Category Archives: Jesus

New Covenant Morality?

Bible Context

This article has been written, specifically, to address a most rare exception, a comment on a previous article that’s been Pending Approval for quite a while. The comment in question was made in response to an article entitled Lookin’ For Hate In All The Wrong Places. It said,

“remember… there is a brand new covenant, which basicly breaks down morality to: ‘he who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to HIM it is sin.’ are you foolishly going to argue that homosexuals in their heart of hearts feel that theyre sinning? if so, youre very disillusioned. and thus, by the very biblical passage ive quoted… they arent sinning in being homosexual.” Continue reading

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Easter, The Ultimate Answer To, “What Would Jesus Do?”

Golgotha

With this year’s Resurrection Sunday celebration approaching, I’ve been reflecting on a really good related discussion I had with a friend, around this time of year, about five years ago. What was then a new relationship seemed to be one where we quickly recognized that we liked each other regardless of our differing views on some pretty important topics. I say “really good discussion” because it was an open exchange with both of us genuinely interested in hearing the other’s points of view and wanting to learn from that. Candidly, I have to give my friend more credit than I can take myself, in that regard. Although this “really good discussion” mostly involved the two forbidden topics typically warned against for peaceful relationships … Politics and Religion … as I strongly suspected, this was just our first “really good discussion” of many to come.

One of the results of that conversation was for me to be reminded that, while I was clear in my understanding of my positions on the issues we discussed, I wanted to be able to clearly express my views to others. The question that was raised that confronted me with this most significantly was the question, “Do you believe there’s only one way to Heaven?” Although I think my response to this was adequate, it seemed to me that I should be prepared to offer more than an answer that’s just OK to such an important question. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:15, the Bible compels Christians to do this, saying, “[be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you”.

Expressing the “reason of the hope that is in (me)” is what I wanted to be better prepared to do but, before I delve into that, I should give you my initial answer to that question. My answer is:

I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I, also, believe that every person can have salvation through accepting Christ’s sacrifice for their sin. And, I believe that salvation, through accepting Christ’s sacrifice, is the one and only path to Heaven.

Since my friend didn’t state his position on this question, I won’t presume to give you his answer. I will say his question was accompanied with several related questions and comments that I took into account as I considered how to best express the “reason of the hope that is in (me)”. One related question was, “Do you think Mother Teresa went to Heaven?” and one related comment was, “I make it a daily habit, when considering certain choices, to ask myself, ‘What would Jesus do?’” I’m paraphrasing rather than quoting here but, to me, this combination of questions and comments had certain implications. One was that while my friend had some high regard for Jesus, he didn’t necessarily accept Him as being the only way to Heaven. Another was that “good works”/”being a good person” should get you to Heaven.

So, in order to respond to this and more adequately express the “reason of the hope that is in (me)”, the two questions to answer are:

  1. Who is Jesus
  2. Can “good works” alone be a path to Heaven?

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Going To Heaven Alone

iron

REBUKED BY FRIENDS

When I express strong views on a sensitive topic, I’m not surprised when I get pushback from those who see matters differently. But, when I’m rebuffed by those who I think are friends, accepting me and my beliefs, it’s sort of shocking. I had that happen recently and it led me to do some introspection that I’d like to share.

The specifics of this recent occurrence involved a meeting I attended with a small group of people who I’ve worked very closely with for several years. Without inappropriately sharing intimate details of that meeting, let me just say that there was mention of another person who we’ve known through our work, who seemed to be going through a difficult time and that they were attending a Bible study being conducted by someone else we’ve known through our work. Hearing that was a pleasant surprise to me so I responded by saying something like, “I just hope (that person) is truly paying attention at the Bible study.” With that, I sensed a reaction that I later described as a unanimous rolling of the eyes by the other participants.

UNDERSTANDING THE REBUKE

Since my comment came just from my truly caring about the person we had been discussing, that added to my bewilderment over being chided as I was. So, the following day, I approached one of the other attendees to discuss this. In addition to getting affirmation of my sensing that unanimous rolling of the eyes, I was reminded that there are some settings where discussion of topics like religion and politics is just not welcome. And, beyond that, I was told that I was just more spiritual than the other attendees.

In reflecting on that one-on-one follow-up conversation, I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t really anything in it that I didn’t already know. And, in reflecting on my follow-up self-conversation, I remained sure of my caring intent with the comment that led to my rebuke. To me, though, the disapproval I had received from my friends clearly indicated the need for me to examine how I share my Christian faith in order that it’s received as intended. So, I determined to do just that.

FOCUS ON A SIN

In the course of making this examination, I thought of a point that I’d heard Pastor Brian Brodersen, of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, make in a teaching from 1 Corinthians. As a side note, I ended up going through 11 of Pastor Brian’s teachings to find what I was looking for. At first, that seemed like a nuisance but it turned out that I was richly blessed through a fresh look at much more of God’s Word than I’d had in mind. Anyway, I did find what I was looking for in Pastor Brian’s lesson, entitled “Tending to Our Own Issues”, based on the following Scripture:

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” – 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

The point that I had been thinking of was made by Pastor Brian in addressing the part of this Scripture that says, “I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” Pastor Brian’s comments here were: “ … notice, first of all, that the issues of sin go beyond sexual immorality … notice the other sins included there … we have a tendency to isolate a specific sin and focus in on that sin to the exclusion of other sins … that’s part of the problem we have right now, in the current cultural situation, in regard to homosexuality. I think that we, the church in general, have over emphasized this one sin. If you think about it, as we share the gospel with people, generally, we don’t begin by talking about specific sins. But, with homosexuality it seems we focus in on that particular thing. That’s the wrong way to understand it. I was thinking the other day about the idea that so many gay people have in their mind … I’ve heard them say this, ’You think I’m going to Hell because I’m gay.’ The reality is, they’re not going to Hell because they’re gay. They’re going to Hell because they’re lost. They’re going to Hell because they’re a sinner. They’re going to Hell for the same reason an adulterer is and the same reason a swindler is and for the same reason a slanderer is … because they haven’t turned to Christ to have their sins forgiven.” Continue reading

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Why God? – The Right Place To End!

Empty Tomb

WHERE TO BEGIN

In my first “Why God?!” article (Why God? – The Right Place To Start!), I noted that this question typically, comes with crying out over hearing of some horrendously evil act in the world or a natural disaster or a friend’s life-threatening illness or a family member’s untimely death or some other form of suffering. I went on to offer encouragement that looking to The Creator is the right place to start in seeking answers to such questions and that He gives us the reassurance of His loving intentions.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

THE PATH TO TAKE

With the second article in this series (Why God? – The Right   Way To Go), I admitted that my honest answer to “Why God?!” questions about evil and suffering in the world is, “I do not know.” However, I pointed out that all the related answers we really need can be found in God’s Word. And, I indicated that in looking for these answers it’s important to start with the understanding that “… from the beginning it was not so.”

Tragically, it was the choice man made with the ability God gave us to love and specifically, the free will He gave us to decide whether to love or not to love that led to evil and suffering coming into His creation. With that understood, I drew attention to the fact that, though it was beyond us to recover from what is commonly known as “the fall of man”, even in His condemnation of that first choice of man, He revealed that He had prepared a path to redemption. Detailing that path and where it leads is what I have in mind with this, the last in my series of “Why God?!” articles. Continue reading

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All Are Precious In His Sight

Barbara Boyle's 3B Class - Warren Elementary - 1955-56

LIVE IN HARMONY

This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.

My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.

ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading

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What Has Become Of The Christmas Spirit?!

salvation_army_charity_2When  my Wife and I approached the entrance to Macy’s, in making our first visit to the local mall for the 2013 Christmas-shopping season, something seemed to be missing. As we got closer, I recognized what it was. A Salvation Army Volunteer was present, along with his kettle for donations, but there was no sound of bell-ringing. With our arrival, the volunteer opened a door, wished us a Merry Christmas and offered an apology, saying, “I’m sorry there’s no ringing, someone stole my bell.” With that, I shook my head and said, “Someone stole your bell?!” and I thought, “What has become of the Christmas spirit?!”

Upon completion of that Christmas-shopping outing, we found ourselves at that same Macy’s doorway. But now, as we neared that exit, we could hear the distinctive sound of a bell ringing. As we stepped outside, I looked at the Salvation Army Volunteer and said, “Great! I see you got your bell back.” His reply was, “No, another shopper went in and bought this for me.” To that, I said, “No kidding?! That’s wonderful!” and I thought, “There it is, there’s the Christmas spirit!”

What a heart warming experience that was?! As we drove home, though, I found that my happiness over the bell-ringer event was becoming mixed with feelings of guilt, as I considered, “Where was the Christmas spirit in me? Why hadn’t I thought to get a replacement for the Salvation Army Volunteer’s stolen bell?” In order to answer these questions, I realized that I needed to reexamine the question, “What is the Christmas spirit?” Continue reading

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Stand By Me at the Glassy Sea

Ron CoxRonald Ray Cox, a friend from the time of my birth, passed from life on Earth to life in eternity at about 8:32 a.m. (EST), October 19, 2013. Knowing that, it’s likely for you to think that I’m writing this to honor my friend and to tell you wonderful stories from a relationship that stretched out over nearly 70 years. Though I do want to honor my old friend, since there was a gap in our relationship from the time we finished college until about five months prior to Ron’s passing, when he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, I don’t have those nearly 70 years’ worth of stories to share. Thankfully, I do have the story to share of how I was blessed in reconnecting with Ron at the end of his life and getting to witness how he and his Wife, Kim, embraced God and each other through their final season together.

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