Saturday, August 25, 2007

No room for pride...

Joh 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

Joh 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."

1 Cor 3:6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

2 Tim 2:25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Ex 33:19 And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Gal 3:2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing— if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

1 Cor 1:17 ¶ For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel— not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things— and the things that are not— to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God— that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Lu 18:17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Personally, I find real wisdom in the way God has chosen to do things. He has effectively removed all room for pride, which surely is our greatest stumbling block. That is why it so often seems to require a complete breakdown, a humbling to the core, before we are able to receive Him. I wonder if the greater the pride, the greater the trauma that’s required to break it? When I look at the scripture about being ‘born again’ I can’t help but see that I, personally, had to suffer a form of death before that miracle born again experience occurred. In a way, you could say that I had to be ‘broken’, completely humbled, and then I had to cry out for Jesus before Jesus came in and laid that new foundation. I was born again at that moment, I was a new creature, old things had passed away, all things had become new (John 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17).

There are a few obvious issues that some people take exception with. First off, as a few of the scriptures above testifies to, God chooses. God has to choose you, has to draw you to Christ, has to ‘give the increase’ regarding believing faith. That can tick some people off. There is no room for them to glory in themselves. They aren’t in control. They see that as unfair. They aren’t willing to give God the credit for their salvation, but they are ready to blame God for not necessarily choosing everyone. They aren’t willing to accept that maybe…just maybe…God knows what He is doing and they don’t. That’s pride. I like God’s response to Job (38:1). Another issue people have is the defining of sin. God makes no bones about what is right and what is wrong. He defines morality. That can be confining, and/or convicting and uncomfortable, and people generally don't like that. Their general theme is 'I want to do what I want to do, and don't tell me I can't or that it's wrong'.

There are literally millions of people who can personally testify to the miracle of Jesus. Could they all be deceived? When they believed the report, when they accepted the gospel…truly accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, a miracle occurred. That miracle validates the scriptures. Not just the words of Jesus, but the words of all the NT writers, and many of the old.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Reincarnation and Christianity...

Can the concept of reincarnation be reconciled with Christianity? That may seem like a silly question, but there are many new-agers and other sects that think so.

The concept of reincarnation (as I understand it) is that through a virtual unlimited number of incarnations (or as many as necessary) a person would be able to work their way into a place of perfection. But the bible says:

Ep 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Heb 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

It seems to me that the basic principal of Christianity is that you are born into sin, that the base nature of man is sinful, and that the only way a person can be redeemed is through the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. Hence, saved by grace…in the form of a gift.

Ge 8:21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Some people claim that John the Baptist was Elijah reincarnated. But what does John himself say about that?

John 1:21 They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’"

John was indeed similar to Elijah, though, in that God worked through him to cause many to turn back to Him. You might say that John was a ‘type’ of Elijah.

1Ki 18:37 “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Some people even claim that Jesus was the result of reincarnation…that he had achieved perfection in that way. But what does the Bible say about Jesus?

Hebrews 1:1 ¶ In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

John 1:1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

It would appear impossible to be perfected via multiple incarnations before the universe was created.

Therefore, my Christian interpretation is that reincarnation is NOT compatible with Christianity. You must choose between the two, but choose carefully, because only one is true.