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Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

A matter of exclusion – Michael Ramsden

March 9th, 2011
  • We are asking why is the Christian faith so exclusive?
  • Whenever you say that something is true, you are automatically saying that any contrary statement is untrue.
  • For someone raised in an Islamic culture, Christianity can clearly be seen as a different message from Islam, however, in the West, many would argue that Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism are basically the same. Maybe we need to allow the adherents of these beliefs to explain their own systems.
  • Surely if God is loving, isn’t being a good person all that matters? Jesus was very clear, all good people are going to heaven. When someone came to Jesus, asking, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No-one is good, but God alone” (Mark 10:17-18) If good people are going to heaven, and only God is good, then who is going to heaven?
  • In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus tells a story that is pertinent to our situation, which shows us that there are only two possibilities as to how a person can become righteous, either (1) we make ourselves righteous or (2) someone else makes us righteous.
  • A Phariseeand tax collector were both praying at the same time in the temple. The Pharisee thanks God for making him such a good person, the tax-collector beats his breast – a strong gesture of remorse. The tax collector literally prays, “may this sacrifice be for me“. Jesus has come into the world as the sacrificial lamb which takes away the sins of the world.
  • Richard Dawkins argued after the Asian tsunami that it is morally reprehensible that an innocent man should be sacrificed for the guilty.
  • Why this emphasis on sacrifice, why is the cross at the centre of Christian teaching?
  • The answer is that we cannot separate love and judgement.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett rejects Mr Darcy’s eloquent proposal of marriage, because Darcy states that he loves her against his will, reason and better judgement. He claims to love her though he does not know her.
  • Most of us project an image of ourselves which is better than the person we really are, the danger of this is that people fall in love with the image, not the real person. Love is only truly meaningful if the one who loves us truly knows us, but God sees everything, therefore, his love is truly meaningful.
  • True love can only exist in the presence of judgement, “If you never know truth then you never know love” (Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the Love?”).
  • If your sister is raped, and the judge lets the offender go free, saying, “we must be merciful” then where is the justice? In Christianity alone, God exercises mercy through the exercise of his justice.
  • Jesus, teaches us that the man who prayed, “may this sacrifice be for me” went away having received God’s gift of righteousness. Christianity is radically humbling – not only does it teach that no-one is good, but also that no-one can make themselves good.
  • Jesus’ answer to the question, “don’t all paths lead to God?” is that there are no paths that lead to God, only the path that God has made in coming to us.

Responses to questions

(In response to a question asking why each religion confirms the truth of the previous religion, but persecutes the followers of the religion that came after it) – The first point is not true, the later sayings of Muhammad abnegate the earlier sayings (which are more tolerant of Judaism and Christianity), Buddhism arose out of the rejection of the Vedas and the Hindu caste system. The second point is, sadly, true. People have persecuted others on the grounds of religion, however, Jesus explicitly denies the use of the sword for the propagation of the faith, and Paul argues that the fruits of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) should be what people taste when they bite into the life of a genuine follower of Jesus.

(In reponse to a question asking why, in Romans 2, Paul argues that people will be judged by what they know, and whether this means that people can be saved through Christ indirectly) – We are not saved by an idea, we are saved by a relationship, even if that relationship is confused – is this relationship with God a reality in your life?

(In response to a question, asking that, if love is inseparable from truth, how it is that God can only love us when we have been given a righteousness which is not ours, and is therefore untrue)  – The message of the gospel is more radical than that God forgave us when we begged him for mercy, God loved us and paid the price to make forgiveness possible, long before we sought him, when we were still his enemies. We forgive people when we think that they have earned forgiveness, but this is not the message of the gospel, God is offering us forgiveness BEFORE we repent, our repentance is the means whereby we receive God’s forgiveness and the relationship is restored.

Hebrews 2:1-11

August 2nd, 2010

Hebrews deals with the glorious theme of the Supremacy of Jesus Christ.

Here in this passage there are 3 main ideas.

Don’t Drift Away

Sadly some do drift away out of church fellowship. But here are compelling reasons not to do so.
• Because of the supremacy of Christ. This is particularly described in Hebs 1:1-3
• Because of the anger of God. The writer asks here; how can we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? (vs.3)
• Because this message of salvation is the Truth. It was spoken first by the Lord himself who is the Truth. It was attested to by first hand witnesses. It was confirmed by signs and miracles.

The Plan of God

The writer quotes from Psalm 8 which exalts the greatness of man as God’s plan was to bring everything under his feet. Men and women are meant to rule on the earth but because of sin we’ve mucked it up. However through the death of Christ not only have our sins been forgiven but we have been restored to the position that God intended – but we don’t yet see it! (See vs. 8).
However right now we recognise that Christ created the earth, so we should be living responsibly with regard to the environment and also anticipating the new earth which is part of the fruit of Christ’s redeeming work at Calvary.
Also, God’s plan will be fully worked out in us when finally we rule with Christ over a new creation. Rev 11:15 says that when the final trumpet blows then the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. Yes, and we shall reign with him.

Jesus is the Perfect Saviour

Vs. 10 says that Jesus is made perfect through suffering. This is not a reference to his character, but simply to the fact that he became our perfect Saviour when he died for our sins, as nothing else needs to be done to achieve our redemption.
He is our perfect Saviour because:
• He sorts out creation. He will rule over it forever with joy.
• He sorts out our destiny. He is leading many sons to glory (vs.10) and glory includes the fact that we will reign with him.
• He sorts out relationship. Through his redeeming work Jesus makes us his brothers and sisters. (vs.11).

Jesus is the ‘founder’, or better the ‘Champion’ (vs.10) of our salvation.
We cannot drift away from such a great salvation.

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The Supremacy of Christ – Hebrews 1:1-3

July 14th, 2010

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The writer of Hebrews compares Christ to what he knows about Judaism – that He is the supreme version of everything (High Priest, sacrifice, etc).

Christianity is not about rules but about the person of Christ.

God has spoken
1. Many times, many ways
2. Last days – spoken through His Son
3. God speaks through what Jesus is

  • Prophecy today is judged by the Word
  • Prophets do speak today, but God speaks to all of us by His Son – not just by what He said but by what He is, which is the very Word of God

Jesus is supreme (v.2-3)
1. He is the heir of all things

  • Jesus conquers all people groups through love
  • Christianity is not a lost cause that will one day fade away – God’s plan is to unite all of creation in Christ, restoring the created order under His headship

2. Through Him, God created the world

  • God spoke and the universe came into existence

3. He is the radiance of God’s glory

  • God speaks to us about His glory through Jesus – in grace and in truth

4. He is the exact imprint of God’s nature

  • We now have access to God through Christ

5. He upholds the universe

  • He sustains all with purpose, moving it all towards a glorious consummation
  • The Son holds it all together

6. He made purification for sins
7. He sat down

  • High Priests in the Old Covenant could never really sit down – the work was never finished
  • Jesus is on the throne – the work is finished – and He is waiting to come back
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