Posts Tagged With: grace

Depression vs. the Cosmic Glories

If you’re suffering from any level or any frequency of depression, please hear me. You are not your depression, and your feelings are not an accurate gauge of truth. What do I mean? While you are sunken down in the dark green sea of sadness, the glory of the cosmos remains in motion around you. This world, and the universe inside of which it is hung, are beautiful and majestic… FOR YOU. In what way? So that you may take it in, breathe it in, feel the “bigness” outside of you, and feel the glory of the creation surrounding you, enfolding you, nurturing you.

That’s the way God made things. The earth itself is a miracle of beauty and power – a spinning ball of fiery rock with a living skin that grows food, animals, and splendid forests, which clean our atmosphere. I mean, WOW. We live in a world of staggering wonder!

And for you and me, people who sometimes feel the weight of sadness and human sin – the world was built in order to comfort and soothe us. Would you do something for me the next time you feel depressed? Will you try taking a long-ish walk out somewhere as far from city lights as possible? Just find a road or a forest where you can walk, breathe in deeply, and maybe even talk quietly with God.

Look around you at the little things: the plants, the birds, the shapes of the stones and pebbles around your feet. Notice the big things: the clouds, the trees, the streams or river. Take them in and ponder the glories around you. Then notice the macro-world. You stand on an enormous planet, covered in waterfalls, Chinese people, zebras, glaciers, oceans, mountains, cities… but all of this enormity swallowed up by the true size of a universe around us filled with trillions of stars and galaxies, swirling in obedience to the word of Jesus Christ.

And then notice… that the same Creator who made each detail of the universe from the smallest to the greatest, has not forgotten you. He, in fact, became a man – a hu-man like you and me. He entered into our experience of joy, of eating dinner with Mom and Dad, of learning to read and write, of making friends and losing them, of feeling sorrows and grief, of being a human creature. God became human in order to relate to you and me. He did so out of love and for His fame and glory in the world.

Think of it! The Creator, who was never created, entered into the world to join with us in our human life, to feel our feelings, but even more so, to take our guilt and sin upon Himself when He died on the cross. Somehow, in His perfect way, Jesus became our sin – He became the curse that is on humanity, and He died under the penalty that curse brings. He died for you. The very One who holds together the entire universe died on a Roman death cross to pay our sin debts to God FOR US. He built the universe to wow us, but He died FOR US. He proved His identity once and for all by coming back from the dead, and He lives today forever. Reigning. Loving. Creating and ruling over the world. He sees your pain.

I invite you to look outside of yourself. Into and past the horizon in the sky. Into and past the stars and galaxies. Know you are not alone or unknown. He forgives sinners and makes them His kids. Trust in the Lord Jesus today, for all your needs. You may struggle with depression all your life, but when you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ and confessed to Him your sinfulness, He washes you and forgives you completely. Believe it, and seek Him for a healing of your broken heart. No matter what you feel, the truth is that God so loved the world, that He gave His unique Son – that all those believing in Him would not perish, but have eternal life… and that eternal life is free from all tears and sorrow!

Be sure to click on the “Questions and Comments” page at the top of Interpreting the Cosmos if you have any feedback, or want to ask for prayer for anything.

Grace in Christ,

-Adam

Categories: Humankind in Distress, Jesus the Pinnacle of History, Meaning Woven into Nature | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Everything You Have Ever Done Will be Exposed pt. 2

Please read part 1 of this God-exalting sermon from my friend Ben Askins.

Is this a long-ish post? Yup. Should you make time for it and come back to read parts 3 and 4? You better believe it, my friends.

Here is part 2. Soli Deo Gloria!

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Human history has a terminus point, a time of reckoning. God permitted a long age of rebellion. For thousands of years God has showed patience and longsuffering to a wicked world. He has blessed the wicked with sunshine, rain, food and delights of every kind (beautiful beaches, lovely sunsets, family, friends, sex, a good night’s sleep, great food, fun vacations, laughter and pleasure). But a day is coming when all rebellion will be crushed. For the unrepentant this life is the closest thing to heaven they will ever experience. There has been a long day for sinning; therefore, God has ordained a special day for judgment. The definitive victory over evil that Christ achieved at the cross becomes a perfected reality on that day when the sheep are forever separated from the goats. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom. 2:4-5)

The final judgment resolves the many injustices that occur in this world that have not been rectified on earth. There are wicked people who live and die in the lap of luxury. There are murderers, rapists and thieves who are never caught, exposed and punished for their crimes. There are dictators who oppress the poor, torture and murder innocent people, and yet live in palaces and die at a ripe old age. There are many people who have been severely wronged and have not experienced vindication, closure or justice in this life. There are millions of God’s children who have been slandered, beaten, imprisoned and even murdered for their faith.

Will a righteous and holy God allow such inequities to go unpunished? Will the God of perfect justice allow injustice to continue interminably in His universe? Will the Lord allow evil people to get away with their sins and crimes? God’s holy nature requires that all injustices be resolved.

God displays His perfect justice by publicly exposing all sins and crimes, by publicly declaring the guilt of the offending parties and by publicly meting out the sentence of condemnation. There is a day of perfect justice and closure because God’s nature demands it. There are no ethical loose ends in Christ’s kingdom.

Every mother and every father of every little boy and every little girl kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery will finally witness the perfect wrath of Almighty God poured out in full fury on all those guilty of such wickedness, from the civil magistrate who fails, out of laziness, incompetence or bribery in his duties to enforce the law and protect the most helpless, to those who buy and sell and trade in the rape of the most innocent among us.

Neglected Child

Every mouth will be stopped and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, in heaven and on earth and, yes, even under the earth on that great and terrible day of the Lord’s judgment.

And you and I will be judged according to how we have responded or not responded to such tragedies. “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to (Christ).’” (Mt. 25:44-45) Oh Lord forgive us for endlessly quibbling over the logical order of the divine decrees or drawing lines of division among ourselves over the difference between a “universally sufficient atonement which is particular in scope” and a “universally accomplished atonement which is particular in its application” while our children and our neighbor’s children are used like Kleenex and thrown away, while there are still places on this planet where the glorious name of Christ has never been heard. Oh Lord forgive us… and help us to obey.

Everything you do is permanent and you are responsible for everything you do. There must be and there will be a day when God will judge the world and bring an end to all rebellion against Himself forever.

Hell is eternal because everything you do is permanent and you are responsible for everything you do. Just because you are no longer ashamed by the guilt of your past sins doesn’t remove your guilt for committing them. The passage of time doesn’t remove guilt.

The punishment in hell is varied in severity, since “that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Lk 12:47-48). But the punishment received according to the works you have done will continue so long as your guilt remains. And your guilt is permanent. “Because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom. 2:5) Hell is everlasting because your guilt is everlasting.

So can permanent, everlasting guilt be removed? The answer to this question is something into which angels long to look.

Some turn to the statements of the immediate context of our text for the answer, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” (Rom. 2:13) “Those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.’ (Rom. 2:7)

“They who pervert this passage for the purpose of building up justification by works, deserve most fully to be laughed at even by children.” –John Calvin, Commentary on Romans 2

Every philosophy of life, every worldview, no matter how mismatched and cobbled together or sophisticated and self-consistent, has a theory of salvation, which contains a doctrine of justification, a way that humanity can respond to the prescribed problems of the human condition, of dealing with guilt.

The President tells us that we can be saved from the apocalyptic judgment of global warming by minimizing our carbon footprint and recycling (among other things). The Buddha told us that we can be freed from the wheel of reincarnation by attaining self-awakening through the Noble 8-Fold Path of having the right view, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration which lead to attaining right knowledge and right liberation. These different worldviews contain different doctrines of justification, different ways for dealing with human guilt and failure. Essentially, one answer offered is that we can make up for our guilt by believing and doing the right things. Justification = Faith + Works.

June 28, 2009 marks the completion of the Anno Paulino or the Pauline Year, which the Pope instituted in honor of the 2000th anniversary of the apostle’s birth. In the papal decree Urbis et Orbis it states: “The gift of Indulgences which the Roman Pontiff offers to the universal Church, truly smoothes the way to attaining a supreme degree of inner purification which, while honoring the Blessed Apostle Paul, exalts the supernatural life in the hearts of the faithful and gently encourages them to do good deeds… Each and every truly repentant individual member of the Christian faithful, duly absolved through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and restored with Holy Communion, who devoutly makes a pilgrimage to the Papal Basilica of St. Paul on the Ostian Way and who prays for the Supreme Pontiff’s intentions, will be granted the Plenary Indulgence from temporal punishment for his/her sins, once sacramental forgiveness and pardon for any shortcomings has been obtained. The Christian faithful may benefit from the Plenary Indulgence both for themselves and for the deceased, as many times as they fulfill the required conditions but without prejudice to the norm stipulating that the Plenary Indulgence may be obtained only once a day.”

Best known for his rich proclamation of free grace and severe condemnation of any church that would preach a different gospel, Paul’s birth being celebrated with indulgences is the irony of the century.

Biblically, we can place these varied but similar perspectives in one of two categories: in its narrower and more stringent form we can categorize it as Legalism, that we are justified by our obedience to a strict code of belief and ethics. In its more general, liberal form we can call it Moralism, which does not require strict adherence to a law of some sort, but general adherence to moral principles of one kind or another.

Moralism is just Legalism’s lazy little brother.

The problems for the Legalist and the Moralist are two-fold. The first problem is that obedience to law and morality in one instance does not remove the permanent guilt for disobedience in any other instance. There is no justification for stealing a candy bar earned by offering to mow your neighbor’s lawn. That idea is just sheer nonsense. The idea that there is a balance on one side of which are weighed your good deeds and the other of which weighs your failures is wrong because it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of guilt and responsibility. Doing good in one instance cannot negate doing evil in another instance, even if it mitigates the consequences of evil, since everything you do is permanent.

(To be continued…)

Categories: The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

So You STILL think God is a merciful God?

I’ve been contemplating adding my little voice to the reactions concerning the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. After reading this sister’s eyewitness account from within the theater, I bow to her words. She has interpreted well.
Grace & Peace in Jesus,
-Justin

A MINIATURE CLAY POT

July 22 – a note of explanation

I’ve tried to leave this post just as it was originally written because it was a heartfelt response after a very traumatic experience.  But I’m sometimes clumsy with words and even when I think I am writing clearly, there is always the reader who doesn’t know my heart or doesn’t hear the words the way they were intended.

I feel as though a few people have taken what I said and twisted it. When I wrote my post on Friday, I had a grand total of eleven blog  followers. Yes, eleven. I generally post on facebook and have had a loyal little group of readers that numbered thirty or so. That is who I generally write for.  People who know me  know that I dislike talking on the telephone. I’d pretty much rather clean a toilet than spend time on the phone. I…

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Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dialogue with a Roman Catholic – Introductory Remarks

In my previous post, “Do Roman Catholics have the Gospel of Christ?“, I discussed the main idea in question between Roman Catholicism and Biblical, Apostolic Christianity. At the end of the post, I visually reproduced a short exchange between myself and a person on Twitter, nickname @LettingOutSmoke. That person has graciously accepted the invitation to dialogue/debate between Letting the Smoke Out and Interpreting the Cosmos – and as far as I can tell, that is just the kind of thing that would honor Christ. A search for and exposition of truth is always bound to end up with a closer proximity to Truth, aka the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m game.

Now for our dialogue, a goal and focus would be a good idea – and LOS (as I’ll call him) has already touched on that on his blog – “The path to salvation.” We could hammer out a long, tedious debate over 1,001 different topics, but I believe to keep it as close to that topic as possible will help us keep as brief and readable as possible.

There was a comment on my last post here by Sparki to which I am replying by way of this post – I’d like to be as condensed and readable as possible. To LOS, like you I would also admit to not being a trained apologetic – my degree is in the writing field and my obsession is theology. I was baptized a Roman Catholic in infancy, but beyond that I was rescued from the treadmill of that religion into the glorious invisible Church of Jesus Christ, by God’s grace alone through the gift of faith alone in Jesus Christ alone upon the testimony and authority of Scripture alone and all to the glory of God alone… so let’s give this a shot, Soli Deo Gloria.

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My Assumptions

God has spoken in the Bible clearly, and with absolute authority as His revelation to man concerning all things about Himself, His work of redemption in history, all matters of proper worship and religion, and things to come in the future. There is no higher authority than the Bible, and men are speaking authoritatively only insofar as they speak in proper alignment with the Word of God. To contradict the doctrines of Scripture is to speak in error against God and His revelation to man, and to do such is at least to be described as dangerous, and should be feared lest we blaspheme and lose our eternal souls.

I assume also that in giving us logic, reason, a spirit, and the witness of the Holy Spirit, that God has meant to be understood in what is written. This is not an esoteric, mysterious book which transcends our ability to interpret meaningfully. The Gnostics, and other cults who seek to gain power over men and women would make that claim so as to have the authority to themselves, but God said to John “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” We are to read and understand the Bible under the assumption that God speaks clearly through it’s pages.

LOS, I understand you would probably word some of this differently, and perhaps outright disagree. I don’t mean to debate these things, but I do want to be clear what my foundational assumptions are so that we aren’t completely talking past one another.

My Premise

God is the King of the cosmos. He is Sovereign over all of physical and spiritual life – and so is the great Mover upon mankind. We are discussing the path of salvation, so from a biblical premise, we have to begin by acknowledging God as the Prime Cause of creation and redemption. As the Psalmist wrote “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” Psalm 100

I assume we agree there, so I then I will look to an overview of redemptive history next, but before I go there, I want to publish what I have here so far so as to allow LOS to digest it, agree to the set-up, and give me the green light to go forward. Please make any suggestions to help us clarify and simplify, LOS.

-Justin

Categories: Comparative Religions, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

One Breath of Hope in Death

Like your first time downhill skiing without knowing how to stop, you fly towards death – yet there stands the great God and Savior with nail-pierced hands. Even a crash is safe when Jesus waits for you at the end.

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One Breath Prayer for Christ’s return

Precious King Jesus, we desire to see You – please return soon to claim Your people, Your cosmos, and Your glory from the jaws of Satan. Amen

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May the way you live your weekend be a blessing and a light to those around you, and may God pour out His treasures of grace on your head as you live, move, and have your being.

Categories: One Breath | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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