiah said the “grass withers, and the flowers fade, but God’s Word remains forever”. The Bible is apparently indestructible! Even when terrorists burn it. That is because God’s Word, the Bible, is more than a book. It is no “mere book” like any other book in the history of the world. That’s just a few reasons people do take it seriously.
But let’s get back to the narrative.
We all inherited this sin-nature through our earliest ancestors, as well as what I call a degree of “sin-blindness”. Adam and Eve were unfamiliar with “sin” because they were unfamiliar with good and evil. This is why we know that babies, little “innocent children” before they reach a certain state of understanding, go to heaven when they die. We have given it a term, “age of accountability” but the upshot is this: God IS fair and just, and does not punish for “infractions of law that we are not mature enough in our mind’s development, to understand yet, or that He has not revealed to us yet. This is why, in American law, there are special provisions for the mentally compromised, as well, by the way. It follows God’s design and example of fairness and compassion.
After the fall from Grace, we now had, as a race,(small as humanity yet was in those early days), awareness of right and wrong or more precisely; good and evil. Cain and Abel were born with something that in Adam and Eve, had started out as merely “potential”, in that it didn’t get activated until after they sinned, and that was this “knowledge”. It opened up or activated in Adam and Eve, this thing we refer to now, as a “Conscience”. Con means “with”, science means “knowledge”. For the first time, Adam and Eve found out what it meant to “do wrong”. And they rightly felt guilt and humiliation. That’s what a conscience is designed to do. Please note I am using the word CONSCIENCE, not “conscious” or “consciousness”.
We, today, don’t know what we can’t see. We don’t know what we were meant to have, but don’t have. We never tasted of perfect communion with our Creator. And yet, there is something in us that does know that we are missing something. Who hasn’t said at some time or other “there must be more to life than this”. If you haven’t yet, that means you are still pretty young. If you live long enough, you will say it, or feel it. And that’s because we are, indeed made for more. I mean, think about it. Does anyone really ever have to tell two young people in love, that there is this thing called sex, and how it is accomplished. What about a first time mom in labor. Does anyone have to stand over her and tell her what to do to get that baby out of her body? No. God created these things, put them in us already programmed to work as He meant them to, and they do exactly that.
God, knowing that His favored creature, Mankind, was now in a state much “less-than” that for which He created them, also knew how He would provide means to remedy the situation. So even as Adam was cursed to laboring with the ground in the sweat of his brow in order to feed himself and his family, Eve was cursed to painful childbirth and her hearts desire would be for the husband. God had a remedy in place. (In regard to the woman’s heart being toward the husband, specifically, I think that last part may refer to a woman’s natural desire for the approval of a man, be it father or husband, any woman who doesn’t get that, will struggle with self-worth. It meant she would draw a degree of her potential for happiness and self-worth from that, rather than knowing her worth to, and by, and from the Creator Himself).
The directive to be fruitful and multiply was still in force, and they did so. And more generations were born.
The second generation of mankind, Adam and Eve’s sons Cain and Abel, were born with an active conscience. That was the means by which God gave them the ability to know when they were being obedient and not. Whatever degree we are given to understand the things of God, He takes that into consideration and judges us according to the measure we were given to understand. God would need for them to understand for themselves, about themselves, the same thing Adam and Eve needed to understand. That we are sinful, we have the freedom to choose, and with the potential choices including both good and evil options, we inevitably at some point, choose evil over obedience to God. Throughout the years, God essentially gave man more and more understanding or light, with which to potentially make their own life miserable in the consequences of their inevitable choice to do that other than what God commanded.
The misconception that God is up there getting His kicks by putting us through “tests” that He knows that we will fail, is not only faulty, but actually is a making of self into the judge of God. Which, as kids, former kids, and parents, we all know that it is possible for a kid to make a judgment of us as parents. What parents know, and kids do not, is that we have their best interest at heart, and an obligation and accountability to do the wise thing, which is not always the kid’s desired option, and the kid will not understand, but it is the better thing for them in the greater scheme of things. God understood that learning by experience, is really the only lessons that “stick”. We are not content for long, just doing what we have been taught is expedient. We have to find out for ourselves whether or not there is any truth to the assertion that “this way is better”. And when they do the thing that God has warned them not to, and there is no IMMEDIATE repercussions, then they think (mistakenly) they have out-smarted God and thrown off the bands of morality and such. In their arrogance, many will then mock God. But He says, in effect, “don’t worry, they’re not mocking me, the end hasn’t come yet.” (Be not deceived, God is not mocked Galatians 6:7 tells us. For “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”.) When a farmer plants his seeds, he doesn’t go out the next day and start pulling out his hair and fretting over the fact that he wasted all that money on seeds and fertilizer, and nothing is coming up yet. No, he knows that as sure as the sun rises and sets, the seeds will sprout. It is his own experience that gives him this confidence. He doesn’t just “know it”. from books, he knows it because he is a farmer, and growing stuff is what they do. Likewise, God creates and grows His people. He knows, also like the farmer, there will be some seeds that “don’t take”. God has no need to immediately strike the Charles Manson’s of this world dead for their crimes. Because he knows what their end will be, and believe this or not, God cares enough about them to still allow them to breathe his air, and to keep their heart pumping a while in the present world because he knows the eternity they face. He is merciful even in wrath.
Jesus said, of His own teachings: If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them”. The disciple James said “But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work (the things the Bible says to do), this man shall be blessed in his deed. That is, if you read it, take it to heart, (believe it) and live accordingly, you will be blessed. David said in Psalm 119, Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Another passage says “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
So if sin made us blind, then that means we live in darkness, without understanding of what we can’t see. God’s Word was given to us like a light, shining on our own spirit, our own ways, and it informs us specifically what is wrong, and what is pleasing to the One who created us and gave us life, designing each of us individually and one-of-a-kind. When someone gives you a verse from the Bible, they are not judging you. They are shining light into darkness, and enabling you to see.
Now here is where we lose a lot of people. I am going to come right out and concur that way too many Christians do not handle the Word as God intended us to do. We well may be coming across as condescending, as if superior, or somehow smarter. But you wouldn’t consign a vintage original LP of Elvis to the garbage can because the sound quality is poor and doesn’t meet up with the standards of the advancements we have grown accustomed to in a CD. The mechanism does not negate the value of the “treasure”. People are sinners, even when they have been saved, and no one comes close to being perfect enough to handle the Words of God with anything near the grace which the gospel is worthy of. But the message itself is pure. The gospel. The Bible tells us (about itself) The Words of the Lord are pure words, like silver, tried in the furnace of the earth seven times. A little research in precious metals would tell you that is a purity that is unsurpassed. Even the purest silver man makes can only be made 99.9% pure. That’s why they stamp it 999!! (Sterling designates silver with copper mixed in, so it isn’t “pure”). When you are tempted to dismiss the words of a preacher or zealous Christian friend or acquaintance, stop and realize it’s a flawed messenger, but you have the ability to evaluate the message for yourself. God doesn’t have to use human go-betweens. He chooses to, but that is not the only way for you to look into this thing. The Holy Spirit will help you understand and recognize truth, if you have a sincere desire to know what is true, no matter how hard it might be to accept!
The Bible calls Jesus the living Word. It also tells us (about itself) that it is “alive” and active, and sharper than a double-edged sword, cutting so fine as to separate “soul from Spirit” and “joint from marrow” and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Also that it is profitable for doctrine (sound teaching about life) and reproof (correcting someone going the wrong way).
So if there is right and wrong, and if there is a good way and a bad way, then doesn’t it just make sense to want to hear from the One who created it all, what those Words of Wisdom have to say about God, and about ourselves. See, I am convinced that there aren’t really people who don’t believe what the Bible says, so much as there are people who really strongly dislike what it says about themselves personally. Or God, for that matter, because most people just want to be their own “free agent” morally and every other way. Sounds good, if it were possible, but that’s the thing. It isn’t. Because even though you might manage to live this life completely on your own terms, there will come a day when you will die.
Just ask Joan Rivers.
And those two reporters beheaded by ISIS this week.
Or even the parents of a six-year old who got hit by a car.
The statistics bear it out, ten out of EVERY ten people will die. Then what?
You say “then nothing, that’s the end”. So says you. But not so, says God.
Are you really willing to bet that just because you choose not to believe in something, your “decision” makes it not exist? You’ve never seen God. You have seen things in life that don’t make sense to you, that make you maybe even feel mad at this “supposed God”. But you have to remember that your vision is not that great. The only thing you have to go by is a vague dim impression seen in murky darkness, or the claims that others have made. I am making a claim by writing this. You can give it credence or not. Because God gave you that option. Then He proceeded to do everything short of making the decision for you, to get you to see why choosing to hear, receive, and heed His word, is the better way for you to go.
But think of buried treasure. Think of discoveries made that no one ever dreamed of before. People these days are always telling you “dare to dream”. Well, even if you do dare to dream, the dreaming is not what is going to get you to the “pot-o-gold”. We look at someone like Mark Zuckerburg, and we think, man if I had his brains, I’d be set. Knowledge is not necessarily treasure. But WISDOM is something over and above knowledge. Wisdom is knowing what to do with our knowledge. God is both all-knowing and all-wise. His Word is packed full of the treasure called Wisdom and again, the Bible says this about itself: Yea if thou criest after knowledge, and lifteth up thy voice for understanding, if thou sleekest her as fine silver, and searcheth for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God, for the Lord gives wisdom. Out of His mouth cometh knowledge and wisdom. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous, and He is a buckler (shield) to them that walk uprightly (obediently). The fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom. The Word says all these things about itself.
We can’t have ANY wisdom without first having that correct understanding of Who our Creator is. When we know Who He is, then we are in a position to understand our selves, our own nature, and the big things (what is important) of this earthbound existence. Solomon was one of the wisest men who ever lived, and he said “of the making of books there is no end. In other words, “books” are a dime a dozen. There is all sorts of “knowledge” to be had. But 2 Timothy describes people as “ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”. Specifically, this state of affairs is given as one of the conditions that will be most at play in the “time of the end”.
If you don’t know the Bible, you most likely don’t realize that we are living in that very time. But I am here to tell you that the almost universal pressure against Israel to give up their land, the impending financial collapse, the strange animal deaths, the strange sounds, booms and groans being heard around the world, the increase (exponential) of knowledge and technology, the increase in number and intensity of earthquakes, the agenda now openly admitted by the world “elites” for a “New World Order” and global financial system/currency, all of these are in the Bible, given as indicators for us to recognize, that the Bible tells us would be coming into play at one time, as the return of Christ drew near. I am telling you that your opportunity to get “into the light” is slipping away. God gives light. And when someone loves the darkness and the praise of man, better than he fears a Holy God, and His wrath, God will withhold the light.
If you think you will just wait it out, see if some evil Antichrist rises up on the scene, then you’ll believe that the Bible thumpers had it right, I am warning you that it doesn’t work that way. If you are un-saved, and you have stuck with this post and read it through to here, you have been told, essentially, the gospel. God is God, Jesus came here to die as a perfect man, so He could pay our sin debt for us. (The wages of sin is death). He did that, and Jesus plainly stated on the day of his crucifixion, that no man took His life from Him, no man (nor army) had the power to. He gave his life up willingly, and also had the power to take His life back up. God raised Him up from death on the third day, and the Roman centurions were given orders to spread the accusation that his followers had stolen the body. But the burial cloths still lay in the tomb. Jesus disappeared from the tomb with the guards right there on duty. The stone was rolled away. And hundreds of eyewitnesses saw Jesus alive after He had died and been placed in the tomb. This is the gospel. If you walk away now, blowing off what you read here, and the tribulation commences, the bible says you will not have a second chance to believe. You will accept a deception, and believe a lie. Because you loved not the truth when it was shown to you. There is no shortage of “self-proclaimed preachers and Christians” who will gladly tell you something more palatable about these days we are living in and about your future after you die. The Bible said that would happen too.
Don’t think that just because you walked down an aisle and repeated some words someone fed you, that you are safe. Do you understand that you are a sinner? Did they tell you about hell? It’s not so much about “accepting Jesus, in the sense you are willing to lend some credence to the possibility God does exist. Even Satan and his demons believe and know that God is. You have to believe what the Bible says about Jesus, even if you don’t wholly understand it all, you need to acknowledge God, acknowledge His authority and His every right to hold you to the standard He holds, and for your own good, you need to accept the power He has to punish you. If that makes you fearful, then GOOD! You should be. Because He does have that power. He has told us what we need to do. To be saved. No one HAS to go to hell. We go to hell because we refuse the remedy. Just like a cancer patient who chooses not to take chemo. We choose it. Those who confess Him as Lord and God with their mouth, and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, those are the ones who will be spared the horrors of the Tribulation period that is just over the horizon in our future. You want to make some kind of sense of this crazy world and these times we are living in? There is your ticket! Jesus came to give sight to the blind, and set the captive free.
The first time He came, he came to save us, not to judge us. The next time He comes, he won’t be a helpless baby. He will be a fearsome judge and will mete out justice. No lawyer, no fast-thinking, smooth talking, begging or pleading will hold up to the truth of your standing guilty and sin-stained before a Holy God. You will bow to Him. You will confess, then, that He is Lord. But it will be too late.