Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Marriage = Losing Your Life

Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Colossians 3:4 “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Phil. 1:21 “ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

It’s been a week since my sister and Brandon Cook were wed. There is a thought that has been on my mind throughout the week that I have been itching to share. It’s not just illustrated in their wedding, but in the wedding of any man and woman who are lovers of each other and lovers of God. When my brother-in-law, Brandon, said “I do” to my sister he forsook all others and committed himself to her alone. We joke about it being “game over” or him being locked up to a ball-and-chain, but he seriously did lose his freedom. He no longer may come and go as he pleases, but must give his concerns and thoughts to my sister (as well as his paycheck! LOL!). Her well being precedes his own. There will be items that he will have to fore go obtain so that my sister may have something she needs or maybe just desires to have. In short, Brandon has lost his life for my sister. This, although not perfect, is an illustrative reminder (or a pointer) to the infinitely greater reality of what Jesus Christ has done for His bride – His Church. He considered His being God not a thing to be exploited and took upon Himself the form of a servant, a human, and was obedient unto the death of the cross. He gave His life so as to obtain His chosen people – His Bride! A definite price paid for a definite object, the object of His affection.

But there is another part to the “I do”’s, and that’s my sister, the bride. When she said “I do!” she lost her life as well; although not the same way as her new husband. Brandon lost his life for her, but Kristan lost her life IN him. You see he becomes her life, she forsakes her previous last name and adopts his. She is no longer a Pulliam, but a Cook. He is now her head as opposed to our Dad. She is concerned with pleasing him, adoring him as a wife should adore her husband. She looks to him for protection and guidance. Colossians 3:4 and Philippians 1:21 are two verses of God’s Word that their marriage reminded me of.

A marriage is to illustrate gospel truths to other. One of the ways we image our maker is through marriage. One of the ways we communicate the gospel is through marriage. I do pray The LORD to work mightily in the lives of my sister and her husband. I thank Him for His grace, and that He has given us reminders and illustrations of the gospel in various areas of life.

Are you His Bride? “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:23-26


Determining Truth with Dead Fish and Downstream Directions:

I was brought up being told the quaint saying “Any dead fish can float downstream!” But I think this little fish story is misapplied all too often, for the current is not always bad, and it’s possible to “fight” against a current simply because we’re dead fish floating in a counter-current.

The problem is that either side can quote this to their prospective proselyte in opposition of the opposing side that currently has the loyalties of the desired recruit. For example: An atheist could tell an individual who was raised in a Christian home that the only reason they are Christians is because they were raised to be such. This may, or may not be true in reality; but the only one who really knows that is the one who professes Christianity. Yet the same could be said by the Christian to the atheist who was raised in a non-Christian home. Or, the one raised in a Christian home could determine to not be a dead fish, so he swims against his upbringing and becomes an atheist, or agnostic, or just plain apathetic toward God (practical atheism) just for the sake of it. The one raise atheist could do the same, and profess Christianity simply because he was raised without religion. So just because we’re going against the current doesn’t mean we’re right; and just because we may be floating in the right current doesn’t mean we’re right.

So how do you know? That’s the question I asked myself.
To float is wrong regardless of the stream! Just because you may be running with the right crowd doesn’t mean YOU are in the right. If you’re floating down stream you’re still in the dead fish category regardless of the direction of the stream; and if an opposing current that is strong enough comes by then you’ll float along with that one. This is the fault of parents depending on “positive peer pressure” in raising their children. All they’ve done is taken dead fish out of a stream flowing south and tossed them in a north bound stream – ‘problem is, is that the fish are still dead! Sure, it may keep them out of certain areas of immorality for a while, but they couldn’t swim upstream if their life depended on it. They don’t need a new stream to float in, they need life.

To go against the current, is not noble (or right) by default. Some people think that questioning the norm places them in a category above all the other “simpletons”. They refuse to be a dead fish and just float down stream. The problem with these fish is that they’re not fighting the current for the sake of truth, but for the sake of rebellion. In reality, they’re just as dead as the “floaters” because they’re simply floating in a stream that runs opposite to the one they’re “fighting”. One could liken it to being caught in an undercurrent. These fish can’t evaluate things on the basis of truth – they’re lifeless, and if the undercurrent gets weak enough, they’ll float the other direction just the same.

In both of the previous instances, each fish were dead because both were controlled by the stream it was in. A fish that is alive may swim upstream, or down stream depending on the alignment of the current with the direction he knows he needs to be traveling. The one thing he NEVER does is permit the stream to dictate his direction of travel. The stream doesn’t represent truth or falsehood; it is simply the direction of the majority in which he is living. This majority may be right or wrong, but never either by default. If he assumes the majority is always right then the majority will determine his direction. If he assumes the majority is always wrong then the majority still determines his direction. Truth, then, becomes relative to the current.

By now you’re probably wondering why I am messing around with these stupid fish/current analogies anyway. What’s all this about? Well, so often we let those around us determine what we believe about an issue. We do not examine things in light of God’s truth; rather we accept it as true if the “right people” commend it to us as such. Whether we are in the right stream or not is irrelevant since we don’t accept the issue based on God’s Word, but based on those who are in the current with us. I know one individual, whom I love dearly, that will not examine a theological position because it seems to be on the rise among young believers – it’s popular. Yet the current position they hold was popular not too many years ago (and is still popular in the denominational circles they lives in). Right or wrong, they are simply floating down stream. Yet, I have another good friend who is open to evaluating everything they have ever been taught, but it seems their rationale isn’t because they are seeking truth, but because they assume that EVERYTHING in the “stream” they were previously in is false. The past things are guilty by association. I would argue that this, too, is a dead fish. Both are floating in their respective streams, but looking at the other stream and foolishly thinking they are swimming against it. The only way to not be controlled by the current is to be controlled by something, or Someone rather, outside the current – JESUS.

Get your eyes off the current.

Wood Chippers and Heartfelt Desire:

Instead of my writing a post,I want to share a chapter of a book that I have been afraid to read lately. Since beginning to read this chapter today, I have ordered the book. I feel as if my heart is being pushed through a wood chipper, yet simultaneously I am craving to be what this book challenges me to be – a true disciple of Jesus!

Please, at least read this chapter!

Kyrie Anastasi!

I’ve been thinking on the resurrection (I think many people have seeing as the emphasis that is being placed upon remembering/celebrating this event on Sunday). I know I normally give some verbose post so that all who are use to reading my blog don’t even check it unless they have a good 30 min set aside to skim over what was said; but I intend to keep this one short, as I just want you to spend time thinking something over. I want you to take a thought with you.

Paul said in I Corinthians 15 that if Christ be not raised from the dead then our hope is in vain. He posits that we are, among all people, most miserable. It is through our belief upon the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection that we deny ourselves the things we do, that we hope for eternity, etc.

The resurrection is central to Christianity. It is upon the risen Christ that we hang all our hopes!

For example:
– I believe Jesus’ claims to Deity to be true because of His resurrection.
– I believe there is life after death because of Jesus’ resurrection.
– I believe there is a new creation that I am a part of by faith in Jesus because of His resurrection.
– I believe all men are sinners and must have atonement for their sin made because of His resurrection (which necessitates His death, as Jesus stated He was dying for just that – to make atonement).
– I believe Jesus accomplished my redemption in full because of His resurrection.
– I believe God will give me all things pertaining to life and Godliness because of Jesus’ resurrection.
– I believe Jesus has complete power of all of creation, death, hell, and the grave because of His resurrection.
– Jesus resurrection promises us that our gospel preaching and effort are not in vain.

And there are more things we could add to the list, but I think you see where I’m going with this. (I would encourage you to make your own this weekend.)

But let me show you how other things that we often put ahead of the resurrection in our thinking and emphasis compare.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is still true, even if it were possible for:
– The Bible to have an error in it
– Us to be missing a book from the Bible.
– People in the Bible really did baptize babies (for all the hard core credo- Baptists out there)
– No one to be right about pre-mill, a-mill, post-mill.
– The church to be plagued with semi-heretical doctrine until Jesus comes
– If CCM music really isn’t wrong (for my fundy friends) =)

Now some of the issues I mentioned above, we could add more, are more important than others (some very important), but my point is that none of them change the truth is that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! Nothing can negate this fact.
In other words – Christianity is true because Jesus Christ rose from the grave!

Alethe, Kyrie Anastasi!

The Twin:

Easter time is approaching, and every year discovery channel begins to run specials on possibilities of the unreliability of the resurrection, a movie comes out attempting to write it off as bunk, and all sorts of attacks arise against this doctrine.
I have recently come across one that Bart Ehrman suggested in a debate on the resurrection – the theory that Jesus had a twin brother that no one knew about. Ehrman postulates that Jesus really died, and his twin came waltzing into the picture (after somehow disposing of Jesus’ body).

I want to engage the skeptics a bit on this theory.
For this theory to hold true, obviously, Mary would have had to have given birth to two sons in that stable, and ditched one of them before taking Jesus to the temple per Jewish custom.
Then there’s the bribing of Simeon while there to say that God has told him that he wouldn’t die until he saw the redeemer of Israel. (Not to mention the part of getting him to commit suicide, or put a hit out on him so that he actually does die sometime after seeing baby Jesus.)
In the meantime, there is the prepping of Jesus, as well as his hidden brother, that they are going to act like they are the promised Messiah and attempt to convince people that they are God incarnate (talk about being a bad Jew). Then Jesus was going to die a brutal death, and his twin brother was going to come out of hiding. The twin Jesus would have to drive spikes in his hands and feet, as well as let someone jab a lance up through his side so as to make the act look real. Then go back into obscurity after making a few appearances to those who followed his brother around in attempts to convince them that he was his brother. When asked why all the trouble, Mary would just assure them that they would be remembered for ever… well one of them would. The other twin would never really be recognized, unless someone figured out their plot to fool the world for no reason other than to just see if it can be pulled off. (If you’re wondering how much of a cold-hearted, inhumane, non-mother Mary sounds about now then I think you’re catching on.)
But we’re not even half way there. Not only would Mary have had to concoct this part of the scheme within her 9 months of pregnancy but she would also need to get the wise men to come pay her a visit (not sure if she sent telegram or text message), as well as convince the king that he needs to kill every male child 2 yrs old and under a few years from then in order to fulfill prophecy that was written and also giving them a reason to run to Egypt. (Not to mention keeping communications this whole time with whoever is keeping the other twin to let them know to run too so he didn’t die prematurely). There’s also the dreams that she has to somehow put in Joseph, her fiancé’s head, to convince him that she’s still a virgin although expecting (how she pulled that one off I can’t even speculate).
Let’s fast forward a bit, to 12 years. Now they lose Jesus, but not really, Mary just acts like it as it’s just another ploy to make people think there’s something tremendously odd about her son. His wisdom is amazing. Oh! And the kids Mary and Joseph have together don’t have a clue about the other twin – and somehow Joseph has forgotten about the 2nd little boy that was born in that stable – unless he’s in on it as well – but I doubt it as letting too many people in on it would jeopardize the situation. Although she might have let Elizabeth in on it as she needed her boy, John, to go be the spokesman for Jesus before her son came on the scene.

Then there’s the miracles – the star guiding the people, a group of shepherds having a hallucination of angels singing to them that Jesus was born and they needed to leave their sheep and go check it out, turning water into wine, raising the dead on multiple occasions, healing lepers, giving sight to blind men, the ability to walk to lame men (some of whom were in that condition since birth and everyone knew it). He had to be quite a weather man in order to stop a storm dead in its tracks. He had to master the art of walking on water and keeping Peter above the waves also. He also had to be able to read men’s minds and tell them what they were thinking in their hearts without them ever voicing it – and much, much more! (I don’t have time to address how absolutely impossible it would be for every prophecy Jesus fulfilled to have been able to be accomplished by a man with just a mean tricky streak.)
But don’t forget about Ehrman’s supposed twin Jesus – that guy too had to be pretty awesome. He could enter a room without going through a door or window, and disappear just as fast. He also ascended upwards out of the site of over 500 people – before they had elevators!
Then somehow, after convincing all the doubting Jesus followers that he was Jesus, he makes his disciples think they can speak other languages, and a whole boatload of people think they hear the gospel in their own language from these ignorant fishermen. Somehow the disciples heal people, even bring people back to life (Paul did). The disciples do so much, that some people think they are gods themselves. Oh, and Paul saw Jesus again also, not sure how the twin pulled that one off either. Or how he spoke to Ananias in a dream and told him exactly where Paul was and what Paul was expecting and how to give Paul his sight back.

There’s much more, but I’m getting tired of beating a dead horse….

All this elaborate theory just so someone can avoid saying “Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead” which is what the OT promised and the NT emphatically declares as a proven fact. Of course, if He did then He is exactly who He said He is – and Bart is in a whole heap of trouble.

Opposing Reality with a Make-believe Arsenal:

I was sitting at work and pondering what to post about today. Interestingly enough, as a co-worker was leaving he handed me a book to assist me in passing the time as the phone continued to ring awaiting the individual on the other side to pick up and discuss their current mortgage situation with me. The volume he handed me, which the Chicago Tribune calls “Tantalizing!”, was titled “What if? – Vol. 2” edited by Robert Cowley. A small discussion ensued as he expressed his interest with counter-factual history.  As he spoke, there was a voice in my head yelling so loudly I don’t know why on earth he couldn’t hear it. (Don’t look at me that way, we both know you have them to, just like 16 year old Doogie as he would make his journal entry after a grueling day as a brain surgeon – talk about a plot for a TV series… only in the 90’s right?! )

Anyway, the example he gave in attempts to peak my interest in this theory of “hypothetical history” was that of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (the event that sparked WWI).He spoke of events that surrounded the assasination and how it’s occurence was a vital part in the spawning of WWI. So what was bouncing around in my head while he was talking? God is sovereign! In Isaiah 45:7, The LORD states “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.”

But there’s something else that caught my attention – chapter 3 of the book – “Pontius Pilate Spares Jesus – Christianity without a crucifixion”. The chapter, written by Carlos M.N. Eire, hypothesizes how history would have been different had Jesus not been crucified. I wish to use this man’s hypothesizing to address the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection to Christianity.

Mr. Eire makes two wrong assumption in thinking that Christianity still would have propagated (although in a slightly different form) had Pilate made a different decision. 1. Is that he fundamentally misunderstands the foundations of Christianity as evidenced by his thinking it would still spread had Jesus not been crucified, and 2. His view of the importance of events leading up to the crucifixion is too narrow; as if it all hinged upon Pilate. Judas did betrayed Jesus, the Pharisees demanded his death as opposed to stoning Him themselves, the 12 disciples didn’t revolt and come to Jesus’ rescue, nor did God The Father send angels to consume Jesus’ accusers with fire. Or what if the man who invented the method of crucifixion to begin with had died in infancy? There’s also Jesus’ claim to be The God of all creation, which is what infuriated the Jews to no end. So there’s more than just Pilate’s decision that affected the cross. There are a multiplicity of factors that played into the act of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Even if Pilate was, in reality, the sole determining factor, there is another wrong assumption made by Mr. Eire. On page 55, he writes “Pontius Pilate did not have to condemn Jesus to death by crucifixion. This is what all the gospel accounts tell us.” The gospels actually paint a drastically different picture as there are multiple instances where Jesus foretold of His own death and resurrection. If we look outside the gospels, back to the Old Testament, we are given a bloody picture of atonement for sin as a pointer to Jesus and His violent death. Lamb after lamb was slaughtered, the blood was spilled out, gathered, sprinkled on the mercy seat, etc. Yet Mr. Eire even hypothesizes of Jesus possibly dying of a brain aneurism (so He still ends up dying in the long run)– which goes against a fundamental belief of Christianity “without the shedding of blood is no forgiveness of sins.” (cf. Hebrews 9:22 as the writer references the Jewish Old Testament law) as well as overlooking the fact that his death was a public display of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:25), not a passing in solitude to be discovered later. If we search beyond the 4 gospel accounts to the epistles, we are also told by Peter, a disciple of Jesus, in Acts 4:27-28 that the events happening to Jesus were predestined by God the Father to occur. This is another fundamental of Christianity – that the crucifixion of Jesus happened precisely as it was foretold in the Old Testament as well as by the very mouth of Jesus. Even the apostle John records in Revelation 13:8 that Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world.

My point, as I hope is evident,is not to argue with Mr. Eire, but rather state that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not an afterthought, or happenstance. It was planned by God before creation. Per all that had occurred up to that point, and everything recorded in the Jewish Old Testament, if Jesus had not died precisely as He did {as well as resurrected from the dead on the 3rd day as promised – both must be true}, then Christianity would have never spread. You cannot separate Christianity from Jesus Christ and you cannot separate Jesus Christ from His life, death, and resurrection. The very name “Christianity” states this as it was given by those who were not believers to believers who were like Jesus Christ in their way of life. We get our word “Christ” from the Greek “Christos” which is the equivalent to the Hebrew “Messiah” meaning promised One [see Genesis 3 for the first mention of that promise]. Jesus is the promised One. The entire Old Testament is about Him and what He would do, and the New Testament is about Him and what He has done (and the future ramifications of His work). It’s all about Him – the Judge of all the earth, and the only Savior.

“Christianity differs from all other major world religions and philosophies in that the salvation it proclaims is a salvation grounded in history. God does not propose an ahistorical process of redemption whereby all we need to do is grasp some truth that is not really dependent on the persons who taught it or the events that produced it. Instead, the LORD enters into history itself, working through real people, institutions, and events to save His people. The biblical message is indeed timeless, but it is inseparable from the persons, institutions, and events through which God has revealed it.” (TableTalk – March 2010 pg. 29 from Ligonier Ministries)

This post was spurred from a book concerning counter-factual history, which proves the point well. In a book devoted to hypothesizing on the “what if’s”, one that speculates on the outcome if the facts were not the facts, there is a chapter devoted to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – which is a positive proclamation that His crucifixion is, in fact, fact.

May God be pleased to use this feeble attempt at reasoning with men to further His kingdom.

Lair of Liars:

Infuriated at what he was seeing, a man begins to flip tables over, flinging their contents across the room, grabbing chairs and throwing them with all his strength. Seeing him go after others, people fervently flee for the safety of the outdoors before they happened to catch his eye. One man was interviewed later and asked about what he thought set the man off on his rampage. The escapee said, “A chair flew by my head right as I was rolling out the door and down the steps. I heard him yell something about it being turned into a house for thieves. Funny thing is there was more money on the ground, and probably embedded in the walls, during this man’s rampage than I could imagine; yet no one was trying to steal it! I’m not sure what he was talking about. All I saw was a house of people fleeing for their lives, and a man standing in the middle with fire in his eyes.”

Most of you may recognize the source of this account – Matthew 21:12-13. Those in the temple had taken the house of Jehovah and turned it into a den of thievery. Not a good thing to do, especially when Jehovah comes to dwell with you and sees what you’ve done. The result is what we have recorded for us in the passage referenced in the gospel of Matthew.

There are congregations of people, who will be meeting tomorrow, and they will be talking about how they hope “God shows up” or “The Spirit falls on them”, and I would like to remind them of what happened in Matthew 21:12-13. I do this because, I have experienced congregations who, although they don’t set up tables to rip people off, or to turn God’s house into a “profitable business” (although some do this very thing still); they are committing another abomination every Sunday the meet – lying.

They say they’re meeting together to worship God, yet most spend the beginning moments of the “service” doing everything from marketing Avon, to talking about last night’s game and how it went into triple overtime causing them to stay up late and hoping the preacher is good enough to keep their eyes open. There are even self appointed dress code police to ensure that all are dressed in the “Sunday best”. The service is for them from the outset. They say they’re there to worship God, but they’re really there to get something to help them hang on to what little bit of Christianity the have so they don’t burn in hell. They’re lying. And sadly, most of them don’t even realize it. To them, the money changers, and merchants are suppose to be in the temple.

They stand up and sing songs like, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” With the same intensity as that of an old basset hound lying on the front porch just moving his eyes as he watches the people pass by him, wishing he didn’t have to do that much. The words they are speaking don’t even register in their brains. It’s just “all part of the service”.

After they’re done singing the 1st 2nd and last verses of how Jesus paid it all, they sit down and hear the preacher tell them in a pithy three point alliterated outline, what they need to do be real Christians. They’re practically handed a checklist to live by and promised that if they keep these rules then God will be happy with them and bless them and their children. More lies.

After the “preaching service” an invitation is given where the congregation repeats the lyrics to “Just as I am” as some sort of subliminal hypnotic mantra while the preacher tries to coax people down the isle. Assuring them that their all powerful god desperately wants to save them, so much so that he gave his only son to die and pay for their sins; yet for their sins to be paid for there’s a prayer they must pray (they have to mean it of course). They’re told, once they pray the prayer with the preacher, they’re forever saved because they have uttered the words “Jesus, I’m a sinner, save me” and if the devil ever tries to make them doubt that they’re saved, then they just take him back to the day they prayed that prayer with the preacher. More lies.

There’s more to detail, but I think we get the picture. I’m not saying this is indicative of all churches. I’m saying examine yourselves, ask God to expose anything and to bring you and the congregation you meet with into a true heart of worship and service to HIM.

I fear that if God were visit those churches described above the congregants, while fleeing for the double doors to escape the flying offering plates, would hear Him yell with fire in His eyes, something about them making His house a lair of liars. And sadly many of them would be seen on the nightly news the following evening saying “I’m not sure what He was talking about!”

To err is…:

“To err is human.” I’m sure you’ve heard this little quote before – maybe even employed it yourself. I submit to you that the quote is fallacious.

Let me substantiate my claims. =)

Genesis 1:27, 31 “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them….And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good.” God made humanity without sin, without error. Thus to err is not human, as that would imply that Adam and Eve were not human until they sinned. Also, we are told that humanity was made in God’s image. There is no error in God. Adam was created in God’s image, yet we were born with Adam’s image – a twisted image of the original. Furthermore, we are told that humanity, as part of God’s creation, was declared to be good. Thus, to err is not human.

John 1:14 “And The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

1 Tim. 2:5 “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,”

Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Although these verse are by no means exhaustive, the express the biblical doctrine of the incarnation of The Son of God. Christ is fully God, and became fully human without ceasing to be God in any respect. The emphasis I would like to make in these verses though is that of His actually being human. Christ was fully human, yet without sin. Sin is not part of true humanity, it’s rather a negation of how God originally made humanity. If to err is human, and Christ did not err, then that would mean that Christ was not fully human.  Christ is the perfect example of humanity. Thus to err is not human.

I Corinthians 15:53 “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” Paul goes to great lengths to prove that Christ physically rose from the dead and physically ascended into heaven. He contrasts physical body with spiritual in that the one we have now is sinful, and the body we will have then is not. Christ is literally flesh (bodily speaking) in heaven, but it’s a glorified flesh. Our skin and bones are not evil. And when Christ returns, they will be made new. We will not be any less human in heaven. Our bodies may have more capabilities, but our humanity will remain. There will be angels, but we will not be the angels. We will have bodies, but sin, and all it’s effects on our flesh, will be gone. We will not cease to be human, rather all creation will be made right once again. God created humanity, humanity fell, God is restoring humanity through the finished work of The God-Man Jesus Christ. It is redeemed humanity that will be praising The LAMB (Revelation 5:9). We will never cease to be human. Thus to err is not human.

In conclusion:

Sin is not naturally part of humanity. It came in later, as a result of Adam’s disobedience. (Romans 5) But Adam was human before he sinned, and Christ is human without sin, and we are human with sin, and we will be human without sin. Therefore. to Err is NOT human. To err is sinful.

May God turn our hearts to anticipate to time when this flesh, made corruptible by sin, will put on the incorruptible!

Thomas: “I will never believe”

(this is copied from desiringgod.org. It was their newsletter for April 2009.) My heart lept for joy as I opened my mail and saw this article. I have been dealing with skeptics at work, and oh! how sweet it was to be reminded of the biblical account of how Christ makes believers out of skeptics!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thomas: “I Will Never Believe”

April 2009

Believing what we cannot see is hard. All of us are skeptics to some degree, and some more than others. But there is often more going on inside a skeptic than meets the eye. And Jesus knows how to reach them. That’s one reason I love Thomas’ story.1

Jesus’ death had been difficult and confusing for everyone. Having been welcomed into Jerusalem like a king, he was dead before the week was over. And when the shepherd was struck, the sheep scattered. But they regathered in a secret hideout in Jerusalem.

On Sunday things took a weird twist. It began with Mary Magdalene insisting that she had seen Jesus alive in the morning. True, Jesus’ body disappearing was admittedly strange. But still, everyone knew Jesus had really died. No one could believe Mary’s claim, except maybe John.

Then later in the day Peter announced that he also had seen Jesus alive. This troubled Thomas. But he figured he could cut Peter some slack. After denying Jesus publicly, no one could blame Peter for wishing everything was okay. He just needed time.

But then Cleopas burst into the house Sunday night claiming that he had walked—walked!—with Jesus to Emmaus that afternoon. What Thomas found particularly hard to believe was that Cleopas and his friend hadn’t recognized Jesus the entire time until dinner when poof! he just disappeared.

Well, this excited everyone else, but Thomas only felt agitated. He desperately missed Jesus too, but he wasn’t going to let grief make him believe bizarre things. Jesus was dead.

Yet he didn’t feel like dousing everyone’s unreal hope with a wet blanket of reality. They weren’t ready to hear it anyway. Thomas decided he needed to clear his head with a walk. By himself.

So after whispering a discreet excuse to Nathaniel, he managed to slip outside without much notice. After being very careful not to betray the hideout, he started down an empty street.

The quiet was refreshing. But the walk wasn’t as helpful as he had hoped. The Jesus sightings were disturbing, especially because the witnesses were credible.

Then a rush of memories from the past three years flowed through Thomas’ mind. So many things he had seen would have been unbelievable if he hadn’t seen them. Most haunting now was Lazarus. And Jesus had seemed to know that he was going to die in Jerusalem.

Suddenly Thomas realized he was arguing with himself. His agitation really wasn’t over his friends’ failure to face the facts. The facts, in fact, were now ambiguous. He was agitated because part of him actually believed Jesus was alive. And this frustrated the skeptic in him who took pride in being a man of common sense. A resurrection just seemed too incredible to be true.

The more he thought, the less sure he became. No one knew where Jesus’ body was. Those who claimed to have seen him were people he trusted. It would make sense of certain prophesies. Could it be?

Show me the body! his skeptic side shouted. At least Lazarus could be seen and touched in Bethany by any doubter. So if Jesus really was alive, why this “hide and seek” game? Wouldn’t he just show himself to them all?

He’d believe Jesus was alive when he saw him alive.

When Thomas returned to the house, four of his friends pounced on him, “We have seen the Lord, Thomas! It’s all true! He was just with us! Where were you?”

Thomas instantly felt a surge of shock, unbelief, isolation, regret for having left, and self-pity over feeling left out.

Feeling angry he blurted out with more conviction than he felt, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Most of his friends were dismayed. But Peter just watched him, smiling slightly.

The following eight days were long and lonely for Thomas. His friends were gracious. No one debated him. It was, in fact, their calm confidence in Jesus’ resurrection that aggravated Thomas’ growing conviction that he was wrong. Outside he tried to maintain a façade of resolute intellectual skepticism, but inside he was wrestling and melting and wanting more than anything to see Jesus too.

And then it happened. Thomas was staring at the floor, pondering again the possibility that his unbelief had disqualified him. Had Jesus rejected him? If so, he knew he deserved it. Then someone gasped. He looked up and his heart leaped into his throat! Jesus was standing across the room looking back at him. “Peace be with you.”

Thomas could hardly breathe. Jesus spoke to him, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

All objections and resistance in Thomas evaporated. And in tears of repentance, relief, and worship Thomas dropped on his knees before Jesus and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”

Be patient and gracious with the skeptics in your life. We shouldn’t assume their outward confidence accurately reflects their inward condition. Keep praying for them and share what seems helpful. Keep confidently and humbly following Jesus. And trust his timing. He knows best how and when to reveal himself to them.

Trusting the God of Thomas with you,

Jon Bloom
Executive Director

P.S. A message you might consider forwarding to a skeptic isChrist and Those in Him Will Never Die Again. In it John Piper offers some sound reasons why skeptics should consider the claims of the resurrection. As always, it’s free online. Our free online outreach is supported by folks like you who contribute to our work. More information can be found on our Support DGpage.

1 Thomas’ skepticism over Jesus’ resurrection is recorded in John 20:24-29, but the chronology of events are drawn from a combination of all the gospels’ accounts of the days following the crucifixion.

Servants of Christ Jesus – Philippians 1:1 (Holy Ground)

“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:” Philippians 1:1

The Holy Ground of Service:
Not only does the place of servitude place all believers on equal ground,having been taken from being a God-hating slave of sin to a God-loving slave of Christ freed from sin, it puts us on holy ground. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Christ came to serve!wash-feet Philippians 2:5-7 tells us that we are to have the mind of Christ, which is the mind of a servant. I know it may seem strange to some to think like this. We are use to offering God giifts of service and grattitude, but Scripture is clear that there is a way in which we don’t serve Christ, but He serves us! Lest we go too far in balking at the idea remember what Christ said to Peter when he refused to let Christ wash his feet as a servant. “Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” (John 13:8) Praise The LORD, He came to serve!

Being a servant is part of being conformed into the image of Christ. The ground of service is holy ground, for it is in serving we become more like Him.