Verse of the Day

Friday, December 31, 2010

Do you believe? And, if you do, what are you doing about it?

Somewhere around 90 percent of the United States population at least vaguely identifies themselves as Christian. After all, it would appear to be “the christian thing to do.” Too many people equate doing the kind or right thing with doing the Christian thing. Well, being a Christian involves way more than doing the kind thing. While Christians should be doing the right or kind thing, there is far more than that to being a Christian. Christians have a set of beliefs and attempt to live their life in accord with those beliefs.

If you want to be a Christian, by definition you must believe in Triune Monotheism; that is a single God composed of three persons, Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Three persona of a single entity. Each a separate being, yet an integral part of the same being. Each is God, each is not the other. Got that? Probably not. No one else, outside of heaven, really understands more than that. They will claim to, but that is really all God has told us so far. More than that is not really needed for now. Don’t worry.

God the Father is the maker of all that is. Seen and unseen, visible and invisible, heaven and earth, spiritual and physical. Before all we know, He was. After all we know, He will be. In the meantime, despite all we know, He is.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, is the source of the name of Christianity. The central tenant of Christianity is the understanding that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Christians believe God the Father sent His Son Jesus to earth to give His earthly life as a propitiation for our sins that we might be counted as acceptable to God the Father and as a result attain life eternal. His death did not make us perfect, any more than calling a dog’s tail a leg will give the dog five legs. His death does account us as perfect before God for His purposes; as a result we gain life eternal. How does that work? We don’t know. Many will give fine explanations, they don’t know either, they just made it up; that is really all God has told us so far. More than that is not really needed for now. Don’t worry.

The Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, that Third God Guy, is referred to in Genesis as the breath of God, it is He with whom God breathed life into the earth. It is He whom God used to spread life around the earth. He is the Comforter; the Spirit of Truth; the Giver of understanding and peace, the key to the treasures of scripture. With Him in our hearts, we gain faith, comprehension and peace. Without Him knowledge is obscured.

Three in One.

That is who God is, what little we know of Him. He is the one true God, there are gods, all false, who live in the hearts of men, whose statues or ideals they worship, but one true God. He who IS. He revealed Himself to the Hebrews over the course of several millennia. In the fullness of time, He sent His Son to make a New Covenant with mankind. A new and significantly different set of rules by which to live. Simpler. In place of 613 rules of the Mosaic Law; but two. Just two; Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and Love thy neighbor as thyself. Simpler, but harder. It is far easier to live around 613 rules than to live within two.

There is a paradox in Christianity. We are saved by faith alone, no “good” thing we do brings us salvation, for we always make more mistakes than we make perfection. Yet, true good works are a manifestation of our faith. You will note the title of Saint Luke’s second book is The Acts of the Apostles, not the Thoughts or Prayers or Feelings of the Apostles. God looks to us for action. Thoughts, prayers and feelings are nice, they just won’t take the place of action.

Please walk through this decision tree with me; if you answer no, then you get to exit:

· Do you believe in God?

o If you do, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

§ If you do, do you believe that He holds the key to your personal salvation?

· If you do, do you understand that as the Son of God with the key to your personal salvation He has left a personal set of instructions to you in a book called the Bible?

o Do you understand He calls you to worship Him weekly, to study about God and His plan for you?

§ Are you looking to find the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit or are you looking to hide from Him?

· Do you understand that Jesus wants you to come together with other fellow believers in the manner of a closely knit team to strengthen your beliefs, provide you with support and increase the effectiveness of your actions.

· So, what are you doing about it?

o Not thinking or feeling, but acting!

If you think you believe in God, read the Bible. You might start with a paraphrase version such as The Message. You will eventually want to read the definitive King James Version, but often people find it too slow going for a first shot. It has a few words you may not be familiar with. When you read the Bible, there is a lot of information that people did not fully understand at the time it was written. To make it usable, the Bible was written in a form that would be understandable at the time and still make sense in the present, whenever that present might be. The Bible, like God, is Timeless. Reflect on the story of Creation. For years and years people studied and came up with version upon version of how the world came to be. All they had to do is read the story of the Creation in the Bible and then contemplate how long each of God’s days was. For the story of the Creation as told in the Bible is identical to what science has revealed after millennia of study. While you are at it, note the Bible reflects the world as a sphere, not flat like so many people believed until so recently.

There are interesting and fast moving stories in both the Old and New Testaments. At the same time, there are a few parts that drag a bit. Frankly, Numbers could use some flow charts and bullet points. But, all in all it is a great book to read with a tremendous amount to think about. The first time you read the Bible cover to cover, you will find a whole bunch of catch phrases you never knew where they came from. The contents of the Bible permeate our world and rightly so.

Anyway, get in to the Bible and find out what God is all about. Don’t believe in God? Not to worry, He believes in you. Hopefully, you will come to believe in Him before you meet Him.

Worship regularly at a Christian Church, one whose belief structure is aligned with scripture not at cross purposes with it. If you are perfect, you don’t need church. Given there has only been one perfect Man, you aren’t. Go every week and find out how to be better. Go worship the Lord. Go to have a great time. If you don’t look forward to church each week, change churches. Church is designed to prepare you for the week ahead and look back on the week behind. It is a necessary component of your life.

Seek out others with whom you can share your salvation, support them in their struggles and depend on their support in your life. They need your help, you will benefit from helping them, sometimes you need help and it will always be there.

If you have problems in your life, you are human. No more, no less. No matter your problems, reach out and help others. By your helping them, you will be helped. If you think of others problems and seek ways to help them, you will gain. Jesus promised this. He always delivers.

Remember the primary benefit of being a Christian is eternal life. Eternal life does not start when you die. Eternal life starts when you accept it. You have it, act on that reality of eternal life and enjoy it.

A second benefit of being a Christian is a set of values that will make your life here on earth more enjoyable. Christians have much more enjoyment in this life. You have it, enjoy it.

A third benefit of being a Christian is being truly worry free. God promises to take your cares and put them on His broad back so you can get on with life here to make life there a reality.

Go forth and spread the Word!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Not Saved by Faith Only

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:24)

It cannot get any clearer than the verse in James that good works are necessary for Christians to truly have the life that Jesus promises.

Common objections…
James is not speaking of salvation. But notice that the verse immediately preceding refers to Abraham’s saving faith…

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:23)

The book of James is hard to understand and therefore this verse should be ignored. In fact, Martin Luther wanted to remove this book from the Bible.

But the verse is actually easy to understand for those who accept Catholic teaching. Shame on those Protestants…interpreting the Bible as their sole authority with preconceived doctrines.