Life and Death

Tuesday, Sept. 2

“No guilt in life; no fear in death.”—Tom Thieme. These few words tell the whole story of the human race. Guilt is a reality that every man who has ever lived (except Jesus) has experienced. It is the result of sin, inherited by all men directly from Adam. Guilt is only removed by removing sin, which was accomplished by Jesus when he paid the penalty for sin on the cross. It is appropriated only by accepting the gift of salvation by faith. Being eternally saved removes all sin and all guilt—past, present, and future. This, in turn, means that we need not fear death. Spiritual death is no longer a reality for the redeemed. The consequences of sin—hell, damnation, separation from God forever—is nullified. Our destiny is eternity in heaven with our creator and redeemer. Physical death, then, becomes a joyful event, not a fearful one. We leave this sinful world and enter glory. Can it get any better than that? I’d kind of like to have Tom’s words on a lapel button!

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Solving Anomalies

Monday, Sept. 1

I don’t have all the answers to Biblical anomalies, but here are some things that could help. 1) Sin has changed the very nature of man. While the sin nature is brought into submission by the redeeming work of Christ, it is still there. Sin has brought spiritual death, and physical, mental, and emotional deterioration. God in His mercy has made allowances for that. 2) There are specific situations that explain some of God’s actions and views. For example, He so admired David for his humility and trust in God that He rewarded not only David (despite his sins), but David’s son, Solomon, whom David passionately loved. 3) Much of the O.T. is preparing the way for the N. T. Examples, types, and analogies are used to help us understand the N.T. 4) God’s ways are past finding out. There is a divine reason for everything He does. As Paul admonishes in Rom. 9, who are we to tell God how to do things? 5) In the end is total victory. That is a certainty.

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Solving Anomalies

Monday, Sept. 1

I don’t have all the answers to Biblical anomalies, but here are some things that could help.
1) Sin has changed the very nature of man. While the sin nature is brought into submission by the redeeming work of Christ, it is still there. Sin has brought spiritual death, and physical, mental, and emotional deterioration. God in His mercy has made allowances for that. 2) There are specific situations that explain some of God’s actions and views. For example, He so admired David for his humility and trust in God that He rewarded not only David (despite his sins), but David’s son, Solomon, whom David passionately loved. 3) Much of the O.T. is preparing the way for the N. T. Examples, types, and analogies are used to help us understand the N.T. 4) God’s ways are past finding out. There is a divine reason for everything He does. As Paul admonishes in Rom. 9, who are we to tell God how to do things? 5) In the end is total victory. That is a certainty.

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Polygamy

Sunday, Aug. 31

Another anomaly is the institution of marriage. God clearly established monogamy as the standard relationship for the family, which is the cornerstone of society. Yet He seems to accept polygamy. Elkanah, the father of Samuel, had two wives, Hannah and Peninah, which created problems. You know the story. God dealt favorably with Hannah, but there is no mention of reproof as to the polygamous marriage. Jacob had two wives and although God accepted Jacob as heir to the Abrahamic promise, and groomed him to become the third patriarch, there is no mention of polygamy. David had many wives and God called him “a man after my own heart.” Scripture says that God loved Solomon, who was born of an illicit affair between David and Bathsheba, and who had a thousand or so wives and concubines. Help me, please. I’m baffled.

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Slavery

Saturday, Aug. 30

Yesterday’s blog raises a number of questions for me. In dealing with human differences, why do some people have the potential to become great athletes or great musicians or scientists or poets? Why do some people gravitate toward evil more than others? Apparently inequality is part of human life, but there are some inequalities that appear to be worse than others, perhaps into the unjust category. Slavery is one of them. I guess we would not question that slaves and non-slaves fit the inequality test. I am amazed and baffled by this one. God seems to accept slavery as an institution. He just wants slaves to be treated with respect. I could find no Scripture that rejects slavery or puts it into the category of sin. This seems to be quite a contrast to the specific and detailed instructions under the Mosaic Law. God insists on a strict standard of behavior with penalties for the smallest of sins. The whole book of Leviticus covers this in detail. How does one reconcile God’s way of dealing with slavery with the strictness of the Law? How does stealing a coat from a neighbor a sin that demands restitution plus penalty and slavery is OK? Cheating is a no-no, but holding another human being in bondage is not? I’m also amazed and baffled that the New Testament does not reject slavery. Among other things, Jesus re-defined lusting after a woman as adultery, yet does nothing to modify the views concerning slavery. I am reluctant to call slavery sin simply because it is apparently not labeled such in the Bible. But I admit that this is a problem to me. I would be delighted if someone would enlighten me further on this one. Am I missing something?

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Created Unequal

Friday, Aug. 29

“God has ordained inequality.”—Pastor Dan McMillan. The preamble to our constitution says that God has created us equal, which seems to contradict Pastor Dan’s comment. It really doesn’t. They are in two different genres. We are all equal in that we have “inalienable rights.” The Bible teaches respect for all God’s creatures. James mentions that the rich people should not be given special treatment. Our constitution, based on Christian principles reflects that same principle. No one is outside the law. No one is specially privileged. But we all know that there are degrees of abilities among us. I can’t compete with Le Bron James or Payton Manning. Nor can I sing like Caruso or compose music like Mozart. I stand in awe of Einstein. And I have no illusions about becoming another Billy Graham. God recognizes differences, too. He seems to be OK with some being rich and some being poor. He recognizes different abilities. Jesus Himself chose 12 men to become apostles. And within the twelve, He recognized Peter, James, and John as being special. He picked out Paul to be His special ambassador to the Gentiles. The very core of the doctrine of election is that some are “called” and others are not. I think I’ve made my point, but so what? How does this affect us? It is simply that we each have limitations that are different than other people. We also have different potentials. We are gifted in different ways. Just as we all have different fingerprints, we are all distinct and unique. You are one special creature! You have limitations, yes. But you have enormous potential, too. God will hold you accountable according to your own unique potential. No more. No less. So if you need to understand where you are in the “pecking order,” compare yourself with your potential, not with other people.

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Enough is Enough

Thursday, Aug. 28
“We really should be teaching students how to think on their own. Letting them struggle just enough, but not so much that they give up.”—Laura Lethe, math teacher in Salem, OR. This has been a standard principle in education circles for years. Nothing new, but a good reminder. God practices this policy with us, too. I rather believe that God came up with it long before educators did. None of us has ever been a model soldier, nor will we become one in this life. God understands that. Check out Abraham. Check out Peter. Remember John Mark. So don’t give up the struggle. Your battle assignment is just hard enough for you to handle without giving up. Hang in there! And while you’re at it, give a little encouragement to some other struggling soldier.

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