Why do I need redemption?

Why do I need redemption?

Whether you believe it or not, your sin has condemned you to an eternal life separated from God. Whenever men and women turn their backs on God, evil fills the vacuum with hate, misery, pain, suffering, and alienation supplanting love, joy, happiness and belonging. Therefore, a wise person would recognize the importance of redemption.

Redemption is the action of regaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or the clearing of debt. It is also deliverance from sin unto salvation. It means being pardoned from the penalty of sin which is death and eternal separation from God and God’s love forever; that’s the ‘what from’ answer. Redemption, you see, must be a gift of Grace by the Creator, God, because sin is the rejection of God and His Authority and only He can provide the remedy.

Grace is the undeserved gift God has provided to overcome mankind’s sin condition. That gift is Jesus Christ who took upon himself on the cross the penalty of sin, death, and paid the debt each person owes but cannot pay himself.

Romans 6:23 reads, “The wages of sin is death (judgment).” That is why Jesus is referred to as Savior as He alone has offered redemption or salvation to all who put their trust in Him. It is Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven that confirms He is the Redeemer of men’s souls.

Sin seeks to keep mankind in bondage to the slavery of sin. Its goal is to deny him the freedom that God wants for every person which is found in a personal life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Mankind was created to be in relationship with its Creator and to experience a meaningful and purposeful life and enjoy being in God’s presence in the present and in the eternal future. The redeeming work of Jesus Christ brings abundant blessings and spiritual awareness to all who follow Him.

The entire Bible is the story of redemption, of God reaching down to men and women to draw them back to him. The last act is sending His son, Jesus. If you aren’t sure if you are redeemed and want to know more about how to accept God’s free gift of salvation, read our post,  How does one become a Christian? 

 

Should Christians try to convert those of other religions?

Should Christians try to convert those of other religions?

Yes, and No. While Jesus commanded his followers to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), he taught and dmeonstrated that it is God, not Christians, who does the converting.

Christians are to be Jesus’ ambassadors to the world bringing the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus alone saves. God does all the convicting of sin and the need for a Savior and the converting through His Holy Spirit. When speaking to those of another faith walk or religion, a Christian’s conversation and testimony are to be shared in love and compassion. Even when speaking to those who consider themselves agnostics or atheists, the best approach is to meet them where they are and share the Good News found in the Bible. over and over we see Jesus launching conversations that specifically address individual concerns and circumstances. Likewise, his disciples learned to preach and teach in a way that found common ground and then told the story of repentence, forgeiveness and restoration in a way that resonated with them.

Christians do all this because they are instructed to do so in many passages of scripture and because they want to share God’s love and their joy of knowing Jesus as Savior. They want every person to experience that wonderful transformed and meaningful life that God gives now and forever to all who believe. When a person experiences God’s love and forgiveness, he or she is saved from God’s wrath. So, why would he or she not want to tell others about their new life and the source of that new life in Jesus their Savior.

When Christians tell others about Jesus, the Gospel and how He died and rose again for their sins, they are serving as God’s ambassadors. We go and tell just like the Apostle Andrew said to his brother Peter, “Come and see. We have found the Messiah, Jesus.”

There is nothing greater than seeing a lost soul find Jesus as Savior. Now how about you? If you are a Christian do you tell others about Jesus? Perhaps it’s a family member or friend or colleague that needs to know Him. We encourage you to be that Christian friend that shares the ‘Good News” and points them to Jesus just like Andrew did to Peter. Then watch in wonder as God does a marvelous transformation in that person’s life. What happens really does surpass all human understanding but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

If you don’t know Jesus as your savior and lord, please take a look at our post, How does one become a Christian? 

How tolerant should a Christian be of other viewpoints?

How tolerant should a Christian be of other viewpoints?

Understanding what you mean by tolerance is an important first step in answering this question. Tolerance once meant a free and open discussion in search of the truth. Modern science is based on searching for the truth. Tolerance used to be a respectful discourse open to “all points of view”.

Today, however, the word has taken on a new meaning. Many in Western culture today view tolerance as accepting any and all viewpoints as being equally valid so long as those viewpoints comport with their worldviews. They no longer view truth as absolute and reject scientific reality. As a result, they are no longer tolerant of traditional systems that provide guidelines for moral living and governing

For example, many today deny God’s truth, as found in the Bible, a gold standard for morality and reason that has guided mankind for thousands of years. The result is the moral decline of society. That decline includes, but is not limited to, lying, fraud, failure to protect the sanctity of life, immorality, infidelity, disrespect for authority, selfishness, greed, and much more. Secular tolerance has become a new god where people offend no one and stand for nothing. The only thing they don’t tolerate is Christian and biblical truths. This new notion of tolerance is leading to chaos and loss of freedoms.

Interestingly, Jesus, God’s son, entered the world during a time when many of the so-called faith leaders showed no tolerance for those who did not strictly subscribe to their way of doing things. That intolerance was couched in religious terms so as to suggest that one group of people, the elite, had it right and everyone else needed to live by their standards — their version of truth

In his Sermon on the Mount, and throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated by words and deeds, that he would not be tolerant of the beliefs or behavior of others who had a warped view of God’s teaching. He turned the system upside down by restoring a right-reading of scripture and calling people to give up their sinful ways. He went so far as to go to the cross to die in the place of you and me so that our wrongdoings could be paid for and we could become Children of God.

This truth has had a profound impact on the world over the last two thousand years. Yes indeed! If Christianity is not the truth, then the Christian faith does not matter. History suggests strongly that Christian faith and the truth do matter. Western civilization is rooted in the Christian experience and worldview. When Christian truths are replaced by the god of tolerance, America, as we have known it — it’s virtues, values and freedoms — will no longer exist. Jesus said,

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31, 32

Yes, Truth matters! Our democracy and our freedoms depend upon it. Never be afraid to defend the truth that makes you free.

So, does that mean that Christians should not be tolerant of other viewpoints? No. But Christians should not mistake tolerance as acceptance. When other viewpoints go against the expressed teachings of God, Christians should challenge them. For example, God’s clear teaching on marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, divorce, the role of the government, murder, lying, and stealing represent truth on which a Christian should stake out a position when confronted by others who demand acceptance of their positions under the guise of tolerance.

This truth has had a profound impact on the world over the last two thousand years. Yes indeed! If Christianity is not the truth, then the Christian faith does not matter. History suggests strongly that Christian faith and the truth do matter. Western civilization is rooted in the Christian experience and worldview. When Christian truths are replaced by the god of tolerance, America, as we have known it — it’s virtues, values and freedoms — will no longer exist. Jesus said,

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31, 32

Yes, Truth matters! Our democracy and our freedoms depend upon it. Never be afraid to defend the truth that makes you free.

So, does that mean that Christians should not be tolerant of other viewpoints? No. But Christians should not mistake tolerance as acceptance. When other viewpoints go against the expressed teachings of God, Christians should challenge them. For example, God’s clear teaching on marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, divorce, the role of the government, murder, lying, and stealing represent truth on which a Christian should stake out a position when confronted by others who demand acceptance of their positions under the guise of tolerance.

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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?