Friday, December 24, 2010

Immanuel: God With Us

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translates, “GOD WITH US.” Matthew 1:18-23

Miracle of miracles … how can we even comprehend this story to be true? I really can understand how some of my more skeptical friends say … no way. The Bible is just fairy tale, they say ... another spiritualized version of the Santa Claus story; or as one of my best friends for life recently replied to me; “when I die, all that’s left is dirt.” The great thing about Christianity and living in America is that we can strongly disagree and still love and respect each other. Respect and love for the other person has nothing to do with political correctness or pretending that we respect or consider the other person's beliefs as true or of value. We tolerate each other, but on this subject, each of us believes the other to have believed a foolish teaching. I really can understand why we have irreconcilable differences. Our beliefs and loyalties are committed to rulers of opposing views. One true, one a lie. Good versus evil. Both can never be true.

Think about it. Meditate on it. A recently engaged virgin woman; from a very religious family; impregnated by the Holy Spirit; the child in her womb is God, the Creator of the universe coming to earth in the form of a man; for what purpose … to die on the cross for the sins of mankind; the prospective husband who had not touched his future bride gets a visit from an angel that tells him, “don’t worry about the fact that your fiancĂ© is pregnant … God is inside of her.” Jesus is born and lives a perfect sinless life, performs many miracles, walks on water, raises the dead, and teaches a gospel of peace, love, forgiveness, and repentance; the Messiah will be killed by His own people, whose prophets clearly foretold His coming, but they did not recognize Him; He freely delivers Himself up to suffer the worst of deaths imaginable; buried under guard for three days only to be resurrected from the dead; victoriously ascends into the clouds; and this Savior now waits at the right hand of the Father interceding for His followers who do not deserve forgiveness … but are forgiven, justified, and redeemed and receive eternal life in heaven because He … Jesus Christ , Immanuel, the Messiah, God with us, the Savior of the world paid the penalty for all of the sins of man … once for all.

Are we all part of God’s plan created before time began? Did this all knowing, all powerful, ever present, Creator God, consider my innermost parts before the beginning of time? Am I important to God? ---------------------- Or am I just an accident … dirt, as my friend from childhood believes and contends?
And are we actually no more important than the bait we would put on a fishing hook, or a leaf blowing in the wind?

Can you see how those unbelievers see all of this as fiction? The source of the problem is clear to me: "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God." 2 Corinthians 4:4

A few days ago, I was in a discussion with a “Christian” friend online who tries to reconclie these opposing beliefs. This is clearly impossible. I asked him the following question: “Hundreds of millions of fossils have been discovered ... but none of them are transitional organism fossils. Fish are fish, birds are birds, cattle are cattle, and T-Rexes are T-Rexes ... in the fossil record. There are no fossils that reflect the gradual change from one animal kind into another." Darwinian evolution is a big lie being taught to our children and grandchildren; and any scientists who question this forced system are singled out, and their career is destroyed. Doesn't this injustice bother you? I asked. He responded with drawings of supposed transitional animals. When I rejected this fantasy as obvious drawings of science fiction … he sent me a series of pictures of human skulls. Obviously they were clearly not transitional fossils and there was no evidence of any linkage other than that they all appeared to be human. I responded with the following: “This shows me nothing --- slug to man is a fantasy. For you to contend otherwise is heretical. Birds are not men ... there is no connection ... period.” He responded; “So you believe all of the fossil remains of early man are fake? “I replied: “nope ... I just don't believe that what they have tried to do with them ... to make them fit into their false theory; but in any event they do not and cannot take you or me; or any other animate thing, for that matter ... from a slug to anything else. I'm surprised you would ask me such a silly question. Creating a hypothesis and then arranging things to try to fit these preconceived notions is not science. It is atheistic wishful thinking.” It is also a violation of true science, and legitimate scientists call this unscientific practice: "circular reasoning." He ended with; “Okie, Dokie” … in other words: “you are foolish, Bob.”

Of course my position is that I have accepted Jesus Christ and all of the other Truths of the Bible by faith ... it is not necessary for me to be able to explain all of that which is beyond anyone's human comprehension ... I am not God.

My final questions to him which he did not answer were: “who do you say Jesus Is? Are Jesus and the Creator one and the same? Or do you think there was no creator? Apparently his answer would be: No Creator ... but I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. Do you see the disconnect and contradiction? The next question for him would be: how then can you (a Christian) accept these false teachings of men that are contrary to the Truth of God which is your basis for salvation?

“So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”

Jesus said; “truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” … and the Jewish leaders tried to stone Him and plotted his death from that point on. Why was what Jesus said so inflammatory to the Jews? Because, in their culture, this was the same as saying; “I am God.” Actually, God called himself “I Am” when He said to Moses; “tell Pharaoh … "I Am" sent you.”

I doubt this Christian will even bother to answer my questions. Similar to the scientists who are rejected because they question Darwinism; he has disregarded me. It is so much easier for unbelievers to write people like me off as foolish. Isn't that also what they did to Noah when he began building the ark? The obvious problem is that if someone does not believe in a creator, then the entire Bible is nothing more than just another fairy tale. Think about it … is it harder to believe God created the universe, the world, and man, and everything in it, as well as the story of Jesus Christ outlined above; or is it harder to believe that man evolved from a mistake in the mud and then trillions of more mistakes happened with the end result: being a slug, and that after a trillion more mistakes it became a crawling or flying creature, and that after a trillion more mistakes it became an ape, and that after a trillion more transitions it became a man?

In a recent post, I mentioned where Bill Maher called Christians ignorant and hypocritical while using the story of Noah and the Ark as evidence. Maher’s logic was that people who believed the Noah story are either ignorant; or that those who say that they are Christians, and that God’s Word is truth, and then disregard the hard to believe Biblical stories ... such as Noah and creation are hypocritical. Maher, an atheist is clearly right. If we say that we do not believe in creation or the story of Noah … then how can we say we believe the (equally hard to believe)story of the virgin birth above, or more specifically … the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ?

Immanuel means: “God with us” … Jesus is not just another Jewish prophet or good teacher here. It is hypocritical to say we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but at the same time accept only those parts of His Truth that make sense from a human perspective. Either God the Creator is Jesus Christ, and either this verse is true, or it is a lie: “and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. We cannot have it both ways. Either the Savior is the Creator of the universe, or He is not. Either His Truth is absolute Truth, or it is not. Either His Word became flesh and dwelt among us, or it did not.

I am a Biblical fundamentalist in the original sense, and I am proud of it. I believe in the fundamental Truths of the Bible. All of God’s Word is Truth. Everything else is false when it conflicts with this Truth. It doesn't matter what the universities or the scientists say ... when they are contrary to God's truth, it is just so much more babble. To believe in God's Truth is to believe in Jesus Christ … To not believe in this Truth is to not believe in Jesus Christ.

If you are a Christian and you have chosen to believe otherwise ... to follow the teachings of men rather than God the Creator, I challenge you this Christmas to reconsider. Jesus has much more for you to learn but you cannot humble the Creator and Savior of the world to the teachings of men.
He is your God ... it cannot be the other way around.

To my atheist friend from childhood, as well as my online Christian friends with conflicted beliefs, my prayer for you is that God the Creator, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will make the Truth clear to each of you. Whether it is the teachings of men or the teachings of God, the belief you receive is always, in the end, accepted by faith. It is not about evidence. This is a faith decision. Place your faith in Jesus Christ totally and completely, this Christmas and always ... and then peace, joy, and blessings beyond comprehension will be yours always throughout eternity.


God Bless you my friends, Bob

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ministers of Reconciliation

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn [upon them]. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Earlier today, I got a call from a friend who had been reading a post on this blog. After telling me that she had learned much and enjoyed the many posts, she asked: “don’t you like Rick Warren?” whose recent statements and decisions were the topic of a recent post. I replied; Of course, I like Rick Warren very much. He is clearly one of the most Godly committed men I have ever met. But, we are all human, I can be wrong ... and so can Rick Warren. The fact that I don’t agree with him, and that I think he made a wrong turn in his ministry has nothing to do with whether I like or respect him. Just so that there is no confusion here as to where I stand I must say: I do not want to offend Pastor Warren or any of my friends who are his followers. But as a Christian, I hope after reading my posts they will reconsider their plans.

This is a BIG deal!
Rick Warren's best seller: Purpose Driven Life introduced his "50 year" global P.E.A.C.E Plan and has been translated into 52 languages. According to his website, more than 500,000 evangelical churches are partnering in what I believe has become an unbiblical ecumenical effort. Warren subsequently expanded that model from an exclusive endeavor of Christianity to one requiring the support of all religions.

The "P" in his P.E.A.C.E. plan originally stood for "Planting Churches" as the key antidote for curing the world's ills. Later, however, before a panel and audience of representatives of the world's religions, Pastor Warren changed the "P" from "Planting Churches" to "Promoting Reconciliation" If his intent was to reconcile the world through the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would be in wholehearted agreement. But reconciliation with false religions is not the ministry of reconciliation that each of us have been given as our personal ministry and mission in 2 Corinthians 5. To not challenge this well meaning but false leading, would be for me to not follow my calling and commitment to Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, Paul discusses this ministry of reconciliation we have all been given. When Paul says: “seeing we have this ministry” he is referring to our call as ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation “as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” This is not about reconciling the world’s religions with Christianity. It is Christ reaching out to all men and women through Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit; and reconciling unbelievers one by one to the Creator of the universe. The one and ONLY Savior of humankind. Christ is providing eternal life ONLY through His grace and sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. There is only one place in His plan for other Gods, and their religions: eternal hell. The unrepentant followers have two choices: reconciliation; or eternal condemnation. Many would say this is harsh and yes it is, but it is exactly what the Bible teaches ... nothing more, nothing less. Is this legalistic or judgmental? I do not believe so. We all have the exact same spiritual problem, and there is only one solution: Jesus Christ. For me to teach or promote anything other than this truth would be hypocritical, deceitful, and the worst thing I could possibly do. We are all the same, all equal, with the same problem, and same solution.

Christianity is easy for all to understand, treats everyone fairly and equally, and discriminates against no-one. We are not allowed to rewrite God's plan of salvation to fit our own personal needs, desires, beliefs, or religions.
I am confident Pastor Rick Warren would agree with me on these points.

“As we have received mercy, we faint not” This phrase makes it clear that we do not deserve the good fortune of eternal life with God in Heaven … it is His free gift by grace; we have been saved and entrusted with this ministry. Paul did not deserve his ministry and neither do you or I … but we each have the same ministry that Paul was given, whether we step up to the challenge or not is another question. We faint not speaks to the courage it takes to stand up to the false teachings of the world and the schemes of the god of this world. His goal and plan is to lead people away form Christ and the truth of the gospel. It is our challenge to stand firm … and to not form alliances with spiritually doomed religions. It is not easy to stand firm when those we love might think we appear foolish. It is much easier to remain silent and to be politically correct. Tolerance and political correctness does not make a false religion true. Silence only encourages those we care about to possibly continue on the wrong path. Only when I challenged the false teachings of Mormonism did my friends turn to the good news of Jesus Christ. No one wants to be viewed as legalistic. But Jesus said; “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. When we start seeing ourselves as Christ sees us … others will see Christ through us.
We are to be ministers of the Spirit of righteousness and the love of Christ.

“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully” What are the hidden things of dishonesty that are tools that the enemy uses to bring us defeat as ministers of the gospel? Hypocrisy, our daily walk, manipulations of God’s word, contrary teachings of the world, false religions. I could write an entire post on this one sentence. Each of us must do a personal review of what we believe and why we believe it. Is it consistent with what God’s Word and the Holy Spirit lead us to understand as truth? Or is it the plan of a well meaning pastor or teacher? False teachings at the seminary level are leading a generation of pastors away from Biblical inerrancy. Faulty translations and manipulated paraphrases are being used to distort the Bible’s original meaning, and promote popular ideas; and the next thing you know we have a “green bible.” The Bible is not hard to understand if one is being led by the Spirit of Truth. If not, it is impossible to understand or accept … and that is the problem. We are to be ministers of the gospel; ministers of reconciliation. We need to keep our vision focused on Christ and His purpose for us.

“But by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. To commend is to: represent as worthy, qualified, or desirable; or to recommend the gospel of Christ to those God brings before us. That is our mission. A primary mission of the church should be to make this clear to every believer; and to teach and equip each believer in how to present ourselves as worthy of this lifelong ministry God has given each of us. God wants to move on peoples hearts through our words and our walk by the power of the Spirit of Truth.

But if our gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn [upon them]. Certainly clinics that are ministering to the sick in the name of Christ can be used to lead the lost to eternal life in Christ. This is a commendable ministry of living the love of Christ. But not if these clinic caregivers are housed in a mosque or temple and manned by Muslims or Buddhists. This verse is very telling regarding the subject at hand. The enemy of Christ, “the god of this world” Satan has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that the truth of the gospel will be foolishness to them. Only when Christ removed the veil and opened my eyes to the truth was I able to understand the deceptions and false teachings of the evil one. Those who have chosen to fall under the power of lust and pride; are under the control of the enemy. This includes both the caregivers and the recipients of care. They could be sincerely helping people day after day in a clinic but it will be for the wrong reasons … if not for Christ.

They will be giving the sick water but not the "living water" provided by Christ at Calvary.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This verse needs no explanation. Like I said; the gospel is easy to understand when the Spirit of Truth is guiding you.

A special thanks to Ana C. for inspiring this post.
God Bless you my friends, Bob

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Resting In Christ

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ,
keep seeking the things above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on the things above,
not on the things that are on earth.
For you have died and your life is hidden
with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

The principle of reckoning is to have faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
To reckon is to believe and stand upon established truth. We are to believe in what Christ has already accomplished ... your salvation and eternal life, here and now. The act of reckoning is to stand on the biblical truth. “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” is a key principle in establishing spiritual growth and progress. Reckoning our position in Christ “you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” and becoming spiritually focused “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” are key steps to physically living “in the world” but not being controlled by and “being of the world.” When we understand these facts we can rise above the cares of the world and it’s temporary problems and temporary solutions. This is what sets Christians who are Biblically focused apart from those who are lost in the cares of the world ("a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways). This is a key element to experiencing the Peace that surpasses all understanding" ... another amazing blessing to be reckoned upon that Jesus has promised to each one of us who have received His free gift of eternal life.

This truth (Reckoning) is an important key to resting in Christ.

My previous post clearly demonstrates the difference between being focused on Christ who is the solution; and relying on the plans of men which are often well meaning but counter productive spiritually. What could possibly be wrong with converting empty buildings of worship of various religions and cults into health centers that provide much needed medical treatment to billions of poor people throughout the world? You tell me when you read this statement from a world renowned Christian pastor: “I am not concerned about your motivation in doing good … as long as you do good." This reinforces the lie that keeps billions of religious and non-religious people blinded to the truth and from turning to Jesus Christ: a works based salvation. Once again, I am not saying this is not a worthy rallying point for good people worldwide to get behind. But I am saying we cannot follow Christ and join together with false religions at the same time. This like all other worldly solutions is temporal. Better than doing nothing ... but we cannot call it Christianity.

Our calling is to preach the gospel to the world ... leading to eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

The statement above makes much sense from a politician who represents those under his leadership from various viewpoints, and who freely believe many different religions and philosophies. But our call as Christians is to be ministers of reconciliation to the lost of the world … not disregard or reinforce their false beliefs and positions. This is where our loyalties come into question. How do your loyalties line up? God, family, self, others, country, environment. There are those who think country and environment should come first; and that our allegiance to Christ and our country should be humbled to the needs of the greater good and our role and responsibilities as citizens of the world. I am sensitive to those priorities; but never in a way that diminishes my Christ given mission and life purpose; and secondarily, my allegiance to my country. First and foremost, I am an ambassador for Christ with a ministry of reconcilliation ... nothing more, and nothing less.

Once we have clarity on our position and how to become spiritually focused following the leadership of the Holy Spirit rather than following feelings, lusts and pride, and the teachings of men; we can truly experience the victory, peace, joy and rest that Christ promises us ... and these promises of Christ are to be reckoned and realized as reality here and now. Our Christ-centered priorities become clear and the cares of the world lose importance in comparison. Providing aid to the sick should be critically important to us all when the love of Christ guides us and controls us. But how much more important is the eternal salvation of those same souls. Sharing Christ with them is the most loving thing we could ever do for anyone ... we have the ability to share with them the "living water" that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ promises everyone.

When Paul uses the example of milk and meat in 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:2, he is giving an example of entering into oneness of mind and purpose with Jesus Christ versus living the same way as we did before the victory and salvation that Christ provided. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food (meat); for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?"

We do not need to walk anymore as mere men. We have the choice to reckon the truth of God's Word as it applies to those who have received the gift of eternal life. We also have victory over our old habits, lust, pride, sin and fears. But we can only have victory in those areas, as we set our mind on Christ and on the things above; and our current position in Christ. Trying to get there as a result of good works is a false teaching that leads to failure, despair and loss. The Holy Spirit will direct us and guide us into His rest … moment by moment, how to live the love of Christ. We must come to understand that here and now … “our life is hidden with Christ in God in the heavenlies. Then our work will be motivated by the Love of Christ; rather than striving after the goals and plans of men.

“The reason so many Christians are not living from their heavenly position in the Liberator is that they are not yet established in the truth of their freedom from the influence of the world. There is a process of reckoning that must be followed: believing Christ's promises to be true ... here and now. Until we know and reckon on the truth of our having died out from under the control of our old nature, we cannot exercise intelligent faith in counting that:

1. we are a new creation in Christ Jesus.
2. we are alive to God in Him.
3. our life is hidden in God through Christ

Once we are established positionally, we will then become established experientially. When we learn to fix our mind on Christ and rest in Him in the heavenlies, we will not be oppressed by self, circumstances, and situations here on earth. Our spiritual position is not down here, praying and pleading for help from Him up there. Just the opposite! We do not need to go to Him for help, but we rest in Him as the All-sufficient One. We do not bring Him down to our level for our use; we abide in Him at His level ... us humbled to Him for His use. Christ is our Christian life; therefore as we grow spiritually we become more like Him. Our father has already glorified us in Christ; our Lord's return will bring about the manifestation of that finished work. “and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:30. Reckon this truth. Count on it and rest in it. For our citizenship is in heaven; from which also we wait eagerly for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” Philippians 3:21
Recommended reading: The Reckoning That Counts … by Miles J. Stanford

God Bless you my friends, Bob

Friday, December 3, 2010

Do You Really Believe?

I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies; and whoever lives
and believes in me will never die. John 11:25.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but through Me.
If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also;
from now on you know Him, and have seen Him. John 14:6-7

The Question for the Canyon's Edge

Have you been there? Have you been called to stand at the thin line that separates the living from the dead? Have you lain awake at night listening to machines pumping air in and out of your lungs? Have you watched sickness corrode and atrophy the body of a friend? Have you lingered behind at the cemetery long after the others have left, gazing in disbelief at the metal casket that contains the body that contained the soul of the one you can't believe is gone?

It is possible that I'm addressing someone who is walking the canyon wall. Someone you love dearly has been called into the unknown and you are alone. Alone with your fears and alone with your doubts. If this is the case, please read the rest of this piece very carefully. Look carefully at the scene described in John 11.

In this scene there are two people: Martha and Jesus. And for all practical purposes they are the only two people in the universe.

Her words were full of despair. "If you had been here ... " She stares into the Master's face with confused eyes. She'd been strong long enough; now it hurt too badly. Lazarus was dead. Her brother was gone. And the one man who could have made a difference didn't. He hadn't even made it for the burial. Something about death makes us accuse God of betrayal. "If God were here there would be no death!" we claim.

You see, if God is God anywhere, he has to be God in the face of death. Pop psychology can deal with depression. Pep talks can deal with pessimism. Prosperity can handle hunger. But only God can deal with our ultimate dilemma—death. And only the God of the Bible has dared to stand on the canyon's edge and offer an answer. He has to be God in the face of death. If not, he is not God anywhere.

Jesus wasn't angry at Martha. Perhaps it was his patience that caused her to change her tone from frustration to earnestness. "Even now God will give you whatever you ask."

Jesus then made one of those claims that place him either on the throne or in the asylum: "Your brother will rise again." Martha misunderstood. (Who wouldn't have?) "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

That wasn't what Jesus meant. Don't miss the context of the next words. Imagine the setting: Jesus has intruded on the enemy's turf; he's standing in Satan's territory, Death Canyon. His stomach turns as he smells the sulfuric stench of the ex-angel, and he winces as he hears the oppressed wails of those trapped in the prison. Satan has been here. He has violated one of God's creations.

With his foot planted on the serpent's head, Jesus speaks loudly enough that his words echo off the canyon walls. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25).

It is a hinge point in history. A chink has been found in death's armor. The keys to the halls of hell have been claimed. The buzzards scatter and the scorpions scurry as Life confronts death—and wins! The wind stops. A cloud blocks the sun and a bird chirps in the distance while a humiliated snake slithers between the rocks and disappears into the ground.

The stage has been set for a confrontation at Calvary.
But Jesus isn't through with Martha. With eyes locked on hers he asks the greatest question found in Scripture, a question meant as much for you and me as for Martha.
"Do you believe this?"

Wham! There it is. The bottom line. The dimension that separates Jesus from a thousand gurus and prophets who have come down the pike. The question that drives any responsible listener to absolute obedience to or total rejection of the Christian faith.

"Do you believe this?"

Let the question sink into your heart for a minute. Do you believe that a young, penniless itinerant is larger than your death? Do you truly believe that death is nothing more than an entrance ramp to a new highway?
"Do you believe this?"

Jesus didn't pose this query as a topic for discussion in Sunday schools. It was never intended to be dealt with while basking in the stained glass sunlight or while seated on padded pews.

No. This is a canyon question. A question which makes sense only during an all-night vigil or in the stillness of smoke-filled waiting rooms. A question that makes sense when all of our props, crutches, and costumes are taken away. For then we must face ourselves as we really are: rudderless humans tailspinning toward disaster. And we are forced to see him for what he claims to be: our only hope.

As much out of desperation as inspiration, Martha said yes. As she studied the tan face of that Galilean carpenter, something told her she'd probably never get closer to the truth than she was right now. So she gave him her hand and let him lead her away from the canyon wall.

"I am the resurrection and the life.... Do you believe this?"
from God Came Near by Max Lucado


So many of us (as many as 90% of Americans) say; "I believe" ... but do you really believe? Do you really "KNOW" what you believe? Of course you say: I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. But take note, my friend ... the scripture says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it ... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5,14.

The truth of the Bible is not a multiple choice question. To believe some; and reject that which we don't understand or like ... is an insult to God; How can someone say; that they believe in Jesus, but reject: "apart from Him nothing came into being, that has come into being"? A primary reason Christians are often called hypocrites by unbelievers is that they say they believe, and then do the opposite of what the Bible teaches; or they reject the truth they do not like or agree with; or that which does not make sense to them. This is man being the god of his own beliefs system. In fact ... they are creating their own religion with Jesus and His salvation fitted in.

Now think about this. Since Jesus and the Word are one and the same ... with God the Creator revealing Himself to us in different ways; and He says: He is Truth and His Word is Truth ... then it is the ultimate hypocrisy to believe Christ on the one hand and reject Him or His Word ... on the other hand. For example: if you do not believe Jesus raised Lararus from the dead, then what is your basis for believing that Jesus can deliver you from death, and into eternal life. All of God's word is truth, or our entire belief system crumbles. That includes the stories of creation, Noah, Jonah, Lazarus and the thousands of other miracles, prophecies, and claims included in the Bible that are difficult for us to understand. God is all knowing and all powerful ... it is sad that men are so prideful that they would think that they know better than the wisdom and knowledge of the creator of their human brain ... the same brain that creates a thought? His power becomes reality for each of us when we have faith in all of who He is and what He has done. Bob

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” 1 Corinthians 3:18-20

God Bless you my friends, Bob