Category Archives: Culture
People willingly choose not to give glory to the immortal God. Instead, in the craftiness of their own mind, they make up their own truth with the purpose of removing God from His throne:
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1:21-23 NIV)
Verse 23 above is obviously talking about the ancient pagan religions that worshiped idols shaped like animals. It was wrong for them to reject the One True God in their hearts and replace Him with a false God fashioned after some of the things that He had created.
Today this kind of idolatry is very rare in the “civilized” world. But it has been replaced with naturalism, which is just as bad. The naturalist does not technically worship the animals as God, yet he claims that nature is capable of creating itself without God. This philosophy, like that of the ancient pagans, exalts the creation above the Creator. This is an offense against God. Anyone who looks at God’s beautiful creation and says that it could have created itself is denigrating the power and the majesty of the One who carefully formed it. If this is your view, you will have to answer for it to the One who made you. Repent of your sins while their is time, and thank Him for the fact that you are very wonderfully made and designed.
In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul explains that unbelievers have no excuse for not believing in God.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 NIV)
But it gets worse! Paul accuses unbelievers of knowing some of the truth in their hearts, but rejecting it:
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21 NIV)
Every unbeliever has some concept of God in their hearts. Some of them have even read about Him in the Bible. They have seen His creation that He has made to reveal Himself to them. But rather than move closer to God, and humbly seek Him, they purposefully move away from Him, not wanting to yield and obey Him. Their pride causes them to come up with alternative explanations for His creation, attempting to assassinate Him in their minds. Thus their foolish minds are darkened by their own desires to escape the truth.
However, God will reveal Himself to those who really want to know the truth. If you ask God to show you the truth He will:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV).
Remember, however, when you ask God to show you the truth, do so in a spirit of absolute humility After all, He is the Creator; you are His creation. Do not dictate terms to God. Do not use your own thinking to willfully misinterpret what He has to say. Rather, beg God to have mercy on you from the bottom of your heart. If you do this, He will give you what you need, not because He has to, but because He loves you.
You can know for sure that God exists simply by looking at nature. I believe that the Apostle Paul got it right when he said:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 NIV)
Nature declares the power and majesty of God, because what we observe is so beautiful, intricate, and complex that it we can know it has a powerful maker. There some who try to come up with scenarios for how nature could have created itself, but you do not have to be a scientist to know that they are wrong. These people are unable to “see the forest through the trees” as the phrase goes. They have lost their way trying to make sense of the overwhelming sea of data that they observe around them. Their minds have worked feverishly trying to put together the seemingly infinite pieces of the natural puzzle which surrounds them. They are arrogant to think that they can dream up a way of putting all these puzzle pieces together in a way that leaves God out of the picture. But nature is so complicated that none of us can completely understand it. We need to be humble, and realize that it is created by a God who is vastly superior to ourselves. We need to be grateful to Him for making it, and worship Him, and seek to see what it is that He requires from us.
You do not need to be a scientist in order to see the big picture. All you need to is humility. Do not be intimidated by the vain conjecturing of other feeble humans who like you know very little of what there is to know about nature. If you have a humble heart, God will speak to you through nature.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness. (Romans 1:18 NIV)
We clearly see from the Bible verse above that our God is a God of wrath. He is very angry against those who are not only wicked themselves, but “suppress the truth” in order to influence others to be wicked.
God is loving and gracious. He will forgive those who humble their hearts and repent. But He will surely punish unrepentant sinners. If He did not do this He would not be loving. After all, how can He be a Protector and Lover of the weak if He did not punish those who persist in hurting them? Those who claim to love the weak but do nothing to protect them from those who hurt them are hypocrites.
But our God truly loves them. That is why He will punish all predators who do not repent.
The central teaching of Christianity is called the “gospel” which means “good news.” This good news is the news that a sinner can be made righteous by faith rather than by good works:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 NIV)
Human beings by ourselves are incapable of making ourselves righteous. Indeed, if we commit even one sin of the slightest sort, we have become unrighteous. But the gospel explains how we can be made righteous by God. It is through faith, for “the righteous will live by faith.”
This means that God will forgive our sins if we believe in Him. Specifically, we need to repent of our sins and believe in the power of Jesus’ blood to cleanse us from them. Let me be very clear WE DO NOT EARN OUR SALVATION BY OUR BELIEF. Believing in God does not make us Good. THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST MAKES US GOOD. God, in his mercy, has chosen to apply that power to those who believe, but the belief itself does not earn it. Only God can take credit for saving us. We cannot save ourselves.
Jesus Himself pronounced the mercy of God to those who believed in Him with tender hearts. He said:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
People who “hunger and thirst” for righteousness are sinners. A righteous man may desire righteousness, but he is not really hungry after it, because he already has it. Only a man who does not have righteousness can truly be “hungry” for it. God has good news for those who experience this hunger and truly desire righteousness: “they will be filled!” That means He is going to give it to them!
I do not want you to be unaware,brothers and sisters,[d] that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. (Romans 1:13-15 NIV)
Preachers of the Gospel should not be territorial. What I mean by that, is that we should not be afraid to allow other believers preach the Word of God on our “soil.” After all, the entire world is God’s world, and He desires for His gospel to be preached and re-preached all over its surface.
The Apostle Paul knew this. That is why he does not apologize for wanting to preach the gospel and win souls in the city of Rome, even though he knows that other Christians had gotten their first, and had already reaped a large harvest. He knew that the believers there would welcome his help, not resent him. After all, they were all on the same team.
Faithful believers in Jesus Christ need to take the time to meet and fellowship with other faithful believers. When we do this we encourage each other, and our faith becomes stronger, as the Apostle Paul indicates in his opening of his Epistle to the Romans.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:11-12 NIV)
Some Christians don’t seem to have any desire to meet and talk to other steadfast believers, and when they do meet them, they don’t want to talk about spiritually related things. To me, this seems unnatural. As a born again child of God I want naturally to meet with other born again children and discuss with them our mutual experience of God’s grace, love, and mercy.
We have all been hurt by a friend or a family member. Sometimes our families do things to us that are so deliberate and malicious that it seems like we would be justified to refuse contact with them and never talk to them again. It seems like God should be OK with us writing that person off and never forgiving them.
But He’s not. God does not like it when we refuse to be reconciled with someone else who has sinned against us. We cannot worship the one true, loving, God in our heart if we are unwilling to give them a chance to mend fences with us. Jesus made it very clear that we must attempt to deal with these personal situations if possible almost immediately, BEFORE we attend the next worship service. Listen to what Jesus told His disciples:
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:24-25 NIV)
Jesus is saying here that you must at least attempt to reconcile with your friend/family member before attending to formal worship, so that you worship does not become an act of hypocrisy. In Jesus’ day one would conduct formal worship by giving God a gift in the temple; in our day we worship God in our churches. The contemporary application is that you should forgive your friend before you come into church to sing praise to God or to partake in communion etc. WORSHIPPING GOD WHILE YOU ARE STILL ANGRY AT YOUR BROTHER WILL HAVE LITTLE IF ANY SPIRITUAL BENEFIT. IN FACT IT MAY BE A NET NEGATIVE, SINCE GOD IS DISGUSTED WITH YOUR HYPOCRISY.
Those who are self-righteous will sometimes falsely claim to be exempted from the verse above. They will say that Jesus only commands reconciliation if you have committed sin against someone else, but not if you are the victim. However, refusal to give forgiveness is in and of itself a horrible sin. If your friend has harmed you and you refuse to forgive him of your sin, then you are simply harming him in return. This is wrong. Jesus made it clear how many times we are to forgive our brother:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
True believers, that is born again Christians, have no right to refuse to forgive others, since they themselves have received abundant forgiveness from God. If you are born of God you will love others, even though they are sinners:
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (I John 4:20-21)
In light of this verse I think it is quite impossible for us to worship God in our hearts while we are seething with anger against another person. Unfortunately, many so-called Christians go for months or even years on end refusing to talk to or make up with their brother, sister, mom, Dad, etc. In many cases this means that they are going for a very long time without really worshipping God in our heart. It breaks my heart to see Christian kids who are unwilling to talk to their parents, or vice versa. Where did they get the idea that this is OK? It’s not OK. This is wrong and it needs to stop.
May God give us all the grace to see through our own hard-heartedness.
Unfortunately I have never traveled much, and have never left the country of my birth. However, I have always enjoyed meeting foreigners who have come here from other countries, especially if they are believers. It is great to meet someone from a different culture and discover that you already have so much in common because you believe in the same God.
The Apostle Paul felt this way too. He was aching with anticipation to meet the Roman believers whom he had heard so much about but never met yet:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. (Romans 1:8-10 NIV)
Paul, in this passage expresses extreme joy in the reports he has heard about the faith of the Roman Christians. Paul assures them that God Himself know that Paul has been extremely diligent in praying for them. His prayer is not only for their continued well being, but that he might one day get to meet them in person. This a natural desire for believers who are separated by geography. All true believers are members of the One Church, and long to fellowship with each other. We will ultimately have our wish in heaven when we will be with each other for eternity.
For what it’s worth, Paul got his wish before he died. A few years later he was taken to Rome as a prisoner, where he had the opportunity to meet with the Roman church (Acts chapter 28).
I was recently reading through the 23rd chapter of Matthew in my Bible and I couldn’t help but notice that the evil religious leaders of Jesus’ day were very similar in practice to the officials of the Roman Catholic Church. Like the Catholic clergy, the Pharisees had tried to exalt themselves to a superior spiritual position above other believers. In response Jesus tells them that their holiness is completely fake and that they will burn in hell for their hypocrisy if they do not repent (Matthew 23:33).
Let us look at parts of this passage and see how Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees can be legitimately applied to the Roman Catholic Church.
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. (Matthew 23:5-7)
One of the first things a person notices about the Catholic clergy is that they do not dress in the same clothes as common people, especially when conducting religious services. They wear special priestly garments that make them appear holy. But God cares about what is in your heart. There is no indication anywhere in the new Testament that church leaders are to well any special garments to make themselves stand apart from the rest of their brothers and sisters in Christ. These vestments give the outward appearance of holiness, but they do nothing to make the priest inwardly holy.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. (Matthew 23:8-9 NIV)
Jesus here forbids the use of special clerical tittles, since all true believers are priests (I Peter 2:5,7) on the same spiritual plane with one another. Catholic priests claim to have a special priesthood, i.e. relationship with God that other believers do not have. This imaginary, and contradicts scripture. They are not above the rest of us, and they are not are spiritual fathers. Therefore we ought not to address them with the title of father, since that formal title is reserved for our Father in heaven.
The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)
All religious leaders like to appear humble. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day often made a show of giving lots of money to the poor in public. However, they really liked people to think they were better than everyone else. Do not be fooled by religious hypocrisy! The recently elected Pope tried to appear humble by washing the feet of criminals. That was a nice show, but it was done to fool the public. If he was really humble he would not false claim to be God’s representative on Earth, and to have power over the souls of humans.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. (Matthew 23:13)
The Catholic church insists that if you want to get to heaven, you must go through them. Whereas in truth, Christ’s offer of salvation is free to everyone who believes in Him and repents. Read the Gospel of John, or John’s first Epistle, and you will see time and time again that you do not need to submit to an earthly clerical body in order to get to heaven. Many (hopefully not all) of these priests do not believe God’s promise themselves, for otherwise they would obey him and not behave as tyrants over His church. Not only are they not on their way to heaven, but they try to decieve those who among the common people who are looking for God, because they knew they will lose their influence over them if they find the truth.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. (Matthew 23:14 NKJV)
One of the historic sins of the Catholic Church is the many things they have done to get money out of the hands of poor people and into their own coffers. The Modern Roman Church has been forced to Reform because of the publicity that its abuses of power have gotten in the past. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church still advises widows to pay them a small fee in order for a priest to pray their dead husbands out of purgatory. While the pricetag for this service is small, the theological implications are enormous. YOU CANNOT BRIBE GOD OR ANY GODLY PRIEST WITH MONEY TO GET A SOUL OF A LOVED ONE INTO HEAVEN. This gift cannot be purcahsed with money. It was purchased once on the cross by Christ for all who believe.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. (Matthew 23:15)
These priests work hard to win converts, and then teach them to follow the same religious hypocrisy as themselves. They follow all the religious rituals perfectly, but their inward life and private actions are characterized by greed and sin.
You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:24)
The priests swallow the camel, in that they will tolerate much gross sin, just so long as you do not deviate from their insignificant manmade religious rites.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs,which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. (Matthew 23:33-34)
The Catholic Church, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, persecuted and even killed many believers in God, simply for preaching the gospel. Of course they do not kill Protestants any more, but they still do their best to keep their congregants from understanding the Gospel. Thefore, the are not innocent. Many of them will be given a ticket directly to hell if they do not repent and start preaching the truth: that salvation is only in Faith in Christ, and not through the imaginary sanctifying power of the clergy.