Evil-Gospel

How is the Gospel the answer to the issue of evil? How can God allow a little girl be raped and killed by age four? This question has haunted me. how can God do this and be all powerful, how is this the best way??? There are fifty good answers, but none of them satisfy. “this is the best way,” “this brings the most glory to God,” “it’s man’s failure,” and of all of these you can look at that poor girl who never got a chance, and still say, “why oh God, would you do this?” Even hearing that God loves you is dulled because you think about that girl.

Evil cannot be excused. Evil is SO horrific, and God uses it to bring him glory, how can that be? I’m going to ask you a question. Is God evident in evil? We say “how can God make this happen?” And you NEVER thought that we where made in his image, in such a way that we can create something. How can God Make evil? He can not. I believe we were made in such a way that we have the ability to create. But i believe, we as sinful people created one thing, that thing being evil. How could God let us do this? He made us like him!!! Like him means FREEDOM, like him means the ability to make, like him means complex. but the thing is, what we created and what we continually make is more evil and more rebellion. This deserves death. And we claimed death by our own choice.

We look back at that girl. We see death and hate it. We learned this hate from God, as he hates that same death. So God acts first to fix it. We made and broke, he made and we broke, and he hated the brokenness that we made and said,” I promise to fix your brokenness.” Fixing is much harder than braking. So he came down in flesh and worked until he was perfect for the impossible task of fixing. He fixed it and said,” it’s finished.” He breathed his last breath, declared his perfection after our imperfection. Since Jesus was never created, he could not be held by a created thing. The death that we have made. He Came back to life to show that we can do the same. By his wounds we are heal. He made life and we made death and he made life once again. He pleaded, come a take what i have paid for, and many still say, “I make Death.” That is why Evil is still present, because we still choose death over life. Jesus pleas to us to bring his life to that girl who only knew death. So you reader… take the life that was made for us, and bring it to others. This is the solution to the evil we created. Choose life so that we might all live.

Why did God let us make evil? Because he gave us a choice when he said we are in his image. But in the least, he has provided the solution for our problem, our failure. And for that, i say, “God is Good.”

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Knowing Jesus – Mark 8:27-9:14

You think you know who Jesus is? I think this passage might help you on your journey of faith. This is my manuscript of a sermon I preached at HVBC, to our paradigm crowd. My aim is to teach you about Jesus, and I also want to follow Peter’s story to see his perspective.  A goal of mine is to avoid what is trite, so that my audience’s conversation will not just default back into TV and sports or whatever you are used to. I want to change that habit, at least for today, and at least when we are looking at clear, straight-forward Scripture that if engaged through the mind and heart can change our lives. Let’s first catch the context of our text before we jump into the Word, which will be Mark 8:27-

Throughout Mark we have seen a few explicit major themes. Jesus has shown how he has authority, and claimed the title of God. The disciples are still not getting it, in the sense that they can’t understand who Jesus is actually claiming to be. Jesus is finally throwing it in their faces in the early part of chapter 8. The context leading up to this passage is Jesus healing a blind man. This blind man doesn’t see everything right off the bat, everything is blurry. Jesus then heals him a second time, and He sees everything clearly afterward. Now into mark 8:27-9:13…

Let us start at Peter’s point of view throughout this story. First, Jesus asks, “who do other people say that I am?” and they answered with several suggestion, like Elijah, John the Baptist, or one of the prophets. Then he asks the question in a more pointed way, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter being somewhat a lead character says, “you are the Christ.” Jesus then jumps straight into teaching them that the Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected and killed and rise three days later. This thought is not compatible with the “Jesus” that Peter knows. Peter has a false image of Jesus. Peter tries to rebuke Jesus, and it doesn’t really pan out like he expects. Jesus looks at the disciples, not wanting them to be deceived, so he harshly rebukes Peter by calling him Satan. And points out that he isn’t thinking of what is true and godly, but rather what is worldly. It is probable that Peter was picturing Jesus as a military leader. It seems like Peter is picturing Jesus as someone who will conquer with force like in the Second Coming. From outside historical records we can see that this was very common thought in the days surrounding Jesus. So Peter’s faults are shown in this interaction, and if Peter, as one of Jesus’ right hand men, had a false perception of who Jesus was, what are the chances that we have got Jesus’ character pinned?

Let us look at what Jesus was trying to teach. It starts with a loaded question. Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?”  I think a focus here is to know the real Jesus.  So, who do you say that Jesus is? Peter said that he was the Christ; pretty good answer right? There are a bunch of us that have done this, and we’ve decided to serve the Christ and declare that Jesus is the Christ. This is only one of stages of faith similar to what we have seen already in the blind man narrative from Mark 8:22-26. But this isn’t even near the “the full, clear picture.” We are still seeing everything blurry. If we look at Jesus’ response to Peter’s answer we get a good feel for what we have to learn next. So why doesn’t Jesus congratulate him on his correct answer? He tells them ‘strictly’ not to tell anyone. Peter has this huge assumption of who Jesus is and who the ‘Christ’ is, like a huge ‘conquering Christ’ type of character. Jesus saw this and immediately starts teaching them that he’s going to be rejected, killed, and rise again. Peter doesn’t like this at all. When he thinks ‘Christ’ he isn’t thinking of the Gospel plan or the True Jesus. He is following an image of Jesus, his image, not the real one. And maybe some of us are on this stage of our faith, following Jesus, but not the legit Jesus. This is a time for some reflection on your own thoughts, when you think Jesus, are you thinking of one who will be rejected and killed for our sakes, or just another person telling us what to do. So Peter pulls Jesus aside to try to rebuke him. Jesus doesn’t allow this.  He flat out says “get behind me Satan!” A part of Jesus’ motive for rebuking Peter in this way was for the care of the disciples; he couldn’t allow his disciples to be confused about this. He also couldn’t let Peter be like Satan and lead His people away from the Gospel, or in other words be an adversary to the True Jesus. It was crucial for the disciples to see the true identity of Jesus:  the suffering servant who would be rejected, killed and resurrected, so that they could have true life.

The passage pulls us into the second main focus, 34-35, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the Gospel’s will save it.” This is kind of a big deal.  Let us think about this. I’ve been getting destroyed by thinking about this… and I don’t even think that I have been thinking and applying this enough. Jesus is making a radical statement. Die for me, or live to die. Let this one sink in, because if you want to follow the real Christ, not just an image of Christ that you’ve made, you have to DENY YOURSELF. You have to be ready to die for Christ. Jesus is demanding and jealous. All or nothing, die for me and live, or live it up just to die in the end. Take up your cross and follow me to death. Are you seriously ok with giving up everything for the Son of Man? This is something real that you have to figure out. Think about this reality. If your mind is set on the real nature of the Christ, you know if you are being radical like Jesus asks. Know this however: if you are ashamed of THIS Christ; the Christ who asks EVERYTHING of you, Jesus will be ashamed of you before the Father, when he is in his glory. It might sound harsh, but isn’t it in the least equal treatment? A man dies for you and you are ashamed of him for it? You might as well have spit in his face.

Now we could stop there, however, the passage stays on point.  The transfiguration happens next. After a few days, Jesus takes a few of his disciples up on a mountain. He goes all glory-like in front of them and Elijah and Moses appear. Peter is still acting a fool, not getting it, asking if he can make tents for them, probably wanting them to stay to be a part of the military force. Then something ridiculously awesome happens. God comes in a cloud and says, “This is my beloved son, listen to him.” If you’re like me, you’re thinking WHAT IS GOING ON? Let’s step back to the start. Who do you say Jesus is? Let us step back to the first main focus. He’s is the one who suffered and died for us, He is the one who says we must deny ourselves for the Gospel’s sake. He is the one who is called the Son of God, which is basically saying, that he is God Himself. Mark is showing us who Jesus really is by putting two drastic sides of his character next to each other: The God of glory and the man that suffered for us. This is the God Christians serve.

Now let us look back to the last five verses. A part of this is to maintain the continuity of the story, and to record Jesus telling the disciples to not speak of what happened until he has risen from the dead. It seems like Jesus is being very blunt about this whole, dying on the cross and rising from the dead thing. Peter, James and John start thinking about what rising from the dead might mean, not thinking that Jesus is actually going to die. Then they ask, “Jesus, why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus probably blows their mind when he says, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And yet how is it written of the son of man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him as they pleased, as it is written of him.”  I think this statement is meant to take us back to Mark 6, where it showed John the Baptist as a fore shadow to Jesus. Incredibly, we are now to be the post-shadow of Christ. A Christian’s life is to follow in the Christ’s footsteps. In other words we should be denying ourselves, and dying for the sake of the Gospel like Jesus did. This is actually a harder and different challenge. It isn’t just die for the sake of Christ, it is to be a representative of Christ. To be like Jesus in every way, like how he healed the sick, brought hope to the spiritually dying, having an authority over demons and life and death and sickness and health. This is a mighty task; a task that in most cases would be given to a son by his father. So by all means, deny yourself, and gain far more than you ever could have. Take on the responsibilities of being Jesus’ rep. I promise, it’s worth losing everything else.

Back to the start; who do you say that Jesus is? This question starts this entire passage.  And the grand conclusion is this: How you know Jesus will define how you serve Him. We saw that he was a savior that died for us, and the appropriate response is to give our lives. We saw that Jesus is the true God, and our response is to listen to the words he says and serve him in the way he asks, as he is our creator. It just makes sense to serve him whole heartedly.

doctrine

The study of theology is considered by many to be dry, boring, irrelevant, and complicated. But for those who want to know God, the study of theology is indispensable. The study of theology is an effort to make definitive statements about God and his implications in an accurate, coherent, relevant way, based on God’s self-revelations. While at the same time doctrine equips people to fulfill their primary purpose, which is to glorify and delight in God through a deep personal knowledge of him. Meaningful relationship with God is dependent on correct knowledge of him. It works in the reverse as well, if you have an inaccurate view of who God is, and what he has done, your relationship is significantly less meaningful. What is the point of a relationship with the creator God, if it’s falsely based.

Sola Fides

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1.) it stands in reason that it is in Luther’s Solas, as it is a doctrinal foundation for our whole ‘faith.’ Sola fides means ‘justified by faith alone,’ and biblically speaking I think it is a strong and true statement, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, besides having faith in Christ’s work. Faith is simply the method in which we receive God’s salvation. It is faith that lets us receive the gospel, and through His gospel, His righteousness. Faith is unique in this; it is the vehicle that we use to receive God’s gift.  It’s just about what God has done for us. Turn to Romans 3:21…

[21] But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—[22] the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

[27] Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law, by a law  of works? No, but by the law of faith. [28] For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. [29] Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, [30] since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. [31] Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:21-31 ESV)

God brings righteousness ‘through’ faith. Can you not see the power in this? Through the vehicle of faith, righteousness can be ours in Christ, and by ‘ours,’ I mean anyone! Faith is the great equalizer there isn’t a distinction in race or culture, faith isn’t given more or less based on anything besides God’s grace! It is by ‘faith’ that we can believe and receive Christ as our justifier and propitiation, as our redeemer and sacrifice. And through faith, he might be that justifier for us.

God has always been saving people in the same way, through FAITH. In Romans 4:3 Paul states, “Abraham believed in God and it was accounted to him as righteousness,” then he says “the one who works, will be given their wage, but not a gift. But the one who believes in him who justifies the ungodly, HIS FAITH WILL BE COUNTED AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” However it is not just faith in itself that saves us. But It is faith in something, that something being Jesus’ work.

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kick-start

After doing ministry in my home, church, and all over the world, my worldview (by God’s grace alone) has become a credit. My conviction now is to be responsible for all that i know and have seen. The Goal is to fulfill mark 4:24 as it is speaking of what you hear, and using the measure in which you use. To be fair the text, the passage is speaking more of sharing the Gospel, as you have heard it, because you are made for that task. However there is an underlying truth hiding in the text that is displayed in a large portion of the Bible, “use everything you have got for the Gospel of the Christ, to fulfill the God’s revealed will.”(-seen in the parable of talents and much of Jesus’ ministry. (Through the assistance of the Holy spirit, being judged only on our faithfulness.)) In other words, I will live solely for God and His Gospel, using every resource i have. Including my worldview and passion. And it is apart my responsibility to encourage you to do the same.

Now let us then grow together. Let us live with the Gospel being apart of our breath. Let us take the life that is born from the Gospel, and be full to the point of overflowing. The result will be the maturing realization of the desperate need and magnanimously received  grace, that only comes from above.