Doorways

March 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

Ralph Waldo Emerson mused, “Life is not measured by its length, but by its depth.” Still, death eventually comes knocking, and our standing before God determines how we answer.

Doorway

THE DOORWAY OF DEATH

“No tabloid will ever print the startling news that the mummified body of Jesus of Nazareth has been discovered in old Jerusalem. Christians have no carefully embalmed body enclosed in a glass case to worship. Thank God, we have an empty tomb. The glorified fact that the empty tomb proclaims to us is that life for us does not stop when death comes. Death is not a wall, but a door.”

THE DOORWAY OF THE TOMB

The above words are of the late chaplain of the US Senate Peter Marshall, and are of particular relevance as Easter draws near and the empty tomb is in view. A large stone sealed the tomb’s opening, but it did not seal the deal for death. Christ arose, that door was opened, the threshold was crossed from the inside out, and so death lost. How can we lose the fear of death and gain the same victory the empty tomb represents?

THE DOORWAY THAT IS JESUS

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…”, Jesus said in John 10:9. He, our living Redeemer and Lord, is only way to salvation. Through repentance and faith in the finished work of God’s Son on the cross, we can have forgiveness, grace and eternal life. Life for the Christian is much more about the destination than the journey as we look forward to the face of God and living forever in His presence. What do we do in the meantime?

47175_435674552942_4936689_nTHE DOORWAY THAT IS US

I am writing this a decade after my dad’s funeral, and less than a week after burying my mom. Both my parents are in heaven. Many in my family will be reunited with them in eternity because my mom, too, was a door. Through her coming to faith in Christ in 1976 and her faithful witness of the gospel, my dad became a Christian too. That seed took root in me, my siblings, their children, and will prayerfully continue in the next generation. My mom was a doorway, and truth entered from the outside in. Something eternal and life-giving came into our family, and mom continued to open up the gospel for many others until a stroke took her home at the age of 91. Her legacy will join her as a throng one day.

Inevitably, death’s door will open for us, but the resurrection of Jesus means those who put their trust in Him will have their own resurrection and can enter without fear. Meanwhile, God calls every Christian to be a doorway to truth for someone. Whether we live to 91 or not, may our legacy be opening doors for others.

Truth is a Troublemaker

December 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Supreme_Court2-bodyMost of the time we get into trouble because we do stupid things. But sometimes we get into trouble because we do the right thing. Maybe we all can recall a time when we were maligned for putting our hope in the truth. In my daily reading I journeyed through Paul’s adventures in Acts, a classic example of a man in trouble for the truth.

In the presence of the Roman Governor Felix, a contingency of Jewish leaders and their lawyer brought this charge against the apostle in Acts 24: “For we have found this man to be a troublemaker, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” (vs.5)

The fear was that Paul would be politically dangerous. In his defense Paul denies the accusations of inciting a riot, but admits: “But I confess this to you, that I worship the God of our ancestors according to the Way (which they call a sect), believing everything that is according to the law and that is written in the prophets. I have a hope in God (a hope that these men themselves accept too) that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous…(vs.14,15) “I am on trial before you today concerning the resurrection of the dead.” (vs.21)

Most Jews believed in a future resurrection, a raising and judgment of all mankind, something that Paul preached in connection with Christ’s resurrection (Acts 17:30-32, 1 Corinthians 15:15-58). The Sadducees (Acts 23:8) did not believe in any type of life after death, or miracles, or the supernatural. The Greeks believed in immortality, but not the imminent judgment of Christ. These slanted teachings started to infect the Church somewhat. And this was a cause of much of Paul’s trouble.

In the next two chapters, Paul finds himself in Jewish court before Israel’s King Agrippa. In his defense before the king in Acts 26, Paul testifies: “They know, because they have known me from time past, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve God night and day. Concerning this hope the Jews are accusing me, your Majesty!” (vs.5-7)

On trail for hope in God’s promises, Paul believed His promises to be true. To an extent, so did Paul’s accusers, who believed in the same Hebrew scriptures where hints of the future resurrection should have vindicated Paul. The charges of stirring up riots were unfounded. Instead, their main contention was that “they had several points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a man named Jesus who was dead, whom Paul claimed to be alive.” (Acts 25:19)

Among other things, Christians believe this: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18)

Jesus Himself promised us trouble (John 16:33), and when we merely do what Paul and others did, preaching God’s word and holding to His future promises, we may find ourselves on trial. We’ll dispute big issues with those who claim to follow God, even true Christians. Persistent hope in Christ has its cost, and it sometimes gets us in trouble. But we are promised that any present trouble cannot outweigh future glory, and that’s where our hope lives. “So we do not lose heart…” (2 Corinthinans 4:16-18)

Debate: Christ’s Resurrection

April 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

This discussion stemmed from an article I posted from Relevant Magazine of a defense Tim Keller gave for the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection. The article can be found here.

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David 

I read it. The title “A Case for…” and the word “proof” is at odds with each other.

It is simply an argumentative point of view.

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Mike 

True that “evidence for/a case for” does not equal ”proof”, although the definition can be broad. The word proof is not in the actual article. The descriptive text above was apparently written by someone other than the author. Although an “argumentative point of view” would not necessarily include evidence, which the case for Christ’s resurrection does.

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David 

The bible also alludes to there being giants, but aside from the book saying it, no evidence appears to exist to quantify it.

I can buy “because I believe it” from people, but the evidence the believers provide is often lackluster in the influence or subjectivity of that belief.

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Mike 

What the Bible states (not alludes) about giants we don’t have evidence for other than Old Testament manuscripts that have shown themselves to be otherwise very reliable. While giants aren’t proven, it’s a reasonable belief. The validity of Christianity rests on Jesus Christ defeating death. Giants don’t make or break any critical doctrine. Proportionately, there is a lot more evidence for a risen Christ than fallen giants, and that’s good news.

I agree with you on the lackluster defense by many Christians. We are called to give a reasonable defense (1 Peter 3:15). Some don’t get that. What is lackluster about Keller’s defense?

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David 

All of what you wrote and asked of me require belief that there was a Jesus-as-deity, that the bible is more than a book of allegory mixed within the framework of accepted and/or verifiable history.

Being that I do not subscribe to these beliefs personally, I see all references to the bible-as-fact/truth as suspect and argumentatively invalid outside Judeo-Christian belief system (or other religions that have a historical overlap in the timeline, such as Islam).

I know you believe, and that is cool. I am of the acceptance that belief in the bible equates to truth or evidence, and as I said before, I am not of the mind to change anyone’s belief as I am not compelled to change my own.

In short, he was preaching to the choir. To me, he was just expounding or trying to add validation to a religious story.

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Christine 

You may not believe in Him, but He believes in you. Just ask Him!

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David 

Ugh. Paradox.

Christine, how can I ask a him I don’t believe in? I know you are being nice, and Christians sure do like to save us heathens, and I appreciate the spirit of that. I don’t believe in vampires either, and I see it as being identical, despite the Vlad the Impaler inspiration for Dracula which could have as easily carried on to a current day religion with the right authors and some dictatorial mandate. Instead of that Twilight stuff. I digress…

I think of all the current day followers of Scientology and their Xenu character. I don’t want to stop them from what they believe either, despite how utterly goofy it is. I am sure it could be said Xenu believes in me too by those guys, they just don’t have enough time in. The Mormons have come a long way since that guy read those magic writings in the hat. They come over a lot with name badges and mountain bikes, and dress like the Geek Squad at Best Buy. I asked one to clear a virus off my computer but he wasn’t going for it.

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Mike 

“I see all references to the bible-as-fact/truth as suspect and argumentatively invalid outside Judeo-Christian belief system”

Dave, if I understand this right, you’re saying there’s no believing in Christianity unless you’re already a Christian?

What’s significant about the case Keller presents is that it requires no Christian presuppositions to follow the logic of the argument and eventually conclude that an actual resurrection is the most likely answer. If accepted, the conclusions become what Christians presuppose: That the Bible is true and that Jesus really was who He claimed to be. One of the questions the article poses is how a belief that has pervaded every part of the world could start as Christianity had if its leader were dead. Consider the historical roots that few irreligious will dispute: The church began with a handful of followers who faced torture and death if they preached a resurrected Savior, and they did so anyway. Did they persist for a lie, hoax or delusion, seeing their belief, unlike any other, spread globally against the tide of opposition instead of shrinking to nothing? The only rational alternative is that they had seen and believed in and were driven by a living Jesus whose mortal wounds they could see and touch. If that is true, the floodgates open for a host of other truths regarding Jesus’ power over death, His deity, and His word that changes everything, leading to a heart and soul commitment.

Not all Christians arrive the same way; for some it’s more faith than rationale. But one CAN make the journey without any of the axioms Christians hold to: No religion required along the way. The fact is, whatever we are—Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, or our own customized ideology—we did not always believe as we do now. At some point, we all have inquired of something we didn’t believe in.

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David 

This is how world wars are started, Mike… posts of escalating length. We are at leaflet now, but soon it will be books then volumes, then the bomb. I don’t have a bomb, Mike. They are very expensive.

Anyway. We all come to our own conclusions. There is a spin and/or plausible answer to most things from our humble vantage point, and these evolve (and occasionally de-evolve) over the ages.

What I meant is to be a believer you have to buy the story, and accept the bible as a set of facts. If you don’t, the bible isn’t a reference book… It is just a book of stories. It is more to those who believe in it. I have one… a Freemasonry edition from when I was active in it. It was an important text to those who believed in it throughout history, and I am not totally ignorant of its contents or impact on the world.

I believe in Christianity because I know there are those who do subscribe, therefore validation by the existence of a number of people who then are ascribed the moniker. Like I know there are Jehovah’s Witnesses because they keep ringing the bell while I am having dinner.

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Mike 

Believing something doesn’t make it true. That’s relativism, which no one actually lives out. An event (Christ’s resurrection, Superbowl XLIII, earthquakes in Japan, Charlie Sheen) either happened or didn’t regardless of whether we saw it or believe it. If truth was relative, there would be no point to discuss. Like any big purchase, we research to determine the absolute truth of something, then weigh the cost of buying/not buying. Christians are the effect of the resurrection, not the cause (unless it didn’t happen… But it looks as if it did).

Back down to postcard length! War averted (although I don’t have a bomb either so I think the world is safe ;).

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Dave didn’t respond after this post. The article in question can be found here.

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