Monthly Archives: November 2011

Pride Goes Before Destruction

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)

What did Jesus mean exactly by these words? He said this right after the Pharisees had complained to Jesus’ disciples that he was eating with “scum.” Jesus had eaten with a tax collector and invited this tax collector to be his disciple. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law could not stand this and were angry with Jesus that he had spent time with a tax collector that they considered scum.

We can learn two things from this story. The first is that Jesus came for everyone, or a better way to put it would be he came for anyone who is willing to accept Him. Jesus showed no prejudice or racism. The free gift of salvation is open to anyone who will accept it. The second thing we can learn from this story is that the Pharisees rejected Jesus because of their self-righteous thinking which was their own pride and prejudice taking them over.

We live in a society that teaches humility as a bad thing. We have so many self esteem programs in schools but test scores are lower than ever. Our society teaches our youth to be prideful from a very young age. Perhaps we are going about this the complete wrong way. Rather than teaching prideful independence we should be teaching humble dependence on God and dependence on our parents and elders that we can learn from.

People grow up with this pride instilled in them that keeps them from ever seeing a need for repentance because they are so prideful they don’t think any of their actions are ever wrong. Don’t we see this everyday on the news? Everywhere we look people are defending their morally wrong actions giving excuse after excuse why in their case it was ok.

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3-4)

Is it your pride that keeps you from Jesus as in the Pharisees case? Think carefully before answering that question because wouldn’t “no” be in itself a prideful answer? I am a confessed disciple of Christ but I answer yes to that question. My pride does keep me from Jesus and I struggle with this everyday. My pride doesn’t want me to admit this. My pride tears me down but Jesus Christ builds me up!

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” (Prov 16:18-20)

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

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Do “Good” People Go To Hell?

What happens to non-Christians when they die? Do good people who never accept Christ go to hell? What about people of other religions? From my research I’ve realized there are basically three different views on this very controversial Christian theological question. There is the exclusivist, the inclusivist and the universalist. The exclusivist believes that only those who openly express they are Christian and have accepted Jesus Christ will go to heaven and all others will be condemned. Inclusivists believe that there may be possible other ways to achieve salvation than being a 100% dedicated and confessed Christian. They believe that perhaps God will have mercy on some non believers—such as people of other faiths—but they still believe there is a hell and that it will no doubt be inhabited by some. Universalists believe that all souls will in some way be reconciled with God and that all will eventually end up in heaven making hell obsolete or non-existent.

Here’s what I believe:

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I believe in the word of God and I believe in the words of Jesus as the word of God! Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). I know God is a loving Father and that His judgments are just. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11).  God loves man but hates sin. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).  God does not want anyone to be condemned but I’m sure everyone can agree that we should be held accountable to consequences and punishments for our actions that are morally wrong. If you do not agree then you would be what we call a sociopath.

We also know that all men are sinners and no one can match up to God’s righteousness. “Everyman has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).  So what then can be fair? What can make us right with God? How does any man deserve salvation? The answer is we don’t deserve salvation, no one does. How does God deal with this problem? Jesus Christ. Only through Christ can we be saved. Jesus is the only possible way to reconciliation to the Father. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and paid the price for our sins. He took our punishment so that we could be saved. He is the mediator stretching one arm down to us while holding on to the Father in heaven with the other. Christ’s death was not something that could have been avoided. On the cross He said: “It is finished!” This was God’s plan all along. This is God’s gift to us. God has paid the price for our sins. Now we are only left to accept this gift and acknowledge our own shortcomings and need for repentance. We must come to the realization that we need help before we can ever be saved.

So am I an exclusivist, a inclusivist or a universalist? I am none. I am a Christian and in that a devoted follower of Christ. I do not label myself in the minute details that we will never know the exact answers to. It’s not our place to question God! “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).  I know God is loving and a just judge and by this I also know that no one will feel wrongfully condemned. That’s the farthest into it I will go. We are to focus on the cross and spread the gospel of Calvary that is the good news of Jesus Christ. How will God deal with undecided or mislead people? I don’t know and it is not my place to question or try to answer it. For in us trying to answer that question wouldn’t we in turn be making ourselves the judge? “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom 9:14-16).  “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Rom 2:1).

Jesus said: “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:36-37).

It is not our place to walk around telling non-believers that if they don’t have Jesus they are going to hell.  The scare tactic is the complete wrong way to minister! It is the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ crucified that draws people by the Holy Spirit to be reconciled with God.

Give your life to Christ! If you’re worried about the salvation of others then tell them of God’s love and preach to them the gospel! The rest is left—rightfully so—in God’s hands. This is all we can do and this is all we are meant to know. Jesus Christ and salvation through Him by faith is the simple truth that is the foundational meaning and purpose of the entire Bible. If you cannot accept this then “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Jesus said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matt 7:13).  Look around at the world today and life as we know it. I myself see many roads that lead to destruction and many lives that are torn apart from it. There is a path to light! It is a narrow gate that many refuse to enter. It is faith in Jesus Christ. Which road are you on?

“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:11-13).

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

Is The Bible The First Science Book?

We live in an age where so many people believe science disproves the existence of God. I don’t see how this is true at all. By studying science we learn more about how life works but I don’t see this in any way as evidence against God. Just like knowing the sun is a huge ball of burning gas does not explain how it ended up at the exact right location to light, warm and energize the earth. Life is so complex and the more we learn from science the more we realize how everything actually has a purpose and that the universe and everything on the earth live in this intricate, precise harmony. DNA and mathematics are written code that shows there must be an author. For people to believe that the entire existence of life just happened by mere chance, that we are here by accident and that something came out of nothing is to me the most illogical and unscientific explanation anyone could ever have. The theory of the big bang is interesting but it can never solve the mystery of something coming from nothing. No matter how much matter, energy and time there is life will never just happen. Science has proved that the earth is aging and from this we can say that it at some point had a beginning and at some point it will have an end. Science has also proven that there is much more to life or reality than what we can physically see making the materialistic view somewhat foolish in my opinion. To not believe in something because you cannot see it is not a good reason at all. Today I just wanted to list some really interesting scientific facts that the Bible was the first to record before any science book (and often against what was popular belief at the time) showing evidence that the Bible did have divine inspiration when written.

The Bible was the first book to ever state that the stars could not be counted. In Genesis 22:17 the Bible compares the number of stars to the number of grains of sand on the sea shore which can obviously not be counted. At the time of being written men actually believed you could count the stars and many men continued to think this up until the invention of the telescope in the 17th century.

The Bible was the first book to ever state that the earth is round. Isaiah 40:22 says “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth.” Even when men thought the earth was flat thousands of years before it was proven to be round the Bible has stated that it was.

The Bible was the first book to say the earth was free floating. Job 26:7 says “He hangs the earth on nothing.” Other religions have stated that the earth is on the back of an elephant or a turtle. The Bible had it right all along.

The Bible states in Gen 2:7 that “God formed man of the dust of the ground.” The 59 elements found in the human body are all found on the earths crust. For more detailed info: http://esoriano.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/from-dust-to-man-a-scientific-proof/

The Bible says God created woman from man’s rib and the rib is the only bone in the body that can completely regenerate. Genesis 2:21-23 states “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman.” It has been proven that the rib is the only bone in the body that when surgically removed will completely regenerate itself. This makes sense that God would make woman from the rib. For more detailed info: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v4/n1/amazing-regenerating-rib

The Bible reports of a massive flood wiping out most of the human race about 5000 years ago. If we trace the population growth rate of humans back mathematically it comes to a halt at about 5000 years ago. This evidence completely supports the incident in Genesis of a massive flood that wiped out the population of the earth and left humans to start the reproductive process over. For more detailed info: http://radaractive.blogspot.com/2011/11/flawed-darwinist-dating-methods-exposed.html

These are just a few of the many cases where the Bible has had scientific accurate statements that were not proven true until many years later. For a longer detailed list visit: http://www.thejesuscommandment.com/proof.html

From what I’ve pointed out here you could say: ok I get that there is substantial evidence for the Bible to be accurate but if there is a God then where did God come from? I will try to explain this the best I can. God is infinite. The definition of infinite is: extending indefinitely, endless, immeasurable, inconceivably great, subject to no limitation or external determination, extending beyond, lying beyond, being greater than any pre-assigned finite value. God is timeless “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 1:8). He created time and hence lives outside of our world of cause and effect. We will never fully understand this until we die and pass into the spirit world being no longer bound by time. I know this can be very hard to understand but I see the explanation of an infinite creator as a much more logical explanation than to believe everything exists without purpose and by mere chance. Please refer to my blog “Why Even Try To Understand God” for more info on humans trying to intellectually explain God: http://iwanttobelieveingod.com/2011/11/19/why-even-try-to-understand-god/

To believe against all odds that life is an accident is to me an unacceptable answer and actually quite depressing. I believe we all feel within our hearts that there is more to us than just life and death. I do not believe it’s just blackness and nothingness as if we never existed when we die. We feel it within ourselves that there is more to us than our flesh. There’s something deep inside that cannot just die and go away forever. With this realization we are also born with a longing to figure out our purpose. I believe this is the longing God puts in our hearts to seek Him.

Until the end of the world I’m sure there is always going to be arguments from both sides of the theist and the atheist (existence and non-existence of God). I am in no way trying to start an argument or debate here. I just wanted to share some facts about the Bible that I find very interesting that you may not have heard before. It’s up to you to decide what you believe. I just urge you to weigh out the evidence from both sides before immediately siding with the secular/evolutionist side we are often taught in schools. Here’s a bit of truth for you—not everything you learn in school is factual. Of course not everything you read on the internet is fact either. So do your research people and come up with your own honest conclusions. One thing I’m sure everyone can agree on is that we have a choice to decide what we believe. I believe this is the free will God has given us to be for Him or against Him. It’s your choice.

To me these interesting facts about the Bible strengthen my faith but are in no way the root to my faith. The root of my faith resides in the Holy Spirit. I have felt the Spirit of God and personally experienced His love and goodness. Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” To me this is all the evidence I will ever need. The Holy Spirit is obviously not something I can show you through a blog but something you have to experience yourself. You could think of the Holy Spirit as God’s energy covering the entire earth. It’s like a wave of electricity that flows around desperately wanting to ground itself through man. It’s how we can spiritually connect to God. This electricity or Spirit wants into each man but we must first invite it, or in a sense remove our rubber flesh that’s blocking it from coming in. If this is something you are interested in experiencing yourself then the first step is simply prayer. Prayer is our direct line of communication with God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit. If you sincerely invite the Holy Spirit of God into your heart through prayer then I promise you amazing things will happen. Again it’s your choice.

In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” This is a promise from God that if we look for Him we will find Him. The key part is “ask”, “seek” and “knock”. It does not say “tell”, “force” and “push” because God gives us ultimate free will to seek Him or to choose not to. I myself have chosen to seek and I have found faith.

“I pray that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

“For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.” (Psalm 56:13)

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

A New Kind of Thanksgiving

So the Thanksgiving holiday has come upon us once again and it feels like it was summer just yesterday. This makes me reflect on how short life can be and also how fast it can pass us by. I felt inspired today to write a post about what I’m thankful for and as I have sat down to write it I realize I am not nearly thankful enough. Today I was “in the flesh.” I was in a bad mood. I was not a thankful person today at all! It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our own personal worlds we create where everything evolves around us. Today I actually got mad because I did not have the proper change to go buy my lunch. I had to make an extra stop on my lunch break to go into a grocery store and get change for a larger bill so I could buy my turkey sandwich from Subway. This little minor inconvenience actually frustrated me. It really made me angry for a moment. Now thinking about it I realize how childish I was acting. What a waste of five minutes to let such a dumb thing bother me. I was “in the flesh.” This has made me realize I need to stop wasting time out of my life getting irritated at stupid meaningless things. I need to be more thankful, more often!

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever… Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness… Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (Psalm 107:1, 8-9, 22)

At church tonight we read over this Psalm and in prayer our pastor gave us a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for and to personally thank God for it. I started thinking about what I am most thankful for and one specific thing surpasses all other things—life! I thank God for being alive and I thank God for bringing life into my life! I thank God for waiting patiently for me and being a loving father with arms wide open ready to take his prodigal back! This year I thank God for life and the light He has shed on my path to guide me through it.

Life is short. The statistics are in and 10 out of 10 people die. My Thanksgiving resolution is simply to be more thankful and to pay attention to the things that really matter in life. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow would you be thankful for your house and your car? Would you be thankful for your job? Of course not. These things are temporary. A hundred years from now nobody will care what car you drove or what company you worked for. So what really matters? I say its love. I love my family, I love my wife and I love my God. Now I’m not saying don’t thank God for the small things. I am thankful for all the small things He blesses me with as well. Just having a roof over my head and food on the table makes me more wealthy than many people across the world.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Wherever you are at in your walk with God take a moment right now and thank him for being alive. This is the most precious gift anyone has ever been given. In realizing this I now offer my life back to Him. I realize I must share His love with others because this life for me is not worth living without it. If you have stumbled across this blog and feel that you do not know this love of God I talk about then I urge you to call to Jesus in prayer and ask him to shed light on your path. He is always faithful and He will accept you wherever you are with wide open arms of love. Join me this Thanksgiving day in truly giving thanks to our Creator! Better yet, join me tomorrow and the day after. Let everyday be thanksgiving in your life.

Sing praise with me as I quote the lyrics of “The One Who Saves” by Hillsong United:

Come join the song, lift your voice
As heaven and earth give praise
Fall to your knees, at the feet
Of the Son of The One True God
Turn from old ways, lift your eyes
For the kingdom of God is here
Open your heart, offer all
For Jesus Christ is here, oh now

We have found our hope
We have found our peace
We have found our rest
In the One who Loves
He will light the way
He will lead us home
As we offer all
To the One who saves us

His love endures
Forever His love endures
Forever His love endures
Forever and ever

“I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Solomon 6:3)

This I am thankful for!

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

Why Even Try To Understand God?

The Bible tells us all who call upon Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior shall be saved. Why is this so hard for people to do? Why do people constantly reject the gospel and Jesus? Why don’t people just give God a chance? I think it comes down to two separate main issues—unbelief and misunderstanding.

I get the fact that people misunderstand God. This is expected for us to misunderstand God. What I don’t think people are realizing is the fact that it is impossible for us to ever fully understand God. People think that we should be able to intellectually explain God but this is not possible. Often when people say they doubt God I think rather than doubting God’s existence they are actually doubting their intellectual understanding of God. We say how can there be a God if there is evil in the world? Where was God in this evil event? I say: who are we to try and understand God? In human comparison we would be but a pebble to God or a measly ant. How could we even think we have the capacity or mind power to understand a God that has created the entire universe? And of course there would be no perspective of good and evil if evil did not exist. We would not know of good if there were no such thing as bad. We have a moral law inside all of us that has always been there that says we ought to look out for others above ourselves but we instinctively want to watch out for ourselves. We have a moral law that says we ought to behave a certain way but we never completely follow it. Where does this law come from? Why do we say you should not be selfish? This morality would not come from survival instinct because unless it was directly benefiting us or our family, by instinct we would not care what happened to anyone else. But yet we do care. I think it comes from a law giver, from an ultimate good that is God. Where is God when evil strikes? I say God is in the victims and he is in the ones who have compassion to act and to risk their lives to stop it. God is in the compassion of people because he gives us the gift of compassion. God places people in the paths of evil to help our brothers in pain.

We cannot expect God to be constantly disrupting life by divinely stopping the actions that are consequences of people’s decisions and outcomes of the situations they have put themselves in. We would agree that yes sometimes God will reach down and stop an event from happening but more often than not God let’s life take its course. Evil does exist in this world and because of that there is consequences and bad things do sometimes happen to good people.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

In other words don’t hang on to some bad intellectual understanding of God that can never be fully accurate because of our finite minds in comparison to God. Christians always talk about finding true peace by surrendering ourselves fully to God. This is very hard because it’s our human nature to try and figure things out and to always be right. But the fact is that we will never fully understand God and we are not meant to. We are meant to trust Him and to have faith.

“Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

It is in the stillness that we can find peace; when we finally accept the fact that we will never know everything. This is where we find God. Acceptance of the fact that there is much we do not know and never will is the first step to wisdom. This is where I think the intellectual man can be led to the conclusion that God does exist.

Jesus said “I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)

I struggle with fully surrendering to God (as most Christians I think do) because I am wired to try and figure everything out, but one thing I do know is there is a fulfillment in Christ that I have never experienced in any other way. There is a great peace and joy that comes with knowing Jesus and it all starts with God’s love.

Now on to the next excuse I mentioned for refusal to surrender which would be unbelief. Ask yourself is there any chance that God might exist? If you say “no” then you have more faith than I do in your religion of atheism, and I do not think someone that sincerely answered no to that question would have read this blog up to this point. So let’s say that you do agree with most of the population of the earth that there is a chance of God’s existence. If there is a chance then don’t you think it would be of your best interest to give this God a chance? You could be missing the most important opportunity of your life. I am very thankful for my salvation in Christ and knowing that I have a place to spend eternity where there is no evil and only ultimate good! Please give God a chance.

“For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Psalm 95: 7-8)

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]