News and Views
Because we live in a so-called "secular" culture based upon the atheistic "religious humanism" which is the foundation of the Educational Philosophy of John Dewey adopted by our departments of education in universities and governments and other influential institutions over 80 years ago, we have difficulty distinguishing the facts of Christianity from the false negative picture often presented publicly as in the media and from distortions that have inveigled their way into the thinking of many individual Christians and churches. The best way to learn to recognize the distortions is to continually immerse ourselves in truth and reality, hence a barebones outline of essential Christian truth at the beginning of a new year.
First, as I have mentioned many times, is realization of the greatness of our infinite God to the limit of our finite understanding. God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, is a spirit being Who always has and always will exist. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and in His limitless ability created everything that exists, whether in the material realm or in the spiritual realm. God is all-good, the source of all goodness, and in His goodness created everything "very good." (Genesis 1:31) God is unchanging and is consistent in the unified integration of His goodness, love, justice, anger, mercy, grace, faithfulness, patience, kindness, wisdom, knowledge, and all else that He is. Because God is perfect, the real source of all that is good; because God knows what is best and wants what is best as the sovereign ruler of all that exists, any thought or action contrary to His always perfect and good will is what we call "sin", is evil.
One of the good gifts which God gave His created angelic spirit beings and the humans He created in His own image to be His companions was the ability to make real choices within the limitations of their level of existence. Lucifer, at the top of the angelic hierarchy, chose to aspire to equality with God, which self-exaltation became rebellion against God and thus the beginning of evil as the turning against and subsequent absence of good. Lucifer led a number of angels into rebellion, and persuaded the first humans to also disobey and rebel, producing within humans an ongoing desire to do their own will instead of God's will, to sin. The consequence of this human choice included changes in the whole earth making the production of food difficult, making "natural disasters" possible, and eventually turning nature "red in tooth and claw."
When we get an honest realization of how very far beyond us God is in every good way, we also can realize our own inadequacy, wrongness, sin and evil. One way to help picture the comparison is to consider God in all of His righteousness and greatness as being limitlessly above the roof of a tall building, while we in our finite limitations cannot, in our own righteousness, reach beyond the top of the baseboard in a bottom floor room. We are totally unable to be good enough to earn any compassion or reconciliation with Him. We arrogantly think that we know better than the all-knowing God who made us. However, He created us in His image as His companions, and He loves us in spite of our constantly doing what we want to do and ignoring His better will and way for us. So God the Son became incarnate, perfect God and perfect human, born as a tiny infant, growing as a child, learning the trade of carpentry, living thirty years of a normal human life in the exact manner in which God knows that human lives should be lived, always keeping His will aligned with the will of God the Father. Then this God-man, Jesus, put in about three years as an itinerant preacher, gathering a key group of followers and teaching about the Kingdom of God, teaching that putting God first is the most important thing in human life. In doing so, He ran afoul of the religious leaders of His day who rigidly followed their own ideas of how to earn God's favour. These leaders trumped up charges against Him regarding both their own laws and the ruling Roman laws, thus succeeding in eliminating Him by the shameful and excruciating death by crucifixion. On the cross, Jesus, the God-man, suffered the penalty for the sin and rebellion of every single human being so that all individuals who accept His sacrifice in their place and choose to make Him Lord of their lives can live in relationship with God as His adopted children. Humans made a free-will choice to disobey God, and humans must make an individual free-will choice to accept His conditions to have their personal penalty cancelled and thus to come into restored loving relationship with God. Jesus came back to life in His resurrected body to prove the truth of all He had claimed about Himself and taught. God the Holy Spirit comes to live within all those individuals who accept Jesus' sacrifice in their place and desire to live for Him. Life becomes a process through which the individual human lives in relationship with God and grows in the ability to know and do the will of God, and discovers joy beyond compare along the way.
How do we know this? Throughout the ages, God inspired individuals to record both the history of those He chose as His special people, now known as the Jews, and to record His instructions for them and all humankind and His interactions and relationship with them. He also inspired Jesus' first followers to record much about His life and teachings and the beginnings of His church. In these inspired writings, we find the general will of God for His people and the instructions we need to seek and know Him. Either we accept God's Holy Scriptures, the Bible, as the Inspired Word of God in its entirety, or we have nothing more than fallible human intellect as a guide. We may study the Bible to better understand what it is saying about spiritual reality and relationship with God, but we may not discard any part of it as not from God or true about Him and His will for us today. There are definitely portions of the Bible which relate to the particular cultural practices and understandings of the time which seem not to apply today, but the basic principles involved do apply. For example, in every culture some attire is considered modest, and some is not so regarded. The Biblical principle is to dress modestly. The Biblical principle still applies.
As Christians, we need to know and accept the greatness of God, Jesus Christ as the one and only way to restored relationship with God and eternal life in Heaven, and the Bible as the Inspired Word of God through which we can grow in our knowledge of Him and relationship with Him.
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