OT: Judges 9:22-57, Judges 10:1-18
NT: Luke 24:13-53
Ps: Psalm 100
Pr: Proverbs 14:11-12
Gospel Thread - OT:
14 "Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!" 15 But the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now." 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel's misery no longer.
Judges 10:14-16 (NIV)
It is often very difficult for us to understand the various aspects of God's character. On one hand, God is holy, and sin cannot exist in His holy Presence. On the other hand, God is love and compassion - so much so, that God would come to earth as man and die to rescue us from our sin. How is it that God can so completely separate our being from our sinfulness and sinful nature? The Israelites continually returned to sin and depravity, yet every time they recognized their sin and cried out to God, He in His compassion rescued them. We see this cycle repeated again and again in Scripture, to the point that one might conclude that God's patience is infinite; however, Scripture also tells us that the time will come when we no longer have the chance to repent. Paul speaks with such urgency that he refers to the time of God's favor as "now", and the day of God's favor "today" (II Corinthians 6:2).
Gospel Thread - NT:
He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
Luke 24:44 (NIV)
Jesus mentions the gospel thread! Here Jesus confirms that the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (in other words, all of the Old Testament) refer to and speak of Him. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the redemption of mankind is the purpose and outcome of the Old Testament.
Though, I must admit that it is incredibly humbling to read the reactions of Christ's disciples to these events, and to realize that even they were blinded to the truth until Christ opened their eyes. How much do we misunderstand - or of how much are we ignorant - without God's revelation? Yes, we have the Word; but so did the Israelites. Paul refers to this "great mystery" that God kept hidden until it was fulfilled in Christ (Romans 16:24-25, Ephesians 3:8-10, Colossians 1:25-27). We have the privilege of understanding this mystery, but what remains hidden?
This realization ought to be sufficient to keep each of us in God's Word daily, earnestly seeking to understand what God wants to teach us through His Word. Every day God reveals more and more to me through His Word: more of my own sin, as well as more of His promises and blessings; more of His principles for living, and more of His character. I pray that I always remember the example of his disciples, and never become too proud or complacent to continue searching His Word.
Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)
Perhaps the single most insidious lie is that no single belief holds truth exclusively. In other words, all religious beliefs are equally true; the mere existence of one's faith is sufficient for salvation. This lie exists among theists as well as atheists. The problem with this belief is that it is not merely the existence of one's faith that matters, but also the object of that faith.
An atheist would consider this matter not one of "salvation", but rather simply one of morality: the definition (or standard) of morality, and that which allows or causes one to uphold that definition or standard. (Note that this understanding works equally well for theists; the only difference being that theists would then tie conformance to the standard of morality to the concept of salvation.)
The problem that then immediately confronts us is that of who or what determines this standard of morality. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis argues rather persuasively that the existence of a universal moral standard demands the existence of a universal standard-giver. (While I have plans to address this matter in more detail in response to some blogs of a friend of mine, for now and for the purposes of this blog post, I will accept it as the working principle.)
Thus, if we accept this "universal standard-giver" as God, we are left with the myriad theist beliefs that exist. While at times we may be enticed by the idea that "all religions are correct" in the vain hope that this understanding will bring about peace among the adherents of these many religions, we must accept, when we honestly examine the many beliefs, that they cannot all be true.
In fact, Christianity mutually excludes itself, by claiming to be the only truth and the only way to life and to God (John 14:6). It cannot be true that all religions are true. Either Christianity is true, or it is not. The same mutual exclusivity exists at least for the other major monotheistic belief systems (Judaism, Islam) that comprise the vast majority of religious beliefs.
Do not believe the lie that the existence of a faith apart from the object of that faith is sufficient.
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