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.

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 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? 

What is meant by the Rapture of the Church? When might it happen?

What is meant by the Rapture of the Church? When might it happen?

Since Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers–the Church–believed that he would visibly return as both judge and ruler of all creation. The earliest recorded creeds affirmed that Jesus would “come again to judge the living and the dead.” Additional confessions written since the Reformation continue that understanding.

The physical return of Jesus remains a central tenet of the church, but there has been much debate about when that will take place. In last week’s post we wrote about signs of the end times, but Jesus, himself, told his followers that God alone knows when Jesus will return.

What, then, is the rapture? The English noun/verb “rapture” comes from the Latin noun raptura/verb rapio that appears 14 times in the New Testament. It means “to remove suddenly or snatch away.” That’s the expectation–that all believers will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air just prior to the Great Tribulation.

In the book Daniel 9:24-27, we read about the angel Gabriel explaining the prophecy of the seventy weeks to Daniel. He describes a period of 490 years, the final seven of which will be a Great Tribulation for the nation Israel and the world. Christians won’t be subjected to this great tribulation since they will be snatched away.

Paul affirms this in his letter to the church in the Greek city of Thessalonika:

and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thess. 1:10

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thess. 5:9

Jesus says the same thing in Rev. 3:10.

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Rev. 3:10

Jesus promised to return and remove His people from the earth:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3

This promise is reaffirmed by the Apostle Paul:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thess. 4:16, 17

Since Jesus promised he will remove his followers from earth at an unknowable time before the earth plunges into a time of terrible tribulation, it only makes sense that each of us is ready for his return. If you would like to learn more about what it means to become part of the Church that will be raptured, please read our post, How does one become a Christian? 

What is Biblical Law

What is Biblical Law

There are two important factors in understanding law: (1) man’s moral worth; and (2) man’s rebellious nature.

Man has worth. Man was created by God in the image and likeness of God. Thus, there is an inherent value in a person. That worth is not earned but is given in man’s creation. It is often called “moral worth” or “the dignity of man.” Thus, to harm or murder a man is to deny him the value and dignity bestowed upon him by God.

Also, man has a rebellious nature. Man disobeyed God and the result was a change in man’s nature. His nature became self-centered. As such, man will devise ways to achieve his own self-interests, often harming others. Law attempts to control this rebellion in man.

Because of these two factors, moral worth and rebelliousness, God has given two types of law: (1) natural law (which we addressed in last week’s post) and (2) Biblical law (which we address in this post).

Through his word, the Bible, God has provided a framework for living in relationship with Him, with our families and with all other humans. That law is first laid down in the first five books of the Bible know as the Mosaic Law or the Torah. That law is detailed across many pages, but the essence is contained in what has become known as the Ten Commandments.

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

 

Exodus 20:1-17

The intent of Biblical Law is not only to protect man, but keep him on a right path that provides a healthy, blessed and happy life. 

. . . happy is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Biblical Law and Natural Law are beautifully summed up by Jesus when he was asked by one of the great Bible scholars of his day, “What is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

In addition to God’s law that is burned onto the hearts and minds of men (Natural Law) and made evident through

God’s word (Biblical Law), man creates civil law. Man realizes that laws are required to temper the natural instincts of men and women. These laws are usually designed to protect individuals from harmful actions of others and to make individuals accountable for their actions. However, civil laws may not conform to God’s Biblical Law, and in fact, may contradict both Natural and Biblical Law. Such contradictory laws are often established based on the selfish desires of man.

Law that follows Biblical principles protects each of us and the ones we love. God’s law is true. It is designed to increase the happiness of everyone, ensuring a fair and just society when it is obeyed.

Since all men and women are incapable of keeping the law–natural or Biblical–they are forever separated from their creator God. That’s why God, sent his son, Jesus, to provide a way to restore the relationship between God and man. If you’d like to learn more, check out our post, How does one become a Christian?

 

 

 

What is Christian Apologetics?

What is Christian Apologetics?

The dictionary defines apologetics as “reasoned arguments in justification of something, someone or a cause. Persuading with reason and evidence and truth.”

 

Therefore, Christian apologetics are the reasoned arguments that justify what Christians believe about God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, Creation, Sin, Salvation, Nature, the Origins of Man, Heaven, Hell, End Times, Judgement and Eternity. These apologetics undergird Christianity, allowing Christians to understand the solid foundation on which their belief rests.

Through apologetics, Christians are able to coherently explain God’s existence, the truth of the Bible, and the reliability of the Biblical and Secular evidence for the life, teachings, miracles, death on a cross, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. What Christians believe and why they believe it matters because those who have placed their faith and trust in God and Jesus find real meaning and purpose in life. They overcome the fear of death and find peace with God, joy for living and the assurance of eternal life in Heaven.

Christian Apologetics demonstrates that the truth of God’s Word best matches the reality of the human condition and life itself. That’s why hundreds of millions of people have become followers of Jesus. They recognize that He is who He said He is: The Son of God, The Prophesied Messiah, The Anointed One… the only way to peace with God and eternal life. Jesus is the only one who can forgive sin. He is the only real hope for world peace. He is the only intercessor between man and God. He has promised that he will return to earth to Judge all who have or will have lived in this world, making all things new including Earth and Heaven.

That judgment will be final. Those who have not placed their trust and faith in Jesus as their Savior will be eternally separated from God and his perfect love. If you would like to know how you can become one of God’s children and begin to walk into the best possible future, check out our post, How does one become a Christian?  How you respond will be the most important decision of your life.

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