Thursday, 1 October 2015

Why is Christianity so Full of Rules?

Where do people get the notion that Christianity is just a bunch of DOs and DON'Ts? Study the New Testament and you'll find out that there aren't as many "rules" as people think. Let me explain why this is.

Jesus Christ said that the whole Old Testament law hung on two commandments: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbour as yourself. That's all a Christian needs to do.

I liken the Old Testament law and Christ's new commandments to be similar to MS DOS and Windows, though the analogy is a bit shaky. To start a program in DOS, you needed to type in its exact name or initials. In Windows, you click on an icon and the program starts. That's much easier for most people.

The Old Testament Ten Commandments, and subsequent ordinances, were like DOS in that they were specific. Christ's commandments, like Windows, are both intuitive.

How is this so? When you love God, you won't make any idols and bow down to worship them. You automatically want to put the Lord first in every aspect of your life. Neither would you murder, lie under oath, covet what isn't yours, dishonor your parents, or do any other evil thing. In fact, you will naturally want to worship the Lord and do good things for others.

Some folks think this is too simplistic. They want to impose rules upon rules to keep people in line. That is why many denominations have come up with regulations which aren't in the Bible or have been superceded by the New Testament. These legalists want to go back to Sabbath worship and some think certain activities such as gambling and listening to rock music are sinful. Truly, there's no "thou Shalt not gamble" commandment in either testament.

I know from bitter experience about legalism. The cult church elders objected to me listening to rock music, talking on the CB, and the like. They also treated me cruelly because of my poor vision. I wrote about how God delivered me from those false Christians in a book called How I Was Razed. This glorious testimony of God's providential grace is available directly from me.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Why does sin bug God?

This is like asking why people get so upset about being slandered and unfairly condemned. Sin is disobedience to God's protective laws. He wants people to reap the benefits of obeying him rather than falling for Satan's soul-destroying lies.

Sin is also an insult to the Lord's holiness. His desire is that we should be free of self-centeredness and pride. Sin, on the other hand,  is our middle finger response to all the magnanimous good God seeks for us. Like a child who demands his own way, humanity fell into the trap of sin in Eden when Eve fell for the idea that God was keeping back good things from her and Adam. Since then, the sin virus has infected us all.

Sin likewise helps Satan to drag many gullible people down with him to hell. We think we need to make our lives livable rather than trusting in the wisdom and loving protection of our Lord. Satan, a rebellious angel who dragged a third of the heavenly host down with him, doesn't love us at all. We're just pawns he can use, abuse, and toss in the garbage when we no longer are useful to his diabolical purpose.

God also showed his magnanimous love for us by substituting his son in our place to atone for sin. He could have just wiped out humanity or made us all robots but we wouldn't genuinely love him. Neither would we appreciate his grandiose gift of salvation had he not allowed us to know both good and evil.

You Think You're Going to Heaven is my next book, provided that something doesn't happen to stop me writing it. People need to think about eternity and realize that life is so easily snuffed out. Like an elevator, we can only go up to God or down to eternal conscious torment. As much as we would try to deny this, it's the way it is.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

What About People Who Never Heard the Gospel?

To the average person, sending people who never heard the gospel to eternal torment in hell is horribly unfair. How could God be so cruel as to condemn those who never even heard of him or Jesus Christ? The fact is that we all have eternity in our hearts.

The Apostle Paul explained it well in his letter to the Christians in Rome. In the first chapter, he wrote that the evidence of God, who can't be seen, is visible in what he created. But people decided to suppress this knowledge in their ungodliness. They worshipped created things rather than the creator. So the Lord honoured their choice by letting them choose eternity apart from him and all his goodness.

Paul also spoke to Greek philosophers at Athens. In Acts chapter seventeen, he explained how God planned where people would go and the countries they'd form so that they could search and find him. He also cut those ethnic groups a break, being able to judge the motives of the heart, so that those who sought him could be justified.

Furthermore, God worked through the Israelites to be a light to the gentiles. All through Hebrews chapter eleven, we're told how by faith the saints of old were justified. They believed God and it was counted to them as righteousness. They all looked forward to a saviour who would rescue them from sin. That person was Jesus Christ. We now are justified by trusting in him and what he accomplished on the cross.

I hope to answer this and many more questions with scripture quotes and references in my next book. You Think You're Going to Heaven? gives a warning which everybody needs to read. Like running a diagnostic program on the computer, examining our lives by the Bible is the only reliable way to learn if we are living up to God's standards. Eternity is a long time to suffer because we trusted our own pet notions rather than God's word.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

How Could God Send Millions of People to Hell?

Here's another question asked by critics of Christianity. To them, God sounds like a petulant little boy who punishes his pets for not doing what he wants them to do. I've even felt in the past that he was stingy and sadistic because my faith wasn't enough to heal my eyes. No matter how I tried, the prayers and laying on of hands by Christians resulted in only disappointment.

How sad it is that critics of God don't know him personally. These people only know about him from what they hear TV preachers say or from Bible stories they heard when they were children. Isn't that unfair of such folks to condemn the Lord because of what others have said?

Knowing about somebody isn't like knowing them. I know about famous people but I actually know none personally. For example, I couldn't call David Bowie on the phone like I could an acquaintance or personal friend, even if I had his home number. He doesn't know me and doubtless would be upset if I called him. In the same way, people who don't have a personal relationship with Christ can't accurately judge him and the other two members of the trinity.

Because critics don't understand the Lord's character, since they don't have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, they mislead others with their misconceptions. Perhaps the worst of their misapprehensions is that God sends people to hell. Like John Cleese noted on one TV show, hell is a voluntary organization. People choose to go there rather than obey God. The Lord has given us a choice, limited though it seems, so we could either surrender to his plan for us or go our own way.

God doesn't delight in the death of the wicked. In fact, he would rather have people surrender their lives into his loving care. Since forced love is not love at all, he gave us the option to obey or disobey. At death, he graciously lets people face the consequences of their decision.

In my How I Was Razed memoir, I showed how I finally learned that God is the heavenly Father who providentially led me to know him better. Check out this glorious journey from cultism to Christianity at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books. What a huge difference knowing his true character has made in my life. I hope others discover the real character of God like I have.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Can we believe the Bible?

How can such an ancient collection of writings be believed in the twenty-first century? This is a question many liberal Christians ask. Atheists also doubt the truthfulness of Scripture on the assumption that it's merely a collection of Jewish fables and prophetic ramblings.

One proof of the validity of the Bible is historical evidence. Liberal Christian scholars doubted the existence of the Hittites until ruins of their cities were discovered by archeologists. The same was true of Jericho. In fact, archeologists even found the bricks which composed the walls of the city. Just as the Bible said, the bricks formed a ramp all around so the Israelites could go up into it.

Prophecy also has shown how the Bible couldn't have been written by clever men or scribes long after the events took place. Who could have predicted the sack of Tyre by Alexander the Great and how he scraped the ruins of the mainland city into the sea to build a causeway. He was able to raze the island city as a result. This is just one of many accurate predictions from Scripture.

Some scholars claim that the Bible is filled with translation errors. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls shows that, as just one example, the book of Isaiah had been translated almost completely without errors. The New Testament also was basically unchanged from the earliest manuscripts. Some critics cite the final verses of Mark's gospel as proof of forgery but the truth they contain doesn't conflict with the other gospels and epistles.

I could go on at length about this but I'll save it for my next book. You Think You're Going to Heaven? will, I hope, provide plenty of evidence for the integrity of Scripture as the final court of arbitration. God willing, I expect to finish the book and have it published in a few years.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Don't All Religions Lead to God?

While having lunch with friends at a local restaurant, a woman asked me this question. Thanks to excellent Bible teachers such as Hank Hanegraaff, R. C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, Alistair Begg, and John MacArthur, I was able to answer her question in a reasonable way.

So, why don't all religions lead to God? Let's look at four major world religions. Buddhism teaches that there are no gods and that we must achieve complete selflessness to obtain enlightenment.

Hinduism teaches that there are many gods. Also, those who live a life filled with good deeds  will come back as a higher life form. If they are wicked, they come back as perhaps an insect or a rat. Those who finally get their spiritual act together will reach nirvana, according to what I've learned about it.

Islam teaches that there is only one god who has no partners. Allah is portrayed by the Qu'ran as distant and uncaring. If adherents do good works and beg forgiveness for sins, Allah might consider letting them into paradise. The only way to be assured of salvation from hell is to be martyred in the cause of jihad.

Christianity teaches that God is a tripartite entity, being one what and three WHOs. Unlike in Islam, God so loved the world that he sent his son so that whosoever believes in him would have eternal life in heaven. And unlike all other belief systems, no human works are righteous enough to allow people into God's holy presence. Christ paid the price for those who turn from their self-centered ways, ask forgiveness of their sins,  and surrender themselves to his rulership.

As you can plainly see, none of these religions agree with each other. This is why history is filled with religious and sectarian violence.

From my study of these religious systems, I conclude that only Christianity corresponds with reality. The Bible has proven itself reliable through its fulfilled prophesies, textual consistency, historical accuracy, and understanding of sinful humanity's behaviour.

I hope to write at length about this and other topics in a new book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Eternity is a long time and scripture shows us that there are only two destinations for souls after death: heaven and hell. I hope people think long and hard about this. According to Christ, there are no second chances after death.

Please check out my previous paperbacks. How I Was Razed is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.  Deliverance from Jericho and When a Man Loves a Rabbit are for sale on my book page.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Why Does God Allow Evil?

Tragedies happen on a regular bases. Many of them make the news but others don't get noticed. Few disasters were as shocking as the Islamist attack on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and the plane which crashed in a field fourteen years ago.

Why didn't God stop that terrorist attack? Why did both good and bad people perish in those tragedies? Come to think of it, why doesn't he stop all these evil acts before they take the lives of innocent people? It seems to us that God is uncaring, sadistic, or out to lunch.

I felt that way about the Lord once. After being continually castigated by heartless elders at a house church for lacking the faith to be healed, I became angry at the Lord. All I wanted was 20/20 vision so I could glorify him and get better employment. For nine years, I turned my back on God. Eventually, it dawned on me that it wasn't his stinginess or my lack of faith which blocked my healing. In fact, it wasn't blocked at all and neither was he being a tight-fisted tyrant.

As I found out when I bought my house in 2000, God's providence is much more miraculous than direct miracles. Why? So many factors have to line up perfectly to accomplish his will. For example, remember those gadgets which made a string of ordinary Christmas lights blink? If you plugged a whole row of them into the wall socket, it would take a long time for all of them to be turned on and light up the bulbs. Each gadget has a slightly different time set for when it would activate. That's how providence works.

We just don't know the Lord's reason for allowing each incidence of evil. Scripture teaches that we can't judge people by what happens or doesn't happen to them. The ninth chapter of John's gospel is a perfect example of this. Through it all, God has a good reason for everything that happens but he's not telling us now. This is why we must trust in him rather than worrying our puny brains into a lather. After all, he knows the end from the beginning whereas we don't.

I wrote in detail about that errant house church and how God delivered me from its toxic teachings in a book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Learn more about my remarkable memoir at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books. I also have two previously-published paperbacks on my books page.