Wilful Ignorance Is No Excuse

In our postmodern world, many non-Christian people view Christianity as a religion that is obsessed with sin. Numerous modern media presentations have depicted the Christian faith as a cold, kill-joy, moralising institution, while the church is regularly referred to as the haunt of hypocrites, who prey on the vulnerable, as they preach moral standards that are no longer considered necessary by large portions of contemporary society. It is not unusual to find Christian leaders caricatured as twisted or corrupt characters in modern dramas on television or in books and movies. But perhaps believers have nurtured this understanding. The reality of sin is frequently presented by institutional churches as simply the things we do that do not line up with a particular set of moral standards, and sadly, many people who claim to be followers of Jesus do anything but follow His teachings.

The prophet Isaiah summarised the reality of sin by telling us:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

© Marinv | Dreamstime.com

© Marinv | Dreamstime.com

From God’s perspective, sin is a momentous problem. I can say this with absolute authority, because God has revealed this truth in His Word. But what is sin? Isaiah spelled it out – sin is “each one” going his or her “own way”. This concept presupposes that there is a God and that He has revealed He has a particular way He wants us, His creatures, to live. And indeed this is the core of the Christian gospel.

The Christian faith is not an inherited set of ideas and ideals, it is a belief system based on God’s revelation of Himself through His Son and His Word by His Holy Spirit. The Creator has given us this revelation so that we can be informed about His Way and Truth. Through His Word God tells us that we have all inherited a tendency to do our own thing.

If God had not created this universe with specific intentions this might not be a problem, but the Father has revealed a very definite plan and purpose for His universe and it is incumbent upon us to make ourselves aware of His revelation to us. God gave us intelligence and He reaches out to us through His Son, His Spirit and His Word. Wilful ignorance will be no excuse when it comes to our eternal destiny.

When Jesus came into the world the Father had carefully prepared for His incarnation, He came with a message and a specific plan and purpose. God had called out a nation of people to live according to His way and it was into this nation that Jesus was born. Today we live in a world where His message has, for centuries, been broadcast, published and spoken out into towns, villages and cities all over the world. If we choose to ignore or ridicule this message we seal our own fate. As Jesus put it, we are condemned already, because we choose to do our own thing and reject God’s way by choosing not to believe in the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18), who is the Way (John 14:6).

The Father sent the Son into the world to save humankind from the condemnation we are each under because of sin. This condemnation will eventually result in the total destruction of this present creation, which is plagued by sin and its consequences – pain, suffering, death and decay. Christians call the time when Adam and Eve chose to do their own thing rather than follow God’s clear directions, The Fall. It was because of this historical event that humanity was set on a path to destruction.

Adam and Eve 2From the first human couple that God created we inherited our mortal condition (1 Corinthians 15:22) and a sinful nature (Romans 5:12). If we choose to ignore God’s message to us concerning these historic truths and turn away from His Word, we will not only miss our Creator’s clear communication to us, we will also find it increasingly difficult to discern His Truth.

Ever since The Fall pain, suffering and death have been part of the human condition and the universal presence of the hereditary sin nature meant that the entire human population would always fall short of God’s eternal, holy standards (Romans 3:23). Since the first humans made their devastating choice, the mutations that entered the human race have been inherited by all subsequent generations and every individual born of our race has been subject to death. The other dreadful consequence from that earth-shattering decision was that humanity gained a new master. Instead of submitting to God’s guidance, sin now masters us (Romans 6:13-18).

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In His Word God has revealed He has a rescue plan for humanity. He wants to save us from the final destruction that is coming upon His corrupted creation. He is going to create a new heaven and a new Earth filled with God’s righteousness (2 Peter 3:13), where there will be no sin, pain, suffering or death (Rev 21:1-4), but only those people who are prepared to accept God’s Way can be part of His new creation. We cannot be part of the eternal, holy family God is preparing without His Holy Spirit, and we cannot be filled with His Spirit without accepting Jesus Christ as our Master and Saviour. It is only then that we can receive the gift of eternal life and can live our lives according to God’s plan, rather than going our own way and doing what is right in our own eyes (Prov 21:2-3).

The reality of sin is all around us, but sin is our problem, not God’s. The Creator could simply wipe out all that He created if He chose to do so. He had the power and ability to bring the universe into being from nothing and He could reduce it to nothing in an instant.

Image from Smithsonian

Image from Smithsonian

Thankfully, He has revealed to us that this is not His intention. Human history is interwoven with God’s merciful outworking of His rescue plan. From the moment after Adam and Eve rejected God’s way He set that plan in motion and at the right time He came to Earth to deal with the problem humanity had created, the problem of sin. He did this by taking upon Himself the penalty for the sin of all humanity (1 John 2:2; 1 Tim 2:6; Heb 2:9).

God is holy and He sees sin for what it is, it is a corruption of His way and it leads to pain, suffering and death. Sin must attract a severe penalty to truly indicate just how destructive it really is. To dismiss it lightly would be to trivialise its consequences.

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God decreed that death was the just penalty for sin (Gen 2:17; Romans 6:23). And as soon as Adam and Eve chose to do their own thing rather than obey God, corruption and death entered the world. In a very real sense this was a merciful act on God’s part. For a human being to live eternally with a corrupted nature would be unendurable.

The Father also made it possible for our penalty to be passed on to His Son (Romans 3:24-26). Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we each have an opportunity to be saved from the just penalty we would otherwise rightly incur. When we have been redeemed by the only Saviour the world will ever know, we can be part of the new creation God will make after He destroys this present fallen one.

Giving our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting Him as our Saviour is only the beginning of the journey. We all know that Christian people are not perfect. Christians still sin. Until God changes us from mortal to immortal and from corruptible into incorruptible beings (1 Cor 15:53), we are still susceptible to our sinful tendencies rising up and overwhelming God’s Spirit within us. At times we still want to do our own thing rather than God’s. Christians can allow hate and revenge to take hold of them rather than love and forgiveness. As The Bible puts it, they can walk in the flesh rather than in the Spirit (Rom 7:5; 8:4-14). Many Christians get stuck on a particular doctrine or follow a particular church’s beliefs, refusing to budge from their position, even though The Bible clearly teaches a different way. Christians can still choose to be blind and do their own thing rather than submit to the authority of God’s Word.

However, those who are true followers of Jesus will be making every effort to walk in God’s Spirit and not follow their old ways (Romans 8:1; 13; Eph 4:24; Col 3:8-15). Jesus’ message is revolutionary, He commands us to love even those who hate us (Matt 5:44). He also expects us to live holy lives so that we might be fit to be God’s people in His new creation. Although we are still part of this fallen creation God has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us and His Word to guide and direct us, and His followers should make every effort to understand and walk in God’s way.

God fully intends to deal with the problem of sin and its consequences – pain, suffering and death – but to do this He has revealed He is going to start again (Rev 21). This is the message our Creator has clearly given to humanity. Why would anyone choose to remain ignorant of the message Jesus came to unveil? Our eternal destiny is in our own hands, but we must act, we must take the time to be properly informed and then we must make a choice. We must choose whether we want to be part of God’s eternal creation or perish along with the old one that will most definitely pass away.

The Bible is filled with passages about the finite nature of this present creation. The apostle Peter wrote:

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of His command, and He brought the Earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then He used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and Earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the Day of Judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the Day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the Earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, He will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new Earth He has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight. And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. (2 Peter 3:3-15a)

God is patient, but He won’t wait forever. The day is fast approaching. He has given us all the information we need to make a wise choice. We each have a personal philosophy on which we base our lives. Wilfully choosing to be ignorant of God’s clear message to us is a very bad choice, as is remaining blind to the fact that even those people who choose to reject the notion of God have their own set of biases, beliefs and base assumptions. Surprisingly, these beliefs and assumptions are often unexamined and unconsidered; they have simply been taken on because they are part of the dominant cultural paradigm. Wilful ignorance is often simply blind faith in a naturalist philosophy.

God has given us intelligence and He expects us to use it to examine His revelation to us. Unless we are prepared to carefully examine the evidence for Jesus’ worldview, we cannot make a wise choice and we may well find ourselves amongst those who are destined to perish rather than benefit from God’s gracious gift of eternal life (John 3:16).

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Why Do We Need A Saviour?

When I first met Jesus I saw Him as my spiritual guide, or guru. It was over a year before He confronted me with the concept of salvation. I’m not sure if being told I was a sinner before then would have helped much in alerting me to my need of a Saviour. What I initially understood was that there is a God who sent His Son to Earth because He loves us and wanted to reach out to us. My view, until He opened my eyes to the reality of sin, was that the people of Earth were so lost, not only did they not recognise their Creator, they executed Him for no other reason than that He told them He was the one true God.

As I became more familiar with the teachings of Jesus through His Word, I began to understand the concept of sin and our need for salvation. In The Bible I was introduced to words such as atonement and redemption, justification and sanctification. Each one of these words is packed full of significance and implications for the follower of Jesus Christ. They are all talking about a relationship that has been broken and needs mending. This is a primal relationship that was damaged almost as soon as it was forged. The human race was cut off from their Creator. This momentous event is known as the Fall.

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

The Creator could justifiably have abandoned His creation when Adam and Eve defied Him and sent His universe into a spiral of sin, pain, suffering and death. The One who brought it into being from nothing, could simply have reduced His universe to naught and started over again. Or He could have left His Earth to descend into a world that looked like nothing more than Sodom and Gomorrah from horizon to horizon – a world where brute power and savagery reigned as innocence and love were destroyed by lust, hate, greed and violence. Instead, at great cost to Himself, He set out to redeem those who choose to adhere to His original plan and purpose and live according to His guidelines, sending them out into the world as His ambassadors with the message of His love and holiness.

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God created a perfect universe, but He chose to allow the creatures He made to have dominion over His world – the people He created in His own image – to have individuality. He chose to create us with superior intelligence and free will. These unique gifts, which will make us fit to be His companions throughout eternity, were the very things that cost Him the life of His Son.To restore what was lost at the Fall, the Father sent His only Son to humanity with His message of salvation, knowing just what humanity would do in response. God did not orchestrate the crucifixion, but He foreknew it would happen and He worked through it, encompassing it into His great plan of salvation. He sent His Son into the path of evil and evil thought it would reduce God’s plan to rubble. But God victoriously raised His Son from death, as the First of His new, eternal creation. God would not only overcome evil with good, He would overcome death with eternal life. As Paul explained to the Corinthian church:

If our hope in Christ is only good for this life, then we deserve more pity than anyone else in the world. But Christ rose from death and became the First of those who are dead to be raised. Just as death came by means of a man, in the same way the rising from death comes by means of a Man. Indeed, all people die because of their union with Adam, likewise all those in Christ will be raised to life because of their union with Him. But all will be raised in the proper order: Christ is first of all, then, at the time of His coming, those who belong to Him will be raised like Him. Then the end will come. Christ will overcome all spiritual rulers, authorities, and powers, and will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father. For Christ must rule until God defeats all His enemies and puts them under His feet. The last enemy to be defeated will be death. (1 Cor 15:19-26)

The message Jesus Christ came to bring the world was not only about restoring our relationship with our Creator, it was also about God’s plan to eternally destroy evil and death. To do this He must destroy this present, fatally flawed creation. The weeds that have grown up in God’s beautiful garden overwhelm and strangle the fragile flowers. Hate, lust and greed; self-righteousness, idolatry and envy, all these tendencies left unchecked will strangle compassion and mercy; love and forgiveness. But one of the greatest problems for humanity is wilful arrogance. People cut off from their Creator imagine themselves capable of guiding humanity into a better future. Deceived by their own gifts and intellectual prowess, they believe their God given ability to think and reason will enable them to live apart from their Creator. This is the very idea that led Satan to rebel.

We were created for the tremendous purpose of communing with our Creator. We cannot function to our full potential in any other capacity. If we break away from God we break away from our only eternal hope. We will ultimately be nothing more than the flowers of the field, beautiful for a short season, but destined to fade away to nothing (James 1:11). The tragedy of people rejecting their eternal destiny is beyond contemplation. My heart aches for the lost, while our post-modern culture moves rapidly away from any real understanding of our individual, personal need for salvation. Our Father has given us this season to repent and turn to Him. He has ensured His message reaches every corner of His magnificent planet and He came Himself to confirm the Truth of this message.

When Jesus was born He brought Good News for the lost, God has promised there will be an eternal Kingdom free from sin, pain, suffering and death, but we must be born again of His Spirit to take our part in His eternal Kingdom. As John records the words of Jesus:

Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, unless a person is born again, it is impossible for them to see the Kingdom of God.” And Nicodemus said, “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and of the Spirit. Mortal humans can reproduce only mortal human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to eternal spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say you must be born again.” (John 3:3-7)

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council, which was called the Sanhedrin. He came to Jesus at night to discuss His teachings and he appears to be one of the few Jewish leaders who actually recognised their Messiah at that time. Jesus revealed to Nicodemus the great plan God was working out for humanity through His incarnation. In John’s record of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, the Lord unveils the mystery of the ages to one of Israel’s leaders. God had become Man so that humanity might come back into relationship with God. Thus, individuals can be saved from perishing, when this present universe is destroyed by fire before the new heaven and the new Earth are created where God will dwell with His eternal people. The first heaven and the first Earth will pass away (Rev 21:1), but those people who have been born again will realise their eternal destiny in the new heaven and the new Earth.

© Samuel Micut | Dreamstime.com

© Samuel Micut | Dreamstime.com

Jesus explained to Nicodemus that to be part of this new creation, people must be born again of His Spirit. They must believe and put their trust in Him. After explaining that He is the only Son of God, who came down from heaven with a mission no other person throughout human history could accomplish, Jesus asserted:

Whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His only Son into the world to condemn the world, but rather, that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned: but he that does not believe is condemned already, because he does not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that Light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil or not inspired by God. For every one who spends their time on wicked or unimportant matters hates the Light and is not drawn to the Light, thus avoiding their deeds revealing their own self-centredness. But whoever acts in truth comes to the Light, that their deeds may be made manifest and it will be obvious to all that they are inspired by God. (John 3:15-21)

Jesus was pointing out that the default position for humanity is to perish as a mortal creature. When the Father finally draws this universe to its predicted end, those who have not accepted God’s gift of eternal life will perish. We can spend our time and energy on our own pursuits, these may be literally evil, or they may simply be things we think are useful or make us feel good, but unless they are centred in Truth they lead nowhere. We can spend our time pursuing pleasure, money or fame, or in conscientiously studying and gaining degrees and qualifications, but ultimately these will all pass away. Only those actions that promote eternal matters, that is, those activities that are in line with God’s guidance and Truth, will be of any eternal significance.

Jesus saves cut

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If we ignore the words of our Creator and turn our backs on Jesus’ assertions that we must believe in Him, accept His death on our behalf and be born again, then we are already condemned to perish. We can only be saved from this tragic end by placing our trust in Him and accepting that His version of God’s plan and purpose for His universe and our eternal existence is God’s Truth. We must be saved through grace by the only Saviour the world will ever know. The Lord Jesus Christ was born into the human race to offer us the gift of everlasting life and a place in His Eternal Kingdom; thus saving us from perishing (The Bible also calls this eternal destruction) along with this present, doomed creation, when the Father brings an end to sin, pain, suffering and death.

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Halleluiah, Jesus Christ was born to give us eternal life. Praise God!

Who Am I?

Since social media sites hit cyberspace I have occasionally joined groups and contributed to discussions, but after a rather interesting participation in one particular group, I realised that people are often not what they claim to be. Although I use a pseudonym on this blog (for reasons that will become evident shortly), I’ve always been pretty open and mostly honest with people. When you believe, as I do, that a benevolent Father is watching over you, it is difficult to disappoint Him by telling blatant lies. However, it seems people who believe they are on their own, people who have no sense of a Greater Reality, can be capable of the most unbelievable deception.

One of the groups I joined was on facebook. The group was called Creationism and I thought it would be interesting to discuss scientific issues relating to the creation/evolution debate with other Christians who were interested in this topic. I chose not to join an evolution group, as I’m not really interested in conflict, but I do enjoy discussing topics from differing points of view. The first thing I noticed in this group was that most of the posts were very negative towards creation science. Posts placed by the administrator were all rather airy-fairy and didn’t ever address anything to do with Creationism or present any scientific information relating to creation science. They centred more on positive thinking and being thankful for the beauty of nature. That did rather surprise me, but then I thought that perhaps the administrator was not well educated on the subject, even though s/he was a believer in biblical creation.sunset

I decided I’d contribute by raising topics of interest to biblical creationists, after all, that is what the term Creationism is all about. The response was unbelievable. The crude, personal assaults from anti-creationists were so disgusting it took my breath away. At one stage someone called Randy posted a photo of a piece of human faeces in a glass with a caption stating that this was a photo of my brain. It was after this incident that I decided I would try to remain more anonymous in cyberspace. Gradually, I came to realise that no one else in the group ever contributed from the creation side of the debate, and eventually, I was barred.

It finally dawned on me. In reality, the person who set up the group was an evolutionist. This person knew nothing about biblical creation and precious little about the science behind the theory of evolution. I was the only person to post anything that supported creation science, so I guess that’s why I was barred, people who posted anything resembling scientific evidence for creation were inevitably barred. I am now totally convinced the administrator was not a Christian, but rather, a particularly dishonest mischief maker. The group’s whole aim was no doubt to falsely represent Christians who believe in biblical creation, whilst opening them up to ridicule and personal abuse.

I have since come to believe that another site I have contributed to (God of Evolution (GOE)), may also be run by a person whose claim to be a Christian is false. Like the facebook group, this site appears to be dedicated to attacking people who believe in biblical creation. The owner of this site claims he is a believer, but once again, I wonder whether his motives are what he claims them to be. He is very fond of making claims about the so called beliefs of what he terms “young earth creationists” (YECs), and then attacking those claims. He presents straw man arguments, and as his readers seem to be generally ignorant of the true arguments creation scientists make for biblical creation, he effectively attacks his straw men, thus creating the illusion of having completely refuted any biblical creationist propositions by completely misrepresenting his opponents.

Image from Pirate Times

Image from Pirate Times

This person never attacks well qualified and trained creation scientists, instead he chooses less informed creationists and lay people to quote, people who are far less capable of presenting information effectively. He also uses sweeping generalisations, lumping everyone who believes in biblical creation together under his YEC banner and if one sneezes, everyone has a cold. Whatever one person has been heard to say (he seems to particularly dislike Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis) he uses as part of his data bank of “things all YECs believe” and fuel for yet another attack article.

The interesting thing is he doesn’t appear to venture into any specific scientific issues. He links to a number of evolutionist sites that claim certain scientific evidence points to evolution as the most convincing theory for the origins of all that is, but virtually all of these claims have been robustly answered many times over by reputable scientists who believe in biblical creation, and these rebuttals never see the light of day on his site. In fact his site appears to be set up for the sole purpose of denigrating people who believe the biblical account of creation, while having very little to say about evolution, other than it happened – full stop.

I find it difficult to believe someone of faith would want to spend so much of their time vehemently attacking specific individuals just because their approach to The Bible is different. There is no attempt to examine issues, it is people who are being attacked. This is character assassination on a grand scale, with very little promotion of the gospel. This is not something I can imagine Jesus doing and therefore I doubt this person is actually a follower of Jesus. Jesus reserved this sort of personal attack for hypocrites. Perhaps this site’s owner believes all YECs are hypocrites. However, after my earlier experience with facebook, I suppose I’m actually less naive, one might even say more cynical. I have recently begun to wonder just who the owner of this site actually is. Is he who he claims to be – a follower of Jesus? Is he even a real person? He may in fact be nothing more than an avatar representing a non-Christian group who hate biblical creationists.

This leads me to the issue I wanted to discuss in this post. Who are we? Am I the person I think I am, or the person my family thinks I am? Am I simply someone who was born of English, Irish, Polish and German stock, in the middle of Sydney in the middle of the 20th century; only to have 80 or so years (if I’m lucky) of life experience? How can we know who we really are? We appear to spend a great deal of our lives trying to be someone, but is that someone who we are essentially?

This question began to distract me in my teens and for some time I entertained the idea that we may be reincarnated, that we may have lived on Earth many times before and have already had a number of different personalities. After someone pointed out the mathematical difficulties with this concept I was less inclined to see reincarnation as a possibility. It is likely that the present population of people on Earth is equal to, or perhaps even exceeds, the total number of people who have ever lived on the planet in the past. Also, believing in reincarnation didn’t actually address the big question I had – Who am I anyway?

Our friend over at the GOE site states that:

When I engage with other Christians who disagree with me on evolution, I have never sensed in them much of a longing for nonbelievers to experience the joy and salvation of knowing Jesus. I more often tend to encounter a deep animosity and mistrust, especially toward scientists.

Is that me? It certainly doesn’t seem to have anything to do with me or any other biblical creationists I’ve met, particularly as a number of them are PhD scientists. So are we what others tell us we are? Sadly this can sometimes be the case. As a primary school teacher I worked with children who were having difficulties with reading. A number of my pupils had been virtually told by adults that they would never learn to read, and some of them began to believe this assessment. Other children I encountered had been told they were “thick”. These kids often decided that if they couldn’t be good at school, they’d be good at disrupting school – and they often were. This is frequently referred to as fulfilling negative expectations. My approach to this problem was to try to remove the negative expectations and replace them with positive, achievable goals. Thankfully, this approach nearly always had positive outcomes.

After many years of thinking over the issue of just who we are, I came to the conclusion that we must be either one of two possibilities. Either we are an accident, or we are a part of a bigger plan. Naturally (sorry about the pun), the accident adherents follow the creed of evolution, that is, we are all the product of random, unplanned, haphazard chemical reactions. Our life journey is simply a combination of what nature gave us genetically at birth, the environment into which we happened to be born and what we do throughout life with the cards we were dealt. Our personalities are nothing more than chemical reactions in our brains, and we have nothing to look forward to beyond the grave, other than becoming compost.

I find this a very depressing outlook and have wondered if it might be at the root of a lot of the depression that so plagues our modern culture. Is it possible that some children, who were raised with this sort of concept, somehow, through lack of use, turn off certain neural pathways in their brains that lead to hope and optimism? After all, what is there to hope for under this scenario? It is no surprise that so many people are working their way through a bucket list. If we are not born with genius or beauty, under this scenario we are simply part of the herd, striving to make a life amidst the chaos and confusion of the modern world. Some people do a better job than others at enjoying themselves and loving life and those around them, but ultimately, surely we are more than this small life we each live. Deep inside each one of us is a sense of so much more.

When we choose to believe the Creator’s version of life this is only the beginning of the journey in the opposite direction. We are no longer striving to satisfy personal needs (even if these needs may have included altruism or philanthropy), our attention is directed towards our Creator and His plans and purposes. This path is nevertheless a steep learning curve. My friend over at GOE opens his site with the verse:

“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” 1 Cor 14:20 (ESV)

No doubt he is inferring that a mature Christian would follow his way of thinking and believe in evolution, accepting a rather confused hybrid between my two possibilities. He doesn’t make much of an attempt at convincing us or explaining why we should believe in evolution; he simply informs us that everyone who is even slightly intelligent, and all the people he respects, believe in evolution. When I was an infant Christian, evolution is exactly what I believed in, but it seems very clear to me today that once one starts to really look at the issues, examine the evidence, and read both sides of the argument thoroughly, it is far more in keeping with rational thought to believe The Bible’s straightforward account of creation. To me this is far more likely to be the product of mature thinking.

Being a biblical creationist is counter-cultural; this is the journey that is less directed by culture and more by the Word of God. It takes a certain sort of determination to question the dominant cultural paradigm, but the journey once begun is startling in its clarity.

The Bible’s version of who I am is also uplifting in its purity. Through His Word our Father has revealed that He wants us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 4:18; 5:7), He wants to have a deep spiritual and personal relationship with each one of us – He created us for this very purpose. God has a definite plan for each and every person born onto this very special planet.

Master_Universe_by_ANTIFAN_REAL

Master Universe by ANTIFAN REAL

To begin with, there is good evidence to demonstrate that our planet is at or very near the centre of the universe. We are not living on an obscure little blue blob lost in a vast array of cosmic bodies. When God stretched out the heavens (Is 45:12; Jer 10:12), creating time and space, He was opening a new chapter in His eternal existence. He is the “cause” of all that is (Rev 4:11) and the reason we exist (Col 1:16). Our Father chose to create a family for Himself and consequently He created a stunningly breathtaking environment for us to physically inhabit.

When He created Adam and Eve in His own image as two unique individuals, He knew every single person who would come from their genetic material, as humanity filled the Earth (Gen 1:26-28). Each and every one of us is known to our Creator and He has an individual plan for each of our lives. We are no accident! We are the intentional, miraculous creation of the eternal, omniscient, omnipotent God, who has made it possible for each one of us to become part of His eternal family.

Image from The Exponent

Image from The Exponent

Who we are can only be fully realised in the context of who we will become when we are given the gift of eternal life. When we accept this gift, which cost the Father the life of His Son, we embark on a journey of discovery that will go on into eternity. During this journey we will find our true selves and be given our true names (Rev 2:17). No longer will we be the person we were told we are, or the person we think we should be, we will discover who our loving Father created us to be as His unique, individual, immortal child. As our brother John pointed out:

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. (1John 3:1-2)

This must be one of the most hope filled, life giving promises in The Bible. Not only are we assured we are the much loved children of the Creator of the Universe, we also know that we will be like Christ – we will be immortal, we will be sinless, we will be the objects of unimaginable love – and that love will rise up in us and become our very own nature. We won’t be clones of Christ, anymore than we have been clones of Adam and Eve, but we will inherit His righteousness. The sin nature we inherited from our natural parents will be gone and because we have been born again of the Spirit we will no longer be subject to this fallen nature. Thus we will be fit for God’s eternal kingdom (John 3:3, 7). The apostle Peter tells us:

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. (1Peter 1:2-6)

We can have great expectations because we are offered a priceless inheritance, and this inheritance is within reach of every person who has ever been born on this specially crafted planet. God is producing an eternal family and each one of us can be part of that family. That is what we can be, that is who we were designed to be. We can be immortal people living in a truly loving family with an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal Father who loves us and will care for us throughout eternity. He will enable us to realise our unique potential, and it is only through His Son that this is possible. To find out who we really are we must take hold of what we can be through the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Peter explains:

Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because He raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. (1Pe 1:21-23)

Sincere love for brothers and sisters is not what I encounter when I go to the GOE site. This causes me to wonder whether the owner is the person he claims to be. He writes with such vehement animosity towards people he states are his brothers and sisters, people who happen to be biblical creationists, that I am forced to doubt him.

If he is a Christian I can only hope he takes the time to properly look at what he is attacking, not the people (we all have faults), but the substance of the scientific research. Then he might begin to understand why so many fellow believers have taken hold of creation science, having realised that the scientific evidence actually does point to biblical creation as the most convincing model for the origin of our universe. He too can join the Christian Counter Culture and stand against the great deception of evolution, with its naturalistic annihilation of human eternal potential. Perhaps then he will be a true follower of Jesus and express that deep love for his fellow believers Peter talked about. If he is what I suspect, another fabricator of elaborate lies, I can only pray he will find his hope in Christ, because then he too will discover his own personal, eternal potential and come to know who he truly is.

Knowing, Caring and Praying

I’ve been reading Amy Carmichael’s book Lotus Buds. In this book she tells the story of her work in India as a missionary and how she found herself rescuing young girls, sometimes babies, from being dedicated to the Hindu temples. The inevitable fate of these innocent little souls was to become temple prostitutes – their sexual services would earn a living for the priests.

8.7.14_amy-carmichael1From a western perspective, it’s difficult to understand how parents could believe this was a choice they could make for their little ones. But circumstances sometimes forced them to give up their babies and this was one of the most acceptable ways of ensuring they would be “looked after”. No doubt, for some, it also held the hope of favourable treatment from the gods. Temple prostitution was banned in India in 1948 and I have no doubt that it was through the work and prayers of people like Amy that this came about. To undermine such a deep, culturally accepted custom, it often takes someone from outside the culture to point out the injustice involved in an entrenched practice.

Amy was a great prayer warrior and she wrote:

…..we write for those who believe in prayer—not in the emasculated modern sense, but in the old Hebrew sense, deep as the other is shallow. We believe there is some connection between knowing and caring and praying, and what happens afterwards. Otherwise we should leave the darkness to cover the things that belong to the dark. We should be for ever dumb about them, if it were not that we know an evil covered up is not an evil conquered. So we do the thing from which we shrink with strong recoil; we stand on the edge of the pit, and look down and tell what we have seen, urged by the longing within us that the Christians of England should pray.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 924-929).Kindle Edition.

As Christians we need to take seriously the battle that is raging for the souls of people lost in other faiths. Some people feel it is wrong to go against the entrenched culture of a nation. When Amy went to India, part of the culture of that nation was to give baby girls to temples to become prostitutes. She had to fight long and hard to free the children she saved from this fate. We are not our cultures; we are far more than our cultures. We have each been created in God’s image and He has a great desire to bring us into His eternal kingdom, through His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

photo from http://www.carigold.com

India 1900 photo from http://www.carigold.com

False religions are simply cultural – they have nothing to do with the Creator of the universe. They have grown out of humanity’s ideas about God. They stand opposed to God’s revelation of Himself. To say that all religions are basically the same is to admit ignorance of the truth. It is like saying all economic systems are the same, because they are all about economics. No one, who took the time to look, could believe that a command economy and a free market economy are the same. They might use similar terminology, but they are very different approaches to the same issue. We need to be prepared to speak the truth about the uniqueness of Christianity, it might use similar terminology to other religions, but it is not just another path, it is the only true path to an eternal relationship with our Creator Father.

I pray God will show us how to become prayer warriors like Amy Carmichael and that the Christians of the world today should also pray in that deep way she talked about. It breaks my heart to think of the way many Christians have accepted pluralism in the 21st century. But the reality is, The Bible teaches us that, like the Muslim faith, the Hindu religion is another stronghold of darkness. These are not alternative paths to God, they are terrible strongholds of darkness and deception. Amy did not go to India with any sense of cultural superiority, she loved India and its people. She wrote:

We think of the real India as we see it in the thinker—the seeker after the unknown God, with his wistful eyes. “The Lord beholding him loved him,” and we cannot help loving as we look….. We see the spirit of the old land there; and it wins us and holds us, and makes it a joy to be here to live for India.

The true India is sensitive and very gentle. There is a wisdom in its ways, none the less wise because it is not the wisdom of the West. This spirit which traffics in children is callous and fierce as a ravening beast; and its wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. . . . And this spirit, alien to the land, has settled upon it, and made itself at home in it, and so become a part of it that nothing but the touch of God will ever get it out. We want that touch of God: “Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.” That is why we write.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 919-924). Kindle Edition.

Amy understood that despite the fact that Jesus is the only Way, God was still able to work in the hearts of people who had never heard the name of Jesus. She wrote:

We form no hard, presumptuous creed as to how the God of all the earth will deal with these masses of mankind who have missed the knowledge of Him here; we know He will do right.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 585-586). . Kindle Edition.

But 100 years later it is almost impossible to “have missed the knowledge of Him.” There may be a few remote outposts of the world where the name of Jesus has not been heard, but the real battle today is to stand against a watering down of the words of Jesus. He said He is the only Way to enter the eternal kingdom, there is no other Way. To give in to pluralism is to give in to these false, cultural claims about God. God has clearly revealed His Truth and we need to lovingly bring people to an understanding of this Truth.

the way1

This brings me back to the need for prayer. When we realise “the connection between knowing and caring and praying, and what happens afterwards,” we can do nothing other than be moved to prayer. Amy reminded us that we “stand on the edge of the pit, and look down and tell what we have seen.” What we have seen is that there is only one Way to the Father, and this is through His Son. And so we must pray for the masses who are yet in darkness. As Amy put it, our prayer must be, “not in the emasculated modern sense, but in the old Hebrew sense, deep as the other is shallow.”

We know there are billions of people in the world today who have heard the name of Jesus, but have no understanding of His Truth. These people are not only deceived by false “religions”, they are also deceived by materialism, atheism and pluralism. They may be known to us or unknown, well educated or uneducated, wealthy or poor. We may not be able to take ourselves to the mission fields, but every Christian alive today can pray. We don’t need to pray for revival, we need to pray for the lost, those who are at risk of losing their eternal destiny in the Lake of Fire.

We don’t need entertaining, we don’t need formulas and steps to follow, we just need to get down on our knees and lift our hearts to our Father and pray. Pray for the billions of souls who may forfeit their eternal destiny because we were too busy, or too tired, or too troubled. Start with the people you know, all those people in your life who don’t, as yet, know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Make sure you pray for them every day. God will lead and God will guide, but we must make ourselves available. Brothers and sister let us all give ourselves to prayer for the teaming masses of lost souls who share our planet this very day. Do it now and do it often – pray.

For the terrible day is almost here—the day of the LORD! It is a day of clouds and gloom, a day of despair for the nations. (Eze 30:3)

Photo from Lotus Buds by Amy Carmichael

Photo from Lotus Buds by Amy Carmichael