Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Truth... What is it - really? (Continued from "Drowning in a Sea of Noise")

The truth... About what? Well... How 'bout the meaning of Life & the origins of the Universe. Ok – that seems a bit too deep, even for me. Call me the shallow philosopher.

Seriously though, I’ve touched on my faith – Christianity, and truth in previous posts. The question “What distinguishes Christianity from all the other world religions?” seems somewhat valid in a discussion about truth and why I believe it to be truth – so I’ll answer it.

Well – I believe Jesus when he said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” (John 14:6-7).

But back to the question at hand (after that interjection)… The big difference between world religions and Christianity (as I see it) is as follows: all the religions that I’ve learned about consist of a set of rules or guidelines one must follow in order to achieve ‘goodness’ or righteousness before God (or their Gods, depending on which religion you're looking at). Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert on world religions and have a very limited amount of exposure to them. That is a very generalized statement. But I feel it’s valid here based on my (limited) knowledge of them, and it’s important to understand where other people are coming from if you are to relate well to them – even if you don’t agree with their world view.

Christianity on the other hand is best summed up below, which I got from Jenna’s blog. (Thanks for doing all the research work Jenna! I had to use what you had, it said exactly what I was trying to say much better than what I had originally tried to summarize!)

A Biblically based summation of the love of God through Jesus Christ from George Barna's Think Like Jesus:

God's nature is so glorious that a group of his own angels, led by a renegade (the spiritual adversary we know as Satan) rebelled against God, seeking to overthrow His sovereignty. Satan's goal was - and is - to rule the universe, believing himself to be better suited for the job than its Creator.

Backed by one-third of Heaven's angels, Satan battled God and His loyal angels - and lost. God cast Satan an all the rebel angels out of His presence. Nevertheless, God continues to rule over them even in their banishment.

As a created being who must have God's permission to tempt people, Satan cannot cause us to sin, as we freely choose to do so . The time-worn excuse - "the devil made me do it" - is theologically incorrect. The devil may persuade you to reject God's ways, but he cannot force you or make you do anything other than what you choose to do.

While Satan gets credit for bringing us to the point of decision, the choice of doing evil is ultimately ours. We cannot blame circumstances, other people, or the spiritual world for our choices; we must own them.

No human being has ever been able to resist sin for the duration of his or her life; every person sins against God. Regardless of the motivation leading to sin, disobedience drives a wedge between our holy and loving God and us, fracturing the relationship He seeks to have with us and that we desparately need in order to experience the fullness and joy in life.

Too often we minize the impact of sin, believing that any given sinful act is just another insignificant and forgettable event in a life filled with thousands and thousands of choices. But our determination to trivialize sin does not mean that it is unimportant. God takes every sin seriously because it indicates the sincerity of our committment to Him.

Sin literally destroys our relationship with God; each sin is an offense against Him, even if it is unintentional. As a result, without some type of radical mechanism of reconciliation, it is impossible for us to gain God's unmitigated favour and receive His eternal favour and blessings.

Recognizing how impossible it is for us to remain free from sin, but unable to ignore sin, God determined that the only way for Him to enjoy an unbroken relationship with us would be through the provision of a permanent and encompassing sacrifice for our sins.

The incredible act of love by God - sending His perfect Son to earth to take full responsibility for our sins, and to pay the price for our past, present, and future bad choices - is the ultimate example of God's grace. It is that grace alone that enables us to have the assurance that our soul will live forever with God. Without the vicarious death the Jesus on our behalf we would not have any hope of eternal reconciliation with God because we are too immersed in sin.

When Jesus died on the cross, He did more than just expire with our sins in tow; He conquered both death and the necessity of eternal condemnation of all people through His ressurection. His return to Heaven provides us with an advocate before the eternal Judge as well as the means to become a new form of humanity through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, who lives within us once we confess our sins and turn our life over to Jesus.

Accepting God's grace (through Jesus Christ) is not merely "eternal fire insurance" - a kind of supernatural death benefit that kicks in after our funeral. Salvation introduces radical changes into our earthly experience as well. The Holy Spirit of God is sent to take up residence within
us, providing power, guidance, and security that would otherwise be unavailable.

So why is this such a big deal? It continues below...

Why God's Love is So Painfully Awesome:

He sent His own Son to die a painful and unjust death on behalf of people who did not deserve another chance, much less a free ride for eternity.

He is so totally in love with us, and so desirous of an intense relationship with us, that He analyzed all of our dysfunctions and developed a relatively painless means our of our own frailties.

He sees the good in the believer that he or she cannot see in him or herself.

He fought to the finish to defend us from an adversary who merciliess exploits our weaknesses.

He made this abudant love and care available to everyone, and is waiting for those who are not yet interested in the hope that they might have a change of heart and embrace the One who embraced Him first.

Aha... Here's the key point... God desires a relationship with us... Jesus makes a relationship with God possible. It's not about earning salvation or righteousness (as with world religions)...

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