Methods of Determining Truth

I have been in dialogue with two non-Christians lately. The objections are different, but the nature that they represent is the same. The first objection was in the belief in God. The person believes that the sun and moon exist and needs evidence in the same way for God. The second one believes that if the resurrection took place, we need more than natural means to determine it due to it being a supernatural activity.

I believe both hold an illegitimate bias in favor of naturalism and both are the same in that regards. My question to the first is how someone knows that the sun and moon exist. We could say our senses show us. Well how do we know our senses are reliable? There is the chance, after all, that this is all an illusion and anything in the world will seem to be real, but it won’t really be.

Of course, we could just accept the common sense approach. Our senses do give us knowledge about reality. That would be a faith claim though. It would be saying that our minds do fit the world outside of them, but why should I think that on the basis of naturalism? Could I not consider that instead, my mind is playing a trick on me?

Why do I believe God exists then? Because I look at the universe and I see the mark of design and I do not believe it to be an accident. I would say that while we may think the existence of God an incredible doctrine, we should realize that the existence of our next-door neighbor is incredible as well.

Now we come to the second. The objection assumes that we need more for a miracle. How come? Well, it’s because a miracle is an anomaly. It is not part of nature. Yet I am not sure our thinking can be considered part of nature. Are our thoughts the result of purely naturalistic events? If so, why should we trust them? It would be like trusting the answers of a computer that somehow came of an accident.

Let us use another example. Let us suppose a police investigator decided to go to an island on vacation once. This island has been a peaceable place for centuries. The police force down there has an easy time. However, while he’s vacationing, for the first time, a murder takes place. Our detective is a good guy so he goes to see if he can help when discussion starts about a dead body.

He looks at the body and notices signs of foul play and calls for the police chief. The police chief will say “It cannot be that, because murder does not happen here.” Our sleuth will say it just did and the police chief will ask for more evidence because that doesn’t happen here. The investigator gives all he can but the chief refuses to think that. Why? Because murder just doesn’t happen here.

Why should this be different though? If my actions are not caused by purely naturalistic means, then could we not say in some ways that I am an agent acting on nature? Don’t we use forensic science to determine that there are cases where people act on nature in such a way and we can determine what happened even if the event (Which it always is) is unrepeatable?

Why should we treat the resurrection of Christ differently? Why not look at the reports that we have of the event and see their proximity to it, whether their authors can be seen as generally reliable, Whether they are by and large consistent, and then look at any external evidence such as changes in the social structure or archaeology? We can then look to see the context of what happened and see if it fits in overall.

The argument that it’s supernatural just doesn’t cut it. When a man claims a supernatural experience such as seeing an angel, we can either say that the common man is a liar or that angels don’t exist if we want to dismiss the claim right off. However, the Christian is allowed to look at the claim and examine it and see if it could be true. He does not have to dismiss it out of hand.

Now someone might ask, as this one did also, about miracles in other religions. I have no problem with them. I examine the claim like any other claim. If they happened, then they happened. A miracle in a Hindu society does not destroy my faith. However, a miracle in ANY society destroys naturalism. There is one side that obviously might have a bias as there is more to use.

What’s my contention then? Be fair with the evidence. It is all the Christian asks. We must look back at our epistemology and see if any side truly is stacking the deck.

Doing Something Extraordinary

I was looking at the backs of some movies today and saw one named “Pride.” I read what it said on the back and it said that it was about how one ordinary man did something extraordinary. Now I’ve never seen this movie. It may be a great movie. It may be a terrible one. I don’t know. I did think about this claim though. How one ordinary man did something extraordinary. I thought on how that was the selling point of a movie on the DVD.

My mind thought of how C.S. Lewis said there are no ordinary people. Every person you meet will be either a creature you will be tempted to bow down and worship if you saw it now, or will be a creature so scary that your worst nightmares could not picture it. There are no ordinary people.

I pondered that along with this point. If there are no ordinary people, then it would seem that everyone is extraordinary. It seems then that the shocking movie to us would not be about the man who does something extraordinary. It would be about the man who does nothing extraordinary.

Unfortunately, I believe we have reached such a state of mediocrity where we expect that. There are those people that will come along and want to do something great. What will we say? “Come down and live in the real world.” No. The people wanting to do something great should say “Come up and live in the real world.”

A child will often grow up wanting to do something great. Adults he meets will tell him that when he grows up, he’ll get past such childhood delusions. The child needs to respond that maybe the adult needs to become a child again if that means that the adult will get past such adult delusions.

Does this mean you will necessarily be famous? No. You might be. You might not be. It does mean though that you can change things. I would suggest considering a man like Edward Kimball. Who was that? Maybe some of you know. It is quite likely though that most people do not.

Edward Kimball was a Sunday School teacher in the middle of the 19th century who taught 6th grade boys. These boys would gather and were more interested in cracking jokes and making noises with their armpits. Everyone thought Kimball was overwhelmed and didn’t know what he was doing. So did he.

Yet, he tried. He paced around outside the shoe store where one of his students named Dwight worked. He really didn’t want to go in and talk, but he did. He went to the counter and started talking to Dwight about how Jesus had changed his life. When Kimball looked up, he saw that Dwight was crying.

That Dwight, we know today as Dwight L. Moody.

Did Kimball change the world and do something extraordinary? You bet he did! In fact, as I ponder it, he not only changed the world, he changed Heaven and Earth. Heaven is a different place because just one more person was won to Christ. Be you a Calvinist or an Arminian, we all agree the preaching of the gospel leads people to Christ so I don’t think your stance on that issue will effect what I have said.

How did he do it? He talked to someone. Maybe you’ll do it. Maybe you’ll encourage someone. Maybe you’ll preach a message. Maybe you’ll go out and help the poor. Maybe you’ll be a counselor or a teacher. Maybe you’ll write. Maybe you’re financially blessed and you’ll donate to help others.

Whatever you do, let it not be said of us that the shocking thing was that we did something extraordinary. Let it be that we are not one of the shocking few that do nothing extraordinary. We can all do great things if we really see what it is we are doing and how God can take our actions and use them for great things.

And that’s the real way isn’t it? Don’t we need to look and see God behind it all and realize that this is a story that we are involved in? If this is God’s story, how can things NOT be extraordinary? What is not extraordinary? It is the sad reality of simply not participating in this grand story. Rest assured, God will use you in this story somehow, but will he use you willingly or not? Will you willingly enjoy this adventure, or grudgingly be carried along the ride?

That choice is up to you.

Wants

Our evening service at church had ended and I decided to go to the restroom before heading out. I won’t deny this. I hate public restrooms. I think they are the scourge of Satan upon humanity. Nevertheless, while in there, I hear the door to the restroom open and I don’t see anything of course, but here a voice say “If you want your lollipop, you’d better come back out here.”

Often times, we honor a man who says what he thinks, and there is some great truth to that at times. However, I often wish a man would rather think about what he says or in this case, what other people say. I think some great insights lie when we consider basic things about us that are so basic that we forget it.

I immediately realized that this child had two wants. He wanted to explore the restroom for some reason. Obviously, it wasn’t that he needed to go. His parent didn’t want him in the restroom for some reason and he did leave immediately without putting up a fuss. He also had the want of a lollipop. Which want did he act on? The want I would say that was greatest.

Which is what you and I do.

Many of us would like to blame the world for all that goes wrong in our lives. Now there are some circumstances beyond our control. I realize that. There are some circumstances that are really hard to handle. I realize that also. I do realize though that ultimately, if a choice is made, we make it.

If you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off in traffic, then they have done something wrong most likely. I’ll grant that. However, your getting angry with them is your choice. Your wanting to ram their car from behind is your choice. Your stepping on the gas to catch up to them and give them the finger is your choice as well. Your choice to accept it and pray for such an individual is also yours.

Right now, I am preparing for Seminary and my family, particularly my mother, is quite worried about it particularly in the area of finances. I have my own anxieties at times. All the anxiety each of us has though is our choice. She worries about it and is anxious about it because she chooses to be. I worry because I choose to.

Now some of you are saying to me “That’s how a mother is.” That is probably a mother’s natural inclination I’ll grant, but she does not have to give in to it. A mother does not have to worry. She chooses to. I do not condemn concern, but I do think that worry is something different from concern as worry too often excludes God.

Every choice you make implies that you could have made a choice in another way. I am typing one word now. I could have chosen to type another word. If there was no choice, I cannot really say I was acting on a want. I was merely acting in a way that I had to act for there was no other way.

Even an action done under force is still a want. Someone might say that if a thief puts a gun to your back and tells you to give your wallet, you have no choice. You do though. You can give your wallet. You can choose to get shot instead. You can even choose to try to go kung fu on the guy. To give in to a threat is still a choice and you could do it because you value your life more. Someone suicidal, for instance, might say “Go ahead and shoot.”

This also shows our choice to be happy or not to be. If we are not happy, it is for a simple reason. We choose not to be.  If we worry, it is because we choose to. Why woud we do such? I think the answer is obvious. We have two choices in the matter. We can worry, or we can trust God. Being happy also means that we surrender trust to God. We choose in that case either to trust or not to trust.

Why do we sin also? There’s one reason. We choose to. Why? For some reason, we want to more than we don’t want to. The problem is not with God. The problem is with us. Our wants need to be changed. We have no grounds upon which to blame God (Or anyone else really) for any wrong that we do. It ultimately comes down to one thing. We chose to do it.

What do I suggest then? We need to pray to change our wants. Let’s be honest. We might even want to pray “Lord, a large part of me doesn’t want to change this way, but I do know it’s for the best. I want you to change my wants.” My guess is before too long, that will happen.

And for that reason we should praise God. Not just because he’s done great things, but because hopefully by then, we’ll want to.

Being God’s Elect

Some of you might think I’m posting something Calvinist here. I’m not. Some of you are thinking I’m Arminian then. I’m not sure. I wouldn’t even consider myself Molinist entirely. The question is still up in the air with me. However, I do know the Bible says that we are God’s elect and we should all agree with that if we are saved children of God. How that process is worked out anyone else can debate. For now though, I am simply using the term to refer to Christians.

The passage I’m thinking about is at the start of 1 Peter 1. In it, Peter speaks of God’s elect first off. Now one thing that has to be understood was that this was a dyadic society. It simply means that you were known by who you were related to or in a favored position with. Hence, a person in the Israelite genealogy is introduced as X, son of Y.

What is being said here then? We have seen enough debates on what it means to be elect. In all the Calvinism/Arminianism debates, I think a sad truth has been lost. We are God’s elect. We spend so much time debating on the process that we don’t enjoy the reality. We are like patients that have been cured of a disease but never take the time to live because we’re too busy arguing over how we were cured.

Does the discussion matter now? Of course it does. However, it doesn’t matter to the point of dividing the body which has too long happened. We can all unite on this one fact. We are God’s elect. Maybe you believe that status can be lost. Very well. You are elect now and you should be united with those who don’t think so and vice-versa. Both sides are guilty on this one.

But I too digress. To the point, we need to return.

The reality was that these people were all scattered around the world in various places. However, all of them had something in common. They were all God’s elect. No matter how great the divide may be, God’s elect dwell everywhere. All of them are elect as well and all of them are brothers and sisters we are called to love.

With the reality of the internet, this is becoming more and more real to us. People all across the world can interact now without having to even leave their homes. I can read something from someone in Australia and then turn and read something from someone in Canada and then turn and read something from my church just a few miles away.

Each one I’m talking to though is one of God’s elect. Why does that term matter so much? We are the ones that have been saved by God. Our status is determined by our relationship to God. We are either elect or we are not. We are either for him, or against him.

What a great position we are in though. We may be scattered throughout the world. We may be a diverse group. We may attend different denominations and hold different views on eschatology, predestination, baptism, tongues, the age of the Earth, or any other issue. We are all still members of the body of Christ united by that bond that we share no matter where we live and no matter what our stance on such secondary issues.

That is cause to rejoice. What better way to recognize yourself than one who is in favor with God? That is the language of the time. Those who were saved were those who had God’s favor as their patron. They were to live their lives in honor of him and he would be the one who at the end would say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

If we really believe this though, let’s act like it. I have several friends who I differ from on secondary issues and we never ever discuss it. It just doesn’t matter. We unite on Christ. I can discuss them with other people, but when they become a point of division, it’s time to stop. How is it that we can say we unite on Christ but because of that secondary issue, we’d best not share company? Is the secondary issue greater than the primary issue? Are we saying that while it’s great they believe in Christ, it’s a shame they hold to X view on the rapture?

No. It’s time to unite. One of the signs of our faith will be that we love one another. Let’s show that sign.

Reflection Time

Let me let you in on a secret of mine. It’s a practice I’ve been trying to instill more regularly throughout my day. Now I have several friends on here that I enjoy speaking to and they know that. However, as much as I enjoy speaking to them, I need some time to myself. Thus, after writing my blog and getting some responses, I usually sign off.

Sunday afternoons are one huge exception. I spend Sunday afternoons usually in leisure bonding with a game. I’ll also in the meantime have MP3s playing of an apologetic nature. Sometimes I’ll listen to debates and sometimes I’ll listen to Seminary courses. Either way, there’s no chatting at that time and no debating. It’s simply relaxing.

The other times though are dedicated to reading. I read the Scriptures and then I read any other book I can. I usually have at least one good book that I’m going through (For instance, I am currently reading David DeSilva’s “Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity”) at the time and then I can read other interesting works. I might read Plato or Chesterton. I’ve lately been trying to go through the Qu’ran and the Apocrypha.

By the way, I find such activity helpful with other religions. I was fortunate enough to find a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita lying around at the mall and I plan on reading that. I think Christians should familiarize themselves with the other holy books. We don’t like a Muslim telling us what the Bible says when they haven’t read it. We should have the same respect.

The Apocrypha doesn’t count as another religion. After all, it is part of our faith tradition even if you’re a Protestant like myself. These were the thoughts that the Jews of the time of Christ were also interacting with and it can help us to familiarize ourselves with them. Not only that, there is some great wisdom in them.

This time I find most essential and if I have time, I will even end it with watching a Smallville DVD. However, the reading reminds me of who I am. I have my recliner here and I just sit back and get a drink and maybe a snack and read and see what comes to me. It is a recharging of batteries.

None of us can run continuously and that doesn’t just mean getting a good night’s sleep. (Lately though, I find myself envying the times when they went to bed when the sun went down and rose again when the sun came up.) This means time in spiritual activity. I wish I could say I was there with prayer already at this point, but I am still working on that one. We all have a way to go. Managing my time has never been a strong point, but setting aside time in the morning and evening when it doesn’t conflict with work helps.

I think we should all have such times to remain strong. There are times to tell friends “I’m busy” and your true friends will understand. Mine always have. I also will say that while the life of the mind is important, take time for just leisure as well. Be willing to go and be with friends sometimes. The fellowship of others is important. While I prefer to be to myself, I do know I have to have the companionship of others in many areas.

Is there anything really apologetic tonight then? Not particularly. However, I will say that time alone will help one in their apologetic endeavors. We all need a break and we all need to learn to focus. Find some reflection time and do that.

Morality and the Lord of the Flies

If you’ve never read the Lord of the Flies, I urge you to do so. I had to read it in my 10th grade English class and it was one book I was definitely on top of. When a student came in from another class who understood the symbolism of the book, the teacher always knew that they’d been talking to me.

What happens in it? A bunch of boys fly away from England during World War 2 and end up crashing on an island. They must all form tribes and survive. However, factions arise and in the end, the more warlike of the tribe tries to destroy the more moral of the tribe. There are two deaths. The first is of the Christ figure in the book. The second is of the one that represents rationality.

Which is exactly where our culture is going.

We can see this in ourselves though. Let us suppose that we want to do something and we are convinced in many ways that it is immoral. What do we call the process where we convince ourselves that it really is “okay”? We say that we are rationalizing it. We may not have moral reasons, but we’ll find a rational reason. (In root, to go against the commands of God is always irrational.)

What has our society done? Largely begun in the 60’s, we have relativized our morality. The sexual revolution and the philosophy of Sartre along with the “God is dead” movement led us to say that there are no moral standards. It’s not a shock that abortion came through that open door.

Where have we gone then? Who are the high priests of our culture if not the real priests? They are the scientists. Rationality has become the basis for everything. Man has become convinced that by his reason alone, he can conquer the universe. He can be the one who will in the end stand on the Earth.

Now I’m not against rationality at all. I love it. I am against rationality without the parameters of guidance set by God. I do not believe such rationality exists. The person who wishes to use rationality is actually borrowing from the Christian worldview and then placing it in his own.

Can rationality survive for long without morality though? Not at all. Morality is rooted in God and once we abandon God, we abandon the basis for rationality. Before too long, we will even be calling rationality into question and seeing if we can really discover anything at all through thinking. Science, I predict, if it continues down the materialistic path will hang itself by its own rope. Science with God is great. Science apart from God is impossible.

Isn’t this happening in Postmodern circles already? Have we not seen this in religious pluralism? Don’t we see it in sayings like “True for you but not for me?” The very foundation of truth is so shattered that in the 80’s Allan Bloom could say that any university professor can be sure of one thing upon first seeing his students. They all believe or say they believe, that truth is relative.

What happens then? Exactly what happened in the Lord of the Flies. Chaos. The righteous stragglers left behind are routed out for getting in the way of the culture that seeks to fulfill its own desires. Don’t think such things haven’t happened. I would say that is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany.

I’ve been in dialogue with a very friendly atheist lately who said that people just wouldn’t choose the path of Hitler to life instead of the response of Christ. There’s a problem with that. Hitler chose it. The Nazis chose it. Germany chose it. There were several people who chose that path. Why shouldn’t they if God is not there and morality is an illusion and the mind can give no truth? Why not just seek for pleasure and whatever you want?

I have seen many atheists go down this path in their personal lives. Fortunately, the one I mentioned doesn’t seem to be of this type. I am thinking of one right now though who at a time seemed rational and able to discourse, but the fall he had was a moral one that led to skepticism and finally atheism and the more he went down that path, the more irrational he got. It is an inevitable consequence. Man will have to justify more and more and that will require a lie and not truth.

What’s the answer? The same one the boys on the island had. We need outside help. When help arrived, things were put right. What is our help? We need to return to Christ and start living the life. I believe that Christ is the only hope for restoring America to the glory she once had. I say this with sadness as a proud American, I do not believe our culture can last long the more we reject God.

So what are you going to do about it?

The Wonder Of What Is

Reading the writings of G.K. Chesterton on fairyland and hearing the philosophers talk about ordinary life I find important in reminding us of what is. There is this idea that there is glory all around us and we miss it not because we don’t see it so much as we don’t recognize it. It is like we were walking down railroad tracks and pass up what we think is a chunk of fool’s gold that turns out to be real gold.

All around us is real gold. In fact, not only all around us but all within us. C.S. Lewis in his book “Miracles” uses the simple process of thinking to show that the supernatural has broken into our world. It’s a marvelous argument and I highly recommend this work, along with all of C.S. Lewis’s works. The apologetics world was greatly blessed by having this mind in it.

Yet the trait of seeing what is is something we are losing. We think that because we know what causes lightning today, that we can somehow rule it out as being sent by the gods. Why? If God exists, could he not use a natural process in a supernatural way? Are we obligated to eliminate God once we learn how something works?

This is a problem science presents us with that we Christians need to stand against. The fear of many scientists is that the idea of God creating something will destroy science as we will no longer ask how it came to be. I believe the opposite is true. If anything will destroy science, it is not religion. It is irreligion.

Science is good with its foundation of rationality and order in the universe in the mind of a rational and orderly God. When that is removed though and science tries to declare that this God does not exist, as some are doing even now, then that foundation will have to be eliminated as well. With that, science of that type will only disprove itself. There will be no basis for science, or for that matter, knowledge any more.

With the foundation of religion, we can say that this world is God’s world. When we say that, we already have enough reason to wonder. However, we can look into our wonder. God made the cell?! Wow! Let’s see if we can figure out how it’s been put together and what purpose it serves. When we see life from that perspective, we will find some purpose in everything.

We will also find wonder in realizing that something that is could not have been. Our neighbor who lives nearby could not have been. (We could consider the reality of abortion sadly. How many people might have been today that didn’t get the chance because of the evil of people’s hearts?) We should celebrate the existence of each for they might not have been.

This will also help us with the Problem of Evil. The skeptics complain so much about the world being full of evil. They need to be answered, but they need to backtrack as well. They need to realize that they are speaking about the world first. Then, they are predicating something of it. When they say “The world is full of evil,” we need to tell them to drop the last three words first and then simply go with “The world is” and think about that.

Reality is ultimately fascinating and wonderful. The problem is us. We just don’t take the chance to enjoy it and like the walkers on the railroad track, we miss out on real gold simply by calling it common.

Physical Magic

One thing I believe as an apologist is that while new arguments are good, the best apologetic in many ways is simply reality. Are we going to take reality as it is or are we going to deny it? Are we going to see wonder in all that is around us or are we going to discount it all as an accident?

This is also a question for us as Christians. Are we going to be amazed at the universe that God has created as our giant playground, or are we going to nitpick about it? We are like people who get a new car to drive in, but then we get angry because when we look close at it, we notice a tiny dent on one side.

I thought about this some as I was at a church event tonight playing volleyball with my class. You do not have to guess how I play. I am not athletic at all and it was a miracle I thought the times I got it over the net. Many guys are proud of their achievements in slamming the ball over the net to get a point. I am simply thrilled if I even manage to touch a ball that’s hit to me. Through this, by some miracle, the team I was on won.

Yet as I watched, I noticed that things were happening. A ball would be rolled on the ground to the server and someone in the way would just part their legs as if the balls course had been predetermined to go right where they were. Throws would be made that hit their target every time.

I used to watch Braves baseball and I thought back to that. I remember being so stunned that the ball was so small and the field was so big but no matter what, if it was a fly ball that was fair and not a home run, you could be assured that the outfielder would catch it. It seemed to me the strangest wonder. How could they see such a small object so often in the sun even and catch it every single time? You would think something was dreadfully wrong if they didn’t.

I also thought back to watching the Ninja Turtles cartoons when I was growing up. When Raphael, for instance, would burst in on the enemy and throw his sai, you knew that it would always hit the target. Granted, that was a cartoon and not reality, but I think it hits on an idea in reality. Those with the ability are marvels to watch.

I consider it magic. You would have thought that it was written out according to a script, but it hasn’t been. It is simply day to day life. It is simply people living out their world but they act as if the world will handle things a certain way. The thrower of the ball acts as if he expects the ball to take the intended path and hit its target. Some may call that the laws of science, to which they are correct, but cannot the laws be considered magical? Could they not be an enchantment that has been cast on the world to bring order and to prevent chaos?

Yet some of you will think me silly for writing this perchance. You will say it is simply natural. My reply is that what is natural is simply marvelous. When we reduce it to mere mechanics, we remove the wonder. When we think about what puts the mechanics in motion and what is behind the mechanics and how they serve a higher purpose, then we can have wonder.

Especially if we think that it could have been another way. I do not believe laws of logic or morality could have been another way. I do believe physical laws could be another way. I can imagine a world where I can run at 200 MPH. I cannot imagine one where I am running and not running in the same time and in the same sense. I cannot imagine one where running down the street is immoral.

Yet when I see the world could have been another way, it makes me marvel that God made this world the way it is for a reason. I do not see naturalism able to explain my wonder as it reduces all to mechanics. Even the idea of wonder must be mechanical in some way. Love is mechanical even where sex truly is “just sex” with simply bodies uniting and yet not having to have the souls connect. Two strangers can have casual sex as its called when it is simply mechanics.

Any wonder you have is not really there. It is simply the mechanics of a chemical reaction. Any love you have is not really there. It is simply the mechanics of a chemical reaction. In fact, if naturalism is true, it is not because your thinking is better that you realize that. It is simply because the chemicals in your brain are working one way to produce the thought that they are not in another brain.

I say no. Now I am not a sports fan, but I do find a hidden magic in the physical world as it is. I am not speaking of the magic that I sometimes hit the ball. I am speaking of the magic that the ball comes to me, that I am capable of moving my hand, and that I am capable of hitting it in a certain direction.

That is magical.

We Will be Conformed

Trek fans will know this link well, and I am sure I have it right this time when referencing Star Trek, of “You will be assimilated.”It is the line that the Borg give to indicate that resistance is futile. There is no “might” within that. They speak like it’s a certainty. I had such a moment in the church service last night.

Our pastor preached on Romans 8:28-30. Like most churches I suspect, we read the passage first. As we read, I listened, and it was one of those times again where I felt like I was hearing it for the first time. During the times we read, I don’t read alone because I want to hear the words fresh as if Paul’s letter was being read to me or Jesus in the gospels was speaking and I was in the audience.

I love this passage. I’ve heard it several times. However, with my emphasis lately on the image of God, I noticed something in this passage I had never heard before and it was enough to change my mood in a good way. In fact, I had my own private worship service going on I’m sure after hearing that. Let’s read it as the NIV records it.

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

This verse is a key verse in answering the so-called “Problem of Evil.” However, I would like to focus mainly on verse 29, though verse 30 does play a part. The Bible is clear and straight-forward here. We are to reflect the nature of God as I have said before and have all removed from us that does not reflect him.

What does this passage say? “If you live a righteous life, you will be conformed.” No. “If you attend enough church, you will be conformed.” No. “If you have enough faith, you will be conformed.” No. It simply comes right out and says that if you are a Christian you will be conformed. All of these are good, but they’re not what the passage speaks of.

Notice also what else it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say “A few good ones will be conformed.” It doesn’t say “You might be conformed.” It doesn’t tell us that being conformed is for the most righteous of all or it doesn’t mean that it is only for a select few. (If you are a Calvinist, consider my meaning a select few of the elect.)

This is one of those times when I wonder if we really realize the truth of what the Bible says. As this dawned on me what was being said, I thought my world was being rocked. This means that at some point in the future, I WILL be conformed to the likeness of Christ. I will walk as a true reflection of God. I will be free from the sinful nature.

Such a thought should leave us in excitement. If it doesn’t, it could just be further indication that we’re not free yet. It could show that we don’t know how bad our sinful nature is and/or how good the nature of Christ is for us. It means that the truth of what we believe hasn’t hit home yet.

What a great thought it is! You don’t have to wonder if this will happen. You can be sure it will. God has promised it and if you do not think God is a liar, you will have to believe that he can deliver it. There will come a day when you will walk in perfection as you are conformed to the likeness of the Son.

For unlike the borg, God can always and always will deliver on his promises.

He Sat Down

I had to fill in for a friend today in teaching Sunday School. I was teaching boys of the High School age and quite enjoyed it. I was to teach on what Jesus was doing after his resurrection. Oh we had some occasional side notes, but by and large, we stuck to the lesson and we had a great time.

Time for a side note from me. I love teaching. I just do. My family tells me that even behind the pulpit, I teach more than I preach. Maybe so. I love it though. There is nothing like seeing the “eureka moment” as I call it when someone finally gets it. I was even up later last night talking to a friend about Plato’s doctrine of the forms. (Dude. You know who you are. You’re awesome. Just want you to know that.) Was I tired today? Yeah. It was sure worth it though.

I say that though because one thing becomes clear if you do any teaching. You will learn more from teaching than your students do most likely. Such is the case of my blog. It was something that I’d “known” but there are times that you read something or hear something you’ve heard before and the reality of what it is hits you.

Now the first passage was the first one we read with the phrase, but I’m going to include all of them from the book of Hebrews. All quotations are from the NIV.

1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

8:1 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,

10:12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When we read verse 3, I told the boys that there was a shocking phrase in that passage. None of them would have dreamed that I was telling them that it was “he sat down.” What did that mean? It meant one thing. It meant that Jesus sat down because the work he had was done.

What was his work? Purification for sins in the mission that he was on from the Father. Jesus has purified us. We are justified in his sight. The work is done. No longer does a sacrifice have to be offered. It is done for all time. He sat down waiting for his enemies to be made into his footstool.

Some of us are thinking that this is what we know, but I often ask of the things we know if we have realized them yet. Has the full meaning of what we believe hit home? Have we really realized that our sins are covered? Do we fully grasp the idea that Jesus’s work of redeeming us is done?

This is one reason I say we need to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday and to each other. We can say “Well we already know the gospel.” Of course we do. Do we realize it yet though? Maybe one day when we are told of the love of God, we will see that God really does love us as we are.

For now though, look at those passages again. The Hebrews writer tells us this four different times in the same book. It’s obviously something he wanted us to grasp.

Maybe it’s time we did.