Monday, February 21, 2011

I believe, Part 1

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths."

I'm 45 years old now (have been for about 3 months). Many folks around my age are hitting midlife crisis time. They are trying very hard to somehow regain their lost youth. For some of them, this has meant descending into lifestyles that they never had pursued before. This decision can destroy the relationships they've built over their lifetimes. I chose not to follow this road and am praying for those that do.

However, having felt the pull of "old age" in my heart, it has entered my mind that I have lived more than half my life already. What sort of things would I have left behind for my family if I were to die today? I'm not speaking of worldly goods- though I'd love to leave them which as much as I possibly could. I'm referring to beliefs and practices in this life that will not only help them here, but will help them to make it to be with Jesus forever.

So, if you will indulge me, I'd like to begin a "good midlife crisis" by writing some principles and precepts that will help my children, and hopefully, you to successfully navigate this life in following Jesus. I do not write these things to point a finger at anyone else's beliefs. Rather, I have chosen to call this series of blogs, "I believe", for they are just that: things that I believe. If you have a different belief than I do in a certain area, then that is between you and God- not between you and I. That said, let me begin.

The central belief of all beliefs in my life (and, I believe, should be in all of our lives) is God. Who is he? Who is he in our lives? What does he expect of us? And so on.

God is the sole creator of all things (us included). He is an omnipresent, omniscient, all-powerful God. There is no place in the cosmos where he is not. There is nothing that he does not know. There is no power that can even come remotely close to his power. He is God ALONE! There is absolutely only one God. Not two. Not three. Not many. Only one. He is the first and the last. The beginning and the end. The final end of all discussion and argument. It is HIS way and ideas that matter in the end- not ours. He has the power to force all of us to believe and to do things his way.

Yet, he also loves us. As such, HE choses to limit himself in his dealings with us. He is absolute power in absolute control. Though he has the power to force us, he choses NOT to because of his great love for us. He created us to have something he could not have with the Angels- an intimate, loving relationship. This is only possible because he has given us something he never gave any other creature in all of creation- freedom of choice. After all, who wants a spouse that is forced to love you? Who wants a spouse that tries to please you out of necessity, rather than out of love? God created man in order to create his bride! We are created and empowered with a capacity to love because that is exactly what God desires from us- our unconditional love.

However, our sin interfered. This sin, because of God's holiness, prevented us humans from becoming what we were created to be. Therefore, God instituted a plan to fix the problem. Sin had to be paid for. God's judgement demands payment for sin. But his loving heart aches for relationship with us in spite of our sin. So, he began the sacrificial system.

It began in the garden of Eden, when God slayed, I believe, a lamb in order to clothe Adam and Eve and shed blood to temporarily pay for their sin. A lamb per person. This was why Cain's sacrifice wasn't accepted- no blood as God had ordained. Faith isn't just belief. Faith is also obedience! In fact, James writes that Faith without works is dead! There is no true faith without obeying God's word on how to walk out that faith. Any faith that does not also include obedience is no true faith at all. After all, our actions always follow our beliefs- irregardless of what we say.

Later, God expanded his sacrificial system from a lamb per person, to a lab per family- at the passover. The head of the home- the man, by the way, would take the lamb and sacrifice it as a covering of blood for the whole family. Then, at the institution of the law, it became a lamb per nation- on the day of of atonement. The high priest would sacrifice the lamb and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat in the temple- atoning for the sins of the nation.

But, these were just temporary stop-gap measures. In truth, no blood, that did not come from a sinless man, could eternally atone for our sins. Because God had declared MAN's death to be the price of MAN's sin, the sacrifice of animal's could only be a temporary fix to roll back our sins for another year. It would require the blood of a sinless man to pay the penalty for the sins of humanity. But, what man was perfect? All mankind had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So, God made a decision.

God formed a body in the womb of a virgin girl named Mary. And in this body HE inhabited himself! Not all of himself, to be sure- because he is everywhere in the universe. He did place all of his fullness there, however. All of his attributes- love, humility, judgement, righteousness, hatred of sin, power, might, majesty, holiness, etc.  were embodied in the body of Jesus! This is why Jesus told Nicodemus that not only was he there speaking with him on earth, but he was also in heaven at the same time! (John 3:13 KJV)

In this body, God lived a perfect, sinless life. In the end, this is why Jesus was able to be "the lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." Now, through his shed blood, his burial, his resurrection, we can become a child of God and a part of the bride of Christ. Thessalonians clearly says that we must OBEY the Gospel. The Gospel, according to 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4, is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. We obey this by repentance (death), baptism in Jesus name (burial), and the infilling of the Holy Ghost (resurrection). The sign of receiving the Holy Ghost is speaking in tongues. This is the biblical "sound" that Jesus said would be heard when a person is born of the spirit (John 3: 1-7).

There is much more that I shall get into, in the near future. Again, it is not my desire in this to offend anyone, but it is my desire to leave for my loved ones a basis for life to live on. God bless you all. May you walk with Jesus all of your days!