Thursday, 8 March 2018

A saving faith in a saving God: Yeshuah/Jesus

Why does it have to be Jesus? "There are so many other teachers of truth surely? Isn't it pathetic to hark back two thousand years ago when everything else has developed far beyond the primitive world view of the first century Jews and Romans and Greeks? There are many ways to find god, you are mad to claim to know the truth when truths are so many. If anything can be true in a universe that has been proven to be relative. You are stupid in maintaining that Jesus lived and was what we are told, it is all fake news that you hold on to."

These and many other such responses come from people with whom you share your belief in Christ. They will amiably chat about everything from knitting yarn to politics, from carburettors to milkshakes, from soap operas to the latest Come dancing scandals, but when the topic turns to Jesus Christ, i. e. the one and only reason for the hope that is in us, then there are suddenly awkward birds on the wire. Now and then we get an interested responder who genuinely wants to know, but most often all kinds of protests are made along the lines above. What we do believe is really not comme il faut in our contemporary mindset. We appear to many as archaic draggers of feet, fossilized anachronisms, who have not managed to catch on to the news of the day.

There is something totally disdainful in our confessing Christ in the eyes of many. It stirs up a plethora of emotions and scepticism and downright frostiness in the relationship to the world around. So we are silenced at times because the very reactions bring us to our knees and  the rejection of our testimony feels like a rejection of ourselves. And we like to be liked. We can well understand how the modern 'seeker friendly' gospels preached have such a great following, they never affront anybody and give people what they want, or so it seems. Are they getting what they need, we may ask? Well that is no longer for us to wonder about, because each man is the only one who knows what he needs, and we have no business to say otherwise.

So the saviours preached are to each man what he wants and therefore nobody can say "this is the Messiah, and this only". The very exclusiveness of the claims of Christ as recorded in the bible are rejected as being elitist and exclusive. How hateful isn't that!  And when it is enclosed in a 'sine qua non' follow-up then things can get really ugly. "You are such a bigot, you claim to know what God wants from us! And who are you to talk, look at all your failings. How judgmental you are! God is only love, he never judges anybody!" Any hint of a demand for repentance before reconciliation is poo pooed, any smattering of "you must be born again" is met with blank denial that there is anything really wrong with us except a little ignorance. Anything that remotely sounds as you must become as children is considered contrary to the great human spirit.

So why insist on Jesus Christ being what he claimed to be?  Why keep on getting bad vibes from people when you could be getting all smiles with a less provocative statement? Alluring question, is it not? Why chase people out of church with the cross of Christ when you could fill it with "the unconditional love of God?"


Indeed why?  

Some good reasons why:

1. Unless what Jesus did and said was true then there is no such thing as either faith in God or a church to go to. Unless what has been reported about him in the holy scriptures is reliable fact then we have no cause for anything called christian faith and all its derivatives called "christian churches". 

Christendom has very little to do with what Christ calls faith as recorded in the bible. In fact the very existence of Christendom is the most effective way of hiding Christ from the world. People who are believers are that not because of the churches, but because they in simplicity and humility accepted the offer that God made through Christ. That happens where ever a human being means business with God. In or out of churches.

2 A saving faith is only a meaningful concept to a lost and faithless human. Without an acute understanding of the need for salvation  no Saviour is needed. But to reduce Jesus to be only Lord in some sense (a Lordship carefully monitored by the would be powers in the world and churches alike) and to deprive Him of the main reason for coming: "To seek and to save what was lost" is to tell  less than a half truth, and by definition it is then a whole lie. If nobody is lost in a biblically defined sense then there is no need for salvation. Obviously not. But Christ came to give his life as a ransom for many, a ransom without which they would remain lost for ever. 

The record shows that were soever Christ went people saw themselves as unclean and sinners, demons yelled confessions of his true status and begged him not to torment them before the appointed time. Where the fact of his death on the cross was preached there he caused a mighty upheaval in the souls of men and women alike and they shouted: "what must we do to be saved?" Are we then surprised when our mention of Christ stirs up anger? "We are not slaves, we are free!" Christ came to release the captives, but they may not like to be told that they have been the servants of God's enemy! The slave mentality functions best when they believe their slavery to be their freedom. And not seeing the need for salvation they keep on being willing to stay as they are rather than set out a long journey into the unknown. By faith in the guide!!

3 Jesus the Christ claimed to be the only way to the Father. As no other ways are offered it seems wise to tread that only. But why go towards the Father? Who is he? God is One we are told. In what sense is it then likely that the ways to God must be many? Oh for sure, every human must walk towards God on his or her own two feet, or shuffle on their underarms and bottom, or which ever way necessary, but irrespective of the manner of motion towards God they all come to the same gate. "I am the door into the fold" "I am the true shepherd." "No man comes to the Father but by me." It is a non-negotiable statement made by Him who is the door. And at that the only one.

Dare you call this a bluff, and will you call it?  Will you say, nay I can't imagine a loving God making such a  narrow door? What of all who have not a chance of knowing about Him? I turn the question against you: there is not only a door, but also a road to it: "I am the way, the truth and the life." By what fiendish imagination do you demand another and different and shorter or better? What can you find to improve on a manner of approach that The Only True and Wise God has defined and proclaimed? Are you God's counsellor? Have you been invited to advise God on the issue?  The way God made is simple, it demands that you become like a child before the Father, and that the one way of being well received by that same Father is to come as a lost child yearning for home. You do not negotiate better terms when you are offered salvation. It would be like being caught in a blizzard on an alpine rock wall and only accept rescue from a troupe of clowns from a circus.

Only when you come to yourself will you realize what you have lost and what you still may find if you go back to the Father, and to do so  you cannot bypass His son Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus is central and crucial.


4 "The words that I speak to you are spirit and life".  Existing and living are two different things. Exist we do because we are living souls, as vital as any cabbage, ox or butterfly, but neither any more and as unconcerned about eternity. Living comes in when you have been given the life quality of Him who is a life-giving Spirit. And it is  His word that creates that life in you in exchange for your existence as a egotist self. He gives himself to you. No part exchange. You have no genuine spiritual being until the Holy Spirit of God has been given to you. But that Spirit is the Gift of Christ to you, in order that Christ himself might live in and through you. Being a christian is not the mere acceptance of a statement of faith. It is accepting for yourself Him who is the one in whom you believe. Without the presence of Christ in a human, there is no rightful claim to be a christian.  The sole object of Faith is Christ.

5 The one and final arbiter of how we have lived and spoken is  Christ. "For the father judges no man. He has given over all judgment to the Son, ..He has given all judgment to the Son because he is the Son of man."  There is therefore no condemnation for them who are in Christ." "This is the judgement that they do not believe in Him whom God has sent." "For every idle word that men speak will be brought to account on the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned." These are the words of the gospels and the apostles who were with Jesus for three years. It takes a brave man to ignore Jesus Christ. And also a very very foolish one.


6 "We preach not ourselves, but Christ crucified and ourselves as servants for His sake." "The preaching of the cross is a folly to those who prefer to be lost, but it is like a welcome aroma to those who see their need for salvation." The one factor that nerves the christian ministry is the cross of Christ. Removing the cross is the same as removing the one stumbling block that brings men to their knees. And it is in vogue in our time to let people come into the church without the cross as a reality in their understanding of  what the cost has been to the Lord and Saviour to thus open the gates for all to come in. The cross has been ignored in many a way and the effects of it is also missing. 

The cross is not just the place of the death of Christ on our behalf it is also the point at which God reconciled the world to Himself. There He who had no sins of his own to pay for payed for ours, all of ours, that whosoever will look up to Him on the cross also will be drawn to Him and raised up from having stumbled onto their faces. "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me"  When there is no longer a proclamation of the mystery of the work on the cross, then another gospel is preached than that given by Christ to his disciples. And another gospel can no longer do what the preaching of Christ is called to do.

When Christ is no longer lifted up so that he draws all men to him, then he will be dragged down to the cheap common level of men and be used for their ends.

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" That word is once and for all given to all the saints and is contained in that which we call the bible. So as truly as Euclides discovered some fundamental mathematical principles in the field of geometry, long before our time, but his findings are virtually identical to what we know today, and needed never to be improved upon, so the eternal principal teachings of and about Christ have been truly handed down to us.

The choice is ours

We have one choice to make: look at the things that scripture claims about Him, address Him personally, and then accept what is said and thereby become part of what He came to do, or study and deny Him and accept the loss of all that He is. But don't play games with the message. Like no other it has eternal consequences. If you reject Euclidian principles in geometry the only things that suffer will be some buildings on earth. Ignore the Bible and the message of Christ, and you will be naked before the throne of God and have no eternal home to go to. And while you live as they did in the days of Noah, eating drinking and playing all day long constantly on the chase for new temporary satisfactions, you will lay up for yourself no treasures in Heaven at all.

"This is eternal life, that they know you, Heavenly Father, and Him whom you have sent". And no, before you say that you are not interested in everlasting life, I must tell you that eternal life is not about time at all, but about quality of life now. Available in Christ Jesus  Alone. And now.


So tell me: how could I deliberately bypass all this on the spurs of becoming popular? Do you truly expect me to be quiet when I know all this about the Messiah, the Christ and Lord. And what better offer can you make? 

True, for the sake of Christ there are lots of things we can well do without. And we will seem unsuccessful and impoverished and living on a shoestring and never really landing in this world of vain emptiness. You see, we have been made for eternity, and will never be satisfied until the eternal becomes the core of our temporal being.

He is eternally The son of God and the Son of man. We are expecting Him back to earth to gather those who love him. Maybe soon.. maybe later, no matter, we wait.



-----
Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster  February 8th 2018




Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Blogtext: What the atheist should consider before it is too late.



As the atheists are becoming more and more vociferous, more and more dominant and more and more in command of the public mindset, and also seem to be "king of the hill" in most media, it seems necessary to ponder what they are ignorant of and what the consequences could and will  be if they are wrong about their basic assumptions.

"A-theist" from greek a=without and theos=god, is taken to mean that they do not believe in the existence of any god. It also nearly always includes the belief that since there is no evidence for God in the naturalistic sense of what can be proven by the normal scientific methods of proof for the existence of things within our observable universe, therefore God cannot "be". If a god exists, they argue, it is simply a construction by mankind. It is  a matter to be relegated to the realm of ideas, fantasy, wishful thinking or some such category of human thought. Science has proven long ago, they say, that God as such does not and cannot exist, there is simply no evidence for 'god'.

They know of course that their own position could only be possible in a world where the majority actually do believe in one or other God. They are also fully aware that they cannot prove the non-existence either. But they rest on their assumption that if they don't believe it, then what they do not believe must also not exist. Admittedly that is a great leap of faith.

One seldom addressed starting point in every debate about this issue is the absence of agreed starting point. The atheist adheres to a world view that says that nothing exists outside the scientifically observable universe. And that all explanations must be in accord with that limitation. The believer on the other hand knows that origins are never reproduced within the product created. In other words, the bread is never found  to contain the baker and therefore it is useless to find the evidence for a baker in the bread. The world view of the believer starts by the recognition that the things that are in existence have a non material starting point. Hence the material that can be studied is not very good at explaining how it came into being.

So the debates between the two parties about "god" have very different assumptions to start with, no wonder that most such debates are won only on rhetoric and who got most applause from the more or less informed audience.

One observable strain are the increasing bouts of very emotional responses, not seldom venomous and hateful, certainly none of those reactions  show forth a scientific mind. Many other elements beyond rational proof rear their heads when this matter is up for discussion. The faults causing them rest in attitudes on both side of the fence. Sometimes it looks as ugly as two pitbulls fighting for the same bone. Neither side fully understand the bone of contention but both think it to be theirs by right or might.

Atheism starts on the assumption that God must be part of creation. And as studies of creation do not seem to show God then God must be excluded. The apparent folly of that assumption is so obvious that it seems totally irrational. And the more rational they claim to be in their search for God where god is not, the more irrational they become. What are trade marks for? To show producer, to validate quality claims, to prove provenance and origins. Why is the world clamouring for products with status names such as Breitling, Dolce Gabbana, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Dior, Vuitton and Rolex and a million others? Because origins matter and because unless the label is affixed and shown then the origin cannot be readily proven. But not one of the items in themselves prove their producers. Cotton is cotton, silk is silk, precision clockwork is just that and all makers put their marks on it. Because that is indeed important. And no atheist goes shopping believing that anything he wants has made itself. Nobody picks up a little black dress from Coco Chanel and expects to find Coco in it.

But they are fools enough to pick the world apart looking for God. And unable to do so they then deny the existence of what they could not find.

The starting point for the believer is totally different. It is totally rational, logical and self evident that as nothing on the shop-shelves is made by itself so nothing that is in existence of all the things that make up the known universe has made itself either. Thus the believer believes in a maker on the most sensible understanding that the maker of anything is outside of the thing. Just as the baker, thank goodness, is not a part of the bread. But the atheist position is cemented on the firm belief that the maker must be visible in the product.

"Quod erat demonstrandum". Latin for "What is to be proved". And not "quod erant demonstrandum"  "Which has been proved"  It has not ever been proved that the maker of something is part of and completely contained in the produced object. A thing that is made has purpose, has defined limitations and is based on a mass of information that is not in the product as such but remains with the maker. The recipe that I use for baking the bread is never found in the loaf. It stays in my head. But here the atheists have painted themselves into the corner and cannot get out. The one factor that would let them out is the realisation that there is a rational, intelligent, immensely sagacious owner and maker of everything, including themselves, outside of their observable realm.

The christian view is simple: "It is in God that we breathe, move, think, live and have our entire being." We are part of what God has made. and to step out of that domain in order to study it from the outside would mean first of all that we must leave behind the realm in which we already 'breathe,move, live, think'. By doing so we would no longer have either thought breath or mind to study anything and neither could we after the research is done climb back and tell of what we found.

As we cannot even exist outside of what God is the quest for finding God is seemingly a lost cause, is it not? No, for there is another issue here at stake. The christian also believes that "..That which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God as shown it to them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, and so they are without excuse."
God has made himself known in his creation. But God is not a part of it. God is not in it as if it was God.

Creation carries the evidence of the power and mind behind it. And as long as that evidence is taken in, then creation-studies will lead to God. But this is where things go so wrong: "Because that, although they knew God, they did not glorify God as God but became vain in their thoughts and began to worship creation, then they were on a track into the folly of exchanging the invisible and eternal for the natural and the temporal. Thinking themselves wise they became fools."

That is the  divine verdict on atheism. Looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place is excused by wrong thinking and leads to lots of wrong doing.

What should the atheist ponder?

1 What is the scientific evidence for the existence of his own rational thought capacity?  By what empirical methods has he proven the existence of his own rationality? Is it not more likely that he takes his ability to be rational by faith?

And by what stretch of imagination does he discount a rational reason for his existence by that same rational faculty? The ability to think rationally is not accidental. But that he must believe if there is no Rationality behind his own existence.
Can it not be shown that the atheist is very irrational on any number of other issues? What is the scientific basis for believing in concepts like "truth, honesty, democracy, love and solidarity, human rights and international agreements"? Those are softwares whose existence is unprovable by the very terms used to demand proof of God. They still believe some or all of them unless their intellectual despair has already put them in the hands of the psychopharmacologists. 

2 The atheist, as in deed any other person should  also consider this: any search done on any issue is not objective in itself but always is contaminated as it were by the presuppositions that the student brings to his studies. That means that whatever is found has to fight against both the intellectual and the presuppositional reluctance on the student's part to relinquish the previous position. 

The evidence is that people believe what they want, not necessarily the facts. If mankind was "innocent" and not morally preconditioned against God, things would be different. But such moral innocence is a myth. We may not start out weighted against God, (let the children come to me, to such belongs the kingdom of God) and only acquire a sceptical position from our learning from the world around us, but all society is nowadays only to eager to help in that wrong direction. I believe that children ask about God in one way or other, not because they don't know about God on a deep inner level, but because they want to know what is accepted among those older.  Whatever is the real truth in that, one thing is sure: nobody is a pure student accepting only what he finds. Even the choices where to look and how to search are loaded with presuppositions and often man-made prejudices.

The likelihood of a moral prejudice is at least equally as great as the desire to find out the truth. 

3 Few people would actually claim to be intelligent enough and intellectually capable of understanding a higher, more complex, purer and more complex mind than their own. So the need to first 'find fault' with God and reduce the matter to a caricature of their own making which they then turn away from often precludes them from seeing what is in view. When I am told what or which God they do not believe in I often find myself agreeing absolutely, because the effigy they reject has nothing to do with the God who has made himself known through Jesus Christ. Before the statement "I don't believe in God" has any practical meaning, you need to define what you mean by "God".

The major reason for avoiding the issue of a morally and intellectually superior being is that if it exists then my own morals are at stake. If you accept that God is maker, maintainer and owner of the world in which you are but a minion then your on the hard road if you then do not consider that this same God also has the right to tell us how to live in his world. Aye, there is the rub. More people reject "God" for moral reasons than for intellectual ones.

4 The issues of the knowable world in the scientific sense is what physics is all about. The issues of that which is the cause of this world and how it is structured are then metaphysics, and it is  quite unlikely that physics will say much about metaphysical things. The bread in my image is the physics, the brain behind the bread is metaphysics.  If the mindset denies the existence of a metaphysical world beyond the physical, then of course no amount of metaphysical data can be acceptable to the "physical" naturalist person. If you do not believe (note you do not know this, but believe it) that there is a metaphysical reality then no amount if information coming from that world will impress you. But don't call it scientific understanding. You may be very honest in not believing in anything but physics. But then you have no reason to expect anything but physical things. So you may have sex but cant know love beyond your usefulness to someone else. Why should anyone love you on the bare facts of your existence? 

Every claim that the christian faith makes is based on the metaphysical fact of a God who comes into the physical realm and demonstrates Himself to mankind.  That is what is meant by the incarnation. 

5 If God is indeed the very foundation of our existence then ignoring God and living as if God does not exist is a dangerous occupation. It is a most serious  denial of God as God is and substitutes the one and only true God for some other god. The atheist is not really atheist at all. But very likely is someone who has made him or herself their own ultimate judge of right and wrong, of good and bad and is also the very center of his or her own word. The passing from atheism to "egotheism", making the self god in God's place, was the first and most awesome temptation that mankind fell for.  And it is still so."I don't believe in God because I trust in myself to be good enough not to need any other god." That is the understanding behind egotheism. And it is not very different from the claim to atheism. Just a matter of spelling.

There is one final thought to ponder: "It is measured out to all men to once die and thereafter be judged". We shall all appear before God and be weighed in the scales and be found wanting. At that judgment we shall all receive according to our deeds. What will the egotheist and the atheist and the agnostic do when they stand before the throne of the Almighty and His Son? It ought to be a most serious question to answer before the end of life's journey.  It is only while the journey is still in progress that anyone can change it's direction. One day, for all of us, it will be too late to rewrite our itinery. When you stand before the Owner, Maker and  Giver and Sustainer of your life, what will you say?

"Sorry sir, we didn't believe in you, so you cant judge us!"

Our search for God is really commendable but there is another search going on that is even more important. God has been and is looking for us. The entire effort of God through history has been to seek and save that which was lost. The search has not finished.  But there is one prerequisite for the search to come to an end: "He that wants to come to God must believe that God exists and that those who turn to Him will be rewarded. Without faith it is impossible to please God." So a mere intellectual search for God on our own terms is a dead end for ever.

The only God that can be found is the God who is there. And we know Him because He has made H
imself known by his Son. That is what the Bible was written to testify to. I believe this  testimony.



Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster 7th February 2018

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