Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The New Eden

And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground - trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Genesis 2:9

If we were to go back to Eden, consider a bit what we would see.  It was a perfect place with perfect peace.  Being jaded was impossible, and God walked the earth.  Sin was entirely absent, work was effortless, and even the scents were all pleasant.  Imagine the most ethereal utopia and you might be close.  And in this place man was given the tree of life.  Without the tree of life man cannot live.

The tree of life
We see the tree of life today in young kids.  Some have changed the name, now calling it the 'fountain of youth'.  This is boundless energy, the lack of ills, glee in simple things, and most notably, innocence.  In kids we see a glimpse of Eden, with the tree of life and without the tree of knowledge.  They have lots of life but are very short on knowledge.  And we could think of Adam and Eve as being much like children before they ate the forbidden fruit.  The forbidden fruit being from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil
Some have wondered why the tree of knowledge was forbidden, or why knowledge might be a bad thing.  Genesis never tells us that the tree of knowledge was a bad thing, just that God commanded Adam not to eat from it.  Far be it from me to understand God's ultimate plan, but certainly what happened happened.  We ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This is why every young kid, entirely innocent and not even knowing what sin is, grows up and learns good and evil.  Along with that learning comes sin.  Those who put their trust in Jesus have the solution for sin, but what does this mean?

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."  -Jesus
From what Jesus says here I get the sense that entering heaven is much like going back to Eden.  Adam and Eve lived in Eden like children.  We must enter heaven like children.  He guards the tree of life with a flaming sword (Gen 3:24).  Jesus is the way (Jhn 14:6) and the gate (Jhn 10:7) for which to enter in.  Without Jesus, the Word of God, we can never be like children again, and we can never enter Eden again.  But with Jesus, and with the heavenly Father, we can live as children of God, trusting everything to Him.

The New Eden
Also known as the New Jerusalem.  Here is the tree of life, but now it bears twelve crops of fruit every month.  This city, this new Eden, is like the old Eden, except its greater.  The New Jerusalem has everything Eden had, but there's more.  I have no idea exactly what the New Jerusalem will be like.  I don't know if everything in Revelation 21 is a literal description or has figurative meaning.  I do know that it will be beyond anyone's imagination.  We may be able to imagine what Eden was like, but the New Eden will be beyond possibly imagining.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"  1Corintians 2:9

Friday, May 20, 2011

Most Important

If you've kept up with my writing at all, you've noticed that I have a focus on action within the Christian faith.  I believe that a Christian absolutely must be doing things.  And I mean that in the sense that salvation depends on it.  Salvation is the result of righteous action, which is the result of faith.  To say that faith alone can save a person is like saying swimming can make you a fish.  Or, to say that faith can exist without works is like saying fire can exist without heat.  Faith without works is dead.  I stand on this principle, and I'm going to keep saying it till I die.  To clarify, and hopefully to help anyone wanting to know more, I should be more specific about what kind of actions a Christian must be doing.  I'm going to start with what I feel to be the two most primary and important things that a Christian must be doing.

All good things come from God.  But what we must do, before we can expect to get anything from God, is ask for it.  If it is the Lord's will, and if we trust Him to answer our prayer, then it will be done.  When I talk about prayer, I am not talking about the pretty sounding, usual sounding, prayers that you hear in church or around the dinner table.  This kind of prayer, I hate to say it, has been typified to such an extent that its hard to know if anyone actually considers it speaking to God.  I know it often doesn't sound like speaking to God; it often sounds like a performance put on to show off how "spiritual" the prayer leader is.  But anyways, all of that is irrelevant, because that's not at all what I mean by prayer.  What I mean by prayer is speaking directly, reverently and humbly to God in the isolation of one's bedroom.  And by speaking I really mean begging.  These prayers are the honest prayers that come straight from the heart and are spoken straight to God, because the person praying actually believes that he/she is not alone in their bedroom.  That is what prayer is, and for anyone wanting to be a child of God, I strongly suggest doing it.  It can be as simple as asking for daily provision or protection.  Or a person may ask God for wisdom, virtues or a desire to do His will.  Whatever it is, be specific.  I imagine God hears plenty of the usual Christianese, so leave behind the fancy church words.  Just ask God earnestly for whatever your needs are.  But always ALWAYS be reverent.  Get on your knees, bow down before the Lord and humble yourself.

Reading the Bible
We will never know God unless we read our Bibles.  We cannot be children of the Most High unless we know who He is.  And we must know what He commands and what He plans.  All of this is in the Bible.  In fact, one of the biggest reasons to pray, and why I group prayer and Bible reading together, is so that we would understand the Bible.  Bible reading and prayer are the essential building blocks of a Christian life.  Before we do anything else, we should be reading our Bibles and praying.  Before we can even know what to do, we must read the Bible.  You will always hear me say, and I absolutely believe, reading the Bible is much more important than going to church and hearing someone preach.  The man preaching could be telling you a bunch of lies, or he may just be a rather lousy preacher.  But, we can be sure that what is written in the Bible is true.  And for that matter, I'd much rather have you read the Bible than read anything I write (if you had to choose of course).  With our knowledge of the truth, we will not be led astray by lies.  With our knowledge of the truth, we will know almost precisely what God wants us to be doing - beyond the building blocks, reading the Bible and praying.  I could go further in this note and talk about all the other things a Christian should be doing, but I'm actually going to stop here.  So, for anyone just getting started with their Christian life, and unsure of what he/she should be doing, I say start by reading your Bible and praying.  If you don't know what to pray for, then pray that God would help you understand the Bible.  After you do that you'll know exactly what else you should be doing, or not doing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Evaluating Deeds

As simple and common sense as it seems, the first thing a Christian must do is do.  I mean we let go of the world and ourselves, and in a sense the first thing we do is nothing, but we must do something.  That first thing, or things, could be a prayer or reading the Bible.  But the important thing to keep in mind is that a Christian must do things - real things requiring thought and movement.  It sounds stupid, I know.  Its obvious, but if you've been raised in a church, particularly a Protestant church, all your life, you've probably gotten the idea somehow that a Christian needs to do nothing but "believe".  'You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that - and shudder.' (James 2:19).

If you think a Christian does not have to do things, ask me about it and I'll prove to you that its absolutely necessary.  Assuming this fact is established, we should ask a question: How do we evaluate our actions?  Nine times out of ten, doing something (anything) is better than nothing.  So I try not to be very critical of a Christian trying to do good deeds, even if he/she is not succeeding very well.  But nonetheless, we should be concerned about the quality of our deeds.  And to evaluate that quality I propose a singular metric to judge by.  How we evaluate our deeds should correspond directly to how much they further the kingdom of God.  We should always have God's kingdom in mind in everything we do.  We should be trying to further God's kingdom with all the energy we have.  This is primarily the task that God has given us.  Of course there are other things we can do to honor God - prayer, fast, praise etc; but service seems to be our primary calling.  For men this means being a leader - in the family, church, community, nation.  It means teaching, preaching, evangelizing, organizing and the like.  It means giving to the needy and using our talents to bring glory to God.  For women this means loving and nurturing.  Women have a special gift to basically make the world a beautiful (even tolerable) place.  Giving words of encouragement when someone needs them, or comfort to someone hurting.  It means raising children in a healthy environment, and supporting her husband in teaching the kids.  So many things that either gender can do, but in all things we should consider the impact this will have on the Church.

Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Matthew 7:17-19

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Call For Apologetics

To my brothers in Christ, fighting and defeating Satan with the power of the Holy Spirit

We have been given a weapon.  Its name is apologetics, which means to 'give a defense'.  What this is, for us, is the mountain of evidence God has provided, proving His existence and the Bible's veracity.  Over the last hundred years there have been an extraordinary amount of discoveries (manuscripts, archaeological, scientific), such that a Christian should no longer say 'we can't prove God is real'.  The fact of the matter is, with knowledge of the facts and a reasonable argument, we can prove that God is real and the Bible true.  To shy away would be absurd.  We have the advantage!  We are the only people on earth that actually do have the truth on our side, and we can prove it.  Maybe its just my aggressive nature, but I want to plead you to use this advantage to assail Satan.  Be on the offensive.  Maybe we'll even change the definition of apologetics to 'making an assault on lies/Satan'.

We must first know what we are talking about.  Take advantage of the resources out there.  There are so many great authors whose books you can read.  There's Norm Geisler, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, Craig Blomberg, Ravi Zacharias, Gary Habermas, Frank Turek, and classics like CS Lewis and GK Chesterton.  Plus I'm sure there's plenty of guys I haven't mentioned.  Just go to the bookstore and ask about any one of those guys.  Then we have many internet resources at our disposal.  On Facebook there are a number of apologetics pages like: Apologetics Press, The Poached Egg, Apologetics 315 and Christian Apologetics Program at Biola.  Look them up!  And I'm sure you'll find many others if you go searching.  And there are websites like:,,,,,, and  Check them out!  The simple fact is that you don't have to go far to find answers, and a growing Christian apologist doesn't have to go far to strengthen his argument.

Finally, if that wasn't enough to convince you to actively use apologetics, I wish to simply say that it is fun.  When people are faced with the facts and they reject them outright, without sense or reason, they're placed in a corner where its hard to not look like a fool.  Any capable Christian can debate a non-believer and utterly humiliate them with the facts.  Now, as a Christian, I'm not suggesting we should do this to tear others down and build ourselves up.  However, there is a certain sense of enjoyment in knowing that you've won the argument even before you begin.  So its a whole bunch of fun.  Afterall, as Jesus says, 'The worker is worth his keep.'  Or, as was said elsewhere, 'To the victor go the spoils.'

If we're looking for a verse to make our battle cry, I would suggest...
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2Corinthians 10:4-5

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Matthew 5:17-20

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

This passage brings up a very important issue for Christians; that being whether Christians must follow the law, and if so, what laws must Christians follow.  To come to an understanding of this issue we must first decide exactly what the 'Law' is.  Here Jesus says the Law right beside the Prophets as if the two are one and the same.  I think it would be a mistake to consider this 'Law' to be simply the Jewish law, or the laws given to Moses at Sinai.  The meaning is much bigger and much broader, I believe.  First, we have laws given from God even before the law at Mt Sinai.  The first law was given to Adam (Gen 2:16-17), and then there were many laws given to men throughout the Old Testament, as well as teachings and commands from God.  Then, immediately following this passage, Jesus gives commands to his followers, which would also be considered a part of the 'Law'.  So I think there is good reason to define 'Law', within this context, as being the entirety of God's commandments.  I don't say this to try to explain away the levitical laws, but there is good reason to think that Jesus meant much more with that word, especially considering that he accompanied it with 'Prophets'.

So what then?  Should we obey the levitical laws?  Well, first I think we must get a better understanding of the purpose of any of the Law, and then we'll try to answer what laws must be obeyed.  The Law is not the end all.  Jesus makes the point here that he did not come to abolish the Law, and so the Law still stands, but then He says He came to fulfill it.  That means Jesus is the end all.  Our focus should not be on the Law itself, except to look past it and see Jesus, but our one main aim in life should be to focus on Jesus, who came to earth to show us God.  Paul wrote Galatians to correct this problem with them.  Some among them were turning the Galatians away from Jesus and having them focus entirely on the law.  That is why he wrote: 'All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." '  Paul was trying to get them to focus on Jesus and not so much on the law.  He was not trying to abolish the Law, which is why he also wrote: 'Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?  Absolutely not!'  The Law has its proper place, which is to give us better understanding of righteousness and point us towards Jesus.  If a person has yet to understand the inherit good and evil in different things, then that person has the Law to go by.  But if a person does understand the inherit good and evil in different things, meaning he has gone past the Law to knowing right and wrong given to him from God by grace, then the Law is like a pleasant memory.  Because the Law is not complete, and a person cannot be completely righteous by simply following the Law.  A person must know Jesus and true righteousness by faith in Jesus to be complete.

But even though the Law is not sufficient to save us, we must still obey God's laws/commands.  Jesus says in the last verse of this passage 'For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.'  Its a bit hard to tell exactly what Jesus means by this, because He also makes it very clear, elsewhere, that the Pharisees and teachers of the law are in no way truly righteous.  So it might not be that high of a standard to meet, but nonetheless, it is clear that Jesus demands righteous action.  So what exactly?  Well, I think we can certainly accept Jesus' teachings and commands to be applicable.  There is absolutely no indication that they have ever been abrogated, and Jesus did speak only what the Father told Him to.  Much of the levitical laws are upheld in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and so I think we must follow those commands (the ones that are upheld that is).  The Ten Commandments seem to be upheld by Jesus when he summed them up in the two most important commandments (Mat 22:37-40).  The clean and unclean laws, however, have been abrogated.  You can see this in Mark 7:18-19.  Of course there is some debate over this, and I'm not really qualified to settle the debate.  I believe Christians can disagree, to a certain extent, over which laws apply to us or not.  Let each person read the Bible, trust the Lord, and determine what they should do.  But always remember that the most important commandment is to 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'


About Me

Unimpressive in person. But always praying that these letters I write will be weighty and forceful. I serve the Almighty as a servant of Christ. I strive to conquer hearts and minds with the word of God. I am nothing, but the Holy Spirit living inside me is omnipotent. By Him I can run and not grow weary, or walk and not be faint. All glory and honor be to God and to Jesus the Christ.