The bickering, the arrogance, and the hate that religion is responsible for over the history of mankind is disturbing, even repulsive, for many people. To be fair, there has been some love but the love seems to be overshadowed. All of this in the name of a supreme being, a positive force, a higher power, or a nameless God that nobody can see, touch, smell, hear, or taste. In other words, a God who is spiritual versus physical, or supernatural versus natural.
Why a God anyways? As people ponder the natural things of this world, that is, the complexities and design of our human body and mind, the animal kingdom, the weather and its seasons, the solar system of planets and stars, and the ocean with its creatures; it becomes difficult to really believe this all came into existence by a chance cosmic big bang. The beauty, awe, and wonder of how it all works together makes people question whether this was by design through a Creator. So people from the beginning have sought knowledge to discover whether this is true or not. A legitimate question to ask with all the seeking humans have done is this; does the knowledge attained reveal the truth about a God being responsible for all that we know?
Who can answer the question about life? None of us made a volitional choice to be here, let alone choose our parents or our social, economic circumstances to which we were born into. Who can answer the question about death? We know it happens but why? Some people die early, some die late. Some die with great purpose and some die senselessly. Is there life after death? Egyptians built pyramids in an apparent belief there was. Ignorant superstition or a reality? Why is there right and wrong? Who determined in human history that murder was wrong? Who determined we needed a law prohibiting murder and that this law appears to be applicable to all people on earth? And when someone violates that law, there is a universal desire for justice by the people? Who invented justice?
There are libraries full of knowledge regarding these subjects which reveals varying amounts of diversity either for or against what people believe is true. So in the meantime, we eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we die. Most hope for the best as we live, ponder, and make choices before we die while others don’t care at all. Some say they lived a good life and others despair of their life and just want the pain and suffering to end. Time and history reveal a type of journey for life on this earth. Where is this journey headed? Does the journey have a beginning and an end? Is there knowledge attainable and understandable regarding this journey? If so, how does a “God” fit into these questions?
If there is a God who is responsible for this journey in this universe, on this earth, and for this life; is He discoverable and then knowable? If God is responsible for this journey, is it a difficult, cruel game we are to figure out on our own? Is it for the intelligent and/or lucky who figure it out and they get the peace, happiness, and eternal life? If so, is it tough luck for everybody else? One may argue that it is impossible to discover and understand God because there are too many religions proclaiming numerous Gods. Let’s ask a question. Are there numerous Gods or does each religion have a different name for essentially the same God? In other words, there is only one God, just different titles. So, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Christianity all worship the same God in hope of peace, happiness, and eternal life; they just do it differently.
I will propose for consideration that life, death, and our journey is discoverable, knowable, and certain. There are only 3 scenarios when we die. 1) We die and there is nothing. 2) We die and meet the God of our religion or imagination. 3) We die and meet the God of the Bible. The only issue to wrestle with here is that the God of the Bible says the first two choices are deceptive lies. Is there truth that is infallible? Truth that is knowable, understandable and trustworthy. God has revealed our life’s journey in the pages of the Bible through 66 books and 44 authors written over 1400 years. People will claim the Bible proves nothing. There are too many versions and translations that do not match or agree. It can’t possibly be inerrant or infallible with what men have done to it. Just look at all the different denominations and sub-denominations who don’t agree with what the Bible says. What a train wreck!
If all the religions are messed up, that means God is messed up and just an invented or imagined entity. Looking over the history and current state of religion, it is not unreasonable for somebody to come to this conclusion. And if there is a God responsible for our purpose in life which involves a journey and that journey is supposed to take us somewhere “nice”, what a lousy incompetent God who couldn’t leave us a “map” so we could know where we are going and how to get there. Or maybe God is not that lousy and has left us numerous maps showing numerous ways to get to the same place. That kind of makes sense since here on earth there are numerous ways to get to a destination. Here is what is creepy. What if the journey you have chosen or found yourself on is a treacherous lie to lead you down a path of ruin and destruction? Everybody wants to believe the path they are on will lead to peace and happiness. How do you know you have not been tricked or deceived? How do you know there is not a real enemy who is against you? Have you ever been betrayed?
Let’s just assume you or I were God. Someone or some being that is transcendent above humans and creation. One that is supposed to be all powerful and all knowing. The one who knows that humans are in big trouble finding their way to peace and happiness which most call heaven. As a mere imperfect human being, if someone asked us how to get to Disney World (earthly place associated with peace and happiness), would you give them ambiguous, confusing or even erroneous instructions/directions? Of course not. Out of care, concern, decency, and even love; we would give them the best directions/instructions we can give, even to the point where we would offer to be available if they needed to call for clarification or help. This is a common, reasonable expectation of fallible human beings. Why is our expectation so low of God who is supposed to be perfect, powerful, and all knowing? Is God incapable of providing precise, exact, and understandable directions/instructions to get to heaven (place of peace and happiness) out of care, concern, justness, and love; even to the point where God would be available to ask for clarification or help?
As I have eluded to, the God of the Bible has left us with precise, exact, and understandable instructions to obtain peace and happiness, plus the power to keep them. Everything else is a lie to lead you down the wrong path that leads to ruin. How do I know that? Because of the testimony of the God of the Bible. God said His word is perfect, tested, pure, and shall stand forever. Thirteen times God (Elohim) says there are no gods other than Him and that He created the heavens and formed the earth to be inhabited. The Jews (people of the nation of Israel) call God “I AM” (Hayah) and the “LORD” (Jehovah). Israel expected an Anointed One, Messiah, King, and Prince to be sent from Jehovah who would come to the earth to destroy their enemies and to rule and reign Israel in Jerusalem in peace and happiness. God did send Israel their Messiah, His name is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the Holy One of God. Jesus told Israel not only was He sent from God, who Jesus called the Father, but that Jesus and the Father (God) are one. If you hear and see me, you hear and see God (Jehovah). Jesus proclaimed to be the “I AM”, the name God told Moses to use for the One who sent him to the people of Israel. Jesus said I am the way, the truth, the life; nobody goes to the Father (who art in Heaven) but by Him. By the name of Jesus Christ, there is no salvation (rescue from ruin) in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven that has been given among men by which they must be saved.
It is through Jesus that God so loved the world that He gave His Son Jesus and whoever should hear, believe, and follow Jesus will not perish but have eternal life (peace and happiness). The enemies Jesus came to destroy are sin and death, NOT people or nations. Sin and death are the enemies of all peoples, nations, and tongues. Jesus was victorious over sin by living a perfect life on earth on our behalf. He died on the cross on our behalf to pay the penalty of sin which is death. Then Jesus rose from the dead to prove His power and victory over death. Finally, Jesus ascended to the throne of His kingdom in Heaven where He is ruling, reigning, and building His Kingdom for everyone who hears, believes, and follows Him. God sent Jesus to do what we could never do, never earn, or ever deserve. We can’t live good enough to conquer sin and overcome death. When we place our faith in Christ, we receive Jesus’ promised victory over sin and death. This is just how much God so loved the world.
Here is the decision at hand. This information is a crazy made up lie or it is absolutely true. There is no religion on earth that provides victory over sin and death. All religions impose a do, or don’t system and you can only hope you are good enough when you are judged. Ask anybody in these religions how good they must be to obtain peace and happiness (Heaven). Ask them where they are on a scale of 1 to 10 and then ask them if they KNOW it is good enough. Let the stammering begin. The Bible reveals there are NONE righteous (good enough), NO NOT ONE. But there is one righteous enough, the WORD of God who became flesh and blood, who dwelt among us, the Holy One from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus conquered sin and death, so all we need to do is hear Jesus, believe Jesus, and follow Jesus. Peace and happiness begins on earth, continues in heaven, and is complete with Jesus 2nd coming. By placing your faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit to indwell us who then convicts, leads, guides, comforts, instructs, and assures us on our journey to peace and happiness (Kingdom of Heaven). The Holy Scriptures (Bible) are then able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Today is the day, if you hear His voice so do not harden your hearts. For the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel. Take Jesus’ yoke upon you and learn of Him, for He is gentile and humble in heart and you will find rest in Him for your souls. Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
To God be the glory!
This appears to be inflammatory, unloving, narrow, and intolerant to name a few objections. Still, this statement is either right or wrong, true or false, pass or fail. There is no middle ground of compromise or negotiation. Let’s look at a verbal exchange that occurred with Jesus in John Chapter 8. To set the historical stage, Jesus again is in the Jewish temple of Herod teaching “all the people” from the nation of Israel who were in captivity to the Roman Empire. This scenario is very similar to the OT prophets whom God sent to the nation of Israel because they were in captivity for their disobedience and unbelief. Here is how it unfolds when some of the leaders of the Jewish people started a Q&A session with Jesus when Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life [Jhn 8:12 NASB]."
This prompted the leaders to tell Jesus He is not who He says He is. After some more verbal exchange, there was a group who appeared to believe that Jesus was who He said He was. Here is Jesus’ response to them, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” [Jhn 8:31-32 NASB]. Did these people respond “great, that is good news, tell us more truth”? No, this prompted a verbal exchange of “disagreeing” what Jesus said because they are of Abraham’s seed. They played the Jewish blood line heritage card. Here is Jesus’ response. "I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father" [Jhn 8:37-38 NASB].
Harsh, unfriendly words. The crowd then responded that Abraham is their father and so is God. Maybe they thought Jesus was confused about who He was talking to so they added further clarification by pointing out that they are God’s chosen people and they will be the inheritors of all of God’s promises. Here is Jesus’s response to their claim of being God’s chosen people. "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father. If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God" [Jhn 8:39-47 NASB].
Jesus not only said He is right, He told the crowd why they are wrong. Jesus proclaimed to these Jewish leaders and the supposed crowd of believers they are of the devil and not of God. Why? Because Jesus tells them the truth and they do not believe Him. The deeds of Abraham Jesus told them to do is exactly this; “Believe what God says and it will be counted to you as righteousness”. Jesus told them, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” [Jhn 8:56 NASB]. The crowd said how could this be since you are not even 50 yrs old. And Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am" [Jhn 8:58 NASB].
What was the response to being told the truth in verse 59? They picked up stones to stone Him (i.e. kill Him). Why? Because Jesus just proclaimed to them He was God (i.e. Exod 3:1-14). The God of the promise(s) to Abraham, the God of Moses, the God of the Exodus, and the God of the OT prophets. The One who is telling them the truth that they might believe Him and that their belief might be counted as righteousness is God in flesh, full of grace and truth. Instead of falling in worship, they proved they were liars and murders, exactly what Jesus said. John 8 is one claim of many where Jesus says He is right and everybody else is wrong. John 14:6 is one of the clearest and most concise claims; "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”. Jesus is not one of many ways, truths, and lives; He is the only way that the world and nations of individuals are to come to the Father, who art in the kingdom of Heaven.
To God be the glory,
Once I was involved in a discussion with fellow Christians and I was told that the Gospel went out to the whole “known” world in the 1st century. I had to ponder this statement geographically so when anybody looks at the maps in their Bible, it shows Paul’s missionary travels and his “church planting” involved lands and people that surround the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. Then if you do a little reading about Church history, the “church” kept growing and moving kind of in a Northwestern direction. So if Jerusalem was the starting point, the Great Commission went north and west.
So if in God’s providence the Gospel went north and west, to make the claim that it went to the whole “known” world is a misleading statement. The Gospel essentially stayed within the Greek/Roman Empire which surrounded the Mediterranean Sea but why don’t we ever hear about the Gospel going east? Where are the great Churches and bodies of Christ established in Arabia and the Parthian Empire? During the 1st century, these were “known” people of the world and some of these "eastern" people actually showed up for Pentecost in Acts 2 but Paul did not have any missionary journeys to this “known” world.
What is interesting is that the Bible is not silent about these historic “eastern” people. The Assyrian Empire, the Median Empire, the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, and the Parthian Empire were all involved with judging Old Covenant Israel. I find it more interesting how God used the Roman Empire to push eastward these declared “enemies” of God’s people which brought stability to the region of Palestine for Jesus’ 1st coming. Then in God’s providence, the Great Commission moved throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, but primarily north and west.
And here is what is most interesting of all. The Roman Empire came and went, it is gone. The Gospel and Church continued to flourish and move north and west of Jerusalem, all the way across the ocean to the America’s, so what happened to what we now call the Middle East? The Parthian Empire fell to the Sassanid Empire, and the Sassanid Empire fell to the Muslim Conquest, and the Muslim Conquest has produced the Islamic nations that currently occupy essentially the same land these historic Biblical empires occupied. These historic “eastern” people to this very day are still the enemies of God’s people. They have not been conquered or converted. Their borders and rulers have moved around over the centuries but as a people, they are as committed to their ideology today, or shall I say idolatry, as they were thousands of years ago as revealed in the Old Testament.
Don’t you find it interesting that these people and their nations are not “Christian”? Why haven’t they become like the United States or England? They were such close neighbors to Palestine (Jerusalem). Aren’t these people that are declared as enemies of the one true God in the Old Testament still the same enemies to the one true God in the New Testament? Yes, there is a remnant being saved in some churches dispersed among these nations but the ruling people in these nations are actively trying to exterminate these “infidels”. We hear it all the time about the severe persecution these “eastern” churches are undergoing.
In closing, let’s ponder this. Do the Scriptures reveal a purpose for these Biblical enemies who have essentially remained the same throughout their history? And not only are they occupying the land of their forefathers, but they are currently expanding their footprint throughout the entire world? Scripture reveals that God had purpose for these enemies in the Old Covenant so does the Bible reveal God’s purpose for these enemies in the New Covenant?
To God be the glory,
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Ga 3:26-29 AV)
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph 2:11-22 AV)