Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another "End of the World" Prediction Bites the Dust

I had a nice edited version complete with pictures and Scripture texts, but it seems that my video editing program has some issues. So, here is the raw, unedited footage.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How Should We Respond to Osama's Death?

On Sunday night I waited anxiously for the President's unprecedented late-night speech. Clearly something unusual had occurred. Newscasters speculated. Finally, the President spoke and announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by a group of elite special ops soldiers.

The reaction to Osama's death has caused a theological debate in the minds of many. If Osama Bin Laden is in hell, should we rejoice? How can we say that he is in hell? How does God feel about Osama's death? Is it wrong for a Christian to be glad Osama Bin Laden has been killed? Let me tackle these questions in hopes of shedding some light on the subject.

In answering these questions, we need to understand the ground rules. The Bible makes it clear that ALL people are deserving of death and hell. Romans 6:23 states that the payment for our sin is death. Death is separation. Physical death is separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death is separation of the soul from the love of God. Such separation occurs when a soul enters eternity without Christ.

It is debates like the one over Osama Bin Laden that reminds me that many people do not believe this truth: ALL people deserve death and hell due to their sin. Many still think Mother Teresa should go to heaven because of her good works and Osama Bin Laden sent to hell because of his heinous terrorism. However, such thinking is not Scriptural. If Mother Teresa never placed her faith and trust in Jesus Christ as her Savior, she deserves hell just as much as Osama Bin Laden. The converse is true. If, Osama Bin Laden repented of his sins, called upon Christ to save his soul, he will be welcomed in heaven.

Our sense of justice does not like such scenarios because we want to believe that "good" people (as we define it) go to heaven and "bad" people go to hell. Yet, the Bible teaches that there is not one good person deserving of heaven. ALL who are in heaven are there because they have repented of sin and called upon God's Son to save them. NO ONE is in heaven because he/she was a good person or did good works.

With this foundation in place, let me answer some of the questions. First, if Osama Bin Laden is in hell, should we rejoice? Some may not like how I framed the question, but it is legitimate. Only God ultimately knows a person's heart. Was there any fruit to suggest Osama Bin Laden was a Christ-follower? No. Do I believe he was a follower of Christ? No. Osama Bin Laden did not produce any fruit in keeping with repentance. Given his Islamic belief and actions, I have every reason to believe he is in hell. However, I do not have complete knowledge so I must at least allow for the possibility that he repented and changed (although I am very, very doubtful he did as there was no evidence of it whatsoever).

Assuming Osama is in hell, should we rejoice? No. For all his evil-and he was evil-he is still a soul; an eternal soul. He will spend eternity in hell separated from God's love. However, we must remember that God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). God takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). It grieves the Lord that people reject His salvation.

All this leads us to our last question: Is it wrong for a Christian to be glad that Osama Bin Laden has been killed? To answer this question let me review. Based on his actions and belief, we assume he is in hell. Thus, we should NOT "rejoice" that he failed to repent and respond to God's love because God does not rejoice when any person fails to repent and respond to His love.

However, we can be glad that justice has been served. The Bible repeatedly calls for justice to be carried out against the wicked (The Psalms is a good place to start). The Bible makes it clear that God has ordained government for the express purpose of carrying out justice (Romans 13:1-7). Our government carried out justice by killing a man who had been responsible for the death of many around the world.

Christians can and should be glad justice was served and Osama Bin Laden was killed; however, we should not rejoice that another soul went out into a Christless eternity in hell.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Getting an Education?

Is getting an education really necessary? After all, twelve years in school for a diploma is a long time! Then, if you want to have more opportunities, you have to go another four years to college. Some people go for school years beyond college. Education is expensive, time consuming and difficult.

Contrary to what one might think, education is meaningless unless it is put into practice. One can work algebra equations, but if one does not apply that ability to real life, it does one no good. One can get a degree in history, but one works at McDonald’s the degree doesn’t do much good.
Education only matters if you put into practice what you learn. Simply getting knowledge does nothing unless it is applied. Education is not complete until one’s knowledge is applied to real life.
Education is not as much about expertise in a certain area as it is in teaching you how to think, how to solve problems and how to make solid conclusions. It is tempting to think that the purpose of education is to pass a test or get a diploma, but the purpose of education is to teach you how to apply the principles to real life.

Being successful begins with education. Next, one’s education needs to be applied. As you apply what you know to real life you gain skill. The more skill you develop the more competent you become in your area.

The Christian life is the same way. A person can know a lot about the Bible, theology, etc. but if he/she doesn’t apply their knowledge to real life, it is meaningless. A person may understand the concepts of election and predestination but if he goes home and abuses his wife, he is not growing in his faith!

Growing as a Christian is not as much about knowing as it is about doing. To know about how God wants us to live is foundational; putting it into practice is where one begins to grow.
Sermons, Sunday School lessons, Growth Group discussions, Specialty Groups (e.g., Beth Moore Bible Studies, et al) all help increase one’s knowledge, but they do no good if that knowledge is not applied to daily life.

For us to make a real impact, we must live out what we know. We must not just talk about it, but do it. It is not about how much you know, but what you do with what you know that truly matters. Are you putting what you know into practice?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Is Judging Wrong?

What did Jesus mean when He said: “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” (Mt. 7:1) This is probably one of the most misused Scriptures. Is Jesus saying we should never judge? If one reads the next few verses, the answer is clear: Jesus is warning against judging someone by a different standard that you yourself would not be willing to be judged by. For example, if you tell someone it is wrong to steal; yet you cheat on your taxes-you are in the wrong. In other words, judge yourself first to make sure that you are being obedient to God before you worry about someone else. Jesus is not against judging; He is giving us the standard for proper judging. Are we to judge? Yes. Here are a few examples:

  • God’s people are to point out sin and call people to repentance (Amos 5:14-15; Ps. 37:30;1 Cor. 2:15).

  • Judging is necessary or we could not obey (Romans 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 6:17; 2 Tim. 3:5-6 and 1 Jn. 4:1).

  • Believers must make judgment calls because when we don’t there is no peace (Is. 59:8).

According to Jesus, we must not judge someone by a different standard than which we would want to be judged. Therefore, we must first judge ourselves. One cannot judge himself/herself without humility. Our judgment of others should never be from a heart of superiority, but rather a heart of humility with the goal of seeing the individual restored.