We are the Righteousness of God

A few years back, I sat in a congregation and listened to a preacher delivering a message on forgiveness. He shook his fist in dramatic fashion and proclaimed, “We are forgiven of our sins: past, present, and future. That means that you will never be held accountable for anything you do, for sin has no affect on the Christian’s life.”

I have heard and read many messages that make similar claims, but this simply is not true. A popular writer made the statement that if we teach grace the way we should, it will sound like a license to sin. This is true if we teach only forgiveness, but grace is more than the promise that my sins are forgiven. Grace also holds the promise that this forgiveness transforms my life. I am a new creation who has been freed from the bondage of sin in my flesh. We must teach the whole message of grace – not just that we have been rescued from sin. Look at Romans 5:20 – 6:4

 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

So we can see the message of deliverance from sin, not merely forgiveness of sin. There must be a walk in the newness of life. The apostles recognized the danger of overlooking the entire message. God’s grace is such an amazing gift, that where sin abounds in abundance, grace abounds more. The message is not to wallow in the mire. The message is, regardless of how defiled a man or woman has become, God’s grace is more than sufficient to reach to the bottom of any pit. No one can say, “God could never forgive the things I have done.” Grace indeed forgives, and that is half the promise. Not only will God forgive, but the past is buried with Christ, and the sinner is raised as a new creation – forgiven, redeemed, and set free. Not free to dive back into the mire, but free to live by an eternal standard that is impossible before we have God’s spirit of grace.

The message is not that we will never be held accountable; therefore, we can sin at will. This fallacious way of thinking makes it appear that sin is a gift from God. The message is that we have died to our old life. Since we have been crucified with Christ, his sacrifice satisfied the penalty of sin; therefore, we are free from judgment, and empowered to live in his presence as we reach toward perfection. Grace is not only, “I’m forgiven”, but grace is also, “I can walk in newness of life.” We can’t separate one from the other.

Scripture does not say that the Christian is not accountable, and it is not true to claim that the world will be held accountable for their sins, but the Christian no longer has a standard to live by. In the remainder of this study, we’ll first look at the scriptures that show our accountability, and then we’ll look at the victorious path God has provided for the Christian. When all things conclude, the Christian stands by the promises in Revelation that begin with, “To him that overcomes, I will give…” There are not only promises, but consequences. We also know the words of Jesus, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The Yoke of the Lord
Jesus’ promise of an easy yoke is a great place to begin looking at our Christian walk toward holiness. Matthew 11:28-30

 28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

This is a wonderful passage, but must be understood. It’s a paradox. A yoke is a wooden beam designed to go around the neck and bind a pair of oxen together. It is intended to keep both oxen side by side so they can work in unison. The great paradox is that Jesus begins by calling those who are straining under the heavy burden of labor, and find rest by taking on his yoke – which binds us together with Christ as we labor for the kingdom. How can we find rest by uniting with Christ in a yoke which calls us to labor with him?

Unlike the labors we take upon ourselves, the work of Christ is not dependent upon man or the strength of mankind. It’s intended to be a paradox because it shows to situations that would normally seem contradictory, but are not because of something unique God is doing. God does not allow man to build his kingdom, but God also does not allow people to sit idly and take his kingdom for granted. Remember the words of Jesus, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus never said, “You will build my church.” I already have a study on labor and works, so I won’t spend much time on this topic here, but keep in mind that our burden is light because he bears the burden. He also bears us up when we grow weary. He is our strength, not we his strength.

The same principle applies when we strive to overcome. How does one overcome? When habits and cravings of the flesh rise up and try to draw us away from fellowship with the Lord, how do we overcome? If my efforts to change my life before Christ failed to make a lasting change, how can I expect my human efforts to change my life after knowing Christ? The words of Paul ring true in our daily lives, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”

The truth is that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness, and I am completely dependent upon the Lord to give me strength. This is why Ephesians 6 tells us to be strong in the Lord and the power of his might. It is not our strength or power, it is the Lord’s strength and the Lord’s power. The Bible says that God is able to make us stand.

It is when we press against the yoke or slip out of it that we become weary and discouraged. When I try to carry the burden, I may appear to succeed for a while, but frustration is in my future. I’ll be frustrated from my own fatigue because I haven’t rested in the Lord, and because I am not being led, I can’t maintain the straight rows God is laying through the joint work with Christ. When God is not leading where I think I should go, I’m tempted to slip out of the yoke and go my own way. This might be a desire to reach for temptation, or a misguided belief that I must do something God has not ordained.

It isn’t my labor; it is the labor of Christ. It is not my righteousness; it is the righteousness of Christ. It isn’t my works; it is the workmanship of Christ, prepared beforehand that I should walk in it. I can only walk as I am led, otherwise I am not on the path God has called me to follow.

So the burden of living the Christian life does not fall upon my shoulders, it falls on Christ. This is why the Bible constantly stresses the necessity of abiding in Christ and having his word abide in us. Without abiding, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Doing nothing means we can do nothing of eternal significance. So even if I accomplish something that looks grand in my eyes, it means nothing, for Jesus made it clear that the flesh cannot produce anything of spiritual value (John 6:63).

Is the Christian accountable?
There are so many scriptures that address this question, it is difficult to know what to begin with and what to leave out. There is a reason why the Bible calls us to fear the Lord. The fear of the Lord is not to be afraid of God, but it is also not merely a reverence for him as many often teach. The fear of the Lord is to understand he is the creator of all things, and has the right to determine our acceptable standard of behavior. Like a loving father who tries to guide his children into good character, our heavenly father does the same for us. He corrects, rebukes, and chastises. While it is true that God’s desire is to comfort and bless, he will not neglect discipline when his children do not respond to his rebuke. Nor will he bless in a way that distracts us from the path he calls us to follow.

God is more concerned with your eternal character than your temporal comfort. Through Jesus, God has shown us the image we are called to conform to. This is the character God will bless and reward; therefore, he will indeed chastise the wayward soul in an effort to prevent us from walking down the road leading to destruction, and toward the narrow road leading to life.

There is a day of accountability. And yes, it applies to the Christian. In Revelation 20:11-15, there is a Great White Throne judgment where the entire world will stand accountable. According to the Bible, the Book of Life will be searched, and any soul not found there will be judged according to their works. These works cannot merit salvation, for after the works are examined, judgment is declared because their name was not written in the book of life. In fact, when the disciples asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” he said, “With men it is impossible. But with God all things are possible.”

According to Christ, it is impossible for any man to save himself without God’s intervention. And that is exactly what was done on the cross. That’s why Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”

For those who have entered through Jesus Christ, their judgment is not found in Revelation 20. We know that the believer has already been judged prior to this judgment, because the Christians have already received their reward. At the beginning of Revelation, the faithful are casting their crowns at his feet. The Bible also says that when Jesus returns, his reward is with him. Another clear distinction is that the Bible teaches there are two resurrections. One when Jesus fulfills his promise that the righteous will inherit the earth, and the other after the millennial reign. To understand this, look at Revelation 20:4-6

  4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. This is the Christian. We do not fear the final judgment for we will have already been judged and rewarded as priests and kings who will reign with Christ. After this, the second resurrection is for those who will stand to be judged for their sins and dead works. A dead work is anything accomplished through the flesh – or human effort.

I say all of this to make sure we understand that there is more than one judgment. Though the Christian will not fear the second judgment, we must fear the Lord now, knowing we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

Why would there be terror for which the apostles felt the need to persuade men? We’ll take a look at this answer shortly, but stop for a moment and consider this passage. It is written to the Christian. This was a letter to the Corinthian church and is an instruction to those who believe in Jesus. The instruction is not to warn the lost of judgment, but to warn the Christian of judgment. How can men stand up and shout, “We will never be held accountable for our sins,” when this passage specifically warns that you and I will be called into account for every thing done in our body – good and bad?

Jesus gives us a glimpse into this day of reckoning when he teaches his disciples in Luke 12. First, he gives the desired result – blessings and honor. Jesus promises that he will return during the time when the church is not expecting. Therefore, it is warned that few will be ready, but we should always be on watch. We watch by doing his will and living as a disciple – someone who learns and practices what God teaches in the word. Those who are found watching have some interesting promises. Jesus said that he will make them to sit down, and Jesus himself will serve them. We, who should be serving our Savior, will have him serve us. He then promises that he will make those disciples ruler over all he has.

That is the good news – the promise which God desires to give us. But the bad news is that few will be found watching. Jesus then gives a warning in Luke 12:47-48

  47 “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
 48 “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

According to the words of Jesus, are their consequences for sin in the life of the Christian? Jesus warns that believers caught unaware of his return will inherit the same reward as hypocrites, and they will be weeping and gnashing their teeth (Matthew 24:51). The picture is someone lamenting over what they have lost. It is to mourn with such heartache, they grind their teeth.

Along with those who are found unworthy, are those who teach disciples to wink at sin. Look at Matthew 5:19

Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus didn’t say these teachers would be sent to hell; he said they would be called least in the kingdom. They are those who sacrificed everything eternal for a false gospel that invested everything in this life alone. Those who will one day weep over their loss will do so because they ignored warnings, such as passages like Hebrews 12:15-16

  15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.

Hopefully you see that God does not want any of his children to miss out on the promise. Esau is given as an analogy for the Christian. As the firstborn son, Esau should have been the heir of what was passed down from Abraham. There was wealth, but the honor of carrying the blessings of God was the greater reward. He should have led the family, which would one day lead to Jesus, our Messiah. He should have been the one God blessed that no one could curse. He should have been the prophet that Jacob became, and should have been led by God’s loving hand. But he forfeited it all to feed his flesh. He couldn’t wait for his needs to be met, so he gave up everything for a meal. He despised his birthright. In the end, he wept on his knees begging to be blessed, but the time of repentance was gone and the consequences were upon him.

You also have a birthright. It isn’t something you must earn, for it is by promise, not merit. According to scripture, we are joint heirs with Christ when we are born again by the Holy Spirit. It is a gift no one can earn, but it is something we can willingly give away. Colossians 2:8 says:

 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

It is already yours in Christ – but you can be cheated out of it. This is reiterated in Revelation 3:11

  “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.

The reward is to those who remain in Christ. The reward is not to those who earn salvation, nor to those who try to earn rewards. The reward is part of your birthright, and will remain yours unless you despise it as did Esau. To despise our birthright is to trade it willingly for a moment of pleasure. It is to exchange the promise to gratify the flesh. It is claiming our reward in this life because we don’t have faith in the promise to come. Many false teachers claim to be of God, but mix worldly philosophies into their doctrine and lead others into the deception that has captured their hearts. These are those the scriptures warn are false teachers deceiving and have been deceived. This is what causes men to proclaim that we can live as we please without being concerned with consequences.

When someone buys into the doctrines of the flesh, they will not only seek to justify themselves, but they will persuade others in the hope of being comforted in their rebellion. It is for you to discern the truth by knowing the scriptures. To follow these philosophies and empty deceits, rooted in the principles of the world, is to allow yourself to be cheated. Allowing ourselves to be persuaded to follow the flesh is how someone takes our crown. They have given it away, and there is a desire to persuade you to forfeit as well. Surrounding the principles of the world with religious terms doesn’t change the fact it is of the flesh. The Lord has given you the promise, hold fast to what you have already been given.

Living in the promise
As I stated earlier, we cannot merit anything of the Spirit. You may have heard people say, “I’m going to make my light shine,” but this is a misconception. We don’t have the light; we are the light. We can’t shine the light; we can only let it shine, or hide it. Look at Matthew 5:14-16

 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
 15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
 16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

If you have the Spirit of God within you, you are the light of the world. Jesus didn’t command you to shine, he commanded you to let it shine and not hide it under a basket. Why does your light and good works glorify God? It is because your light and work is a gift of God. Good works don’t point to your efforts, they point to your heavenly Father who placed his light in your heart and completed his good works through you. Your works are the evidence of God’s hand. Any works that point to our own goodness is a false work with no eternal benefit or significance. A good example of this can be seen in Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler. Look at Matthew 19:16-22

  16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
 17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
 18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ” ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’
 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
 20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The first thing we should note is that this rich man was looking solely at the flesh as the source of goodness. He began his question to Jesus by calling him Good Master, or as the NKJV translates it, Teacher. In that culture, teachers were considered masters of knowledge. Many rabbis had disciples and they called them master as both a sign of respect, and an acknowledgement of their special knowledge. This is why Jesus warned his disciples to not allow anyone to call them teacher / master. He isn’t warning that we can’t be identified as teachers, but that we do not put ourselves in the position to be looked upon as being above the people. Though we have different callings and gifts, we are not permitted to be on a higher level than other believers. Jesus said not to let anyone call you master, father, or rabbi (or spiritual guide), for only Christ has that exaltation, and “you are all brethren.” (Matthew 23).

This is what Jesus is rebuking when he rebuffed the ruler for calling him good master. The rich man was looking at Jesus as an earthly rabbi, and placing undo honor on humanity. When Jesus pointed to himself as the Messiah of Israel, he calls himself good (John 10:11-14), but when this man pointed to his role as a master / teacher, Jesus refused to allow people to think of this role with undo honor. It wasn’t his role as a teacher that made him good, it was his role as the Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us. Many rabbis were in Israel, but none had the right to be called good.

Serious problems arise when we try to apply good to any works of human effort. The rich man wanted to know what good work he could do to merit eternal life. Jesus set him up to see the futility of the question by pointing to the law, which is impossible for man to fulfill in the flesh. The man proclaimed that he has kept these things through his whole life. To show the fallacy of this claim, Jesus included the command to love your neighbor as yourself. Then Jesus called him to sell everything and give it to the poor. If the man truly loved his neighbor as himself, sacrificing his possessions for the poor would not have been a barrier to obedience.

Even selling his possessions would not give eternal life. The command was to sell all and follow Jesus. It was to cast off his efforts to make himself good, remove his love for things, and become a new creation in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 13 makes it clear that even if I give all my goods to the poor, and sacrifice my body as an offering, if I don’t have love (agape), it profits me nothing. Agape is the love poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The intent should be clear. If it isn’t the work of God, flowing through us, it is meaningless.

The truth is, we will always place ourselves first if we are standing upon our own works. Place a morsel of food in front of two starving men, and see who puts their neighbor first. It is the power of Christ that enables us to walk by faith, keep the commandments, and experience what it means to live on the rock of Christ. Jesus taught, “You are the salt of the world.” We do not become salt through something we do, we are salt because of Christ. Jesus also warned that the salt can lose its savor and become good for nothing. The salt can lose its impact, the light can be hidden, and the Christian can lose sight of their faith. Instead of being the salt and light of the world, they can become like the world and ineffective in their calling.

Striving to live a life of holiness is not our efforts to become more spiritual, or to gain more faith; our effort is to keep the things of the world out of our life. We remove the things that hide our light and avoid the things that remove the savor of Christ by replacing the gift of God with worthless treasures. Look at James 1:27

 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Also, add to this Jude 1:20-21

 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Notice what is being taught. We keep ourselves unspotted from the world. We build our lives upon the most holy faith God has given us. We don’t build faith, we build ourselves upon the holy faith given to us. We don’t make ourselves love God, we keep ourselves in the love of God. These are gifts of grace. God has given us a new life, and the ability to walk in the Spirit. The works of the Christian are not to do something for God, but to walk in God’s works and hold on to the spiritual mercies given to us.

We often approach Christianity from the wrong perspective. Most people think they have to muster up faith, make themselves holy, force themselves to love God, and purify their own souls. The truth is, these things are the work of Christ. Jesus said, “It’s the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing,” and “with man, [salvation] is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” We come to Christ, trusting in his completed work, and then keep ourselves in the love of God. James 1:4 tells us that we are tempted when we are drawn by our own desires and enticed. Temptation is the desire to leave the things of the Spirit, and pursue the things of the flesh. That can be blatant sins, or the lure of human achievement where we try to produce the work of God through human effort.

Let’s look at how sin applies to the Christian life. It is not temptation overcoming us, but the Christian being lured away from Christ and into sin. The Christian walking in the spirit cannot sin. This does not mean the Christian cannot sin, it means there must be a change in our minds. We must step away from our walk with the Lord in order to commit sin. Let’s examine some scriptures to understand this. Look now at Galatians 5:16-18

 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

This passage goes along with Romans 8:5-6

  5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

The scriptures are showing a difference in focus. Those who walk in the spirit set their minds on the things above – on eternal things. We must intentionally set our minds on the word of God, and consciously keep ourselves from being drawn by the flesh. The Christian who keeps their minds on the word, and lives according to the truth they have been given will walk in the Spirit, and the drawing of the flesh has no power over their lives. But when we love the world and live only from the perspective of here and now, our minds will be on the flesh and seeking gratification of our desires. We must take care not to be those Jesus said hear the word, and are choked by the cares of the world, never becoming fruitful as Christians. It is a fact that we cannot live in both worlds.

Though I must live in the world, my focus must not be to live for the world. My job is a gift from God, as is my abilities to perform it. My trust is not in my job, or the money I make. I provide for my family, but I should not serve money. Am I living for pleasure, or to glorify God? Am I so determined to fill my life with possessions that I can’t afford to serve God? Jesus made it clear that no one can serve God and wealth, and we must choose which to serve. The sad reality is that most are choosing to serve a passing world at the expense of our faith. This is exacerbated by those who teach that blessings are equal to wealth and that godliness is a means of gain. Neither of which are true.

The desire for things is only part of the human condition that turns our heart from the Lord. The works of the flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, and revelries. Every person struggles with these things to varying degrees, but we are able to overcome through the word. It is a battle between the new creation we have become when we were born as a new person, and the flesh which still desires the life we have abandoned. Look at Romans 7:22-23

 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Even a spiritually minded man or woman will find themselves being drawn toward the flesh. The battle is fought in the mind. To overcome, we must realize the difference between the flesh and the new man, the new person we have become in Christ. According to the above scripture, the new man is not the origin of sin, but the origin of godly living. It is for us to turn from flesh and not to obey its lust. This agrees with 1 John 3:9

  Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

The new man cannot sin, for it is born of God, yet, daily we wrestle with sin. The seed of God, the Holy Spirit, remains in us and calls us to live according to the inner man. This is why we are commanded to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. Even so, we know we will sin and the same book that tells us we cannot sin also says that when we sin, we have an advocate through Christ and repentance. Look at 1 John 2:1-6

1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

John is giving us another paradox. We are battling among two worlds. The flesh and the spirit cannot agree and are at war with one another. In the end, the flesh will be destroyed along with everything invested in the flesh. That includes not only sin, but even positive deeds accomplished by human effort. When we sin, we have stepped into the flesh and turned from the commandments of God. At the end of 1 John 1, we are given the promise that if we confess our sins and forsake them, we will have mercy. Repentance is turning from the flesh and to the Spirit. We are confessing our ways, and again putting our trust in Christ to deliver us from our flesh and cleanse us from our sin. Then, we walk again in the new life, according to the new man, and sin has no power in our lives. Temptation will arise again, but it can have no power unless we agree with the flesh and willfully choose to step into the flesh again.

The Christian has the power to live in perfection, and at times we will experience that perfection. However, the perfection is not in you, but in Christ. Any who walk in the light will experience a life of victory. As we draw closer to Christ, his light reveals areas in our life that are still rooted in the flesh. As we surrender these areas to him, dead works are purged and more of Christ is revealed in our life. It is a process that continues as we strive toward our final perfection.

We know this process will never be fully completed until our final redemption when our flesh will be transformed at the day of resurrection. Until then, our life must be focused on keeping his commandments so we can obtain the promise, and run without hindrance. At times, we will fail. The Apostle Paul said, “The things I do not want to do, I do, and the things I know I should do, this I don’t do.” We too, will have times when our flesh gets the best of us. Instead of throwing our hands up, we repent, he sets us back on the right way, and we strive again toward perfection. Our goal as believers is to remove anything which comes between us and our Lord. Hebrews 12:1-2 explains:

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We run with endurance by keeping Jesus Christ in the center of our life while we cast out anything that hinders us. When we stumble in the flesh, we turn from our sin, confess, forsake, and draw toward Jesus so we can walk in the light. As we do so, we are laying hold of the promise, “To him that overcomes, I will give…” Overcoming the flesh and the world removes the things which prevent us from inheriting the promises of God. It isn’t easy because it goes against human nature. The Lord knows it isn’t easy, and this is why the greatest promises in scripture are to those who overcome. The only path to overcoming is following the word, and this requires keeping Jesus at the center of our life and focus. A compartmentalized life can’t live the faith as God has called us to do.

Conclusion
In closing, let me reiterate the principle of righteousness in the Christian’s life. Your righteousness means nothing to God, nor does mine. The Bible tells us that all of our righteous acts are filthy rags in God’s sight, or as Jesus said, the flesh profits nothing. You can’t produce spiritual fruit through human efforts. Every time righteousness is revealed in scripture, it is God’s righteousness given to us. We are not called to become righteous, we are made righteous through faith in Christ. This doesn’t only apply to becoming a Christian; the principles of living the Christian life don’t change after we obtain salvation. My life cannot produce righteousness. I can only walk in God’s righteousness. As Galatians states when rebuking the church, “Are you so foolish to think having begun in the Spirit, you are now made perfect by the flesh?”

The truth is that you and I can never produce the righteousness of God. When we are born as a new creation, we are given the righteousness of Christ. We don’t strive to become more righteous, for we already have the righteousness of God. This is explained in 2 Corinthians 5:21

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

How can you add to the righteousness of God? Why would we think that something was needed in order to make ourselves more righteous than the completed work of Christ? The truth is that we can’t. It is a completed work, and anything added to the work of Christ is a corruption. Jesus and the righteousness he has given is fully complete. This is explained in Romans 10:3-4

 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Christ is the end of the law of righteousness. What comes after the end? Nothing. It is the end because the work has been completed. Anything added to perfection becomes corruption. This goes back to Jesus’ teaching about us being the light of the world. We are not told to make the light brighter. We aren’t told to stoke the flames and make the light shine. Our only command is to let it shine. Let it shine, not make it shine. Remove the basket that is blocking the light shining in our hearts. We do this by removing the flesh. It is the gospel message of the Old Testament where Gideon was commanded to take a torch hidden in a clay pot, walk down the path God sent him, and shout with victory as he and his men shattered the clay pots to reveal the light. Then God defeated the enemy and completed the work before the eyes of Gideon. It wasn’t his effort, it was God’s work.

Our work is not to create righteousness, do good works, or build our faith. Our command is to remove the things that hinder the work of God in our lives. It is to break the flesh, submit ourselves to the Lord, and allow his righteousness to work unhindered in our lives. You can do nothing to make yourselves more righteous. You have the gift of righteousness in your heart IF you are born again by the Spirit by faith in Christ. Our calling is simple to understand, but hard to live by. We are called to walk by faith as explained in Romans 1:17

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Notice that God’s righteousness is revealed in us by faith. Our calling is to live by faith and walk in faith. Do a search on righteousness in the New Testament. In fact, do a search for ‘our righteousness in the Old Testament. You will discover some interesting phrases’. Below are a few:

The Lord Our Righteousness
The righteousness of God is revealed
God demonstrated his righteousness to the one who has faith in Christ
His righteousness is accounted to Abraham by faith
God imputes righteousness apart from works
That righteousness my be imputed to us also by faith
We receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ
Awake to righteousness and do not sin
We might become the righteousness of God
His righteousness endures for ever
Put on the breastplate of righteousness

The message is clear. If your righteousness is not the righteousness of Christ, you are falling under the same condemnation as those warned of in Romans 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”

The religious leaders who sought to make themselves righteous, never pleased God, never escaped from condemnation, and never found freedom in Christ. Our call is to walk in obedience by faith. Faith is putting your trust in the completed work of Christ. It is also believing the promises of God. Faith equals trust and drives us to action. That action is not our own efforts for God, but our obedience to God. It calls us to walk in the path God created for us before the foundation of the world, and removing anything in our lives that hinders us from walking in that path and being the light of the world.

Eddie Snipes
02/2011

Simple Faith-Love your enemies

Love Your Enemies

There was a man who was very rich. His house was filled with luxury and he wanted for nothing. At least nothing in the material sense. The heart of this man was empty, thus he began a quest for fulfillment. Before we look at his journey, let’s look at how he became wealthy.

The lucrative career he chose was collecting taxes. When we think of taxes, we all have negative feelings. In his era, tax collectors were the lowest form of human existence. He worked for the Roman government. When Rome conquered a nation, they allowed the people a few unique freedoms. They were allowed to keep their culture, language, and rulers. However, Rome also set up their own rulers who held a higher position of authority. They also required every citizen to be bilingual and learn a simplified version of Greek. Each nation would also be put under tribute. In other words, they had to pay taxes to Rome.

As long as rulers behaved under the Roman governors, people learned the national language, and taxes were paid, subcultures were acceptable in this form of government. This method of compromise helped maintain stability in one of the world’s longest lasting empires.

It’s not hard to imagine that paying taxes to a foreign government wasn’t a popular idea. I say foreign because Rome wasn’t native to their culture. To simplify tax collecting, Rome would hire locals to collect the tribute money. A local understood the town’s economy and knew who had money, and had a good idea of how much.

A tax collector had the backing of the Roman government, so resisters could be arrested or have their property seized. Rome also turned a blind eye to the amount of money collected. Collectors only had to meet their quotas. Anything collected above this amount was bonus money for the collector. In the eyes of the community, tax collectors were legalized thieves.

This rich man was despised by his neighbors. He was a traitor because he joined with the oppressive government against his own people. He was a thief because he raised extra taxes against his neighbors so he could pad his own pockets. When the townspeople refused to pay the inflated tax prices, the soldiers came in to take it by force. When a man complained that his taxes were higher than he knew Rome required, the soldiers showed no concern. The commander had no interest in even making sure the money collected made it to the government.

“That’s on him. Tax collectors know the amount due. I’m a soldier, not an auditor,” would have been his answer to the locals.

The commander knew it was a rip off, but did not care. This created hatred against this tax collector, and all others like him. In fact, all tax collectors were like him. The free money is what lured these worthless and greedy fellows into this despicable profession.

This man grew wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. He had the biggest house, best food, servants, and great possessions. Though his financial goals were coming to pass, he felt empty. Having all this wealth didn’t fill the void of loss of friendships and self-respect. One day he heard about Jesus coming to town. Hope rose in his heart and he sought the one people claimed to be a Savior.

The town’s people pushed him away and kept him far back from the one he wanted to see. At this point, many will recognize the story. He saw where Jesus was walking, ran ahead, and climbed a tree where he could see Jesus and get his attention. The man’s name was Zacchaeus.

Jesus called him down, came to his house, and Zacchaeus gladly gave up his wealth for the new life Jesus offered. He gave the substance of his house to repay those he robbed with the sword of the Romans.

The Apostle Matthew was in the exact same position. He was probably a miserable man, sitting among the money he collected at the receipt of customs. Jesus walked by and said, “Matthew, come and follow Me.” Matthew left his position and it’s wealth behind without a second thought, followed Jesus, and became an apostle and the author of the Gospel of Matthew.

At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with loving your enemies. It has a lot to do with it. Jesus used tax collectors as an example of loving your enemies. In our culture, we read this and it doesn’t evoke the same feelings as it did to the culture of His day. A tax collector was the most despised group of people in the Jewish culture. They were manipulators, thieves, traitors, and bullies. They had the power to accuse their enemies of crimes, and bring the judgment of the government upon the people.

Everyone feared and hated tax collectors. It was the profession of ill repute. No one was considered more corrupt and more worthless as a human being than a collector in that era. They were the enemy. Jesus even used them as illustrations in many of His teachings.

 

Now let’s look at what it means to love our enemies. Loving those who hate us and cause harm, goes against everything engrained into our nature. Yet this is exactly what Jesus commands. It’s perhaps one of the most difficult parts of the Christian life because it goes against everything our human nature is founded upon. Humanly speaking, it’s not possible to love someone who is actively trying to harm us. Love in the Christian life is not based upon human love or our abilities at all.

Keep in mind, the love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit once we receive Christ. God is not asking you to give your love to those who don’t deserve it. God is asking you to take the love He has poured into your heart, and give His love to those around you. This applies to friends, neighbors, family, and even enemies. This love is what reflects true Christianity to the world around us. Until we have the opportunity to love those who show hate, little distinguishes us from the world. Look at Matthew 5:44-48

 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
 45 “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
 47 “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
 48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

 

It’s hard to look at this and not scratch our heads and say, “How?” During our casual reading this may not seem that difficult, but let the opportunity come to put it into practice, and you’ll see how hard it is to love.

If someone gets in our face, yelling and screaming curses, it’s not our natural reaction to say, “I bless you.” There are people in this world filled with hatred and destructive behaviors. Some people are just mean. They think nothing of harming another – whether it be by words or actions.

What if someone uses us? There are those who manipulate others by preying upon their trust, only to use them for personal gain. Swindlers think nothing of leaving families destitute while they make off with their money. They will even use Christianity as a means to personal gain, building trust only to create an opportunity to prey on others.

Do we bless them? Can we bless? It isn’t our natural reaction. Yet Jesus made it clear that unless we are able to practice this type of love, we are no different than those we consider to be ungodly among us. The Bible requires a hard thing. “Bless and do not curse.”[1] This is only possible when we are abiding in the love of God. Both the command and the promise is found in Proverbs 25:21-22

 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
 22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you.

 

The opposite is also true. We are commanded not to seek revenge, for vengeance belongs to the Lord alone.[2] When we take vengeance into our own hands, we put ourselves in God’s place. Our enemy escapes consequences from God and we bring that upon ourselves for our disobedience. However, if we do good, pray for (not against) those who harm us, the Lord rewards us and then takes action on our enemies.

His first goal is mercy, just as the Lord showed us mercy while we were enemies of God. How God chooses to deal with those who wrong us is not our concern. In fact, when we rejoice over our enemies in their struggles, it displeases God and according to the Bible, His wrath is turned away from our enemies[3].

The reward is not in seeing someone suffer, but in the blessings of the Lord. If we obey, the Lord rewards us and instead of increased bitterness, we find freedom.

By nature, you cannot love those who hate you, but when you abide in the agape love of God, you will find the power to love those who seek your harm, and you will be rewarded with God’s blessing when you show love to others, whether they be enemies or friends. This is simple to understand, but difficult to live out. Often we must pray for strength. When you pray for enemies, you will find a love you didn’t know existed.

Let me reiterate this principle again. Abide in the love of God. The Lord’s love (agape) is outward focused. That means it is seeking a way out of our hearts and into the lives of those around us. Resisting the outward expression of God’s love through us creates a calloused heart. However, to surrender to the love that transformed our heart will become a wellspring of life to us as it passes God’s life changing love to others.

Either way, our life will be affected by God’s love. A resistant heart becomes calloused and bitter, cutting off God’s love through us and preventing us from experiencing this life giving power. However, when we allow it to flow, our lives will be constantly transformed.

I’ve never met a bitter person that had life. I’ve also never met a loving person that lacked life. Love creates life. Life is fulfilled in us as agape reaches outward to others.


Eddie Snipes
Excerpted from Simple Faith



[1] Romans 12:14

[2] Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30

[3] Proverbs 24:17-18

Simple Faith-The Treasure of God’s Love

The Treasure of God’s Love.

The Bible says that we love God because he first loved us[1]. In fact, according to Romans, it’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. This is contrary to most people’s idea of repentance. Sometimes people have to see the futility of this temporary life before they can see the joy of eternal life, but ultimately, it’s God’s love that draws each person near.

It’s time to recognize the goodness of God. Why do people stray? Often times it’s the false belief that something better is out there somewhere. Everyday life testifies to this. We’ve all heard the saying, “The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.” When we get on the other side, we find the benefits we expected aren’t there. We must recognize that God desires what is good for us. Only then will we understand the value of trusting Him. The Lord understands our human perspective and gave us His promise to look out for our good. Consider this passage from Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

 

This passage was given to Israel before they were taken captive by Babylon when the Lord’s people chose to follow other gods instead of Him. When they chose to follow pagan gods, the Lord allowed the pagan nations to rule over His people. Even in the midst of their judgment, God made it clear that His thoughts were for their prosperity and good. The Old Testament is written in Hebrew, and the original Hebrew word means, thoughts, plans, or purpose. God’s plan is to bless and pour His love into their lives, and the same is true for any who will trust Him today. Look at the wonderful promises of Psalm 36:7-9

 7 How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
 8 They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
 9 For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.

 

Follow the flow of thought in this amazing passage. It begins with trust. Those who trust God draw near and rest under the shadow of His wings. The picture is a mother hen protecting her brood. Jesus used this illustration when He wept over Jerusalem and cried, “How often I desired to gather you as a hen gathers her brood, but you would not come.” God still gives the same cry over his people today. It is His desire to gather us near Him, show us what it means to have true intimacy with God, and give us the plans He intends for us. But this is only found under the shadow of His wings – and only those who trust Him will come.

Look at the promise given to those who will come. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of His house. What does it mean to be abundantly satisfied? The picture is to overflow with abundance. It’s to have more than enough to satisfy our hearts. Does God want you to be deprived? No. God wants you to drink from His river of pleasures. His river is a fountain of life. The love of God reveals His plan to abundantly satisfy our lives, but it requires trust, and answering His call to come.

The world has a river, but it’s polluted with corruption and sin. It seems good, but only because we have never tasted the fresh waters of God’s river. Proverbs 10:22 says that the blessing of the Lord adds no sorrow with it. The same cannot be said for sin. On one side, we are trusting in our own actions to satisfy our desires. On the other side, God is calling us to leave our ways behind, trust Him, receive his love, and experience what it means to have fullness of joy. Until you believe the promise, you won’t trust God enough to leave the world behind.

The first step is to see the love of God, then receive that love. Once the love of God is poured out in our hearts, we will then have the power to love others. I cannot love the people I’m convinced don’t deserve it. Or perhaps the better way of putting it is that I can’t love those I feel deserve judgment. Yet, this is exactly what God commands me to do.

The Bible doesn’t command us to love with philia (friendship) love. This is because we naturally love those who return our love. I always feel love toward my friends. God doesn’t need to command us to love with eros, or affection. Think about marriage. When my spouse is affectionate, I don’t need to be commanded to return that affection.

The Bible repeatedly commands us to love with agape love. Since God has poured His agape love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, He has also empowered us to show that same love to others. By nature, agape is to love those who don’t deserve it. I am commanded to take the love God has given me, and pass it on to others. I’m called to take God’s undeserved love toward me, and love others without measuring their worthiness to be loved.

This is why Jesus said the second command comes from the first. I love God by establishing myself in the love He has given me (remember, we love God because he first loved us), and then I am loving my neighbor with the same love God has given me. In my human nature I cannot love my neighbor as myself. I will never take food off my table and feed a stranger while I starve. In truth, my natural reaction is to hoard extra while my neighbor is in need.

Like the rich young ruler, I cannot philia love my neighbor as myself because human nature lacks that capacity. I can, however, agape love my neighbor as myself. Philia love is natural to man and is given in response to what has been received or expected to be received. Agape love comes from the Holy Spirit within us and is not dependent upon our needs or self-centered desires.

Because of God’s love shown to me, I can take my underserved agape – given to me by the Spirit – and give it to my neighbor without measuring their worthiness. To understand this fully, take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

When the love of God is poured out in our hearts, it flows outward. Our self-will is the only thing that stands between the love of God in us and the love of God shown to others. When I’m acting according to selfish human nature, I see the need of others and the Spirit within me calls me to reach out. When I’m acting selfishly, I may resist the call of God and withhold love. Anger, disappointment, and other human emotions can rise up and tempt us to withhold God’s love. When we submit to human nature and resist the love of God, we are acting in the flesh and pushing against the love of God.

We all do this from time to time, but as we mature in the faith, we begin recognizing the value of allowing God to reign freely and discover a world of agape love that flows through us and toward others. Often we mistake philia love as agape, but it is not. Agape calls us to love even when we don’t feel like it. When it flows unhindered, the Spirit within us becomes a fountain of life. When agape love is hindered, life begins to stagnate.

 

Consider the attributes of agape love:

Agape / Love is patient
Does not envy
Does not lift itself up
Isn’t puffed up – or selfish
Isn’t rude
Isn’t self-seeking
Is not provoked
Doesn’t think evil
Endures all things
Hopes in all things

 

With these things in mind, we can identify the source of our love. If I require something in return before I can love, it isn’t agape. If I must be praised in order to stay motivated to show love, it isn’t agape. If being provoked or wronged causes me to cut off my love, it isn’t agape. Agape keeps giving without expectation – other than the hope of God being glorified through the love He has given me.

When we are provoked, human nature attempts to arise and take over our hearts. However, when we understand the command of God to love without condition, I can choose to resist human nature and submit to the love of God. It is not me producing agape. It is me submitting myself to God’s agape love so the Spirit flows outward from my life to others.

This is why understanding love is easy; but keeping the command to love is difficult. If it came natural, it wouldn’t require a command. Loving the loveable is easy; therefore we are not commanded to love with philia love. Loving with agape is difficult. By its nature, agape is not self-seeking; therefore, we must abide in the love of God and not allow our human nature to rule our hearts. As we move forward we’ll discuss how to put these things into practice. For now, we must understand that we keep ourselves in God’s love so we can remain empowered to love others. Consider this passage from Jude 1:20-21

 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

 

The next chapter will discuss faith in detail, but keep this passage in mind. As we build our lives upon our faith, we keep ourselves in the love of God and by this, we are able to love each other. Faith is important in this discussion. When I trust God, I believe in the command to love my neighbor. Though living out the love of God may cost me, I also have the assurance that God will fulfill His promise, and I will be abundantly satisfied in Him.

I am not looking to people as my source of fulfillment. God alone holds this role. I love because I am first loved, then because I have been commanded. I keep myself in his love knowing God will more than make up for anything I sacrifice. I can’t out love God. Nor can I sacrifice more than God will give. If I truly believe God, I can love when I don’t feel appreciated and give to those who are unworthy – just as God also gave to me when I was unworthy.


Eddie Snipes
Excerpted from Simple Faith



[1] 1 John 4:19

Simple Faith–God so loved

God so loved.

Look at a passage most people are familiar with, John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

Stop for a moment and think upon the first part of this passage, “God so loved…that He gave.” This is what agape is all about. This is spelled out for us in Romans 5:7-8

 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

A good man is not a sinner. To sin is to commit a violation against another. Would we die for those who violate us? It’s not likely.

Who would die for their friend? Most of us would like to think we would, but it’s not until someone is in a life or death situation that they discover the answer to this question. Several years back I went through a layoff at work. Each person was called into a room and told their fate. I remember the mixed feelings I had when I walked out of the meeting. I had survived, but several of my peers did not.

Though it hurt to see their lives shaken, there was also a sense of relief knowing my financial life would remain unscathed. This example shows our human limitations. Though there are times when we might be willing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of those we think deserve it, in everyday life we rarely are willing to sacrifice for our peers, and even less likely for those we feel are less deserving.

Our human nature doesn’t fully grasp the concept of sacrificing everything for someone who deserves punishment. The heroes of our movies don’t sacrifice their lives to rescue the enemy they are trying to stop. Yet, this is what it means to be a sinner. The Bible says that before someone is redeemed, they are at enmity with God. The word enmity means to show hostility toward someone out of hatred. It’s a declaration of war by our actions, against another person. Yet the picture is that while our actions were a direct affront against God, He loved us enough to sacrifice on our behalf – and to do so while we were still showing hostility toward Him and His word.

This is the picture of love / agape. It is a self-giving love that sacrifices for the good of someone completely hostile toward God. While God is demonstrating love, our sinful human nature is casting that love aside to pursue the sins that are an affront to God’s own nature. Yet while we were in this state of rebellion, God demonstrated more love by bearing the penalty of our sins and then calling us out of rebellion and into fellowship with Him.

Most of us don’t like to think of ourselves as hostile toward God, so let’s put this into perspective. What happens when someone tries to tell us what to do? The natural reaction is to resent it. Have you ever had someone try to impose their will upon you when you didn’t believe they had the right to do so? It brings up feelings of hostility. People react differently outwardly, but inward, we all have similar feelings.

I had a friend who worked for a large corporation. A new VP took over his group and paid a surprise visit. When the stranger walked in and started barking orders, several members of his group rebelled at the idea. Someone asked, “Who does this guy think he is?” In their ignorance, they rebelled against authority. Once they realized he was a high ranking VP over their group, their attitudes made a quick turnaround.

Through our ignorance, we have all also rebelled against God. When God reveals Himself to us, we then either repent and receive His favor, or continue in rebellion and choose consequences over mercy. In a later chapter, we’ll look at this in more detail, but first let’s explore the love of God given to us.


Eddie Snipes
Excerpted from Simple Faith

Simple Love–an excerpt from Simple Faith

Simple Love

For God so loved the world that he gave[1]…if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.[2]

We have already looked at how Jesus explained that God’s commandments are fulfilled in love. It’s not the other way around. Love fulfills the law, but the law cannot produce love. We’ll look at how the law is fulfilled through Christ in another chapter. This chapter will explain the love of God since it is the foundation everything is built upon. The Bible says that if we gave everything we possess to the poor and even if we give our own bodies as a burnt offering, without love it means nothing, and profits nothing.[3]

The Bible uses this extreme example to show Israel that the process of fulfilling the law cannot win God’s favor. In the Old Testament, God established a Law of Atonement where an animal would be sacrificed in their place as an offering for sin. This atonement was not what fulfilled the law of righteousness. Not only that, if they went beyond the law and offered themselves in sacrifice to God, it still would not be sufficient.

To understand the love of God we must first realize how it compares to human love. The New Testament scriptures were written in Greek. The Greek language has three words we translate into the word love.

Philia is a brotherly kindness type of love. It means to love with warm affection or friendship.

Eros means passion and is often referred to as a sexual type of love. The Bible never uses Eros as a word for love, but the Greeks used this word in much the way we hear it used today. People associate physical passion with love.

The last word is Agape. Agape is self-giving, self-sacrificing, outward focused love. It is the type of love that focuses on another without regard to self. The love of God is always referred to as Agape.

Philia and Eros are normal parts of human nature, but Agape is not. When I love another in my own human nature, it is always in light of how my life is fulfilled. I may give because it makes me feel good to sacrifice, or I may love my friends of whom I expect a returned friendship. Ultimately, I am seeking my own fulfillment through my love for others. While that isn’t necessarily wrong, it falls short of Agape.

Agape is the love of God. It is first given to us, and then we use it to express the love of God to others. Consider Romans 5:5

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Emphasis added)

 

This is why Jesus said the first commandment is the love of God and the second commandment comes out of the first. We must first experience the love of God and then we’ll have the power to love others because the Holy Spirit has placed God’s Agape love into our hearts.

To put human love into perspective, consider a rich young ruler who approached Jesus to ask how he could obtain eternal life. He begins with the wrong perspective and Jesus lets him know immediately. The man starts by calling Jesus a good rabbi (or as some translations word it, Good Teacher). Jesus responds by rebuking him for calling anyone good except for God.

In the religious culture of that day, people often put their Rabbis on a pedestal, and even called themselves after their teacher’s name. Jesus taught his disciples to not allow anyone to call them rabbi, father, teacher, or master. The reason is the same as Jesus explained to the ruler in this account – with only one exception – Himself. In this account, Jesus told the ruler not to look to him as a good rabbi, but to put his focus on God. When instructing His disciples, Jesus commanded them not to allow others to call them rabbi, and then he pointed to Himself as the only example of a rabbi or teacher.[4]

Jesus rebuked the young man for calling Him good, but then called Himself good when teaching about His own authority. Why the contradiction?

There is no contradiction. In both cases, Jesus is taking the focus off the flesh and pointing toward the spiritual. The young ruler wasn’t looking at Jesus as the Messiah, but as a human rabbi. He was not to be imitating the role of a teacher, but imitating God alone. Take a few minutes to read the story of the rich ruler in Matthew 19:16-26. From the beginning, the ruler was focused on his own human efforts. Whether looking at a teacher or at the rules of religion, the young man was focused solely on human abilities. His trust was also in his own ability to keep the law. As Jesus listed the commandments, the man declared his ability to keep them as though it were a checklist. Then Jesus gave the final test, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The young ruler said, “I have kept all these commandments from my youth up.” It’s interesting that this man declared his own perfection, yet deep down he knew something was missing. The man was blind to his own inability to fulfill the requirements of the law. Therefore, Jesus pulled back the veil by saying, “If you will be perfect, go and sell all you have, give to the poor, and then come and follow me.”

Notice, even with this statement, Jesus was not declaring that giving up all his worldly goods would save him. The real solution was in following Christ, for as we shall see, salvation is found in Jesus alone. Yet, his requirement unveiled the problem. The man was not able to keep the law. If he truly loved his neighbor as himself, he would not have balked at giving his possessions to the poor. The requirement Jesus gave was intended to reveal the man’s inability to keep the commandments he claimed to have fulfilled.

Jesus met many rich men during his life, yet this is the only time we see Him asking someone to sell all their possessions. The truth is, money was this man’s god and his own works were his plan of salvation. Jesus dismantled his personal religion with one statement.

The same is true for you and me. If you are trying to love God by your own strength, you are the rich young ruler who comes to Christ wondering why you feel like you’ve done all the right things, yet something is still missing. Like the rich young ruler, God calls us to lay down our own efforts so we can receive the true riches-salvation and the love of God.

 
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[1] John 3:16

[2] 1 John 4:10-11

[3] 1 Corinthians 13:3

[4] Matthew 23:8

Why did God overthrow the nations to give Israel the Promised Land?

Question: Why did God overthrow the nations to give Israel the Promised Land? Did God care about the souls of the nations that lived there?

This is a great question. Or should I say questions? Let me start with the second question and work back.

Yes, God cared about the people in the land. While most of the Bible is told from the perspective of Israel, there are glimpses into the lives of those outside of Israel. The reason Israel is the focus is because this is the nation God used to bring the promise into the world. It started with Abraham, and the promise of Christ began there. From Abraham on, the scripture follows the promise of Christ. Abraham had many children and each of them became people groups and nations. But the promise given to Abraham was to go through Isaac. Before Abraham died, he gave a portion of the inheritance to his children and sent them away from Isaac (Genesis 25:6).

We also see that when conflict arose between Isaac and Ishmael, he was sent away with the promise that he would become the father of nations as well. (Genesis 17:20). From the time that the children of Abraham were sent away, the scripture focuses primarily on Israel – the nation of promise that came directly through Isaac. However, this does not mean that only Israel had the light of the gospel. In fact, many nations had prophets, but only Israel was chastised by God to keep them on course to be promise carriers. Even they were destroyed for their sins, but God kept the promise alive through a small remnant.

The Gospel among the nations.

Let’s first look at the evidence of the gospel in other nations. One of the clearest examples was Moab. When Israel was crossing the desert and passing by Moab, the king of that nation sent word to a local prophet named Balaam. Balaam was not an Israelite, but he was a prophet of God. He was obviously well known, for the kings knew they could call on him and that he spoke in the name of God. Balak, king of Moab, thought he could manipulate God by having the prophet speak a curse, but he found out that it was God who directed the prophet, not the prophet that directed God.

We also see the knowledge of God among the nations through Job. Job is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible and it predates Israel as a nation. Yet Job knew God and he had several friends that advised him in the name of the Lord. God used Job to reveal Himself to the nation in which Job lived, and God worked directly in Job’s life and the lives of those around Job.

Another example is the city of Nineveh. Nineveh was never part of Israel, but when they became morally bankrupt, God sent the prophet Jonah to preach to the city. Jonah hated the Ninevites and did not want to see them repent, so he ran the other way. God didn’t allow him to escape and in the end, he delivered the message and the people turned back to God. The Lord made it clear that His goal was to show mercy, but the message was that if the people refused to turn from their wickedness, God would bring judgment and destroy the city.

Why God drove the nations out.

This brings us back to where we began. Did God despise the people of the Promised Land and leave them without an opportunity to know God? No. The same truth we see elsewhere can be applied here; however, God told Abraham that the people in the Promised Land would become morally bankrupt. God also stated that He would not give the land to Abraham’s descendants until after the people became bankrupt. Look at Genesis 15:13-16

 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
14 “And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
15 “Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.
16 “But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

Abram is the name of Abraham before God renamed him.

Two things are noted in God’s instruction to Abraham. First, the children of Abraham would be taken out of their land (the land promised to Abraham’s descendants) and they wouldn’t be allowed to return until after the iniquity of the Amorites was complete.

The Amorites are only one of the people groups in the Promised Land, but apparently they were the only group not to the point of moral bankruptcy. God spared the entire region because of the Amorites. We see a similar scenario in Sodom and Gomorrah. When God revealed to Abraham that He was about to destroy these wicked cities, Abraham interceded for the people. If you read the story, Abraham asked if God would spare everyone if there were only 50 people counted as righteous. When God agreed, Abraham pleaded the number down until God agreed to spare all if He found only 10 people righteous. The standard of righteousness wasn’t high, for God counted Lot as righteous even though his lifestyle was corrupted by the people around him (2 Peter 2:7-8).

God only found one that could be considered righteous, so Lot was taken out of the city and judgment fell. In God’s conversation with Abraham, He is showing a similar act of mercy to the Amorites. For the sake of a few righteous, God showed mercy on all. But when Israel came out of Egypt 400 years later, this was not the case.

The sins of these nations were truly morally bankrupt. They offered their children as burnt sacrifices, they performed sexual rituals before their idols, they worshiped everything but God, and they ignored the voice of the prophets as we saw earlier. Moab was in the path to the Promised Land, and they had a well known prophet there. He was preaching the word of the Lord, but the nations were not listening.

When God destroyed the nations with the flood in Noah’s day, the people heard the message for 120 years but not one person outside of Noah’s family entered the ark. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we see the same scenario in the Promised Land.

Keep in mind that when Israel entered the land, God said, “Do not think I’m giving you this land because you are better than the inhabitants. It is for the wickedness of these nations that I drive them out.” (Deuteronomy 9:4). Since these people refused to turn, putting Israel in their midst would only corrupt their ability to follow God. We see this throughout Israel’s history. Each time they were judged by God, it was when they followed the ways of the nations around them and became partakers of their sins. They didn’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so the only restraint was from God’s commands and by separation from the other nations.

When Israel became like the nations that God drove out of the Promised Land, God drove them out from the land. They lived in captivity for 70 years, and only returned to the land when they returned to the Lord. (Seen Daniel 9:1-27)

God held His people to the same standard.

We can see that not only did God care about the nations that did not know truth, He also held Israel to the same standard of judgment. The only difference is that God protected the promise of the coming Messiah. Since Israel was the carrier of that promise, the Lord preserved a remnant so the promise could be fulfilled. That ultimately came to fruition in Jesus Christ. In fact, if you read Daniel 9, God sends an angel to Daniel during his prayer of repentance. The angel Gabriel reveals that the nation will return, and 490 years later the Messiah would present Himself to Israel and would be cut off. We know this as the crucifixion.

The point is that Israel is how God promised to bring redemption to the world and therefore, God preserved them even after they were conquered and taken captive. When God returned His people to the land, it was for the purpose of preparing the way for their Messiah – and ours. This is why Israel was given the land, and wickedness is why people were driven out of the land. This held true for the nations that Israel conquered, and it became true for Israel also. When they became like the nations that were driven out, God treated them like the nations that were driven out. But the promise was given as a sure covenant and wasn’t based on Israel’s worthiness, but on God’s promise to Abraham. That promise was fulfilled and now we are partakers of that promise through Christ.

Eddie Snipes
2011

Evidence for the flood

Originally published in 1999

We have looked at the events leading up to the flood – the departure from God and abandoning what is right in exchange for the lust of the world. The result was children that were tyrants, filled with violence, whose thoughts were evil continually. There was no justice because the tyrants were mighty men of renown. Because they had the powerbase, justice was perverted (Genesis 6:4). Because evil men were the lords of the land, the land quickly became filled with evil and only one man continued to follow the Lord. God condemned man to the same destruction that they had already chosen for their souls. As God watched man race toward complete moral bankruptcy, He executed His judgment. God has never let the world go without a witness and He will always have a witness. We do know that the sign of His immanent return is that as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) returns. Godless men will be strong and will pollute justice; the world will race towards moral bankruptcy while the godly abandon God for the lust of the world. In spite of the continual warnings, the world will be blind-sided by God’s judgment.

This study is broken into two parts, the evidence (or defense) for the flood followed by a biblical study of the flood account. In our skeptical culture, I believe it is necessary to understand what you believe and why you believe it. Evidence does not produce faith, but it does support faith. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear”. In obedience to the scripture’s command, we will first examine the defense of our reasonable faith so that we can ‘sanctify our hearts in the Lord’ by studying His word.

Defending the biblical account
The evidence for the flood is so overwhelming that I can’t possibly scratch the surface in this study. Instead of going through a long explanation of the flood, I am going to address 5 commonly asked skeptical questions and then conclude with what we observe scientifically and follow up with a possible scenario. We can never go back and see what actually happened, we can only piece together bits of this puzzle and conclude what we believe is the most plausible explanation. Both the biblical account and the evolutionary account take faith to believe. My hope is that when you look at the obvious evidence, you will conclude that it takes more faith to hold on to skeptical beliefs than it does to believe the Bible. With this in mind, let’s look at 5 common flood questions.

1. Where did all the water come from?
Genesis 7 says,

18 The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.
19 The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.
20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.
21 All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind;

When we look at great mountains like Mt Everest which is over 29,000 feet, or some of the other natural heights, it seems preposterous to think that there could be enough water to cover these mountains. As it is today, that would be true. But look at Psalm 104:

NASB Psalm 104
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains.
7 At Your rebuke they fled, At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.
8 The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which You established for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass over, So that they will not return to cover the earth.

The Bible says that the mountains rose and the valleys sank. The water ran to the place God founded for it and He set a boundary that they would not return again to cover the earth. As we will examine later, there was much more going on here than just rain. The earth’s landscape was catastrophically changing. Even today we observe this in many ways. We see the mountains rising today. Even Mt Everest is still moving. This mountain moves northeast an average of 6 centimeters a year and increases in height 7.5 to 10 centimeters per year. If this happens during relative calm, what could have happened when the whole earth was violently moving? It is also interesting to note that the top 3,000 feet of Mt Everest is covered with clam fossils and other ocean living fossils. This would clearly indicate that either clams migrated upwards 26,000+ feet above sea level, or Mt Everest was once at or below sea level.

Both observable science and the biblical account agree that the waters were higher than the mountains. Otherwise, fossils could not have been covered with sediment and turned into fossils on top of the mountains. The only real question is, where did the water come from? Here is the Bible’s claim:

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.

The Bible claims that the earth was founded upon the seas and established on top of the waters. Compare that to the Genesis account of the waters being released:

Genesis 7: 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.
12 The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.

The Bible says that the water spewed from below and rained from above. The majority of the water did not come from above, but below. The waters of the deep are still observable today. Just watch the news during a prolonged draught. As the water tables below the surface drain huge sinkholes often appear. Consider also that major fault lines circle the earth and still actively move today. A catastrophic event would have easily caused water below the crust of the earth to spew out violently and the land to sink. Look at this map of the earth’s fault lines.

In these maps, you will notice that almost every major fault is right on the ocean coastline or under the ocean. The west coastline of the US follows the ring of fire that begins south of South America, goes up to the Arctic and circles down the coastline of China heading back to the South Pole region. To the east of the US you will see that the Atlantic Ocean has its fault line running through the center of the ocean. Every continent is outlined or surrounded by these major fault lines. Every major fault as we see in this photo is on the coast of the ocean or under the ocean. The few exceptions that cross landmasses have created major waterways. If you look at the fault that crosses east of Africa, you see a connection from the Gulf of Aden, to the Red Sea, to the Mediterranean Sea, to the North Atlantic Ocean northwest of Africa. If the water burst out from below as the Bible claims, the areas surrounded by the fault lines would most likely sink and the areas remaining above would be pushed upwards. The result would be water running off into the newly formed oceans and mountains beginning to rise as the ocean floor pushes against the coastlines. This is, in fact, what we observe in science.

There is more evidence supporting this idea. Millions of fossilized sea creatures are found along fault lines. Consider for example the mining fields of diatomaceous earth in California. Diatomaceous earth is used for products that use absorbent material. It is formed by microscopic organisms called diatoms (hence the name diatomaceous earth). Evolutionists tell us that diatomaceous earth takes approximately 1,000 years to form 1 inch thick. In Lampoke California, these fields can be up to 1500 feet thick. Doing the math, that would take around 18 million years to form. Interestingly enough, this field resides right on one of the largest fault lines in the world. Consider this theory. Suppose the fountains of the deep burst open as the Bible states, and steaming hot water and lava or ash spewed out and killed all of the diatoms in this area of the world along with any sea creature close enough to be scalded. This would easily account for such a mass quantity of deceased diatoms that are not found in other areas that should also have built up this repository as well according to the evolutionary model.

In 1970, an 80-foot long baleen whale skeleton was found standing on its tail in the middle of this diatomaceous earth quarry. Did this 80-foot whale carcass stand in place for millions of years while the diatoms died and settled around it? Or is it more plausible that a sudden catastrophic event killed trillions of these microbes causing them to settle around a whale that was also killed in the same event? Christian scientists have long lauded this as evidence for the flood. To be fair to this topic, I read a rebuttal from an atheist resource. Darby South wrote an article called ‘A Whale of a Tale’ which refuted the conclusion of the skeleton found in this quarry. In this article, Darby claims that the whale was not found standing upright, but was more horizontal, at an angle between 40 and 50 degrees (right between upright and horizontal). He goes on to argue by saying:

These sediments lack any sedimentary structures that would indicate catastrophic deposition. Rather, the strata exhibit laminations indicative of slow accumulation on an anoxic bay bottom. Within the adjacent strata, several hardgrounds occurs. A hardground is a distinctive cemented layer of sedimentary rock that forms when the lack of sediments being deposited over a very long period of time on the sea bottom allows the surface sediments to become cemented.

In layman’s terms, the layers around the whale have several hard, cement-like layers that indicates that the diatoms were not suddenly deposited, but were slowly accumulated over time. If there are fewer diatoms dying, there will be thinner layers and these layers will also be harder and more cemented. His conclusion, because the sedimentary layers show slow development according to the evolutionary model, this accumulation must have been gradual over millions of years.

Is he saying that it is more believable that the whale carcass survived millions of years while the diatoms slowly formed, than it is to believe their dating methods might be wrong? That is blind faith in the truest sense. To think the whale skeleton could have survived so long is absurd, but then to claim that it also remained at a 40-50 degree angle for millions of years defies any sense of reason whatsoever. This is one of those decisions where you are the judge. Which takes the most faith – clinging blindly to skepticism of the flood, or acknowledging the biblical account fits what is observed in science?

2. Where did all the water go?
This question was answered with question one. As we read earlier in Psalm 104; The mountains rose, the valleys sank and the waters ran to the place You prepared for it and You have established the boundary so the waters would not return to cover the earth. The average depth of the ocean is around 12,000 ft. and the average height of land is 2,600 ft. above sea level. If the earth were rounded off, with the water present today, the sea would cover the earth by over 8,000 feet.

Let’s look at some of the other evidence that the water receded into its place as the Bible claims. As an illustration I am going to use the Grand Canyon. It is the perfect case study because evolutionists claim that the Colorado River formed it over millions of years while the creationist claim it was formed by the flood. As we examine some of the facts, I think it will be clear which explanation is more plausible.

The evolutionary account is that over millions of years the Colorado river cut through solid rock to form this massive gorge that is over a mile wide is some places. Below are two pictures to get this perspective. The picture on the left is the main section of the Grand Canyon and the right is one of the side canyons.

 

One thing that puts the evolution model into doubt is the height of the Grand Canyon. The top of the Grand Canyon is considerably higher than the beginning of the canyon where the Colorado River enters into it. This would mean that the river would have to flow uphill for thousands or even millions of years before it could cut a groove below the mouth of the canyon so the water could begin to flow downward. This ‘mystery’ can’t be explained by anything except the fact that the water had to be higher than the canyon when it was formed. It would either have had to be higher than the canyon for millions of years, or it would have to be flowing over a land that is not yet hardened into rock.

This leads us into the creation / flood argument. It is an undisputed fact that sedimentary rock was once mud. Remember, the issue between creation science and evolution science is not the observable facts, but the interpretation of the facts. There is nothing observed by science that Christian scientists or any Christian with any real understanding of science disagrees with. We can’t dispute what is plainly observed. The dispute is on how scientists interpret those facts and how they piece together the facts.

Creation science asserts that there was a great flood as the Bible claims and that as the waters receded, it flowed over sediment that was deposited from the floodwaters. While this sediment was still soft, the waters receded and quickly eroded the canyon. Because it was mud and had not yet hardened into rock, this occurred in days or weeks, not years or millions of years. I also believe that God, in His sovereignty, has given us an insight into this event through a modern day catastrophe. In 1980, Mt Saint Helens erupted and exploded into a landslide of scorching ash that raced down the mountainside and consumed everything in its path. This event forever altered the landscape around St Helens. The wall of ash spilled into the valleys below and completely blocked off the Toutle River for nearly a week. This dam of ash backed up the river until it rose high enough to cap over the top of the ash. When it began to flow over the ash, there was rapid erosion and the river cut a mini-canyon into the ash that was 1000 feet wide and 2000 feet long. Below is a picture of that canyon.

Did the small winding river at the bottom of this canyon form it? This photo was taken in 1984. Today, the walls of this canyon are solid rock. They have layers of sediment and if the origin was unknown, it would be assumed to have formed in millions of years as well. As one geologist put it, “We saw Mt Saint Helens do in one day what normally takes tens of millions of years to occur”. Perhaps, like the whale fossil, maybe the assumption is wrong.

Another interesting point to note is the after effect of this blast of ash. Spirit Lake was covered with the trees swept from the mountainside. Shortly after the eruption, the lake was so covered with trees that you could almost walk from one side of the lake to the other without touching the water. A year later, most of these trees were stripped of their bark due to the motion of the water causing them to rub together. How is coal formed? By large quantities of organic plant matter accumulating and being covered with sediment. This is exactly what we observe when the stripped bark became waterlogged and sank. Even more interesting is what happened to the trees themselves. As the trees became waterlogged they began to sink as well. Most of these sank root first and would float upright for a time until they slowly sank. Hundreds of these trees are partially buried in the sediment washed into the lake as rain continued to bring in the ash. We have layered sediment up to 30 feet thick around many of these trees as the heavier sediment settles first. Compare this to other observations of science. Here is a photo of a fossilized tree standing upright through multiple layers of the geological column that supposedly represents millions of years worth of accumulation.


This is not a rare find, but this phenomenon is found all over the world. These trees are commonly known as polystrate tree fossils because they stand through many layers of strata. The possible scenarios are that either these trees, like the baleen whale skeleton, stood erect through millions of years while sediment settled around them, or they were covered quickly by sediment, before they could rot or fall down. Both evolutionary science and creation science agrees that fossils are caused by sediment deposited by flooding. The disagreement is the concept of a catastrophic event such as the great flood in the Bible. However, the argument that a localized flood caused these trees is a poor explanation because the layers they protrude through represent millions of years of accumulation according to the evolutionary model. Each layer has different index fossils, which date each layer as a different time period. Also, as we have seen from St Helens, a few layers would be feasible with a local catastrophe, but even a mass of ash could not fully cover many of these trees. 30 feet is a lot of silt, but many polystrate trees are found in layers are much taller than 30 feet. The overarching them is, “Which worldview takes more faith?”
To find out more about polystrate trees, go to
http://www.exchangedlife.com/Creation/polystrate.shtml .

3.Why do the geological layers appear to show life progressing instead of showing all types of fossils in the same layers?
If you put muddy water into a jar, you will see that denser matter settles first and layers begin to form until all the mud has been settled. The same holds true for materials that float in the water. It would seem reasonable that water animals would be the first to settle because they are already on the bottom of the ocean and they also have shells and denser body masses. Do we observe a progression of complexity in the fossil record, or do we observe natural settling? What could we expect if we saw millions of animals die and be swept away by water? You would expect to see the more dense matter settle first and as the less dense matter, as it became waterlogged, would also sink. Isn’t this what we see in the fossil record? The fossil record is not a straight line from simple to complex as evolutionist lead us to believe. Some of the evolutionary chains have are found in layers of strata that are earlier than they are expected to evolve. Some of the fossils are found later than they are expected to evolve. Some are found across multiple layers instead of being confined to the time period in which they are supposed to exist. In fact, many fossils are found buried in layers below the fossils that they supposedly descended from. The strata accumulation is often (but not always) reversed from order it should appear on record if evolution were true.

In a flood, you would expect this. Some corpses would sink earlier than their peers. Some, trapped in debris would be buried earlier than they should. Some would not sink until they decayed and fell apart which would also explain why many of the larger animals are not found intact or and incomplete. The fossil record fits the flood model much better than it does the evolution model.

4. How could Noah get tens of thousands of species on the ark?
Let’s first look at what Noah brought on the ark. Look at Genesis 6:

17 “And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.
18 “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark — you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
19 “And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.
20 “Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

Land dwelling creatures and what has breath are the only creatures taken on the ark. The ark was 3 floors deep and almost two football fields long. Estimations are that there was enough room on the ark for 125,000 sheep. In our present world there are 18,000 species known that would qualify for a trip on the ark. Even if we doubled that to make room for extinct species that may have been around in Noah’s day, we would still only have 36,000 species. If we double that to take two of each kind, that would be 72,000 animals. The average size would have been much smaller than a sheep. However, it would be unnecessary to take 2 of each species, you would only need 2 of each kind. But even if each species were represented, there would be ample room to spare. However, the Bible calls for 2 of each kind, not each species. But whether God chose each species or each kind and the species are variants of each kind, the ark still accommodates the numbers.

On a passing note, I have heard it asked how Noah was able to round up all those animals. He didn’t have to round up any. The Bible says they came to the ark and Noah put them into the ark. It is also a known fact that when stormy weather hits, animals will hibernate or sleep it out. Almost all animals are inactive when threatened by stormy conditions. Inactivity would limit the amount of food needed, though the room was available for food as well.

To find out more about how kinds and species fit into creation, visit our page, ‘Micro verses Macro Evolution‘, which is located at http://www.exchangedlife.com/Creation/macro-evol.shtml .

5. How did animals get from across oceans to the ark?
This is the easiest one of all to answer. Look at Genesis 10:25a, “To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg (which means division), for in his days the earth was divided”, Eber named his son after an event witnessed at the time of his son’s birth – the earth dividing. This event occurred on the fourth generation after the flood. There is a lot of dispute over how the earth was divided, but both creation and evolutionary scientists agree that the earth was one landmass in the past. The dispute is how this division occurred. One theory is that the land split apart and the continents divided. This is theorized because the pieces can almost fit together if you match them up. Some continents have to be rotated almost 180 degrees which is very improbable. This theory is what we commonly see in textbooks. The other scenario I believe is more probable. If you drained the ocean just a little, the similarity to a landmass puzzle would disappear. The shape of the earth under the surface of the water does not look like a puzzle that fits together. Instead it looks like the land collapsed and the water covered it. It is plausible scenario is that as earth continued to shift, and polar caps began to melt and caused the waters to cover the valleys between the continents while the earth continued to settle. If you drain the oceans a few thousand feet, you could walk between continents. In each of area, we see that the biblical account fits perfectly with what is clearly observed in science. Individually it might be arguable that it is a coincidence, but when you look at the chain of events that clearly support the Bible, it takes much more faith to be skeptical of the Bible than it does to believe the Bible.

A Plausible Theory?
Let’s look at the facts as they are clearly observed. The earth has a magnetic North Pole that is different from true north. The northern pole sits at a 23.5-degree angle from true north.

We also know that the earth wobbles. Magnetic north moves slowly in an elliptical pattern.

These two pictures came from two separate studies of the North Pole. One comes from a modern observation, the other from the early 1900s. Both clearly show that the earth has a wobbling center of rotation. One theory I read was described as a spinning top. If a round top were to be hit with an object that remained attached, it would alter its angle, wobble and begin to adjust to its new center of gravity. The wobbling would decrease as the top adjusted to the new angle. This fits what is observed by science on the earth.

In review:
The earth is at a 23.5-degree angle.
Magnetic north does not line up with true north.
Magnetic north moves elliptical with the irregular pattern of the earth’s rotation.
The fault lines follow the ocean coastlines or go under the ocean with few exceptions.
Fossils show mass extinction.
The polar caps once teamed with life.
Evidence shows that large animals such as the wooly mammoth froze quickly.

It has been theorized that a comet could have possibly become the catalyst for the catastrophic flood event. A comet hit Saturn a few years back. As it entered the gravity of Saturn, it gained so much speed that it began to break apart. By the time it impacted, it was in 7 pieces, which hit in a central region. If we could add the same scenario to the earth, it would provide a plausible explanation of the flood. The moon has large craters on only one side, which would indicate that all these craters occurred in one event. If the craters built up over time, they should be evenly distributed. If perhaps a similar comet hit the moon and earth in pieces, it would fit. Frozen debris at –300 degrees would create a sudden cold air burst that would trigger violent storms as cold air met the warm climate. The impact would do two things, ad a sudden weight to the earth causing it to adjust like the spinning top with a new center of gravity and would trigger massive earthquakes that could easily fracture the earth’s plates. The water beneath would spew out in great eruptions and the flood would begin.

We can only speculate as to what happened. What is important is that all observable facts support the flood account but they do not support the evolution model. This case will be tried in each of our hearts and minds. Until we all stand before God, we must decide which we believe. I believe that it clearly takes more faith to believe in a godless worldview than it does to believe the biblical account. My hope is that this glimpse at the flood account will either compel you to the truth, or strengthen the foundation of your faith. We can have confidence that the Bible is the revealed word of God and this should also give us confidence that God is in total control and capable to direct our lives.

Eddie Snipes
1999

Amazing Creations – Spiders

This article was originally posted on Exchanged Life in 1999. It has some fascinating information about God’s design revealed in spiders.

Spiders are a fascinating creation. I cannot see how any evolutionist can look at spiders and maintain evolutionary views. My hope is that after viewing these pages, you will see the signature of God in creation as well.

Mimicking Spiders

I find this the most amazing trait of spiders.  I believe mimicking defies evolution.  Adopting foreign habits and looks goes far beyond adaptation.  It is not a skill necessary for survival, but it is a valuable tool.  These ant mimicking spiders look amazingly like the ants they search out for food.  Other spiders and insects are attacked on sight, however these creatures are a close enough match to go ignored, thus allowing the spider to get close enough to the nest for easy pickings.   They also have movement imitations as well.  They wave their front legs so they simulate antlers movement and they also bob their tail in a similar fashion to natural movements of the ant as well.

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The above jumping spider (called Orsima formica) mimics the mutillid wasp below.   The long spinnerets in the tail imitate the wasp’s antennas and the colored abdomen appear to simulate the wasp’s tail.  The spider’s head is green for camouflage.

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The following spiders have some very unusual skills.  It was once believed that these spiders created visible patterns in the web to prevent birds from accidentally damaging the web.  Modern research has a new discovery.  Clear webs are poor reflectors of ultraviolet light.  Research has found that these spiders’ webs have patterns that simulate the ultraviolet light reflections of certain flowers.  The ultraviolet patterns draw insects to the web and increase the chances of successfully catching a meal.

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It is not logical to think that these spiders gained these skills by the evolutionary process.  Knowledge was necessary to create an interdependence.   Ant mimicking spiders were interdependent on ants that they mimic.  Both had to be present when the spider was designed or the mimic was useless.  Because insects decompose quickly, insect fossils are very rare.  Fossils exist that date spiders earlier than the supposed evolution of the flying insect.  The evidence does not support this concept.  The same holds true for ultraviolet reflecting web building spiders.  They must have been designed with knowledge of the spider, the web to catch airborne insects, understanding of the insects they prey upon and knowledge of the flowers they simulate.  Likewise with defensive mimicking of the mutillid wasp.  These discouraging color patterns must have been designed with the birds and other predators that would recognize these patterns as well as knowledge of the wasp itself.   Evolution is a much bigger leap of faith than creation.

How Spiders Hunt

Spiders baffle the evolutionary theorist with their specialized hunting styles.  The eyes of a jumping spider give it a 360 degree panoramic view.  It’s keen vision give it perfect accuracy when it leaps toward a moving or stationary prey.   Some spiders stalk, some wait and ambush, some create webs and wait.  I want to take a closer look at a few of the more fascinating styles of spider hunting.

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The American cowboy wasn’t the first to make a living off the lasso.  The Bola spider catches its prey by creating a poison sticky mixture and attaching it to a web.   It then throws it’s lasso at an insect who flies into the spider’s range.   Some Bola spiders produce a pheromone which attracts insects to her dinner party.
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Crab spiders are amazing creatures.  They come in many colors.  They hide from predators and ambush prey by hiding on a flower of their color.  They can remarkably resemble the color of a flower or plant.  They often lay motionless on a flower waiting for an insect to land.  Their long legs give them plenty of range to grab their prey.
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The net-throwing spider is an amazing creation.  This spider creates a small web that it uses as a net to toss on a passing insect.  Even more remarkably, many species have the ability to create pheromones that simulate the mating scent of a moth.   This attracts a male moth into its range so it can net it.
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Fisher Spiders are also fascinating.  They are able to stand on the water because their legs and feet are designed to create surface tension.  Surface tension prevents friction so they run by pushing the dimples created by the surface tension.  The dimples create resistance and puts them in motion.  They also have a few other amazing characteristics.  They can easily dive below the surface of calm waters.   They create webs below the surface and carry bubbles of air down to create a breathable climate.  Fisher spiders feed on small fish, insects and other pond life.   To catch fish, they thrust a leg below the surface and when a curiosity draws a small fish, they dive and catch it.
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Web spitting spiders (Scytodes thoricica).  This spider sneaks very carefully towards its prey and at about 10 mm distance it stops and carefully measures the distance to its prey with one front leg without disturbing it. Then it squeezes the back of its body together and spits two poisonous silk threads, in 1/600 sec, in a zigzag manner over the victim. The prey is immediately immobilized. When the prey is larger the spider spits several times.
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The pattern of design echoes from each species of spider.  The skill to lasso does not fit the evolutionary model.  There is no room for trial and error.   If a species could evolve, unless every mechanism was in place, it would have quickly died.  The Bola spider had to have fully developed vision, coordination to throw the lasso, perfect depth perception, and the ability to calculate the flight pattern of a moving insect.  Not to mention the ability to produce the mixture of glue, poison and a pheromone to create the lasso.  Logic drives us to conclude that evolution would have used the first successful mechanism.  Of course, evolution also cannot explain the knowledge of the genetic code to make that mechanism.  With all the odors in the air, how did the spider know which odor the female moth uses to attract males?  How did the spider gain the knowledge to reproduce this odor?  How did the Fisher spider know that fish would respond to its lure?  Evolution requires more faith than it takes to believe creation.

Spider Defenses

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Below are three species of trap door spiders and their style of defensive protection.  

Example 1 belongs to an Australian trap door spider called Stanwellia nebulosa.   It creates a burrow with a balanced pebble that it pulls down during a retreat if it is attacked.

Example 2 is also Australian.  It is called Lampropodus iridescens.  It creates a side shaft with a trap door that it pulls closed if it has to retreat from an attacker.

Example 3 is the Australian Dekana.  It digs two exits.  One exit is the main burrow.  The second exit is a trap door covered with loose debris.  The debris disguises the burrow but is loose enough to allow the spider to easily push through and escape from an attacker.

Another unique trap door spider not pictured here is the American Cyclocosmia truncata.   It has a simple burrow but the spider has a flat armor plated abdomen that fits snugly against the walls of the burrow giving it a natural shield if attacked.

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Ero pirate spiders create hard protective shells out of mud or rocks to protect their eggs.  Most of these types of spiders mount their eggs on stalks and cover them with mud that hardens to protect.  The South African species has a different approach.   They create egg sacs covered with an armor of pebbles and hang it from a thread of web.  The below example is similar to a crane bucket and is even equipped with a hook to hold the cross cabling.

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This spider hides by mimicking a dried leaf.  This protects from predators as well as providing an edge in the hunt for their own food.

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Now here is an evolutionary wonder.  In the rainforest of Madagascar, the Phyrarachne rugosa hides itself by passing as an almost identical match of the bird droppings of fruit eating birds in the trees it inhabits.

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Evolution, or design?  How did the trap door spider gain the knowledge to design a burrow with a balanced pebble sized to cover it’s safety chamber?   He is quite an engineer.  But not half the engineer that the designer of the crane bucket the African Ero pirate made for her eggs.  It baffles the mind to think a spider can evolve itself to the image of a dried leaf, and this idea becomes absurd when you look at a spider disguised as bird droppings.  By chance or by design?  The design speaks for itself.

Web Design

 

The artwork of web design shows everything but accidental evolution.   Orb web weaving spiders create an amazing design of strength, efficiency and beauty.  The spider begins by producing a light weight web that is easily caught by the wind and is carried until it anchors itself on an object.  Then the spider follows this guide web and spins a strong, thick support thread that will be the corner stone of its web.  Then she lays the foundation strands followed by supporting strands for the orb.  The orb is then weaved with intricate detail. 

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A product of evolutionary chance?  The faith it takes to believe this is a product of random evolution is even further challenged by the production of the web itself.  Lets look at the creation of the strand produced by the spider.

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These are the spinnerets magnified under the electron microscope.  Each spinneret contains a hollow tube connected to the gland.  Spider webs are pound for pound stronger than steel yet is incredibly flexible.  One study concluded the strength of a spider web in this way, if a web was produced the width of a pencil, it would have the strength to stop a 747 at full speed.  The strength material is measured by a unit called dernier. 1 dernier = 1 g per 9000 m.  A spider thread has a value between 5 – 8. This means that the thread will break under its own weight at a length of 45 – 72 km. Steel has a value of approximately 3.
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One of the more descriptive commentaries on spider webs I read on a biochemical research company that is actively seeking how to engineer this amazing technology.  Here is what they have to say:
Spider silk shows great promise for technological applications and is of tremendous
economical value due to its following extraordinary mechanical properties:

  • High tensile strength stronger than steel,
  • High extensibility comparable to rubber,
  • High capability of water uptake comparable to wool.

    The mechanical properties of the dragline  from the orb weaver (Nephila clavipes)
    is even superior even to the high performance fiber “Kevlar” that is used for bullet-proof vests.

What makes this amazing material?  There are seven types of web glands.  No spider has all seven.  Most spiders have a combination of these glands.

Glandula aggregata produces the sticky material.
Ampulleceae major and minor for the production of the walking threads
Pyriformes for the attaching threads
Aciniformes produces silk for the encapsulation of the prey
Tubiliformes for the silk of the egg-sac
Coronatae threads for the axis of the sticking threads.
Cribellar glands are only found in the cribellate spiders.

Spider silk’s main components are specialized proteins.  Not any ole protein would produce this mastery.  Three main proteins are found in spider silk.  
Pyrolidin – very hygroscopic (water retenative).  Pyrodidin prevents the web from drying out.
Potasium hydrogen phosphate – very acidic and acts as a deterrent to bacteria and fungi.
Potassium nitrate – prevents the low pH from causing the proteins to become insoluble.

The proteins are also salted to prevent decay from bacteria and fungi.

Inside the gland of the spider, the protein has a molecular mass of 30,000 Dalton.  Once outside the gland, the web polymerizes to a molecule called fibroin and expands to a mass of approximately 300,000 Dalton.  Scientist do not understand what activates the polymerization process.  The web then takes on its elasticity properties and can be stretched up to 40% before it breaks.  Compare this to steel which breaks at 8% and nylon (used in stockings) which breaks at 20%.

Because of the nutrients lost by spinning webs, the orb weaver eats her web to recycle the protein before re-creating her web.

Consider the facts.  There is no logical reasoning that can drive us to evolution for the interdependent design of chemical elements and skill necessary for web design.  It takes a knowledgeable designer to understand this process.  Out of the hundreds of different proteins, how could chance alone select the three needed for the infallible web design that man has yet to duplicate?  This is even more baffling when we consider the natural decay of these proteins and how the spider prevents this by adding anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties to the web.  Even the process of dehydration is prevented by this design.  It takes more faith to believe in accidental selection than to believe in a Creator’s design.