Knowing Jesus Rose from the Dead

This claim is the center-piece of Christianity. As all four Biblical narratives about Jesus life and death attest, Jesus died from severe torture and crucifixion at the hands of the Romans and the blessings of the leadership in Israel. On a purely human level, Jesus’ teaching was obviously threatening the power and status of those in the theocratic leadership of Israel, and Rome was wary of anyone causing disruptions. It created a perfect storm which resulted in Jesus’ execution. On a spiritual level, Jesus life and death fulfilled over 108 distinct prophesies and became the culmination of the Old Testament religious covenant to the Israelites and the world. The New Testament Scriptures indicate that perfect storm was actually God-orchestrated, for the purpose of providing forgiveness and grace to the human race.

It’s powerful stuff, and the deeper you get into it, the more powerful it becomes. Jesus was the culmination of the Jewish sacrificial system for sins because He was the ultimate sacrifice, taking away sins once for all according to the book of Hebrews. (It’s why John the Baptist once announced Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” -Lambs were often used as sacrifices)

Taking away sins once for all, meant a person no longer had to feel separated from God by sin, and provided a way for anyone to approach God, without a priest to intercede. It’s one reason three of the four Gospel accounts record the curtain of the temple being torn in two by an earthquake at the time of Jesus’ death. The curtain of the temple is what separated “the Most Holy Place” -where the presence of God was- from the outside world. The meaning being that humanity no longer had to be separated from God because of Christ.

And that only begins to scratch the surface how in Jesus, or through Jesus, so much of the Old Testament religious teaching is fulfilled, or reaches the highest order of magnitude. But none of it matters, if Jesus never got out of the grave. Continue reading “Knowing Jesus Rose from the Dead”

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Rob Bell Rhymes With Hell

But he doesn’t believe in it, not in the traditional sense. I am currently reading Rob’s book “Love Wins,” and in it, he argues against the traditional idea of a place of eternal suffering for everyone who does not believe in Jesus. Although I am in danger of misrepresenting his beliefs before I am completely through with his work, my understanding so far is that Rob believes a God of love would not condemn people to a literal hell of His own making. Instead, Rob seems to view the afterlife as a place where people are able to see their own evils in contrast to God’s mercy and the only real hell is when people refuse to let go of the prejudices, hate, and well… evil… in light of God’s truth and love. Rob is a captivating writer, and for any believer in Jesus, there is food for thought in those pages as he discusses and exposes how Christian’s attitudes come across to others, and as he eloquently describes God’s awesome mercy.

There are problems however with Rob’s conclusions which I believe are wrong. Serious ones. And yet, there are thought-provoking questions which I am glad he brought up. First the problems… Continue reading “Rob Bell Rhymes With Hell”

Japan’s Earthquake and The Bible

The 8.9 – 9.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Friday at 2:46 (their time) and the subsequent tsunami, left such wide-spread destruction that it is natural to question whether such an event is a “sign”. We humans often ask ourselves those type of questions after any major disaster. We might wonder if it’s a sign of global warming, a sign of geological upheaval, a sign of God’s displeasure, or a sign of the end of the world.

From Jesus until now, Christianity has talked about earthquakes as a sign of the end. Revelation speaks of a great earthquake and Jesus mentioned that earthquakes, famines and conflict would be like “birth pains” leading to the end.

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
-(Jesus) Matthew 24:7-8 [NASB]
Continue reading “Japan’s Earthquake and The Bible”

Did God Lie To Us?

There are two groups of Christians who believe that the universe was created by God.  The group that believes He did it in 6 actual days just a few thousand years ago, and the group that believes God did it billions of years ago.  Both groups often claim to interpret the Bible straightforwardly because the Bible never specifically says how old the earth is.  Thus it becomes a question over who has the proper interpretation.  An argument usually ensues over the Hebrew word “yom,” possible gaps of time, how long the seventh day actually lasted, and more.

I am currently a believer in a young earth.  Pretty crazy for a pastor I know, but it’s fun being radical and besides that, I just happen to think those models and theories work pretty well.  Yet if I (or you for that matter) want to hold to a young earth position, we’re going to be faced with a few thought-provoking theological questions.  Like this one:  Did God Lie to Us? Continue reading “Did God Lie To Us?”

Timothy Beal and Is There a Bible?

A friend asked me to comment on Timothy Beal’s blog post on CNN entitled “My Take: There’s no such thing as the Bible and Never has been”.

Beal is a good writer, but my first reaction was negative. After all, it’s an article that begins with its conclusion.  I’m sure it will be applauded by those who already agree, and denounced or ignored by those who don’t.  In church we call this “preaching to the choir,” and I’m definitely in a different choir than Timothy Beal.

It’s natural, but I believe these days we are starting to buy our culture’s own propaganda. You know, the one that says southerners are always dumb, Republicans are always rich, sexual promiscuity is always enlightened, and anyone who believes the Bible is true is uneducated at best, and raving mad at worst. Continue reading “Timothy Beal and Is There a Bible?”

The Trinity: It’s the Whole Point

Although the Bible never uses the term, and never sets aside any passage to explain it, the idea of the “Trinity” has been a pretty key doctrine for Christianity for a long time. It can be found in various early creeds and teachings, and basically explains that God is one God, but revealed to mankind as three: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.

Arguments are made by some that Jesus never claimed to be God, but in fact, according to the Bible He did several times and did so in unmistakable ways. He took the name of God for Himself, He claimed the power of God for Himself, He claimed the authority of God for Himself, and flat out said He was equal with God in clear enough terms that many of those present tried to kill Him for blasphemy. So clear is the teaching in the Bible that Jesus is God, the Jehovah Witnesses -who do not believe in the Trinity- went to the trouble to develop their own Bible, which specifically has changed the passages of the New Testament dealing with Jesus as God. It is accurate to say then, that the Bible presents Jesus as God, with the lone exception being the version of the Bible printed by the Jehovah Witnesses in 1961.

Muslims and Jews would simply claim this is a heresy to the truth. Both the Jewish Scriptures (the Old Testament), and the Qur’an teach that God is one God. So does Christianity of course, but Christians believe in the Trinity, which adds that God is also three. On the surface it is contradictory, but in the expression and understanding of God, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t believe in any other way. Continue reading “The Trinity: It’s the Whole Point”

Who Was Cain’s Wife in Genesis?

The Book of Genesis in the Bible, says that Adam and Eve had two sons: Cain and Able. In the story, Cain kills Able and eventually moves away to a land east of Eden. The Bible mentions Cain had a wife, but it doesn’t say where she came from, or when they got married, or where they met. It simply says this:

Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. -Genesis 4:16-17

So where did Cain get that wife? Surprisingly, despite all the attention given this question over the years, when one looks at the circumstances in the story itself, the answer isn’t hard at all.  The problem seems to be more that we don’t like the answer. Continue reading “Who Was Cain’s Wife in Genesis?”