Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Pursue Holiness and Absolute Truth

I have been convinced for a long time now that we are to wage war against wickedness. What we tolerate - little by little - eventually,
sadly, becomes accepted practice. When we find a corporation, social, activist or legal group that so blatantly adheres towards a view that is immoral, Christians must take a stand to urge them not to empower
filth that undercuts biblical morality in our society and degrades the quality of life in America. By the grace of God, opposing evil will
continue to be a regular staple of our work here on this earth. But, at
the heart of any Biblically based ministry is this underlying burden
that never goes away and, with God's help, never will.

It's the matter of holiness.

Just as we must not be ashamed of the Gospel we MUST NOT be ashamed to "pursue holiness without which no man shall see the
Lord." And we need to promote it better than we do.

HOLINESS: "Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according to as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit
of agreeing in God's judgment - hating what He hates, loving what He loves - and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man....He will have a decided bent of mind toward God, a heart desire
to do His will, a greater fear of displeasing Him than of displeasing the world, and a love to all His ways. ..."

The Christian worldview rests on a foundation of absolute truth which
is revealed throughout Scripture (Psalms 25:5; 43:3; 119:30; John
1:17; 14:17; 2 Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 4:15; 1 John 3:19). Therefore, morality is defined by God and immutable because it is inherently
based on God’s immutable character. Humanists believe that morality
is ultimately relative because every person is the final authority for his own views. Such a view is not logically satisfying. God stands against
the moral relativist whose behavior is based on “whatever is right in
his own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8; Judges 17:6; 21:25; Proverbs 21:2).

In addition to this, pluralists (e.g. universalists) want all religions to
have credibility. The real question is can all religions ultimately teach
the same truth? No. There are many differences in doctrine in each religion that make this view impossible. Jesus taught that there is one and only one personal God who is triune in nature (Mark 12:29; John 4:24; 5:18,19). Jesus was exclusive in His truth claims and warned: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ,” and will deceive many” (Matt. 24:4,5,23).

Those who attempt to know God's will and do it will know intuitively
that Jesus was telling the truth about himself. Have you ever listened
to religious speakers and wondered if they were telling the truth? Test them: (1) their words should agree with, not contradict, the Bible; (2) their words should point to God and his will, not just to themselves.
Each of us have our own testimony of salvation to share, and there is nothing wrong with sharing it. However, within their testimoney take note of whether or not the individual is giving the glory to Christ or self. That is a huge indication of who is genuine.

For more about this issue and many others, please visit my website and discussion forum at:

http://www.angels-helper.net

In the end times forum, there are several examples
of the apostasy creeping into many liberal Christian denominations as well as other important issues concerning the true Biblical Christian worldview.

Back to our topic.

Only God who knows all things could know the truth. However, postmodernism says there is no absolute truth anywhere. They believe that all truth is always changing, whether it be spiritual, moral, or political. Trouble is, no matter how hard humanists try, they cannot avoid arriving at the problem of claiming there are no moral absolute values. There is absolute truth in the Word of God (Deut. 32:4). There
is absolute morality in the teachings of Scripture and what constitutes
sin is defined by God (Matt. 15:16-20). And there is the ultimate
absolute behind it all...Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the
life (John 3:18-21).

Who is on the throne in the center of your life? God or self?

Putting yourself on that throne makes one vulnerable to evil and self-deception (John 8:44) by the "thief who comes only to steal and kill
and destroy" into your life.

Contrastly, Christ, "has come that they may have life and have it to
the full," (also, John 8:36).

Christians understand sin, which originates in the heart of man, to
be mankind's core problem (Psalm 14:1), something that humanism
does not have the capacity to solve. But Jesus has "overcome the world" ( John 16:33).

God takes sin very seriously and provided man's way out from its consequences through the sacrifice of His Son. The cross of Christ
shows that God the Father can take the worst thing that ever happened and turn it into good; the salvation of mankind. Without repentance of sin (John 8:34,35) and belief in Jesus (John 8:42), man dies in his sins (John 8:24) and is without hope. That's the truth (John 11:25,26).

However, people will constantly fight against the truth as revealed by
God in the Bible and through the Person of Jesus Christ in the
Scriptures.

A while back there was a letter written to our local newspaper and the writer claimed,

"A belief is a dead end - a short circuit of the mind;

" belief would "kill his life;" and

"...spiritual understandings have developed into believing nothing."

How sad!

He reminds me of the religious leaders who, after having their own questions answered, could not answer Jesus' question regarding the Messiah's identity - that he was God in the flesh (see Luke 20:41-44).

The central issue of life is to believe that Jesus is who he said he is. Without this decision, other spiritual questions are irrelevant.

In Matthew 11:25, Jesus mentioned two kinds of people in his prayer:
the "wise" - arrogant in their own knowledge - and the "little children"
- humbly open to receive the truth of God's Word.

Luke 9:18-20 requires us to hold beliefs for ourselves and when Jesus asks, "Who do you say that I am?"

He wants us to take a stand.

Who do you say Jesus is?

John 12:39-43 discusses how refusing to believe leads to a hardened heart.

Luke 23:39-43 shows that our deeds don't save us - our faith in Christ does.

The believing repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus reveals the ultimate mercy of God; that prior to our own death, it is never too late
to be forgiven and saved.

John 12:44-50 summarizes Jesus message and describes the purpose
of his mission and what will happen to believers and non-believers at
his second coming.

Decide now which side you'll be on, for the consequences of your
decision last forever.

16 comments:

Anna said...

Hi Christine -

Enjoy reading your posts and comments on Stephen's blog. I encourage you to stay the course, but be mindful to put on the armor (Eph. 6).

Blessings,
Anna

Christinewjc said...

Hi Anna,

Very good advice.

Especially Eph. 6:10-20 (NLT)

The Whole Armor of God
10 A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. 11 Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
13 Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.* 16 In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.* 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words as I boldly explain God's secret plan that the Good News is for the Gentiles, too.* 20 I am in chains now for preaching this message as God's ambassador. But pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

The armor of God. Being aware of whom we are battling against. Speaking boldly as I should. Three very timely points from God's Word.

Thanks for the reminder, Anna and I very much appreciate all of your encouragement.

Love in Christ,
Christine

Jojo said...

Christine,
Again, I enjoyed your post here. You have a gift for speaking the truth. Thank you for encouraging me with God's Word.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jojo,

God's Word IS so inspiring, isn't it? It can also be such a comfort in the midst of any storm or controversy, too.

I have found that adhering to Jesus Christ and His Word is not only the best way to live, it is the only way to live...and live life to the fullest.

Have you read, "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren? I've read it four times! Such a great book. Really encapsulates God's message to mankind in a day by day devotional form.

Have a great night and see you over at Stephen's blog soon!

God bless,
Christine

Thomas said...

However, postmodernism says there is no absolute truth anywhere. They believe that all truth is always changing, whether it be spiritual, moral, or political. Trouble is, no matter how hard humanists try, they cannot avoid arriving at the problem of claiming there are no moral absolute values.

Christine, I am troubled by your conflation of humanism and postmodernism. I would be happy to describe myself as a humanist, but I never call myself a postmodernist. Humanism is an old word that has been redefined several times. This is completely natural, as the word carries many positive connotations. Originally humanism began as a scholarly movement during the Christian Reformation associated with a revival of classical learning and a deep introspective analysis of the human condition. The great representatives of this earlier humanism are Erasmus, Montaigne, Richard Burton, Sir Thomas Browne, and of course Shakespeare. Humanism in the nineteenth century was associated with an interest in the so-called "humanities" -- art, literature, history, biography -- as opposed to the sciences. This was a result of a division of the academic world into C. P. Snow's famous "two cultures," a dichotomy entirely absent from the universe spanning inquiry of the "Renaissance Man." Finally, in the post-war era, various "secular humanist" groups arose on both sides of the Atlantic, populated by people who found the answers that religion gave to life's great gnawing existenital questions to be either shallow or explicitly false. Seeking a term to describe their philosophy in ways that went beyond the strictly negationary connotations of the word "atheism," they settled upon the word "humanism," expressive of some of the most respectable movements of the European intellectual tradition.

Post-modernism, I'm afraid, is merely a label for a variety of contemporary intellectual and affectual confusions. In my humble opinion. It seems to me to be no more than form of collective solipsism. Far from being an enemy of religion, it is the philosophical void in which many fanatacisms and delusions are capable of expanding into. I do not believe in blithely ignoring the irrational beliefs of my fellow humans; I believe in exposing the errors and cruelties latent in the modern and pre-modern myths which have captivated so many. However, I also believe so strongly in the absolute freedom of the human will, that I will not use any weapons in this struggle other than the pen, the keyboard, or the sound of my voice.

Far from shunning the notion of absolute truth, I am a firm believer in the existence of an objective physical reality independent of human ideologies or our vain desires. We can approach a degree of understanding about this world only when we adopt several very disciplined techniques of skepticism, reason, and empiricism -- all of which techiques are incorporated into the framework of modern science.

I am an opponent of religious mythologies simply because I am an idolator of truth and virtue. I take these issues very seriously, and I am deeply interested in the claims that Christianity makes about to the world -- not to mention the several thousand other unique and completely incompatible religions in the world. However, I have found no evidence to suggest that any of these beliefs are true.

I am such a devout devotee of the truth and such an earnest seeker after the absolute degree of truth, that I can never allow myself to be tempted into a possible falsehood by a lazy conviction in my own or another person's infallibility. I must always hold it out as a possiblity, however large or small, that I have made an error -- that an experiment has a flawed methodology, that a chain of reasoning was insufficiently rigorous, or that a textual source may have been corrupted. The beliefs which have the greatest likelihood of being an approximation of the absolute truth are those which have been subjected to these excruciating critical examinations again and again and again. A person with a penchant for believing himself to be divinely inspired or in direct supernatural connection with abolute truth is almost always likely to be wrong. A belief which is held for purely emotional reasons (i.e., it makes one feel good, or one would be sent to Hell for doubting it), stands an almost perfect chance of being entirely false.

Doubt is the greatest armor of all. It keeps us perpetually on guard against the latest (as well as the oldest) kooky ideas and flat-out fallacies. It is the immune system of the mind.

Qivan said...

Christine, no offense, but you sound scary, like God's appointed you his moral warrior? Don't you think God would want you to help the poor and the sick instead?

Cheers dear, and I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but have you ever seen a reputable pschiatrist. Did wonders for me.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Thomas,

Perhaps I used the wrong terms here. I did mean Secular Humanism, but do you have a better word for what I ascribed to as postmodernism?

I am glad to read that you do not shun the concept of absolute truth. I guess we disagree on where it can be found, though.

You said: "We can approach a degree of understanding about this world only when we adopt several very disciplined techniques of skepticism, reason, and empiricism -- all of which techiques are incorporated into the framework of modern science."

From what you stated above, I can see that each of those qualities/disciplines focus on science and logic.

We are obviously coming from different 'directions' (for lack of a better word) on these issues. I don't see logical reasoning as an absolute law which governs the universe. I'm not saying it's not a good tool, per se, however, in discussing matters of faith we must decide whether logic is the right tool for the job...so to speak. There are other ways to communicate, discuss and debate. The Bible is my prime source of knowledge, in such issues, and therefore we must admit that we come from opposite sides of the spectrum.

This is evident to me by your statement:

"I am an opponent of religious mythologies simply because I am an idolator of truth and virtue. I take these issues very seriously, and I am deeply interested in the claims that Christianity makes about to the world -- not to mention the several thousand other unique and completely incompatible religions in the world. However, I have found no evidence to suggest that any of these beliefs are true."

Where did you look for such evidence? If you already dismiss Christianity and/or the Bible as "myth", and I see it as absolute truth, then where do we stand as far as this discussion goes?

Your following statement holds out some hope for further discussion:

"I am such a devout devotee of the truth and such an earnest seeker after the absolute degree of truth, that I can never allow myself to be tempted into a possible falsehood by a lazy conviction in my own or another person's infallibility. I must always hold it out as a possiblity, however large or small, that I have made an error -- that an experiment has a flawed methodology, that a chain of reasoning was insufficiently rigorous, or that a textual source may have been corrupted. The beliefs which have the greatest likelihood of being an approximation of the absolute truth are those which have been subjected to these excruciating critical examinations again and again and again."

However, this statement does not:

"A person with a penchant for believing himself to be divinely inspired or in direct supernatural connection with abolute truth is almost always likely to be wrong."

Why? Because this describes the Person of Jesus Christ which you have already dismissed in your own mind as "most likely to be wrong."

And this statement reveals to me that you deem the possibility that YOU could be wrong about Jesus Christ as non-existent:

"A belief which is held for purely emotional reasons (i.e., it makes one feel good, or one would be sent to Hell for doubting it), stands an almost perfect chance of being entirely false."

I need to clarify that my belief is not held for "purely emotional reasons" and not based upon "making one feel good" although that is what you perceive it to be.

I have found that debate with intellectuals who believe as you do is often pointless. I am NOT saying that ours currently is, or will be, but often this is how it ends up. Often, I have found that people on the opposite side of the 'philosophical spectrum' often use logic as a set of rules which govern behavior while, ironically, at the same time, reveal in further conversations that this cannot be completely correct. It's one of those tools that is often used to refute or reject (outright, or subtly) the truth of the Bible.

This is evident to me in your statement:

"I am an opponent of religious mythologies simply because I am an idolator of truth and virtue."

You are only using logic here and dismissing, outright, the possibility that faith can lead to truth and virtue.

You said: "Doubt is the greatest armor of all. It keeps us perpetually on guard against the latest (as well as the oldest) kooky ideas and flat-out fallacies. It is the immune system of the mind."

That is the opposite of what Paul (who had a physical encounter with the risen Christ) tells us in the Bible. He tells us to "renew our minds in Christ Jesus".

If you already view the beliefs posted here, at Stephen's blog and in the Bible as "kooky ideas and flat-out fallacies" then is it possible that we really have nothing further to discuss?

Please know that I am not saying we DON'T have anything to discuss, but coming from your original premise might make it fruitless. Of course, it's up to you!

Jojo said...

Christine,
Who are the two beautiful ladies you have pictured on your blog? I have never noticed this picture before. Is it you and your daughter?

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jojo,

Aww!! You are so sweet to say that!

Yes, it's me and my daughter. She took a photo of us together with my camera phone at a Charger football game last fall and it is my background screen on my phone. She downloaded it to my computer yesterday and I asked her if I should place it on my blog. She said sure! I have another family picture that includes my son and husband, so hopefully I can find out how to post additional pictures on the page.

Jojo said...

Well it is so very nice to put a face to the name and posts (and such a pretty face at that) Your daughter is a doll. I do not know how to post pictures on my blog - I'm doing good to email them! lol

Anna said...

Christine -

Great picture! Your daughter resembles you. As daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we are to resemble Him in our character. Years ago, there was a song by Amy Grant called, "My Father's Eyes," talking about that very thing. There is no greater compliment than someone saying they see Jesus in us.

Anna

destined4blessing said...

Hi Christine,

I just read what you wrote on Stephen's blog about the guy that committed suicide. I really appreciated what you said - it was truth. Those who believe you can suddenly be declared "guilty" are not understanding the full grasp of the gift of their salvation. I agreed with all that you said. I dated a guy once who committed suicide... who claimed to be a Christian. I'm not convinced of his salvation by watching his life - BUT - I fully believe that if he was, he is now in the presence of the Lord... seeing all that could've been had he stuck around and got healing. So thanks for what you shared.

Christinewjc said...

Anna!

You just made me...well..cry! Tears of joy, of course.

Amy Grant has such a beautiful voice and the fact that she uses it to lift up the name of the Lord...all the better!

I have always wished I could sing...sing well...that is. But apparently it's not one of the gifts chosen by God for me.

It's a good thing I get drowned out in the sanctuary! The only two places I sing are at church and at home...alone with the dog! heh heh

Have a wonderful day!

Christinewjc said...

Hi destined4blessing,

Welcome to my blogworld!

I'm so sorry to hear you dated a guy who committed suicide. Must have been devastating! At least you have the hope that the gospel message may have reached him before that happened.

God's Word is such a comfort to us in times of tragedy. When this happened to my friend's son, I wanted to be completely prepared with biblical answers for her if the subject of his eternal destination ever came up. She does believe that he is now with the Lord. We take great comfort in that. But just as you said, we still grieve for what could have been if he stayed here to be with us.

Blessings to you,
Christine

Thomas said...

Dear Christine,

Thank you for taking some time to respond to comments. I do not hold out the possibility that Jesus Christ was in fact God to be non-existent. I assume such a proposition to have a very low a priori chance of being true, but I am willing to modify my stance in light of new information and evidence. For instance, if the frequently predicted Second Coming were ever to occur, I would take that as very strong evidence for the Christian hypothesis. Until such an event occurs, I am always interested in the possibility of devising empircal experiments to test your theory by other means. Unlikely theories have been confirmed in the past by means of observational and experimental techniques.

Einstein's theory of relativity was quite revolutionary in its day; for instance, it predicted that light rays would be diverted from a straight line in the presence of a strong gravitational field, something quite unlike what had been expected under the older Newtonian paradigm. Yet in 1919, a solar eclipse occured, which allowed astronomers to measure the measure the observed displacement of distant stars near the disk of the shadowed sun. Sure enough, the stars had diverged from their usual places by precisely the amount predicted by Einstein's equations. Even the much more radical theory of quantum mechanics was confirmed by endless intricate and detailed experiments. Reputable scientists are constantly on the look out for ways to disprove their theories -- they are only willing to place their confidence in ideas that have made it through this gauntlet alive. Truth has nothing to fear from a barrage of questioning.

The reason I place such little confidence in self-appointed messiahs is that I have had a long experience of dealing with kooks and crazies of various desciriptions who have been more than happy to describe themselves as God. All I ask them -- all I ask anyone -- is to justify these assertions. If someone provides reasonable evidence that he or she is in fact God -- evidence that can be confirmed by independent analysis -- then I will be forced to accept that claim.

On the other hand, a claim that is asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

The argument that I always hear in favour of Christianity is that by believing in its claims, I can go to Heaven, and that by doubting its claims, I will go to Hell. This is about as shallow and pugnacious an argument as I can imagine. I can attach the same threat/promise to a thousand or so other propositions that are universally considered preposterous. All such arguments would carry equal weight; that is to say, none.

I do hope you have a pleasant day.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Thomas,

It is good to hear that you may still be open to the possibility that Jesus came to this earth as God in the flesh. However, if you wait for the Second Coming to occur before believing, it will be to late to be included in the pre-tribulation Rapture (if it were to occur before you were to physically depart this earth as we all must do eventually).

As I had mentioned before, I see this as an issue where other "tools" must be used besides just the empirical, scientific evidence that you require. As an example, we could look at Scripture to see what it is that the Word of God tells us is necessary. For instance. The verse, "without faith it is impossible to please God." The verses goes on to say, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

Notice that it doesn't say, "without empirical science" or "without logic". If science or another type of tool were required, then it wouldn't be faith, now would it? It is like you are seeking proof for something that God says is needed to be acquired by faith.

In my own personal experience, I have found that when I believed, THEN I was shown proof to cement my steadfast faith. That is one reward of believing by faith.

Each person's experience and encounter with Jesus is unique, but ultimately brings each person who answers his question, "Who do you say that I am?" in the way that Peter answered it (You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God)into the same personal born-again relationship as described in John 3.

It is true that no one can convince another to have this faith. It must come from within the person when prompted by the Holy Spirit of God.

You stated, "All I ask them -- all I ask anyone -- is to justify these assertions. If someone provides reasonable evidence that he or she is in fact God -- evidence that can be confirmed by independent analysis -- then I will be forced to accept that claim."

I think that Jesus provided the best evidence that He is who he says he is by rising from the dead. There is reasonable evidence for this because Jesus is, after all, an historical person who actually existed 2,000 years ago. The accounts of his life, crucifixion, death and resurrection had over 500 witnesses and some of his disciples who walked the earth with him during his earthly ministry wrote all about it in the Bible. Jesus is unique in all of history because of who he claimed to be and what he accomplished at the cross and in his resurrection to life. No other self-proclaimed 'messiah' ever rose from the dead to prove their claim(s). However, Jesus stated that there would be skeptics despite his glorious accomplishment.

Luke 24:67 - "If You are the Christ, tell us." But He said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe;

2 Corinthians 4:4 - whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

There is another verse (can't locate at the moment) that describes Jesus saying (paraphrased), 'even if a man were to rise from the dead, they still won't believe.'

This reiterates the point that 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

You said: "The argument that I always hear in favour of Christianity is that by believing in its claims, I can go to Heaven, and that by doubting its claims, I will go to Hell. This is about as shallow and pugnacious an argument as I can imagine. I can attach the same threat/promise to a thousand or so other propositions that are universally considered preposterous. All such arguments would carry equal weight; that is to say, none."

God has placed eternity in our hearts for a reason. We make the decision to choose or reject Him.

2 Corinthians 4:6 - For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.