What’s good about Good Friday?

What’s good about Good Friday?

There is nothing good about Good Friday until you see it from God’s perspective. Jesus didn’t have to give himself up to be crucified on a Roman cross. He didn’t have to die. However, he loved you and me so much that he chose to die in our place so that we would not have to suffer the punishment for our sins.

Throughout history, God sought to bring sinful mankind back into relationship with himself. That relationship had been broken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-24). So God established a plan for restoration, a restoration that began with the setting apart of Abraham’s family and concluded with the death and resurrection of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

To understand the restoration process, we need to understand the concept of a blood sacrifice as atonement for sin. That goes back to the time when man rebelled against God and the perfect creation he made for human beings. This sacrifice was codified by God when he set apart the Israelites and provided them with guidelines for living. That law included a system of sacrifices to atone for different sins. Among the sacrifices were those of animals without blemish, signifying perfection. (Leviticus 22:20) These sacrifices had to be repeated over and over since people kept sinning against God.

Through the death of Jesus, God provided a once-for-all way, for the sins of men and women to be atoned. In the New Testament, we read that John the Baptist recognized Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) This is a reference to the perfect, sacrificial lamb that was called for in the Old Testament law.

Another John, the disciple of Jesus, who wrote an eyewitness account of the three years he spent with Jesus, explained the ultimate sacrifice that was made by Jesus, the Messiah. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) This made Jesus the ultimate sacrifice —satisfying for all time the requirements of God’s justice.

The apostle Paul wrote that “Christ died for our sins, according to Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3) because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This simple statement of fact reminds us that our personal sin, our rebellion from God, has us heading to judgment and eternal separation from God.

However, we do not have to suffer throughout all eternity.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross shows the depths of God’s love for us. (Romans 5:6-8) But it is through his resurrection that we can see God’s triumph over death. When we acknowledge that we are sinners deserving of death and accept the gift of Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf, we can be set free of the condemnation of sin and begin a journey that will culminate in everlasting life in the presence of God. Read more in the answer to the question: How does one become a Christian?

Why doesn’t God fix racism?

Why doesn’t God fix racism?

We’re first going to have to define racism. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary lists as its first definition:

“a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”

Some say that racism is more than a belief but is a practice of implementing laws and policies or establishing societal norms that discriminate against individuals or groups because of their race, ethnicity or skin color. In America, people are often categorized as those who benefit from or those who are victims of racism. This divisiveness exacerbates relationships, tears at the fabric of our society and often prevents seeing others as individuals made in the image of God.

The answer to your question is found in the Bible. Men and women have repeatedly turned their backs on a loving God who wants, more than anything, to be in relationship with him. Because we are in a constant state of rebellion against God, we no longer pay attention to our moral compasses. We no longer listen to God’s spirit within us that wants to show us how to live in right relationship with God and with our fellow man. As a result, all of us imagine that we know what’s best for ourselves…and we want others to affirm that belief.

So, we seek out like-minded individuals. In doing so, we feel obligated to find fault in others who do not think or act as we do. We seek to minimize the accomplishments of others and think of them as somewhat of lesser value. That, in turn, allows us to imagine that we are somehow superior to others—a foundation of racism. Those attitudes lead to wars, conquest, and the infliction of pain and suffering on others.

Racism, then, is the extension of man’s individual rejection of God and his creation. The fix that God has provided is the transformation of an individual’s heart and mind. It begins with confession of one’s own sins, and a cry to God for forgiveness. Recognizing that we have turned our backs on the God who created the universe and knows everything about us is very sobering. It comes with a realization that the penalty for our sinfulness is greater than we’re willing to bear. That’s why God allowed his son, Jesus, to come to earth and to die on a Roman cross, substituting his death for the death we deserved.

When we accept what he has done for us and let him refocus our lives to be more like him, we will begin to see others as he sees them—not looking on their outward appearance, but on their hearts. That’s God’s fix for racism. That’s why true followers of Christ cannot be racists, and should actively seek to drive racism from society.

Throughout history, Christ-followers have worked to end divisions between peoples. In America, it was predominantly Christians who worked tirelessly to end the scourge of slavery. For example, the nation’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams was a deeply religious Christian who did something no president, before or since, has done. After leaving the White House he fiercely fought against slavery for last 17 years of his life as a Congressman.

Would you like to know how to embrace a faith that leads to an end to racism as the hearts of men and women are aligned with those of Jesus?  We encourage you to read our blogpost: How does one become a Christian? 

Why is there so much personal conflict these days?

Why is there so much personal conflict these days?

While the pandemic seems to have exacerbated interpersonal conflicts, they have been around forever. Once Adam and Eve turned their backs on God and sin entered the world, conflicts were inevitable, and it wasn’t long before Cain killed his brother.
Not all disagreements spiral out of control and end in a loss of life, but way too many lead to figurative, if not literal murder. This life is tough and the hardest things are relationships, especially when they aren’t healthy.
For the most part, we can control ourselves and our actions but we can’t (or shouldn’t) control others. People offend us and we will get hurt. There’s no hiding from that. Sometimes, it’s intentional and other times it’s not; sometimes they aren’t aware of how and when they have hurt us. In our polarized ideological climate, especially, people often say things that may be hurtful, if unintentional.
So, What can we do about these conflicts? Jesus lays out a clear strategy for dealing with conflicts among Christians.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Matt. 18:15-17

That strategy doesn’t necessarily work with people who are not part of the body of Christ. Since conflict arises where two people have differing ideas on how something should be, arguing the merits of one’s position is often not a winning strategy. But loving the other party even when you believe him or her to be wrong may break down barriers and at the very least, will help soften your own heart and allow you to extend, compassion, love and forgiveness where appropriate.
Conflict is not always bad. But de-escalating conflict is always wise. Sometimes that may require you to set aside your personal feelings and extend grace to the person with whom you are in conflict.
Remember, that each of us were (and often still are) in conflict with God, but his son, Jesus set aside his privilege and died for all of our sins. God’s grace and mercy extends to all, and should be passed through you to others. He offered forgiveness before before we even asked for it. It is forgiveness we will never deserve. Matthew records these words of Jesus:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.Jesus even told us He would forgive us our sins, as we forgive others.”

Matthew 6:14-15

Forgiving is hard, but necessary. It may not end tension between individuals, but it will give you peace to help you deal with the conflict without turning to bitterness. God’s Holy Spirit inside of believers enables us to forgive. That spirit will also bring you inner peace. Ask God for the power, wisdom and make the choice to forgive today; the feelings will come later.
Would you like to know how to embrace this true faith that brings forgiveness and peace? We encourage you to read our blogpost: How does one become a Christian?

 

 

How can a person be seen as righteous before God?

How can a person be seen as righteous before God?

The dictionary defines righteous as “morally right or justifiable.” The question could be phrased what do I need to do to be seen by God as justified to be in his presence. Since God cannot tolerate sin, the question can further be asked, what can I do so that God sees me as someone who is sin-free? The answer is simple. You can’t–at least not in your own power.

The Bible makes it clear that human beings are not able to obtain through their own efforts the perfection required to stand before God. Paul, an apostle of Christ, in writing to the Church in Rome almost 2000 years ago, quoted from ancient scripture:

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:10-12

 The only way anyone can be righteous or right-standing before God is by trusting in Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us on the cross.  When our sins are covered by this atoning sacrifice, the shed blood of Jesus, we are forgiven and are then accepted as righteous before God. Think of it this way, Jesus’ righteousness–His perfection– is applied to us and God then sees Jesus in us and not our sin. How can this happen? John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples spelled it out in one of his letters.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

 If you would like to learn more about this process of being seen by God as righteous, then we encourage you to read our blogpost: How does one become a Christian?

 

 

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Why is pornography such a bad thing?

Why is pornography such a bad thing?

 The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8 says, “whatever is true, whatever is right whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Certainly, by any reasonable measure, pornography is not any of these things! Looking at pornographic material can lead to sins of the flesh, lust for desires and despicable abhorrent behavior. The Bible repeatedly warns us against such activity. First Corinthians 6:18-19 urges us to flee from sexual immorality and tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies and our minds are to be kept clean for a dwelling place of God’s Spirit.

It is a fact that pornography messes up one’s mind and becomes an addiction so powerful that can impact the lives of everyone around you. It ultimately prevents you from having normal intimate relationships as God designed in a marriage. Pornography is a temptation of Satan whose objective is to destroy you and your Christian faith. The good news is that God always provides a way out to flee from any temptation.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

 So, if you are struggling with pornography, ask God to free you from your addiction to these impure images in the name of Jesus. Christ death on the cross and his resurrection provides forgiveness from sin, freedom from addiction and the promise of eternal life!  Seek Jesus and live!