We are perfect in Christ!

I’ve just been researching a sermon and I came across this gem from C.H.Spurgeon:

Perfection in Christ

It’s a sermon he delivered on July 3 1898.

Here’s a brief extract:

When Jesus died, each one of us who believe in Jesus died in Him. And when He suffered, we suffered in Christ. Our sins were laid on Christ’s head and now, Christ’s merits are laid on us… Believers are, in Christ, perfect—every one of them!
I tell you, Christian, you are complete in Him, you are perfect in Christ Jesus! Having been washed in His blood, clothed with His righteousness, united to His  Person, you are, this moment, perfect in Him!
 

As Spurgeon goes on to say – “Does not this startle us?”

It’s worth thinking about.

 

 

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Why are Christians so annoying?

What is the deal with Christians anyway?

They are like uber-persistent, irritating little terriers nipping at your heels- they won’t go away even if you kick them across the room.

Well, from the perspective of a Christian it is simple.

Our whole purpose in life is to be witnesses to what we have seen and heard and experienced in regard to the veracity of the claims of Jesus Christ.

We don’t believe in ideas. If we believed in Jesus Christ as an idea, most of us would stop being Christians within six months.

We believe in the real, often life-changing  experience of of the living Jesus Christ in our lives.

I know that a common response to this is to say that we are brainwashed, gullible fanatics, but honestly, we’re not, (well, maybe some of us are, but then some of you are too).

  • We are just as clever as some of you.
  • We are just as dumb as others of you.
  • We are just as noble and good as many of you.
  • We are just as evil and sinful as others of you.
  • When you ridicule us, we understand – it sounds stupid to us too.
  • When you try to reason with us, we understand, we reason the same way ourselves.

The only difference between us is that we are making the claim that we have actually really met God, not because we are different from you or better than you, but just because we have met him.

We bear witness to the fact that he truly is real, in spite of how silly and unsupportable and illogical it all sounds.

It doesn’t matter what you might say in counter to our claims, our own eyes and our own ears and our own experiences, multiplied by the millions of people who share these experiences, keep reinforcing in us every day what we would all too easily abandon if it were not thrust upon us afresh each time we encountered God.

We bear witness to the fact that God is real and that Jesus Christ is his Son and that he offers all men eternal life if they change their minds about him and accept his offer of eternal life in him.

Essentially, we are witnesses.

  • If you disagree and abuse us, it is no skin off our nose.
    We are simply telling you the truth we have come to know.
  • If you delude yourself into thinking that we are all deluded, it is no skin off our nose.
    We are simply telling you the truth we have come to know.

And we have to keep telling you this because we really, truly have seen and heard and experienced the truth of Jesus Christ, plain and simple.

There doesn’t have to be any religious bells and whistles surrounding it. These facts stand without the need for ceremony or ritual.

If we were not to persist in this ‘delusion’ then we would be lying to you.

We are persistent because God is persistent in interweaving his presence in our lives – he won’t let us forget about him.

Our message is this: Jesus Christ is real. He died in our place to make us right with God, that includes you if you accept his offer. He loves you and wants you to live forever with him. All you have to do is change your mind, believe in him and follow him for the rest of your life.

That’s the point of view from a Christian perspective.

People need to hope in something

If people set no store in God, it seems that they need to turn to something else to give them hope.

A modern alternative is to hope in life on other worlds and a future for mankind on a celestial  scale.

But are science fiction stories affecting the modern performance of scientific observation of our universe?

According to an article over at R & D Magazine,  the expectation of extraterrestrial life is built more on optimism than evidence.

If life on Earth is all the life there is, what hope do we have?

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.”

Jeremiah 23:16

Religion vs Reason?

I recently read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about Sarah Attar, the first female track and field athlete to represent Saudi Arabia at an Olympics.

The article was largely a celebration of this event, which is indeed a wonderful achievement.

My reading was soured, however, when I started to read some of the comments which accompanied the article.

Among the first was this one from someone who calls himself MikeSyd:

While we are on the topic, Lolo Jones could take the time to reflect upon her (religious) life and confirm how absolutely useless her worship of her Imagniary friend in the sky has been in relation to helping her avoid and heal from injury, fulfill her Olympic and relationship ambitions.
Ditto the American long jumper: seen feverishly communicating and appealing to his Cloud Fairy between disappointing jumps that landed him into a very un-supernatural-blessed third.

The theme of religion-bashing was sprinkled throughout the rest of the comments, which set me to considering.

One of the proud claims of religion-bashers and Atheists is that their world-view is arrived at through the careful application of reason and logic.

If you think about it though, this claim is not actually accurate.

I would even suggest that most people who bash religion or adopt an Atheist mindset do not know why they do so. Many are simply unthinkingly ‘running with the crowd’ without actually applying very much brain-power as to why they’ve decided to believe what they do.

Certainly the majority who rail against religion have not applied scientific logic to arrive at their beliefs: Atheist commentary on religious points of view often borders on frenzied fanaticism.

They might have adopted the ‘scientifically supported’ views of peers, mentors or figures of authority, but my belief is that it would be rare for them to actually have explored these views in-depth themselves.

The Scientific Method is “a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses:”

(Oxford English Dictionary)

It might be summarized thus:

  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results
    (From sciencebuddies.org)

Any sincere scientific search for truth in the question of the existence or non-existence of God would look at the billions of people on the planet who do believe in some form of deity and conclude, at the very, very least, that the concept of a real God warrants further investigation. But no, the majority of religion-bashers do not arrive at their view of religion through objective observation and repeated experimentation which has been subjected to peer review.

Their views are not even theoretical constructs, they are opinions, plain and simple. They are not arrived at through reason and logic. They are arrived at through bias, emotional knee-jerk reactions and vivid imaginations.

Many, as evidenced in the comments to the article above, have their basis in a severe hatred of anything religious or superstitious.

Cold, hard evidence is rejected with the naive explanation that ‘I’m right because I can think for myself and the rest of the world must be deluded’, but where a religious person is urged to prove the existence of God, there is also a reluctance to disprove the existence of God on the part of the Atheist.

The problem is that it is very hard to disprove the existence of God. Most attempts are simplistic mind games.

The best approach I’ve seen is the one which takes the claims of Christianity and of God himself and puts them to the test.

And when using this approach it is a mistake to make the proof too complex.

Let’s distil a proof of undeniable simplicity:

  • The Christian Bible claims that God is real
  • God himself claims in the Bible that he will answer you when you pray to him”You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

A proof for the existence of God then?

  • Ask God if he is real

Can it get any simpler?

The English Language is Failing Evolution

I was watching a three part BBC documentary called “How to Grow a Planet” about the role of plants in the evolution of life on Earth, when it struck me, once again, that the English language hasn’t really developed a suitable lexicon to describe the evolutionary process effectively for the scientific layman.

I’d noticed this before with documentaries from David Attenborough and, in fact, nearly every documentary I’ve seen which has anything to do with Evolution.
When trying to describe the development of life on Earth through Evolution, the presenters are almost always forced to use language which sits uncomfortably with the concepts being explained.

Let me give you an example of some of the language used:

Design. There seems to be no alternative to the group of words which imply that the Evolutionary process itself has taken on some anthropomorphic ability and developed sentience, so as to be able to plan, design, attack, counter-attack, adapt and modify. Of course this is an untruth. The Evolutionary process has no consciousness: it has no ability to think, design, create or adapt. The Evolutionary process describes a series of accidental occurrences which by chance mean that  mutations in a life-form end up being beneficial for that life-form. These changes are then passed on to its descendents and become part of the life-form’s hereditary identity. There is no plan in the process. It is a simple accident. In effect, all life on earth is the deformed, mutated  by-product of its more pristine ancestors, the by-product of chance and accidental deformations.

Adaptation. This word is used to describe the outcome of mutations which have lead to an organism having better suitability to survive in a given environment. But the organism did not adapt. It has no ability to adapt. It cannot think, or plan or change. The word is trying to describe the fact that a freak mutation, which arose by pure chance, gave the organism more chances of surviving to the next generation.

Collective words are often used to describe the response of a whole species to a threatening situation, as if the species as a whole had a collective consciousness and a corresponding ability to do something about perceived threats. It doesn’t. Remember, plants, animals and other organisms are all individuals. Even animals which do live and work in collectives, such as ants, bees and termites are ultimately just individuals. No life on earth has a collective brain. No group of living individuals on earth can collectively make decisions to change its physical characteristics or DNA for the benefit of the whole group. Individuals don’t know that their whole species is under threat. Very, very few individual organisms have the  ability to respond to situations by purposely changing their physical form, or by deliberately changing their DNA sequencing, let alone that of their offspring.

From the script of How to Grow a Plant we have phrases like:

“Plants…created an atmosphere.” No they didn’t. Each plant just made oxygen – the overall result is an atmosphere, but plants did not create an atmosphere. It came about as a consequence of their individual respiratory processes. Using the creation verb in the active voice confuses the explanation.

 “Plants took a a barren rock (the Earth) and transformed it into the home we know today.” Again plants did not actively transform anything. They have no ability to think, plan or purposely create. The planet was transformed as a result of the life processes of plants.

“A seemingly arbitrary event…” in relation to bacteria absorbing one color of light rather than another and hence appearing green instead of purple. How seemingly? It is definitely an arbitrary event, at least in terms of Evolutionary Theory.

“How the green bacteria did this is so complex that scientists are still grappling with the details.” Again the green bacteria did not ‘do’ anything. The changes they underwent were a product of chance mutations. No external force caused these mutations, either. They were just chance changes.

Chemical Warfare.” The occurrence of chemical deterrents in plants, which make them unpalatable for insects and herbivores to eat, is described as a form of chemical warfare, but, in fact, plants have not chosen to go to war against the organisms trying to eat them, they just happen to have inherited characteristics from their parents which make them untasty. There was no belligerent intent on the  part of the plant, nor on the part of the whole species of plants. A grass plant can’t decide to grow silica-based spikes to make it less palatable to its predators. Any such change happens purely by chance. The end result seems to be have been planned and coordinated, but no, it wasn’t. It just happened with no over-arching master plan or intention to better survive.
Grass did not decide to become more flammable so as to cause raging fires, which destroy its natural competitors, the trees. Nor did trees decide to create chemicals which suppress grasses from growing under their canopies. It looks like it was planned, but Evolutionary Theory says it was all a series of chance changes which led to the situation.

I’m afraid that presenters who use the English language the way described above are doing Evolutionary Theory a huge disservice. To describe Evolution, they choose words which have a heritage pre-dating modern scientific developments and which are loaded with unscientific connotations. They predominantly use verbs in the active voice, when a more accurate representation of the Evolutionary process can almost always be achieved by using the passive voice. The use of the active voice ascribes human characteristics to a decidedly un-human process. These language choices  make it sound like the Evolutionary process has supplanted God as the creator of the world. They merely replace a ‘mythical’ creator with a more palatable ‘scientific’ one. Yet, when they use words this way, they still do not describe Evolution, they describe Creation.

God is like a youth

Google a picture of God on the web and you’ll see returned mostly pictures of old men with beards.

We have a conception that God looks old and hirsute.

I can’t think of a single verse in the Bible that  says God has a beard, or indeed that says he looks old.

Revelation says the one on the throne (God) looks like Jasper and Carnelian:

And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian Rev 4:3

Jasper comes in many colours.

Red Jasper can look like this:

Green Jasper can look like this:

Carnelian is usually brownish-red, like this:

So if we go by the description in Revelation, God may look less like an old man in a pink nightgown,

and more like a polished version of this

OK don’t get your back up ‘cos I put up a picture of Hellboy, you read it up above, Revelation seems to describe God as being possibly a polished red in colour.

Ezekiel tells us the one on the throne looks like fire and glowing metal:

I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him.Ezekiel 1:27

So far, the way God is described in the Bible is more like what modern westerners think the devil looks like – all fiery and red lookin’

Daniel, though, says he wore all white and had white hair, but he had fire coming from his throne.

As I looked,

“thrones were set in place,
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
    the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
    and its wheels were all ablaze.
 A river of fire was flowing,
    coming out from before him.

And the Israelites thought God looked like fire too:

To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Exodus 24:17

Hebrews also tells us:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire”. Hebrews 12:28-29

These descriptions don’t portray God as old and wrinkly with a full beard.

I guess age portrays wisdom, which is certainly a characteristic of God, but, in my opinion, God is much more like a fiery youth than a wrinkly, decrepit old person.

God has many of the characteristics of a teenager who has not yet become cautious and  jaded with life.  The amazing thing is that he blends these characteristics with the wisdom, patience, forbearance and resilience which only comes with age.

Think about it:

God has never failed.

God has never been afraid.

God has never been wrong about anything.

God has never had to say sorry.

God has never compromised on anything.

God does know everything.

God has never felt ashamed.

God has never sinned.

God is strong.

God is self-confident

God is zealous.

God is pure.

Sounds like the characteristics of a young person to me.

Yet God is not impetuous or rash.

He doesn’t make foolish mistakes and he doesn’t get disillusioned with life.

His hope is eternal and he knows it will all turn out alright for him.

If we stick with him it will turn out alright for us too.