Does God love us, Humankind?

Love is one of the most used, yet one of the most misused and abused word in human language. How often have we used it, say it, sing it, think it, and even write about it? Yet it widely remains either misunderstood or misapplied. How often have you heard “I love you” from someone who ends up hurting you the most? So what is love? Paul gave the folks in Corinth (1Cor. 13), a great lesson on what true love is. He gave love, its true definition in human terms, but also how it is applied in the great scheme of things less they have any doubt. But read this, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. Considering how humanity treat each other, how life means nothing, this is hard to take in, isn’t it? On top of that consider the estimated 4 ½ million babies aborted each year. The world rage war against Hitler, and we join in condemning him for his death chambers, yet the womb has become death camp for millions in the name of modernity. When will we start loving the loveless, the helpless those with the greatest needs among us?

The greatest expression of God’s love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. Romans 5:8 proclaims the same message: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Clearly, from these verses it is God’s greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal kingdom. He has made the way possible by paying the price for our sins. He loves us because He chose to as an act of His will. Love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). So, the concept of God loving people is prevalent throughout the Bible. Most famously, it appears in John 3:16, which assures us that God loves the world to the highest degree, and gave his only Son, the greatest gift, that id humanity believes in him we will have eternal life. But what exactly does this divine love consist of? The answer might very well be found in the original language of the Bible, Hebrew.

Love in Old Testament

In Deuteronomy, we find a seemingly very strange commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all of your soul and with all of your might” (Deut. 6:5). But wait. How can you force yourself to have a feeling? However, the Biblical “love” that is portrayed in this verse is very different from the “love” that we find in romance novels and Hollywood movies. The Hebrew word for love in this verse is ‘ahav’. This word does not refer to passionate or amorous love. The word ‘ahav’ at its most basic level refers to loyalty. Loving God means being faithful to Him alone. Israel in the commandments was commanded to love God only, and whenever they strayed and served some unknown god, they were severely punished for their unfaithfulness.

Engage in Biblical Study

So, what does it mean that God is love? Love is an attribute of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love. Amazingly, God has given those who receive His Son Jesus as their personal Savior the ability to love as He does, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 23-24). The message that we derived from these teachings are that the Bible is not concerned with subjective inner feelings, but with objective outward actions. Do you yearn to be loyal to a loving God? “Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3: 7, 15; Psalm 95: 1-7). Additionally, if you are thirsty for the insider’s perspective into the Biblical message, or to broaden your concept on love, now is the time to become active in a Biblical study.

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Life’s Timeless Treasures

Live for today

My fellow citizens, my countrymen and women, brothers and sisters, males and females, children, lend me your ears. I was young and now I am old, and I am privileged to learn, life experiences have taught me that the past cannot be changed. We look back and we wonder about what might have been if we had done things differently, take another road. But things happen the way they did because they deliver you sound on this side. Things happened the way they did, and just maybe God was working in your favour. Use this opportunity to thank God for taking us here, for just maybe if we had taken another road, we would not be here today. We can look back if we may, but not desirous of going back there. Life goes on, it moves forward, so we must appreciate the past for what it was, a life shaper and live in the now.

Other’s opinions is not our Reality

I have learned that we should never let people’s opinions of us define our reality, who we are and what we will become. It must be our utility, what we do and say that defines us. Yet despite this knowledge, this powerful reality, we still allow others dictum to define us. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Prov. 16: 8; 26: 22). Why are we so hung up with what people say about us though? If people love each other, if we love as God loves, would we spread evil things about others, critique, cut them behind their backs? Every person has experienced the hurt of gossip at some point in our lives. And most if not all are guilty of this negative activity. Whether when we speak we did not mean direct mischief, always the result of chinwag is broken trust and wounded spirits. “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit” (Prov. 15: 4). Jabber can be defined as information about the behaviour or personal life of people we know, often about our friends, without the full truth revealed or known. In His Words God warns that we stay away from people who gossip and to guard our words when we speak about others!

Tame the Tongue

But its hard thing to tame the tongue. “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3: 5-7). Scripture also uses the word (slander) or defamation which means making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation. We do this with such ease that it becomes part of us. Yet slander can destroy someone’s reputation, their marriage, job, prosperity, and even wreck families. The tongue has the power to kill and give life, and we must be careful with how we use our words. “You who practise deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor” (Psa. 52: 2). The Bible tells us what words we should speak and which we should not. If we are struggling with gossip or know someone who gossips a lot, study the sections of the Bible that advised on gossip and choose to help put a stop to it. The best thing though is if you hear them, stop them, and tell them you don’t want them to assassinate the brother/sister you love. Why should it matter what people say? Gossip is damaging to the teller as well as the one who hears it. You start to see them in a negative light and their image is tainted forever. However, as bad as it may be, we should never allow what is said of us to shape us, nor determine our future?

Same journey, different experiences

Woody Allen said, “Men learn to love the woman they are attracted to. Women learn to become attracted to the man they fall in love with”. That every man and woman Journeys toward a goal in their life’s but with different experiences and see things from different perspectives. There are some things we both, males and females share, but a man and woman cannot understand why the opposite sex cannot see things the same way. ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ is a phrase we often use to explain the differences between us. So many spend time trying to change each other either to their point of view or to what the other should be. Barbara Streisand asked, “Why does a woman work ten years to change a man, then complain he’s not the man she married?” I suppose this may require an answer, but not necessarily so, we all want something unique to us. Yet the truth is as someone once remarked, “Behind every great man, there is a great woman”. Many men become great because of the help and support of his woman. A man was made to need a woman and vice versa, we cannot live without each other.

Don’t give up – Don’t give in – Don’t go under – Don’t let go!

Things always get better with time, if we are patient to wait. I am old enough to know. The judgements we pass on others are a confession and testament of our own character, our own weaknesses and failures. So tame the tongue, we should make the effort to say good things about other people. For life is simple, but we complicate it by our many business concerns and dabbling in other people’s affairs? So get a grip, maybe some needs a suitcase to go.

Likewise, overthinking matters will lead to stress and sadness, but remember the power of positive thinking. As positive thoughts create positive experiences, live in the celebration mood and rent a room on Positive Avenue.

We must learn the lessons of life well, we cannot please everyone, nor should we try to, so we must please ourselves. And we should make the effort not to value people on the basis of their material wealth, the strength of their bank account because if we do, it is a testimony to our spiritual bankruptcy. When we die, we cannot take wealth with us, money may preserve life, getting the best doctors, medication etc. but when we go it cannot buy life back. Comfort and joy that comes from money, that wealth and goal do not last, only what is done for Christ will last, He is forever. True happiness is from within, not from without, material things are momentary, but love, joy and peace are contagious, but hate kills,

Remember that goes around comes around, whatever you do to others will return to you, whether love or hate.  Nobody said the race of life would be easy, and you only fail if you quit the race. Get up brothers and sisters – Stand up and take your rightful place in the world. “You will be twice defeated in the race of life” (Marcus Garvey) if you fail to see. Don’t give up – Don’t give in – Don’t go under – Don’t let go!

 Faith vs Reason

Certain philosophers argue that faith without reason is blind therefore worthless and irrational, and can not be substantiated by reasoned arguments. Many Christians view that kind of philosophy as an enemy of the faith and view the rationality arguments as in conflict with their faith, separated by some unbridgeable gap between the two sides. Christians hold the view that there is no compatibility between the two concepts, as where one starts the other stops. However, and in fact, faith and reason work together effortlessly, it’s what some in Christian theology refers to as apologetics,  which aims to present historical, reasoned and evidential basis for the defence of the Christian faith, and aid Christ followers know and love the creator.

As faith is defines as a belief in inspiration, revelation or authority, for Christian that authority is God as revealed in the Scriptures. Though the word faith sometimes denotes a belief that is held with the absence of rationality or proof, or a belief that is held in spite of or against rationality or proof, it can also refer to belief based on a degree of evidential certification.  To put them into some kind of categorisation of views regarding the relationship between faith and reason, on the one side is ‘Rationalism’ which argues that truth should be determine by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma, tradition or religious teachings. However, on the opposite side, is ‘Fideism, which maintains that faith is necessary, and that beliefs may be held without any evidence or reason and even in conflicts with evidence and reason. For many Christians, true faith and correct reason are good companions, when argues properly. However, though God called Israel to reason, ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ (Isaiah 1: 18), many genuine Christians identify a conflict between reason and faith. However, Christians are to have a strong reason for what they believe, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1Peter 3:15). Therefore, Christian theologians must take up the challenge to demonstrate to sceptics that belief in God as revealed in the Scriptures is rational, warranted, and plausibly defendable.

The teachings of the scripture are, people should have faith, to believe in God, and Christians are expected to have confidence in Him alone and not lean on man,  “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jer. 17: 5). The scriptures further exhorts, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17). There is no alternative in this; Christians are encouraged to have faith in God irrespective of whether Gods words in the bible make rational sense to us.

So are people, or Christians expected to live by reason or by faith in God alone? Should Christians trust his intelligence, depends on rational deductions, and so discard the teachings of the Scriptures that do not make perfect sense to him? Alternatively, should he accept the teachings of Bible without respect to reason or rationality, even if it does not make any sense?

The ostensible struggle between faith and reason distresses many Christians, but when they are viewed in the biblical context correctly, such superficial conflict evaporates. “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, ‘When evening comes, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,” and in the morning, “Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away” (Matt 16: 1-4).

Jesus responded to this use of observation and reasoning in verse 3b: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky.” In other words, you know how to use your eyes and your minds to draw right conclusions when it comes to the natural world. In other words, he approves of their use of experiential reflection and rational discussion.

In fact, it’s precisely this approval that makes the following disapproval valid. He says in verse 3c, “But you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” And when he says, “You cannot,” he does not mean you don’t have the sensory and rational capacities to do what needs to be done. He just showed them that they do in fact have the sensory and rational capacities to do what needs to be done. They are very adept at observation and deliberation when it comes to getting along in this world. Why then can’t they use those same faculties to interpret the signs of the times? The answer is given in verse 4: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” What does this mean? What does being adulterous have to do with their inability to use their eyes and their minds to interpret the signs that is, to recognize Jesus for who he is.

Mark Twain once defined faith as ‘believing what you know aren’t so’. Perhaps this is what many people have in mind when they think of the word faith. Indeed some people seem to pride themselves in their belief in the irrational thinking that such ‘faith’ is very pious. “Why do I believe in the Bible? Well, I guess I just have faith’. But is this what the Bible means when it uses the word faith? Not at all. The Bible does not promote a belief in the irrational or any type of unwarranted “blind faith.” Some people have said, “Faith takes over where reason leaves off.” Taken this way, rationality is seen as a bridge that reaches only partway across a great chasm; faith is needed to complete the bridge and reach the other side. People who take this view would say that Christianity cannot be proven, that reason leads us most of the way to God and then we must make a “leap of faith” in order to say that Jesus is Lord. This is a very common view among Christians. But this is not what God’s Word teaches about faith.

The Bible itself tells us what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So biblical faith is not blind but is strongly warranted confidence. The phrase “hoped for” does not imply a mere wishful thinking as in “I sure hope the weather is nice next week.” Rather, the Greek word (ελπιζω) indicates a confident expectation: the kind of confidence we have when we have a good reason to believe something. Biblically, faith is having confidence in something you have not experienced with your senses. Biblical faith is not “blind”; it’s not the act of “believing without a reason.” Just the opposite; biblical faith is the act of believing in something unseen for which we do have a good reason. For example, when we believe that God will keep a promise, this constitutes faith because we cannot “see” it and yet we have a good reason for it: God has demonstrated that He keeps His promises.

As many people have misunderstandings of faith, they also have misunderstandings of reason. Reason is a tool that God has given us that allows us to draw conclusions and inferences from other information, such as the information He has given us in His Word. Reason is an essential part of Christianity; God tells us to reason (Isaiah 1:18) as the apostle Paul did (Acts 17:17). In fact, I could not know that I am saved apart from using reason. The Bible tells us that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). I have genuinely acknowledged that Jesus is Lord, and I believe that God raised Him from the dead. Therefore, I am saved. I must use logical reasoning to draw this conclusion. This is perfectly appropriate and is the kind of reasoning God expects us to use. We are to reason from the principles of God’s Word.

People misuse reason when they frame their worldview apart from God’s Word. This can involve either treating reason as its own ultimate standard (in other words, a replacement for God’s Word) or tossing it aside as irrelevant to faith. Neither of these positions is biblical. We are never to attempt to reason in opposition to the Word of God. That is to say we are not to treat God’s Word as a mere hypothesis that is subject to our fallible understanding of the universe. This, after all, was Eve’s mistake. She attempted to use her mind and senses to Judge God’s Word (Genesis 3:6). This was sinful and irrational; she was trying to use a fallible standard to judge an infallible one. We are never to “reason” in such an absurd, sinful way. Instead, we are supposed to reason from God’s Word, taking it as our ultimate unquestionable starting point. Any alternative is arbitrary and self-refuting.4 Reason is not a substitute for God; rather, it is a gift from God. On the other hand, we are not to reject reason. God is rational,5 and so we should be, too (Ephesians 5:1). We are commanded to seek wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 4:5, 7). God wants us to use the mind He has given us. But He wants us to use our minds properly, in a way that is honouring to Him.

Biblical faith and biblical reasoning actually work very well together. In fact, faith is a prerequisite for reason. In order to reason about anything we must have faith that there are laws of logic, which correctly prescribe the correct chain of reasoning. Since laws of logic cannot be observed with the senses, our confidence in them is a type of faith. For the Christian, it is a reasonable, justified faith. The Christian would expect to find a standard of reasoning that reflects the thinking of the biblical God; that’s what laws of logic are.6 On the other hand, the unbeliever cannot account for laws of logic with his or her own worldview. Since laws of logic are necessary for reasoning, and since the Christian faith is the only faith system that can make sense of them,8 it follows that the Christian faith is the logical foundation for all reasoning (Proverbs 1:7; Colossians 2:3). This isn’t to say, of course, that non-Christians cannot reason. Rather, it simply means they are being inconsistent when they reason; they are borrowing from a worldview contrary to the one they profess.

Since reason would be impossible without laws of logic, which stem from the Christian faith, we have a very good reason for our faith: without our faith we could not reason. Even unbelievers (inconsistently) rely upon Christian principles, such as logic, whenever they reason about anything. So the Christian has a good reason for his or her faith. In fact, the Christian faith system makes reason possible. Although reasoning from the Scriptures is an important part of the Christian’s life, reason alone is not sufficient to lead us to Christ. After the fall of Adam, human beings no longer possessed the ability to correctly understand spiritual matters (1 Corinthians 2:14). It is our nature to distort the truth (2 Peter 3:16). So we need the help of the Holy Spirit even to understand and accept the fact that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). This explains why it is impossible to “reason someone into heaven.” Salvation is accomplished by God’s grace received through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5). Ultimately, the Holy Spirit convinces people and enables them to receive Christ (John 16:8–15). Some may ask, “Why then should we do apologetics? Why should we try to reason with people if it is the Holy Spirit who will ultimately convince them?”

First, God tells us to. We are to be ready at all times to give a good reason for our faith (1 Peter 3:15). So it is our duty as followers of Christ to preach the gospel (2 Timothy 4:2) and reason with unbelievers (Acts 17:17). Second, God can bless our discussions with unbelievers and use them as part of the process by which He brings people to Himself (Romans 10:13–14). Although Christ alone accomplishes salvation, God has given us the privilege of telling others about this good news and making a reasoned defence of it.

Reasoning is a crucial part of defending the faith. But we must always keep in mind that conversion is up to God alone. It is not our job to “convince” the unbeliever—nor can we. It is our job to make a good case; it is the Holy Spirit’s prerogative alone to bring repentance.

One Christian may plant a seed, and another water it, but God alone brings the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6–7). Nevertheless, the New Testament speaks of the use of our minds everywhere in the process of Christian conversion and growth and obedience. For example, at least ten times in the book of Acts, Luke says that Paul’s strategy was to “reason” with people in his effort to convert them and build them up (Acts 17:2, 4, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8, 9; 20:7, 9; 24:25). And Paul said to the Corinthians that he would rather speak five words with his mind to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue (1 Corinthians 14:19). He said to the Ephesians, “When you read this, you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4). In other words, engaging the mind in the highly intellectual task of reading and construing Paul’s language is a pathway into the mystery God has given him to reveal.

And perhaps most helpful of all is the word to Timothy about the relationship of reason and divine illumination. In 2 Timothy 2:7, he says, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” So many people swerve off the road to one side of this verse or the other. Some stress “think over what I say.” They emphasize the indispensable role of reason and thinking. And they often minimize the supernatural role of God in making the mind able to see and embrace the truth. Others stress the second half of the verse: “And the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” They emphasize the futility of reason without God’s illumining work. “The Lord will give you understanding.”

But Paul will not be divided this way. He says: not either-or, but both-and. “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” The willingness of God to give us understanding is the ground of our thinking, not the substitute for our thinking. “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding.” There is no reason to think that a person who thinks without prayerful trust in God’s gift of understanding will get it. And there is no reason to think that a person who waits for God’s gift of understanding without thinking about his word will get it either.

Paul commands us to think about what he says. Use your mind. Engage your reasoning powers when you hear the word of God. Jesus warned what happens if we don’t and what blessing may come if we do. In the parable of the soils, he said concerning the seed sown on the path: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” Understanding with the mind is not optional. Our lives hang on it. And concerning the seed sown on good soil, he says, “This is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:23).

It is true that, as Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” But Jesus says that hearing without understanding produces nothing. When we hear the word of God, Paul says, we must “think over” what we hear. Otherwise, we will fall under the indictment of Jesus: “Hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13).

So, even though our natural minds are depraved and darkened and foolish, nevertheless, the New Testament demands that we use them in coming to faith and leading people to faith and in the process of Christian growth and obedience. There is no way to awaken faith or strengthen faith that evades right thinking. Before we ponder how that can be, in view of how corrupt we are, we turn briefly from the focus on reason to consider the nature of faith.

The only kind of faith that matters in the end is saving faith — the faith that unites us to Christ so that his righteousness is counted as ours in justification, and his power flows into us for sanctification. In other words, I am not interested in faith in general — the faith of other religions that is not faith in Christ, or the faith of science in the validity of its first principles, or the faith of children in their parents, or any other kind of faith that is not in Christ. I am only interested in the faith that obtains eternal life. The faith that saves. The faith that justifies (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16) and sanctifies (Acts 26:18; 1 Peter 4:11).

To get at the nature of that faith, it is helpful to ponder why faith alone justifies. Why not love, or some other virtuous disposition? Here’s the way J. Gresham Machen answers this question in his 1925 book, What Is Faith?

The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man . . . is that faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something. To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in slightest measure, but that God saves us. (173, emphasis added). In other words, we are justified by faith alone, and not by love, because God intends to make it clear that he does the decisive saving outside of us and that the person and work of Christ are the sole ground of our acceptance with God. A hundred years earlier Andrew Fuller (the main rope-holder for William Carey in England) gave the same explanation.

Thus it is that justification is ascribed to faith, because it is by faith that we receive Christ; and thus it is by faith only, and not by any other grace. Faith is peculiarly a receiving grace which none other is. Were we said to be justified by repentance, by love, or by any other grace, it would convey to us the idea of something good in us being the consideration on which the blessing was bestowed; but justification by faith conveys no such idea. So, what sets faith apart from other graces and virtues is that it is “a peculiarly receiving grace.” That’s why Paul says in Ephesians 2:8, “By grace you have been saved through faith.” Grace from God correlates with faith in us. And the reason is that grace is God’s free giving and faith is our helpless receiving. When God justifies us by faith alone, he has respect not to faith as virtue but faith as a receiving of Christ. So it is the same as saying that not our virtue but Christ’s virtue is the ground of our justification.

Now the key question is: What does faith receive in order to be justifying faith? The answer, of course, is that faith receives Jesus Christ. “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Faith saves because it receives Christ.

But we must make clear what this actually means because there are so many people who say they have received Christ and believed on Christ, who give little or no evidence that they are spiritually alive. They are unresponsive to the spiritual beauty of Jesus. They are unmoved by the glory of Christ. They don’t have the spirit of the apostle Paul when he said, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). This is not their spirit, yet they say they have received Christ.

One way to describe this problem is to say that when these people “receive Christ,” they do not receive him as supremely valuable. They receive him simply as sin-forgiver (because they love being guilt-free), and as rescuer-from-hell (because they love being pain-free), and as healer (because they love being disease-free), and as protector (because they love being safe), and as prosperity-giver (because they love being wealthy), and as Creator (because they want a personal universe), and as Lord of history (because they want order and purpose); but they don’t receive him as supremely and personally valuable for who he is. They don’t receive him as he really is — more glorious, more beautiful, more wonderful, more satisfying, than everything else in the universe. They don’t prize him or treasure him or cherish him or delight in him.

Or to say it another way, they “receive Christ” in a way that requires no change in human nature. You don’t have to be born again to love being guilt-free and pain-free and disease-free and safe and wealthy. All natural men without any spiritual life love these things. But to embrace Jesus as your supreme treasure requires a new nature. No one does this naturally. You must be born again (John 3:3). You must be a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). You must be made spiritually alive (Ephesians 2:1–4).

Therefore, saving faith is a receiving of Christ for who he really is and what he really is, namely, more glorious, more wonderful, more satisfying, and therefore more valuable than anything thing in the universe. Saving faith says, “I receive you as my Savior, my Lord, my supreme Treasure; and I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Which is why Jesus said, “Therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). And again, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). And again, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).

The infinite glory of Jesus makes him infinitely valuable and infinitely satisfying. Saving faith receives this Christ. Not that we experience the fullness of joy now, or the climax of satisfaction in this life, but we taste it (Psalm 34:8) and we know where it is found (John 6:35) and we “press on to make it [our] own, because Christ Jesus has made [us] his own” (Philippians 3:12).

This brings us now to the relationship between faith and reason as we have described them here. What we have seen concerning the nature of saving faith determines what will be a sufficient and reasonable ground for such faith. Saving faith cannot rest only on the ground of raw facts, facts like Christ lived a perfect life, and Jesus is the Messiah, and Christ died for sinners, Christ is God, and Christ rose from the dead etc. The devil believes all those facts and tremble.

The nature of saving faith demands more than facts as a ground, not less, but more. We have seen that saving faith is not the mere receiving of facts. It is the receiving of Christ as infinitely glorious, wondrously beautiful, and supremely valuable. Therefore, the ground of such faith must be the spiritual sight of such glory and beauty and value. This sight is not separate from the narration of historical gospel facts. We must tell the old, old story. But the sight of Christ’s divine glory in the gospel is not identical with seeing the facts of the gospel. Therefore, human reason, the use of the mind to explain and defend the facts of the gospel plays an indispensable, but not the decisive, role in the awakening and establishing of saving faith. We must tell the story and get the gospel facts and the doctrine right. But the decisive ground of saving faith is the glory of Christ seen in the gospel.

The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4–6)

The gospel is the “gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (v: 4). This is what must be seen for saving faith to respond to the gospel and receive Christ for who he really is infinitely glorious. Jonathan Edwards commented on this text to the same effect. He said, ‘Nothing can be more evident then, that a saving belief of the gospel is here spoken of . . . as arising from the mind’ being enlightened to behold the divine glory of the things it exhibits’. In other words, the ground of saving faith is the glory of Christ seen in the gospel.

This divine glory is really and objectively there in the gospel. Otherwise, Paul would not speak of the god of this world blinding the minds of unbelievers. If something is not really there, you don’t need to be blind to miss it. But if it is really there, you must be blind to miss it. Therefore, the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” is really there. It is a self-authenticating divine glory. Jonathan Edwards calls it an “ineffable, distinguishing, evidential excellency in the gospel.”

The sight of this “distinguishing, evidential excellency’, the glory of Christ in the gospel is not seen in a vision or a dream or a whispered word from the Holy Spirit. It is seen in the biblical story of Christ as the inspired apostle preaches the gospel of Christ. (V:5) “What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus; sake.” Here is the place of reason. Paul uses his mind to proclaim, explain, defend, and confirm the facts of the gospel. He argues that Jesus is the Christ, that he rose from the dead, and that he died for our sins. He does the sort of thing we read in the book of Romans and Galatians and Ephesians and Colossians. He reasons with facts and arguments and sets Christ forth. Therefore, we know that the sight of the self-authenticating glory of Christ is not separate from the rational presentation and demonstration of the truth of the gospel. That is indispensable.

However, this indispensable use of reason in proclaiming the gospel is not the decisive and unshakable ground of saving faith. That ground is the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And seeing this unshakably compelling and authentic light is a gift of God. This is the point of verse 6: “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

In verse 4, we could not see this “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” because we were blinded by the god of this world. No amount of reasoning or historical argument could produce spiritual sight in the blind. Nevertheless, the rational proclamation of the gospel in verse 5 is indispensable.

But now the decisive change happens in verse 6. God, who speaks and causes light to happen, opens our blind eyes, and amazingly the gospel of Christ crucified and risen (and rationally set forth in preaching and teaching) is now radiant with “ineffable, distinguishing, evidential excellency” — with the glory of God in the face of Christ. The glory of Christ seen in the gospel is the decisive ground of saving faith because saving faith is the receiving of Christ as infinitely glorious and supremely valuable. It cannot be grounded on anything less.

This basis of faith is a rational foundation and the conviction that flows from it is a sensible conviction. It goes beyond what mere reasoning upon the facts can produce, but it is itself reasonable. Jonathan Edwards explains, “By a reasonable conviction, I mean, a conviction founded on real evidence, or upon that which is a good reason, or just ground of conviction. Nothing is more reasonable than that saving faith, as the receiving of Christ as infinitely glorious, must be grounded on the spiritual sight of his divine glory.

The reason this understanding of the relationship between faith and reason is so important is that the great mass of ordinary people cannot come to an unshakable conviction about the truth of Christianity any other way. If our only confidence rests on rational historical argumentation, we will only know probabilities, but no spiritual certainty. But the apostle John said, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). And what should burden us on this issue is not only how to commend and defend Christianity to intellectuals, but how to proclaim it among a thousand unreached peoples around the world who cannot wait for generations of education. This is what drove Peter and the other apostles and is what drives me on today. This is why Christ came, He only want to produce the kind of Christian who are fearless, offering the loss of everything, ready to endure the worst hardships for Christ, trampling the devil underfoot, counting everything dung for Christ’s sake, and when death comes in this cause calling it gain.

We have minds and must exercise our reason in the proclamation and explanation and confirmation of the gospel. We must contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). We must be ready, like Paul, to go to prison “for the defence and confirmation of the gospel” (Phil 1:7). That is essential, but, as we use all our renewed mental powers for Christ, we must pray with Paul that the Holy Spirit would empower the preaching of the gospel. That God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, would shine in the hearts of our hearers to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Then more Christians would be created and with confidence join with Paul in saying, ‘I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3: 8).

The Seven Social Sins

Many of us are used to hearing sermons on ‘spiritual sins’ focussed on us from the pulpit, but not so much on evils that lurk within the social fabric of society. Of course, the need for the message of ethical values are great in modern cultures and must be preached in and out of season and with the aim of directing us to live closer to Christ. Preachers not preaching about social ills are deserting the message of human worth and value, and unresponsiveness and disregard often do much more harm than absolute odium, a deletion of care for all. Too often, we neglect to permit ourselves to be esteemed by our families and friends our support group, the people who truly love and who add meaning, and who actually matters in our lives. More often than not, we are blinded by our own self-interest, pursuing others who are rich and wealthy, they look up to, and want to love us, the kind of people that are more interested in their bank balances, that do not even care or add value to our lives. This is actually a worthless endeavor, a fruitless chase, a waste of time pursuing a friendship with the rich, those who do not have our interest at heart. While those who truly love us, who daily demonstrate that love by being there for us, recognizing our humanity, in good times and in bad. They have to stand by and watch us making a fool of ourselves, literally pleading with the rich to be our friends! The time will come and now is when we stop pursuing those with no ethical or social values, who do not care about our human value or worth and care for those who daily demonstrate their love. It is time for us to love our fellow man, while allowing ourselves to be loved despite the mounting socials ills.

Taken from a sermon, ‘The Seven Social Sins’ preached in London, on March 20, 1925, F. L. Donaldson highlighted the following:

  • Wealth without work.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Knowledge without character.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Science without humanity.
  • Worship without sacrifice.
  • Politics without principle.

Humankind is so caught up in his own self-importance, that he forgot to care for others, human life now below that of an animal. He endeavors daily to save the planet, spending millions to save endangered species, but humanity we will not care for.  Ethnic cleansing, famine, and wars destroying sections of the world while we spend billions developing nuclear weapons, enough already in existence than can destroy the world several times over. Scientist declared that a child is not a human until it’s born, so he gave women godlike powers to terminate a pregnancy whenever she wants, so 4 ¼ million babies are aborted yearly in the name of progress. In the name of empowering women, if the child will stop her education and career, she has the right to end its life! When and in whose book, does a career becomes more important than human life? Get rich quick, get-going while the going is good, forget about social ills. Is this not a world going backward?

We find in Stoic philosophy, “What a despicable thing a human being is if he does not rise above human affairs! All the time that we are struggling with our passions, what is so wonderful about our achievement, even if we prevail? We are outdoing monsters: why should we be conceited because we are not as bad as the worst people? I cannot see why anyone who is more robust than the others in a hospital should be pleased with himself: strength is quite different from good health. Have you broken free from moral vices? Your face does not have a feigned expression, your speech is not designed to please somebody else, nor are your feelings concealed, nor do you harbor greed, which denies itself what it has taken from others, nor luxury, which squanders money shamefully only to recoup it even more shamefully, nor ambition, which will bring you honors only by dishonorable means? You have not yet achieved anything: you have broken free from many things, but not yet from yourself. The virtue to which we aspire is marvelous not because freedom from evil is in itself wonderful, but because it releases the mind, prepares it for knowledge of the celestial, and makes it worthy to enter into a partnership with god”. Socrates and the Stoics 7h – Seneca, Naturales Quaestiones Book I, praefatio 1-7

The Apostle Paul, met some of these Greek philosophers, “A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign gods.’ They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean”. (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas) (Acts 17: 18-21).

Epicurean philosophers originally taught that the supreme good is happiness, but not mere momentary pleasure or temporary gratification. The Epicureans, named after their founder Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), they believed the chief end of living was a pleasure. They believed in numerous gods who had no influence over the affairs of man and did not believe in the immortality of the soul. However, by the time of Paul, this philosophy disintegrated into a more sensual system of thought. The Stoic philosophers, on the other hand, taught that people should live in harmony with nature, recognize their own self-sufficiency and independence, and suppress their desires. The Stoics, founded by Zeno (c. 300 B.C.), believed that God was the world’s soul which indwelt all things, God was in all men, all men were brothers. That living in harmony with nature brought happiness. Many Stoics were men of high moral principle, and that human affairs were governed by fate. At its best, Stoicism had some admirable qualities, but like Epicureanism, by the time of Paul it to had deteriorated into a system of pride.

Though the world often confuses vanity and pride, they definitely are not the same things, as one can have pride without being conceited.  One can have pride, which is a healthy opinion of others and us. However, there is a kind of pride that can be elevated to a dangerous level it becomes vain, narcissistic when we become self-absorbed, and think negatively of others and even what we want others to think of us. John gave this advice about what is in the world, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever” (1John 2: 15-17).

Each of us when we were young, we have a personal ambition of sorts, some want to be doctors, lawyers, pilots, engineers or do creative things, and among a number of disciplines to pursue. Yet we all have to fight holding on to our dreams, fight for the opportunities that are out there, hold on to that pride, that ambition that burns within you, never let go. Not many have the ambition to sit back and enjoy life in paradise without effort, to be pleased with his/her-self, without actually achieving something. However, for many, the focus is not on self but on others, for to them a successful life is wrapped up in serving others in their communities. For many recognizing human values, pursuing and fighting for social equality, being there for someone in need, helping to lift or carry a heavy load is what life is all about. Let us examine ourselves with the ‘seven social sins’ and see where we fall. How many of us in society today, that can stand and say, I am as sinful as the most errant among us when it comes to being my brothers keeper, but with God’s help I can be as good as the best among us in combating social ills?

 

 

Christians are the ‘salt and light’ of the World

The ethical message of ‘salt and light’, Matthew 5:13-16) is part of the broader teachings of Christ called the Sermon on the Mount, which is the first of five great treatises recorded in Matthew (Ch. 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 24-25). Which consists of three types of materials, 1) the beatitudes, i.e., declarations of blessedness (5: 1-12), 2) ethical admonitions (5: 13-20; 6: 1-7:23), and 3) contrasts between Jesus ethical teachings and Jewish legalistic traditions (5: 21-48). The Sermons ends with a short parable stressing the importance of practising what has just been taught (7: 24-27) and an expression of amazement by the crowds at the authority with which Jesus spoke (7: 28-29).

Sentiments vary among theologians as to whether the Sermon is a summary of what Jesus taught on one occurrence or an accumulation of teachings presented on several occasions. Matthew then would possibly have taken a single sermon and extended it with other relevant teachings of Jesus. Whatever side you agree with, what is undeniable is the Sermon on the Mount is a call to moral and ethical living. Its principled call is so high that some have dismissed it as being absolute, impractical in an application and therefore have projected its fulfilment to the future kingdom. However, there is no doubt, that Jesus, as recorded by Matthew, gave the sermon as a standard for all Christians, realising that its demands cannot be met in our own power, but by the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding us along the way. Also true is that Jesus on occasion used hyperbole to make His point.

Therefore, here is Jesus in His Homily using the concepts of salt and light, which He has done on a number of different times to refer to the role of His followers in the world. One such instance as written here in Matthew 5:13: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot’. Back in the days, in the Middle Eastern world, of Christ and the Apostles, first century AD, Salt had two purposes, ‘flavouring and preservatives’. Many of us take our fridges a 19th-century invention, for granted many shoppers often seen pulling their groceries from their cars and loading them in our refrigerators weekly. Nevertheless, in those days it was not so, and because of the lack of refrigeration, salt was applied to preserve food, especially meat that would quickly spoil in the desert environment. The concept of believers in Christ being the preservatives to the world, is powerful (Psa. 14:3; Rom. 8:8). The presence of Christians preserves the world from the evil that is inherent in the society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin.

Likewise, salt was used then, as now, as a flavour enhancer. In the same manner that salt improves the taste of the food it flavours, the followers of Christ stand out as those who ‘improve’ the flavour of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the taste of the food it seasons. So that where there is strife, Christians are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, he is to be the ministers of Christ, healing wounds, and where there is hatred, he is to demonstrate the love of God in Christ, returning good in the place of evil (Luke 6:35).

In the similarity of light to the world, the good deeds of Christ’s followers are to shine for the entire world to see. Now examine how Matthew 5 highlights this truth: ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matt. 5:14-16, NIV). The impression Christ is giving here is similar, the presence of light in the darkness is something that is unmistakable. Therefore the presence of Christians in the world must be likened to the light in the darkness, not only in the sense that the truth of God’s Word brings light to the darkened hearts of sinful man (John 1:1-10), but correspondingly in the sense that Christian’s good deeds must be evident for all to see. Moreover, indeed, our actions will be obvious if they are done in accordance with the other principles that Jesus references in His Sermon, such as the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11. Particularly take note that Christ concern is not that Christians would stand out for their own sake, but that those who looked on and become aware of their status in Christ, might be led to ‘glorify your Father in heaven’ (v. 16).

In light of these teachings, Christians should take serious note of the sorts of things that could hinder or prevent us from fulfilling our roles as salt and light in the world. The sermon plainly states that the difference between the Christian and the world must be preserved; therefore, any activity on our part that shadows the difference between Christians and the rest of the world is a step in the wrong direction. This can happen either through a choice to accept the ways of the world for the sake of comfort or expediency or to disregard the law of obedience to Christ.

How often do we hear the term peace being floated about, yet we see an environment packed with tension? ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other’ (Mark 9:50). The proposal here is that saltiness can be lost specifically through a lack of peace with one another. Therefore, to maintain our salt flavour we are commanded to have peace among us. Likewise, ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; it is thrown out’, (Luke 14:34-35). Here we find a reference to the metaphor of salt once again, this time in the context of obedient discipleship to Jesus Christ. This loss of saltiness occurs in the failure of the Christian to daily take up the cross and follows Christ enthusiastically.

Apparently, then, the character of the Christian as salt and light in the world could stall or prohibited through any decision to collaborate or settle for that which is more expedient or comfortable, rather than that which is truly best and pleasing to the Lord. Moreover, the status of salt and light is something that follows naturally from the Christian’s humble obedience to the commandments of Christ. If we abolish the commandments, and teach men so, on what basis can we guide our spiritual walk and in obedience to Christ? It is when we depart from the Spirit-led lifestyle of obedience and genuine discipleship that the distinctions between ourselves and the rest of the world become hazy and our testimony is stalled. However, by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him can we expect to remain salt and light in the world? However, the concept of Christianity is seen as a myth to the wider world, and they say it cannot be proven by science. In the eyes of philosophers it beyond reason, that Christians are foolish and using ‘God as a crutch’. In the eyes of many, the stock of the world jokes, trampled under feet, harassed and killed for their faith in many countries, Christ is saying without you, the ‘Christian’, the world would have no light, and no taste!

If you Judge – You are playing God!

If you are like me, you are inclining to judge yourself more punitively than others ever will. Though they do not know that when they judge you, that they are second in line. But also they judged you with an air of self-righteousness, ‘that could never happen to me’, how could he do that? When in fact they have done worst, that is if night becomes day, and all hidden secrets revealed, becomes open truths. They are going against the advice of Scripture too, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matt 7: 1-5). This advice came from Christ lips to His followers, Christians, and the advice is not to judge hypocritically or self-righteously as can be seen from the context. Christ expressed similar thoughts further up in chapter 23: 13 – 39. To obey Christ command according to this text we must first evaluate a person’s character, whether he is a ‘dog, or a false prophet, or whether his/her life shows fruit. Repeatedly in the Scriptures Christians are exhorted to evaluate each other carefully and choose between good and evil people and things and those who masquerade as angels of light (2Cor. 11: 14).

Many of us have become experts, masters of the art in judging others, you aren’t even readily aware, when they do it to you or someone you know, not until it later register when you have time to reflect. Moreover, you think, my God, did he just do that or why did he say that? Since judging others means that we are having or displaying an overly critical point of view, and we are taking the place of God, He hates it not only because it is wrong, but because we are taking His place which no man is in the position to do. The problem of leaky lips, betraying confidence, being overly critical of others, taking a spiritually superior position is particularly rife among modern leaders. We walk around with that aura of authority, oh look at us, we have never commit a fault, we are blameless from birth, but when we hear something, instead of speaking to them in confidence, help them to overcome their weakness, praying for them, we pass judgement, we condemn rather than heal, because we become little gods. So much so that many are reluctant, church members will not approach their leaders about a personal culpability. Wow, so scary of their leaders has so many become that they prefer to transfer membership to another congregation. ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’ (James 5: 16).  Anyone, but especially leaders who leak a personal issue that someone reveal to him in confidence, an issue that will cause embarrassment if passed on betray the trust of members of their congregations or others who confide in them in. A leader with a leaky lip needs to be disrobed because he has let his parishioners and his church community down.

People do tend to get upset about others who challenge their own personal behaviour, and so many are reluctant to approach them. If you see it or hear it, address it, but if you cannot address it directly, speak with someone who can, and only with a view to heal. Even so whatever way you try, whether they work or not you can pray for their healing, do not do anything that will destroy them. The alternative is not to judge them or leak such information to anyone else because it will never stop until everyone knows, and the church splits. God is not the author of divisions! These types of problems, of the ‘unguarded lips’ kind, exist only because we have biblically ungifted, untrained, unprofessional leaders, managing churches. Many who have never taken a course in leadership or church management, but placed in a role that does not suit them, they do not know how to handle it. Therefore, when are told or hear something indirectly, they quickly pass judgement only because they want to be seen as being with it, that is not setting a good example that is not leadership. Scripture makes it very clear that there is one supreme Judge of all, the Lord God and that He alone has the authority to determine right and wrong motives and behaviours. Many Old Testament passages corroborate to the truth of God as Judge:

‘God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day’ (Psalm 7:11). ‘He shall judge the world in righteousness, and he shall administer judgments for the people in uprightness’ (Psalm 9:8). ‘Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God himself is Judge. Selah’ (Psalm 50:6). ‘For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us’ (Isaiah 33:22).

Did Jesus advise his followers not to judge others? What about making general comments about is right or wrong in others? In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke a lot against people passing judgement on others. It is clear from reading the wider context that Jesus was commenting on people who make it a point of practice of making personal judgments against others, when their own lifestyle and behaviour was questionable even extremely compromised than the people they were passing judgement on. However, reading in context, the wider application, the object of Jesus’ comments may not be easily detectable. Jesus was very clear about those in the religious establishment in Israel who came in for fierce criticism. Jesus target the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious institutions of His day, Jesus had the authority to judge them, not man.

The Father has committed authority and judgment to the His Son. Jesus confirmed His authority before He ascended to heaven after His Resurrection (Matt. 28:18). ‘For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son’ (John 5:22). ‘I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day’ (John 12:46–48). ‘Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead’ (Acts 17:31). These scriptures among many others clearly prove, very clear that one day Jesus will rightly judge all humanity based on each individual’s faith in, or rejection of the Son of God. For a world filled with people who believe in moral relativism and for many practicing Christians who exercise virtue on the basis they can earn morality will be filled with dread and anxiety on the day of the Lord. Jesus Christ is the righteous Judge of the universe and He has made a judgment about salvation, as Peter declares,  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4: 12).  Humankind will have no time to debate whether the judgment is right or wrong because God the arbiter has decreed His justice through His Son, Christ.

Now reflect on the notion of judging as it relates to believers and nonbelievers. Obviously, the approaches are different when dealing with them, but the goal is appeasement. Nonbelievers need to know Christ and be reconciled to Him, and believers need to mature in Christ and be reconciled to each other. There scriptures show that Jesus was very displeased about the conduct of hypocrites than probably anything else that He faced. Therefore, His warning against judging others was primarily aimed at those who thought they were superior to others. In other words, get your own house in order before you criticize others. We all have sinned and fall short of Gods glory.

Stop beating up on yourself, when you are judged, you are a work in progress, which means that you get there a little at a time not all at the same time or pace, we are not all ‘speedy Gonzales’. The songwriter ask on behalf of all who are being judged, ‘please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet… when God get through with me, I shall come forth as pure gold’. Never throw in the towel, because someone belittle you, put you down, do not ever quit. Winners never quit, and quitters never win, ‘we are more than conquerors in Christ. Countless numbers of Christians wants to quit, feel they have to abandon, their walk with Christ because of a leaky heartless, unforgiving congregation. Many others are under pressure to quit because of a minor infraction and because of someone in the group are looking mockingly in our direction, telling us it is time to. Yep we want to hide when we are judged when seemingly things get tough and because of being aware of our culpabilities but which remain unobserved from the masses only because they are ineffectual.

When we make our mistakes, we feel embarrassed, we let ourselves down, and it is between God and us, no human judge, no one else. No matter how many times we falter and fail, fall flat on our backs, pick up, stand up and start again, we can bounce back from anything Satan throw at us and inspire the many unrighteous judging. It is not what people say about us that should determine who we are; shape our future or what we should become. We should not look back on our past mistakes, but move forward from them with confidence, as God for help in times of faintness. ‘Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame’ (Isa. 50: 7). God’s servant will be honoured in time, but he must endure the cutting, hypocritical judging with self-assured determination to face up to his detractors. So that we increase self-assurance and replace fear of, with victory upon victory, and our strength, well, we will act no less courageously than those judges whose affluences have previously opens corridors of opportunities. For however, strong hypocritical judgers may appear, underlying they display deficiency only by the means to demonstrate the complete magnitude of their injustice ignorance. Remember that even a poisonous serpent is safe to handle in the cold climate, when it is lethargic. However, be aware that its venom is still present, though sedentary. In the same way be on the alert for noxious tongue, though they seem snoozing, sociable and gentle the virulence is still there and has the ability to distribute discomfort.

 

Genuine or fake friends

The term ‘fake’ is in the news a lot these days, a term generally associated with US president Donald Trump. However, have you ever wondered if your friend is real or counterfeit? On the other hand, is it OK if I call you my friend? What qualifies us as friends? Well, let us understand what true friendship is. One definition of friend is, ‘a person who you know well and who you like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family.’ We often hear people say, ‘S/he’s my best/oldest/closest friend – we’ve known each other since we were very young.’ Or we’ve known each other since kindergarten.’ ‘He’s a family friend/friend of the family.’ ‘This restaurant was recommended to me by a friend.’ ‘We’ve been friends for years.’ Tom and Jerry are (good) friends of ours’ or ‘we are (good) friends with Peter and John.’ ’I’ve made a lot of friends in this job.’ Alternatively, ‘He finds it difficult to make friends.’ When most of the above is the case, we accept as the norm without question. When the latter is the case, we often try to find reasons why someone is friendless. Even try to offer up good reasons why this is so. Nevertheless, the lists of friendship quotes stretches, without labouring, I think the point is obvious. In addition, what it reveals is that we use the ‘friend’ phrase very loosely. Likewise, it is obvious that there are differing levels of ‘good’ as well as ‘false’ friendship so whom do we trust? Let us engage the issue together.

Most of us at one time or another in our life journey, has encountered one or more ‘fake’ friends, but they never outnumber the ‘true’ ones. Those people who falsely claim to be something, feel, or do something they can be called fake. When our friend acts sweet but spreads rumours about us when we are absent, we can say that they are fake. They are the ones we must identify and recuse ourselves. ‘Fake’ when used as a verb, means to take an action with the intent to deceive, to misrepresent the truth, as you know it. Alternatively, these people are only our friends when s/he needs or wants something from us, or when it suits their cause. Whatever it is they want, do not have to be money or material things, maybe some news or juicy gossip about someone, friend or foe. After s/he gets what they want, s/he ignores you until he wants something else. Now hear this, the best of us fall prey to their conceited attitude, until our eyes are open to their folly, or after we are burned whichever comes first. Untie the knot, loose them!

Friendship is something we can never live without; we all need a friend in good times and in bad. Someone who sticks closer than a brother does! What does the Bible say about Friendship? How are we to choose our friends? How should friends treat one another? All of these are good questions and the Bible has some good Scriptures to study to answer them. ‘One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Prov. 18: 24). Now you understand why some seemingly unshakeable, unbreakable, friendships end in such public shame and disgrace. It is because it takes time, through let downs and heartaches to know who really are our friends. Time proves their value and worth, their longevity is a testimony to their importance. Yes, some friendships have to go through trials, much burning will take place for truth and dependence to be realised. Yes, some friends are only so by name, their actions prove anything but. Those we can do without, free ourselves from, break the shackles they have on us, as their very presence in our lives spells ruin, heartaches and trouble. So why do we keep them, when they only cause us hurt? Of course when our eyes are open and we attempt to separate from them, they become angry with us for wanting to leave, we become the problem, not them. ‘Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered… or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.’ (Prov. 22: 24-25). Therefore, we have a just cause to separate ourselves. Fake friendship can be disastrous to our state of mind, our personal wellbeing. Hear this; be careful whom you call your friend.

Friendship is viewed highly valuable in the biblical story of David and Jonathan. We understand from the biblical narrative (1Sam. 18:1), that Jonathan loved David. However, it was not until Second Samuel (1:26) that we fully understand the solemnity of this friendship. Here we read how David has lamented after Jonathan’s death, in which he said that his love for Jonathan was more wonderful than the love of a woman. Some bible watchers erroneously interpreted these passages to advocate a homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan. However, this spurious interpretation should be rejected for at least the following reasons.

Of paramount importance, we are all familiar with the three words in Greek expressing three levels of love, Agape (unconditional love), Phileo (brotherly love, friendship) and Eros (erotic love).  Hebrew actually has four words for love, but they are not always translated as love.  You have Ahav (love), Racham (tender mercies) Dodi (beloved as spousal love), and Ra’ah (brotherly love, or friendship).   It would be wrong to try to make a parallel between the Greek words for love and the Hebrew words, which creates a real problem in translation as love is at the very root and centre of Scripture. I suppose we could say the closest to Ahav is Agape, Ra’ah is like Phileo and Dodi is like Eros.   Yet this would not be accurate as Ahav is used in cases where Agape would not fit, Ra’ah, although rendered as friendship, is also rendered as Shepherd and consuming passion and is often used by David to express his love for God, so it would be very inappropriate to consider Ra’ah equivalent to Phileo in many cases.

Israel’s King Solomon uses Dodi toward his adored to express a sexual desire, but it does not carry the lustful, self-gratification of Eros. Likewise, there is a fourth word in Hebrew for love and that is Racham, which is often expressed as a romantic love or rendered as tender mercies. Though this message is not about homosexuality, we can with confidence say that the word ‘aheb’, (aw-hab’), ‘ahav, for ‘love’ used here is not the typical word used in Hebrew for sensual activity. The closest word in Hebrew for erotic ‘love’ would possibly be ‘Dodi.’ However, ‘aheb’ is used and possibly has some political and diplomatic meanings (1Sam. 16:21; 1Kings 5:1).

Additionally, David’s association of his relationship with Jonathan with that of women was possibly an allusion to his experience with King Saul’s daughter, as he was promise one of Saul’s daughters for killing Goliath. However, Saul continued to add conditions on the marriage with the essential wish to have David killed (1Sam. 18:17, 25). The friendship Jonathan showed to David was superior to anything he could have received from Saul’s daughter. Moreover, the Bible plainly and unfailingly condemns homosexual practices (Gen. 1:26-27; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:18-25). Commending a homosexual love between David and Jonathan would be controverting the prohibitions found all through the Scriptures.

Therefore, the friendship between David and Jonathan was a pure covenantal relationship. We understand David and Jonathan forming an agreement from reading 1Sam. 18:1-5. In this agreement, Jonathan was to be second in command in David’s future reign, and David was to protect Jonathan’s family (1Sam 20:16-17, 42; 23:16-18).

Obviously, this indicate that the men were very good friends, and in this friendship we observe a few ‘friendship’ qualities, ‘sacrifice, loyalty, defence, and expression of emotions’ qualities that define true friendship. First in (1Sam18:4), we see how Jonathan gave David his clothes and military garb. The significance of this gift was that Jonathan recognised that David would one day be king of Israel. Rather than being envious or jealous, Jonathan submitted to God’s will and sacrificed his own right to the throne. Second, (1Sam 19:1-3, we read of Jonathan’s loyalty toward and defence of David. King Saul told his followers to kill David. Jonathan rebuked his father and recalled David’s faithfulness to him in killing Goliath.

Finally, Jonathan and David were also free to express their emotions with one another. In (1Sam 20), we see a plan invented by Jonathan to reveal his father’s tactics toward David. Jonathan was going to practice his archery. If he told his servant that the arrows he shot were to the side of the target, David was safe. If Jonathan told his servant that the arrows were beyond the target, David was to leave and not return. Jonathan told the servant that the arrows were beyond the target, meaning that David should flee. After releasing his servant, Jonathan found David and the two men cried together. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). This is an age-old unbreakable truth and evidence in the friendship of David and Jonathan, disaster did not separate them.

Rather than being evidence for a homosexual relationship in the Bible, the account of David and Jonathan is an example of true biblical friendship. True friendship, according to the Bible, involves loyalty, sacrifice, compromise, and yes, emotional attachment. That is the message we should learn from the narrative of David and Jonathan. The idea that the only person in the Bible described as ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (Acts 13:22), was a practicing homosexual (or a bisexual man) is someones faulty hermeneutics, and clearly ridiculous. An absurd idea which has no true biblical basis.

As with David and Jonathan friendship, some people came into our lives to add value, but clearly, some are only there to shame and embarrass us, to take, and to destroy our name, image and standing, which are you? Jonathan was there for David, in good times and in bad, when King Saul, Jonathan’s father attempted to kill David Jonathan did not side with his father, but shielded David. If you are never there when your friend need you, a shoulder to cry on, to help find a way, can you really call yourself a friend. If you killed him/her by your spite and lashing tongue, how you call yourself a friend? Jonathan never turns his back on David, what kind of friend turn their backs, ignore the cry for help, leave at the time that you are needed the most? Would David have died if Jonathan weren’t there? Being a friend in need and indeed? If Jonathan were not standing by David, when he was struggling, he would be in serious trouble. Likewise, if you were not standing by us when in our struggle, do not expect us to find you when we succeed. David when he eventually sat on the throne set out to fulfil the promises he made to Jonathan’s household, because of the true bond they share.

What is Jesus view on Friendship? “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:12-15). Not only is love a command, but it is closely linked with friendship. You reveal your all to your friends. So that only someone close to you, a considered friend can truly hurt you! The true friends will not, but will lay down his life for us! Christ is a true friends example of love and faithfulness.

Human destiny, humanity’s future is never tied to those who abandoned and left us at difficult times in our lives. It is not that those who leave are bad people, like John Mark, who abandoned Paul, when things got tough on the missionary road. It means that they have already played their tune, sing their song, and act their part in your story. Remember the saying, “when one door is closed, another is open”, I say many are open!

British author, theologian and poet C. S. Lewis asked this question, ‘Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?’ Lewis went on to advise that, ‘Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.’ So, as someone once ponder about what to do if we find ourselves trapped in a hole in the ground beneath a massive rock that we cannot move, and have no hope of being rescue? His advice is we meditate on and ponder the view of how lucky we are that life-cycle of friends has been good to us up to this point in time now absent, because we hurt them. Otherwise, he said if time has not been good to us thus far, which given our existing situation appears more possible, we should reflect on how blessed we are that the friendship we lack will not be distressing us any longer. ‘Woeful waste makes woeful wants,’ was one of my mom’s favourite quotes. I since have understood that this can apply to any situation in life. If we spend our time acting unfriendly, causing ruin, destroying those souls who acted friendly towards us, when the evil days come, when the massive rock of life circumstances surrounds, pins us down, who will be there for us, who will we call on, or who will be there standing by our side?

True friendship does not need daily conversation, telephone calls, or even weekly home visits. This kind is the David and Jonathan kind, it is from the heart, and though out of site, they are not out of mind. Though near are far, you are assured and reassured of their continuing, stick-to-it-iveness, they never part. Just call, they will tell you, and I will be there, before you can say, ‘Cat on a hot tin roof.’ My Christian friends know this that the durable link of friendship is not always a stable comparison, because true friendship is not always about giving and taking in identical manner. As an alternative, friendship is rooted in a sentiment that you know accurately who will be there for you in times of trouble. “When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathise with him and comfort him” (Job 2: 11). The person who never shirks or shies away when you need them or something, no matter what the value or what time of day or night the call comes is what true friendship is all about. Jobs friends demonstrated that.

Hubert H. Humphrey, American politician and former vice president once said, ‘the greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.’ Most of us can identify with this sentiment. At one point or another in our lives, we experience what it is to have friends. The world as it is, is filled many loveless, abandoned and forsaken souls, the suffer fear and dread, they need a friend. You, I, we all can join hands and hearts together, to help fill that void in people’s lives, the kind that governments cannot provide. So make a commitment today, make an effort to share a moment, or a smile, give friendship to somebody in need. Give true friendship, which is that symbol of love, someone will appreciate. Be a friend to Jesus, by being a true friend to a suffering depressed soul! You will find it is worth the effort.

Sharia law – Compatible with Western Christian Values?

David Cameron, former British Prime minister made a very fundamentally flawed step when he allows some functions of sharia law to operate side by side with British law. This has been seen in some quarters as a retrograde and wrong step because it devalues the British system and it now allows a two-tier law system to operate in Britain. There are not many other western countries that allow a two-tier law system to operate within their borders. For this Europe is doomed, Christianity will be loss, western values crumbles! Western societies are shaped, were patterned after Jewish and Christian values. If you travel to Russia, you either abide by their laws or are thrown  in prison or out of the country, the French, the Australians, and many more countries are the same. If you travel to Saudi Arabia and you fail to abide by their Islamic law you are put in prison or thrown out of their country. So why does a western government allow this two-tier system to happen in a western democracy?

There are no democracy in Islamic states, they believe in dictatorships, one strong man at the helm of power. This is what the Turkish president is seemingly heading towards, a one party state and government, that has no opposition to question or challenges it. Why Cameron did this only he and his conservative government knows except to muddy the waters, or being seen as tolerating Muslim values, pushing the Islamic agenda. What was in it for him? The current mayor does repeatedly and consistently proclaims that Islam can co-exist with western or British values? Well thinking people knows this is not possible and could never be. Is the teaching of sharia law consistent with the Ten Commandments law that shape western values? Western laws have their roots in Christian values, and it is impossible for any keen sighted person to accept otherwise, and that is that sharia law violates Christian values, and by extension western principles.

It was not until the 6th century A.D., some 600 years after Christianity, when Islam was created. When he started to preach no one accepted his message, in fact he was ridiculed and driven out of the city. He went to another city and happen to raise a following. Some time later a group of men overthrow the government, by this time he was ready to return. There is a strong school of though that he orchestrated the overthrow of the government  from the second city where he fled to. He returned and immediately established his caliphate government. However, when he arrived with his new message he claimed was from God, it was the new kid on the block; it appears as if out of time, much later than Judaism and Christianity. It was not established to confirm the Biblical literature, but rather cynically to dishonour its key message, that Christ is the Messiah, that He is the Son of God, and the final and last prophet from God to man. To validate its message, he has to do a few things, deny Christ Messiah-ship.

And even when he accept Christ as a prophet, he denies His divinity, and further down the line many Imams claim that Christ was not crucified, and they can prove it.  The four Gospel writers declare that Christ was crucified; the book of Acts gave evidence of multiple people who not just saw Him when He died, but saw Him when He was resurrected. Why the Imams of Islam want to deny that though they were not alive then, is a puzzle? The only answer is that if they accept that that Christ was killed, buried and rose from the dead, their message has no relevancy.

Therefore, Mohammad did not come with a message that would exist in harmony with the Holy Scriptures. Despite the plain difference in ideologies or interests with the Bible, the Koran does not indicate a message of harmony with ‘the people of the book,’ the Jewish people and Christians, rather his clear intent was to replace them. That is the age-old message you will hear from the Imams. They will never stop until Islam replaces Christianity in the west. Not until the Islamic flag is flying from the roof of the white house and Buckingham palace. They are buying up choice properties in western capitals. In 2016 alone over 2000 Mosque were built or opened in America alone. The number in other western countries and the cities of Europe dwarf that figure. The interfaith movement was meant to be a body that promotes dialogue, but is being used to foster Islamic growth and to build more Mosques in the Hub of European capitals. If there was an effort to co-exist with Christianity, why are there millions being injected in the west to foster Islamic programmes, colleges, centres? They are being given special places in many schools to pray.

To achieve their goals, millions of dollars of Saudi Arabian money have trained agents in Saudi Arabia and Turkey to infiltrate vital agencies of the west. They are place at strategic point in universities, public and private institutions, agencies of government, public administrations to accomplish their goals. They must make Islamic values look good to westerners, a religion they can relate to, and become a member of. Their motto is ‘Islam is a peaceful religion,’ but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If was peaceful why is there a war ranging between the factions of Islam, between Shea and Sunni? The west can never understand that Islam is at war with itself. That Sunnis and Shea can never see eye to eye in the interpretation of the prophets teachings. Mohammad had ordered his army to attack Syria, but died before it happened. However, shortly after the death of Mohammed, Abu Baker sent the army to conquer Syria. There were many pretenders to the throne of Mohammad, but Abu Bakr succeeded him. He raged war against other pretenders and by so doing extended the territories of Islam under the flashing sword. People in those territories invaded were given a change to convert to Islam or face the sword. Many millions converted to Islam under the threat of death.

When Islam came along, Christianity has blazed a trail of success in all the regions of the Middle East. Thanks to the successful preaching’s of Paul and many other New Testament prophets the God News of Christ, the Gospel message has reached millions, people were converting, the church was growing, ancient false gods were being toppled over. People were being saved into the kingdom of God, not through the edge of the sword but by the convincing power of the message that Jesus died to save the lost. The enemies of God must find a way to stop this spread, their religion of multiple gods, was being weakened by the day. Christianity became a threat to them. Their alternative answer to this threat was to claim, there was one God also, and Mohammad was his prophet. The claim now of a single ‘monotheistic’ God they assume would stop the march of Christianity in those regions. Only, this new proclaimed god was not the God of Israel, because the Gospel message already proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, and ‘Emmanuel, ‘God with us,’ the Christ of God.

Therefore, to authenticate, they claim, a new message was given, the Koran contains this new message, and Mohammad is his messenger. However, there are no independent authentications of this new message delivered by the angel Gabriel to the new messenger. If there was authentication which there is not, then all the Old and New Testament prophets made a mistake in their prophesies concerning Christ. If there was a new message delivered in a cave to a new messenger, then God was dismissing the teachings of Christ His own Son, who Himself declared in the ears of many, ‘this is my beloved Son, in whom I AM well pleased.’ If God now rejects His Son, should there not be more than one message or messenger to confirm this rejection? For something so vital, for the sake and redeeming feature of the whole human race, would God appears to one man and give no clue, that He no longer love His Son or the message He gave? God sent His son to die to seal the faith of humanity that through Christ humankind would have hope. Would God then 600 years later dismiss the sacrifice of His son to accept another?

The fact is, this is whole thing incredulous, and the mere suggestion that God would do such a thing is making God a liar. However, Satan is the liar; he is the father of lies, a liar from the beginning, look what he told Adam and Eve. He saw the growth of the Gospel message, and to thwart the message of Salvation in Christ, to mix up people’s minds, as to Gods motive in sending Christ, He sent his counterfeit messenger. Only this messenger appears as an angel of light, but is not from God, a phoney that would make it hard for many to deny Him, unless God reveal truth to man. He deceived and continues to deceive many who will not look to the true God for help. This new message was not to coexist with Jews, the ‘people of the book’ and the Gospel of Christ. If it was why the centuries of almost relentless hostilities, and attempts to replace the Jews and Christianity?

Many scholars who have read the Islamic law books and analyse sharia has concluded that Islamic values are essentially ‘a rebellion against the Ten Commandments’ issued to the people of Israel on Mt Sinai. These biblical scholars believes that Islam infringes the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ as when Allah commanded Muslims to kill Allah’s enemies, and in the process, they kill and be killed in jihad if they are to be guaranteed heaven. Being compliant, a parallel legal system would effectively nullify actual freedom for many of the people possibly forced to use it, and the ability to receive equal justice under law. Sharia is the reason there is a death warrant was issued on Salman Rushdie for writing the ‘Satanic Verses’ that analyse the tenets of the Islamic message and its messenger by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran for apostasy. Many other authors, commentators, journalists have died violent deaths at the hands of Islamist who believed that though there is freedom of speech, you do not have the right to question the prophet, or paint a cartoon of him. What does it matter if someone depict you in a cartoon? Does it hurt you, does it devalue you or your message? Are we not allowed to laugh at ourselves ones in a while? And the truth should be able to stand up to any and every criticism! Scepticism does not devalue truth, it generates exposure and gives it light and wings to fly on. That should be lauded, no?

What the Islamist are then telling you and the rest of the world to do is accept the message and the messenger who brought it blindly without any question of legitimacy. The thing is they have the right to question you and your faith, they called Christ illegitimate, a bastard child because Mary and Joseph were not married when Mary became pregnant with Christ. However, it stands to reason and it became a standard that every man has the right to question his belief system in western culture. This right is being taken away, because many are offended if you want to ask valid questions. How then can sharia law be consistent, or live in harmony with Christian and western values and culture?

What is My Identity?

We often find ourselves asking, who am I, what am I supposed to be? What am I here for and what are my goals in life? We asked these questions of ourselves especially when things are not working out for us, we suffer many setbacks. Likewise, often we are told to discover ourselves, find out whom we are, then find and take our place, in the world. That way we find our truthful selves. However, they never told us truly, how to get there, and how to find our way? They never told you about the many bends and humps, and hills you must climb. Few tell you how difficult are the race of life and the many disappointments along the way. Of course, there are many pointers, many roads leading in all direction, and many suggestions.

They told you about the anchor of religion, but so many in the market place advertising their brand, you never know which one to choose, or which is the right one? To muddy the water even more they try to tell you anyone is OK, they all leads to God. Just chose a brand they all are calling on the same God. However, are they right? Does all religion leads to the true God, and if there are false teachers and preachers how do we identify them? They deny that Jesus Christ is God the Son come in the flesh (1 John 4:2-3). They deny Jesus Christ is the Sovereign Lord (2 Peter 2:1). They will say that Jesus has already returned (2 Timothy 2:18, Matthew 24:23-27). They pretend to be Christ’s servants but they actually preach a different Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4 and 12-15, Galatians 1:6-7).They are in disguise, and taking off the arsenic label of a bottle, replacing it with honey don’t make the content any less deadly.

Humanity can identify the right type of strategy to solve the purpose of his existence, by identifying the true religion. To solve the purpose of existence he must settle comfortable with whom the true God is. Alternatively, he must solve the problem of his identity by asking two delicate yet apparent questions: How well can we define the problem of man? How well can we define the ability sphere obligatory to disentangle its complexity? Once we disentangle the complexity of Man and our understandings of God we will determined our identity, and find our purpose in the world.

So that after resolving the problem of our identity, we must answer, is who we are a choice? Alternatively, can we change who we are? Do identifying who we are and our purpose on earth determine our life choices? When we choose to belong to the human experience, we agree to unite and engage with the known world. However, the legend of the jagged nonconformist disregards the fact that humans are communal by natures, we need each other. That we desire inordinately for love, companionship and community. We are stronger together; we have a need to belong – a desire to succeed in the race of life. In addition, community have a need for all to be good to each other.

When we were born we became part of a family, develop relationship, in schools, in church, we become members of groups. We become part of the wider community without choosing and without being offered a choice or agreeing we become part of the human family. We also volunteer to do things the way society do them; we contribute to its stability.  We agree to play by societies rules, or otherwise we are punished. This in philosophy is known as voluntary conformism.

Some folks often query whether these kinds of societal conformity offer us ‘freedom,’ of choice. However, because it offers the freedom to choose what assembly to belong to and, though illogically, the freedom to do what others expects us to do, we can affirm, positively it is freedom. Therefore, though humans have the freedom of choice, the right to act, to speak and to think, we must ask, what is the limit to freedom? Can we then dare to assert that with freedom comes responsibility? I am free to speak, but I must know when to speak. I am free to shout, but shouting in a place where quiet and silence is beneficial, even healing will cause disgust. I am free to walk but there are laws against trespassing on others property. So freedom have limits, no?

Adam and Eve, had freedom to their hearts content. God made them free moral agents with the power of choice. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1: 27). They were given all things God created in the garden, they were in control, and they identify with God as long as they made the right choices. They lost that identity, and ever since humankind is trying to find himself. Though they we are advised that a particular choice would cause their death, they ignore that advice, follow a lie, and humanity has suffered ever since. Our best choices prove inadequate, causes self-hate and personal regrets and disgust unless it centres on God. “Unless a man is wise his own circumstances will not please him; every kind of folly is plagued with self-disgust” (Seneca, Letters 9.22).

However, it will be well with us if we heed the advice Joshua gave to the people of ancient Israel: ‘But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24: 15NIV). Joshua puts the clear choice before the people in concise form, but not as if he was unconcerned, whether they served God or not. Choose you whom ye will serve, now the matter is place plainly before you. He resolves to serve God, whatever the people of Israel did. It is essential that the service of God’s people be performed with this kind of willing and resolute mind. They identify with and chose to serve the God of their fathers. After the service of God is made the peoples clear and deliberate choice, Joshua binds them to it by a solemn covenant.

Our most important life choices are not just about finding ourselves, or discerning how we fit into the big picture of the human experience. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1Cor. 12: 27NIV). I conclude it is not about personal identity, independent of God, but rather in Him. Our experiences, has everything to do about discovering who we are in God and what He created us to be in the world! Our human identity can only find fulfilment and contentment in Christ Jesus. Without Christ we are nothing, and can do nothing, out life choice is complete in Him alone. God created the human family to have distinctive characteristics and purpose in the world. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1Pet. 2: 9NIV). However, God designed us also to have a commonality of contentment with our lives through His will. We discover our identity when we know and choose Christ, and the more closely we are drawn to Him. All other names and prophets are a nonstarter.

Muslim Imam denies the Holocaust.

Holocaust denial is never new and continues unabated among Muslims, despite in existence of clear evidence, documented proof in videos and still photographs, thousands of living eye witnesses and personal stories. The Holocaust among Muslims is a concocted tale of Zionism and supported by Western and European white lies.

Why would Muslims want to deny one of the most horrible historical blots on the human experience and psyche? Could it not be that the Muslims themselves have an agenda, which is not so subtle? Could it be that by denying anything to do with the Jewish people, who God has chosen to establish His name among the entire race of humanity, is to deny their credibility? Could it be then, that by of denying Judaism, which gave birth to Christianity, is affirming Islam’s credibility? If the Jewish history and experience were wiped out, there would be no doubt, questioning, or denial of the Islamic prophet and his message in the Koran? Historians and biblical theologians agree Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures by holy men as they were moved and influenced by God, was/is the true prophet and son of God, the saviour of humanity and the final messenger to humankind! Many researchers have found little evidence of Mohammad claims of divine inspiration, of being the final prophet or his claim, that his message replaced the Jewish prophets and Jesus himself! Therefore, what is the inheritance of the Jewish people, for Christianity, and all of humanity if in fact the Koran later replaced the biblical literature Christians believe was divinely inspired?

I digressed, but deliberately to prove a very pivotal point, which is denying something that is so evidence is like putting petrol on your house, torched it, watched it burns, someone point it out, took pictures, videotape it, but you will not accept that your house is on fire. Christ said to Paul, ‘it’s hard to kick against the pricks’ and Muslims agenda is really believing that if you deny something never happen will make it disappear from memory! One very prominent Holocaust denier is Australia’s former Grand Mufti, Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali who was named ‘Muslim Man of the Year’ in 2005 and Australia most senior and longest-serving Muslim cleric (1988-2007).

Hilali in 1988, when imam of the largest mosque in Australia gave a speech at Sydney University described Jews as the cause of all wars and the existential enemy of humanity.

In July 2006, Hilali refers to the Holocaust as a ‘Zionist lie’ and referred to Israel as a ‘cancer.’ This kind of dangerous rhetoric is not new among Muslims or unique to Australia.

In October 2006 insinuating that the long prison sentences handed to Sydney’s Lebanese gang-rapists for attacking young teenage girls in the year 2000, were unfair he compared Australian women who do not wear the Islamic veil to meat left uncovered in the streets and then eaten by cats. During his long career, Hilali also praised suicide bombers as heroes and called the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States “God′s work against oppressors” and “the work of 100 per cent American gangs.’

At the time, Hilali’s principal adviser and spokesperson, Keysar Trad, wrote, ‘The criminal dregs of white society colonised this country and… the descendants of these criminal dregs tell us that they are better than us.’ Trad subsequently served as president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils the national umbrella organization, which represents Australian Muslims at national and international level from July 2016 until May 2017. 

The Auschwitz Institute, the Holocaust memorials are among the thousands of places where evidence exist if Mr Hilali and his lot are interested in some history lessons, but I suspect they are not! However, I will offer some anyways, because as George Santayana remarked, ‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’ Though the quote is most likely due to, and in its original form read, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ As Mr Hilali and his cohorts will find, between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 40,000 camps and other incarceration sites. The perpetrators used these sites for a range of purposes, including forced labour, detention of people thought to be enemies of the state, and mass murder. The total number of sites is based upon on-going research in the perpetrators’ own records.

Concentration Camps

From its rise to power in 1933, the Nazi regime built a series of detention facilities to imprison and eliminate so-called ‘enemies of the state.’ Most prisoners in the early concentration camps were German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of ‘asocial’ or socially deviant behaviour. These facilities were called ‘concentration camps’ because those imprisoned there were physically ‘concentrated’ in one location.

After Germany’s annexation of Austria in March 1938, the Nazis arrested German and Austrian Jews and imprisoned them in the Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, all located in Germany. After the violent Kristallnacht (‘Night of Broken Glass’) pogroms in November 1938, the Nazis conducted mass arrests of adult male Jews and incarcerated them in camps for brief periods.

Forced-Labour Prisoner-of-War Camps

Subsequent to the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Nazis opened forced-labour camps where thousands of prisoners died from exhaustion, starvation, and exposure. SS units guarded the camps. During World War II, the Nazi camp system expanded rapidly. In some camps, Nazi doctors performed medical experiments on prisoners.

Succeeding the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Nazis increased the number of prisoner-of-war (POW) camps. Some new camps were built at existing concentration camp complexes (such as Auschwitz) in occupied Poland. The camp at Lublin, later known as Majdanek, was established in the autumn of 1941 as a POW camp and became a concentration camp in 1943. Thousands of Soviet POWs were shot or gassed there.

Jewish Genocide Centres

In order to expedite the ‘Final Solution’ (the genocide or mass destruction of the Jews), the Nazis established killing centres in Poland, the country with the largest Jewish population. The killing centres were designed for efficient mass murder. Chelmno, the first massacre centre, opened in December 1941. Jewish and Roma people were gassed in mobile gas vans there. In 1942, the Nazis opened the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka killing centres to systematically kill the Jews of the General government (the territory in the interior of occupied Poland).

The Nazis constructed further gas chambers (rooms that filled with poison gas to kill those inside) to increase killing efficiency and to make the process more impersonal for the perpetrators. At the Auschwitz camp complex, the Birkenau killing centre had four gas chambers. During the height of deportations to the camp, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed there each day.

Jews in Nazi-occupied lands often were first deported to transit camps such as Westerbork in the Netherlands, or Drancy in France, en route to the killing centres in occupied Poland. The transit camps were usually the last stop before deportation to a killing centre.

Additionally millions of people were imprisoned and abused including starvation in Nazi occupied territories and the various types of concentration camps. Under SS management, the German secret police, the Germans and their agents murdered more than three million Jews in the killing centres alone. Only a small fraction of those imprisoned in Nazi camps survived.

Does one need spiritual visions and inspiration to see this flagrant denial and contempt for the truth of history? Is this then not a clear Satanic inspired attempt to deny the truth, which can be found in Christ Jesus alone? ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14: 6). Satan’s attempt to deny Christ, and the Scriptures that testify of His divinity, and his objective, is to establish, that the bible lies and the Koran is truth! To deny the Jews and their suffering is denying history. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge once remarked, ‘If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.’ Establishing there is another way, gives credibility to Mohammad’s teachings, which has no credible history! As to accept Islam is to deny Christ! In fact, many others have now accepted that all religions are equally true, there is one god, so that there are many ways to him! When the water is so muddy, people will not see a difference. My friends, removing the label of an ‘arsenic poison’ bottle and re-label it, as ‘fruit juice’ will not neutralise its deadly content!

With such credible documented evidence of history, how does Muslims and imams like Hilali are allowed to get away with such blatant Holocaust denial?