Why did God create marriage?

Why did God create marriage?

According to the Bible, marriage was given as a gift of God at the time of creation. (Genesis 1-3) The Creator made humans in His own image, both male and female. God’s stated intention still is that the two shall become one in a blessed partnership, to give birth and nurture children.

Marriage is the institution that ensures that future generations have a pattern for living that reflects the design of the creator. That design is for all people to know God’s love for them. It is also the institution through which God wants to create successive generations of people who will form and maintain a just and moral society.

Marriage and family life are central themes of the Bible beginning with the first family, continuing through Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon, and on into the family of Jesus.

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[b] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:21-24

God’s gift of intimate sexual relations symbolizes and sustains this divine union. The sexual act for humans is intended only within the boundaries of marriage. Marriage is intended to be a life-long relationship, “Until death do us part,” based on mutual trust, fidelity, and chastity.

Unfortunately, God’s beautiful dream of what marriage was meant to be has been tainted by sin. Throughout history men and women have rejected God-ordained marriage engaging in divorce, adultery, sexual slavery, spousal abuse, open marriages, same-sex unions and broken homes with single parents.

The gift of marriage as God intends yields a loving, healthy family life in stark contrast to our broken world. It is the fundamental nurturing institution of any nation.

Should Christians judge others?

Should Christians judge others?

Of course Christians should judge others, but there is a big difference in assessing another’s character or behavior and being judgmental about them. The scripture that people often cite is from Matthew chapter 7:

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Matthew 7:1 (KJV)

This verse is used by Christians and non-Christians alike to shut off conversation particulary when one who is sinning is confronted by another who points out their sin. Think about a husband who abuses his wife being “found out” and told he must stop the abuse. His response might be “don’t judge me, you’re not exactly perfect.”

Or think about a woman discussing her abortion with a coworker and being told that what she had done was akin to murder. The response is apt to be. “Don’t judge me. You don’t know what’s going on in my life.”

Everyday we encounter people who we believe are engaging in activities that run counter to what God expects of us. We have friends and family members who not only do bad things, but actively thumb their noses at God. Some go as far as rejecting the way God made them and seek to change their gender or participate in sexual practices that are an abomination to God. Turning a blind eye to deviant behavior is just as wrong as confronting it in a judgmental fashion.

Jesus didn’t stop in verse one, he was very specific in his explanation of his admonition to “judge not.”

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV)

Jesus wanted to be sure that before you voice your criticism of others, you should be very sure that you are not sinning in the same way. He wants to restore relationships with both parties and that begins with your repentance of sin before going to someone else and pointing out their sinful ways.

Jesus even laid out a very specific procedure for judging others within the church.

“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.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:15-20

What to do with those outside the church? The focus should be on helping others find Jesus, not just on trying to change their behavior. The best possible way to get a non-believer to give up lifestyles or activities that God hates is to allow the Holy Spirit to change that individual from within. That will only happen once the non-believer recognizes that he or she is a sinner, repents and accepts what Jesus did on the cross to pay for his or her sins.

When you judge others and see something that is out of step with God’s will, get yourself straight and then let God guide you as you share the Gospel message with others.

Is Jonah and the Whale a true story?

Is Jonah and the Whale a true story?

Jonah’s story has been debated for millennia. Being swallowed by and praying in the belly of a fish sure seems like fiction. However, evidence for the veracity of the story is powerful. Consider the following:

    1. Jonah is described in the Bible as a true historical figure identified as a prophet. (2 Kings 14:25) Yet, The book portrays Jonah in a bad light. Why would an author write a derogatory fictionalized account of a person who otherwise is presented as a real person serving God in a positive manner?
    2. The book of Jonah is included in a collection of writings of God’s prophets who are genuine, historical figures. Why would the compilers of these books include a fictitious account of one of these prophets?
    3. The supernatural occurrences in the book–from the storm being stilled when Jonah was thrown from the boat to the plant that spontaneously arose to provide shade and just as quickly withered–are all within the realm of possibility. Don’t they look like many other miracles we read about in the Bible?
    4. Jesus, the son of God, affirmed the historical accuracy of Jonah and referenced Jonah being in the fish. (Matthew 12:39-41 and Luke 11:29-32). Jesus also noted that the men of Nineveh repented which wouldn’t make sense if Jonah hadn’t preached to them. Are we to assume that Jesus was wrong when he said that Jonah was a real prophet and his story as recorded in the book bearing his name was true?
    5. Scholars point out that Nineveh, the Assyrian city that stood near the modern city of Mosul in Iraq, was not so large that it would take three days to walk across it (Jonah 3:3). They point to this seeming discrepancy to suggest that the Jonah account is fiction. Could Jonah be referring to the entire region around the capital city, including “suburban” towns nearby? Or, might he have been describing the size of the city from the perspective of a person who was stopping on every corner to preach and prophecy about the calamity that was to befall the city?

Getting past the question of whether or not Jonah is a true account of God’s call and Jonah’s response to go to Nineveh, one should look at what the story says about God and his relation to mankind. Here it is most interesting that God is showing a positive attitude to Gentiles, even ones who will eventually conquer Israel.

God’s grace is on display in this story as He is described as being “merciful and compassionate” (Jonah 4:2) towards Nineveh.

Also on display is the sovereignty of God over the natural world. He sends a storm, stops it, allows an individual to be swallowed by a great fish and survive for three days, and he raises a plant overnight to provide shade for His prophet.

Most importantly, Jonah’s story shows the futility of running from God, and the difficulties that befall those who try. If you would like to know the God that Jonah served and learn the proper way to respond to His call on your life, we encourage you to read our post, How does one become a Christian?

Was Jesus a Social Justice Warrior?

Was Jesus a Social Justice Warrior?

No. Jesus was very specific about his mission. Near the end of his life on earth, he explained to the Roman ruler, Pilate, to whom he was brought by the religious leaders,

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

John 18:36,37

Throughout his short ministry on earth, he spoke about true justice as was described in the Old Testament scriptures. True justice is doing what is right before God. Making sure that all are treated equally. That the scales of justice should not be tilted one way or the other. Many proverbs address injustice including:

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—
    the Lord detests them both.

Proverbs 17:15

The Lord detests differing weights,
    and dishonest scales do not please him.

Proverbs 20:23

God clearly laid out a code of justice that recognized that showing favoritism to one group or another was wrong, the very opposite of what drives the social justice movement. We should not show favoritism to a “poor man” simply because he is poor (Exodus 23:2-3), nor should we call evil “good” and good “evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

But, people say, Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, cast out demons, saved an adulteress from being stoned, and talked about the poor inheriting the Kingdom of God. True, but he did those things to point people to the truth of God’s Kingdom, a heart change in this life and a glorious eternity free of the poverty, sickness, pain, suffering, guilt and shame that afflicts people in this life.

Jesus wants men and women to acknowledge their sins, repent (or turn away) and accept the great gift of grace that Jesus imparts to us all. He died on a cross as a substitute for our deserved death. We turned our back on God by not living up to the standard he set when he placed men and women on the earth. To provide a means of restoring a right relationship with God, He sent his son Jesus to die in our place and to be resurrrected to demonstrate that we too can enter eternal life with this just, loving God. That’s what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of the Kingdom of God.

Once an individual accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior he or she will want to serve God and others. That’s why, throughout history, Christians have helped the downtrodden, fed the hungry, visited the prisoners, cared for the sick–not out of a worldly obligation but out of devotion to God. In fact, Jesus, told the listeners to his Sermon on the Mount that they shouldn’t worry about the necessities of life like food and clothing but to focus on what really matters–a right relationship with God.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

Jesus didn’t suggest overturning the oppressive Roman government. He actually told people to pay their taxes and follow the law. He didn’t advocate for the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. In fact a careful reading of the the Gospels suggests that Jesus was anything but a Social Justice Warrior. To begin with he endured an unjust trial when he could have avoided it.

He allowed himself to be annointed with expensive perfume when his disciples pointed out that it might be better to sell the perfume to help the poor. Jesus actually chastised them by saying, “the poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” (Matthew 26:6-13)

Jesus gave money to Peter to pay his Temple tax, (Matthew 17:24-27) but Peter didn’t give money to a lame beggar at the temple gate. (Acts 3:6) Rather, Peter, invoking the name of Jesus, commanded the man to get up and walk. Then, to all the amazed bystanders, he preached the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection and called for repentance. Peter did not criticize the government for failing the lame beggar. He didn’t call for universal healthcare or a poverty eradication program. He pointed people to Jesus and his kingdom.

When Jesus heard that John the Baptist was unjustly imprisoned he didn’t visit him in prison or petition to have his sentence overturned. No, he continued his ministry of preaching about he Kingdom of God and using miracles to validate his claim of being the Messiah.

Christians should be on the frontline of helping neighbors who are in need, physically and spiritually. But their emphasis should always be to do so in support of advancing God’s Kingdom.

If you would like to become a follower of Jesus and better understand his true mission on earth, please read our post, How does one become a Christian? 

Should a Christian celebrate Halloween?

Should a Christian celebrate Halloween?

Think about the question in light of this important teaching of Jesus.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly father.

(Matthew 5:14-16)

If we are to be the light of the world, would it not be helpful to educate our children about the evil behind the Halloween traditions? Would understanding the the roots of Halloween be helpful to counteract that evil? In and of themselves, carved pumpkins, costumes, and trick-or-treating are not evil. But there is a dark side to the celebration as evidenced by the focus on witches, and dark, satanic arts.

But let’s backup and see where Halloween originated. The early Christian Church commemorated the death of martyrs to the Christian faith on All Saints Day which in the western church falls on November 1. The day was also known as All Hallows Day (hallowed or sacred/set aside)and night before the Christian remembrance day became Hallows Eve’n which through time became Halloween. As Christianity overtook the pagan cultures of Europe, missionaries sought to Christianize pagan celebrations, and the harvest festivals, merging the two. The Celts saw the return of darkness after the light of summer as a time when the god of death, scattered evil spirits throughout the world to attack humans by playing nasty tricks on them. Carving up pumpkins and gourds and placing candles in them were thought to ward off evil spirits.

Commercialization of the holiday has become so firmly entrenched in the Western “Christianized” world that few Christians think about how participating in Halloween is, in some ways, a denial of their own faith.

If parents feel they want to engage with the Halloween tradition in a way that helps children use pumpkin carving to draw closer to Jesus, you may want to use this prayer.

Dear Jesus,

Open my mind so I can learn about You. As you cut the top of the pumpkin, talk about ways God helps us to learn about Him and why we need to be open to what God wants to do in our lives. “Know that the Lord, He is God.” (Psalm 100:3)

Take all my sin and forgive the wrong things that I do. Scoop out the inside of the pumpkin to show how God removes our sins (seeds of disobedience, impatience, jealousy, hatred) and forgives us. He cleanses our hearts and makes us a new creation! Show how clean the inside of the pumpkin is now.“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us” (1 John 1:9)

Open my eyes so Your love I will see. As you carve the eyes in the shape of a heart, discuss how God’s laws are to protect us from harm, and that he has given his Word (and all good things) because of his immense love for us. “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things from your law.” (Psalm 119:18)

I’m sorry for times I’ve turned up my nose at what You’ve given me. Carve a cross-shaped nose and ask, “What does it mean to turn our nose up at something? ‘Turning up our nose’ means we don’t like it. Sometimes we don’t like a certain food or toy or shirt. When we are not thankful and grumble about what we have (or don’t have), we are complaining against God. But we have been given so much! When we remember that Jesus died on the cross for us, we know that God has given us all we really need.” “…be thankful unto Him, and bless his name.” (Psalm 100:4)

Open my ears so Your Word I will hear. Carve the ears into a rectangle to represent the Bible and ask, “Do your parents ever have to tell you to do something more than once?” Just like our parents, God wants us to listen to Him. In the Bible God tells us about how much He loves us, how He wants us to live, and how He will help us. “Incline your ear, and come to Me” (Isaiah 55:3)

Open my mouth to tell others You’re near. Carve the mouth into the shape of a fish. Jesus told His disciples that they would no longer catch fish but would instead fish for people by telling them about God’s love for them. We can be “fishers of men” and use our mouths to tell others about Jesus, too. “I shall . . . declare the works of the Lord” (Psalm 118:17)

Let Your light shine in all I say and do! Amen. Light a candle and place it inside the pumpkin. The light stands for the Holy Spirit that lives in us. When we are open to God’s work in our lives, He can shine through us so others will see Jesus in us. Then our friends and family will be drawn to Jesus, too! Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

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?