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Choose Life That You Might Live

Part 14: The Warning of The Bible
The Bible tells us that no matter how well we live, we cannot live up to God's standard of holiness (which means no sin. Period). In other words, we are all sinners who are under the death penalty... God's decreed punishment for any sin.

Carol Brooks
Edited by Vicki Narlee

Index to All 16 Chapters

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ON THIS PAGE
The Human Heart
The story of humanity is the story of technological, medical, and artistic progress, but moral failure.

Moral Absolutes
Funny  how, when faced with definite situations rather than empty philosophical arguments, most people do believe in moral absolutes... But who sets the standard?

The Wrath of God and Imagining A World Without Sin
If God can forgive sin and injustice without any form of punishment whatsoever, He would neither be a holy, nor a just God. If you take a moment to do imagine a world without sin, you might be surprised at how amazing a place it can be. Perhaps the Bible has a point after all.

Each of Us Is The Problem
Anyone who takes a long, hard, and honest look at themselves will discover that they are very much part of the problem.

The Mercy and Love of the God of the Bible
God releases us from the demands of justice on the basis that someone has already paid our fine.

The Kingdom Doesn't Come Without Cost
From the very outset Jesus made it clear that He did not want on-lookers, casual followers, or even admirers. Biblical "belief" means obedience to God's commandments. We will eventually be judged according to our deeds, because what we do is clear evidence of what we really believe.

Unbelievers
Why in the world should God allow people who willfully deny Him of His rightful place into His kingdom.

Why Would Anyone In Their Right Mind Invent The God of The Bible?
Eastern religions are high on individual freedom and low on personal responsibility and who wouldn't prefer that?

Summary and Conclusion
If it turns out there is no God and the Bible is simply a book of fairy tales, I have lost nothing. Like everyone else, I will simply be buried and soon forgotten. On the other hand, if you are wrong... The doors are still open but they won't be for long.

 


A Continuation
This chapter is a continuation of the last one - The Message of the Bible.

This message that Jesus specifically came to earth to announce was that God's Kingdom was on its way and that we could be part of it. The Bible's description of this kingdom of God, also called heaven is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there', but matches, in every respect, the world most men and women would choose to live in. a place of peace and safety, where there is no crime, hunger and disease, war and above all... no death. Far from being outdated, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to modern society, Christianity promises exactly the utopian world men and women dream about.

 However, after giving us the unbelievably good news that we can all live in a perfect world here on earth, in bodies that will neither age nor deteriorate, the Bible throws a spanner in the works by saying that sinful people cannot get there. After which it hits rock bottom when it tells us that no matter how well we live, we cannot live up to God's standard of holiness (no sin period), and we are all sinners who are under the death penalty... God's decreed punishment for any sin.

But let's first talk about why sinful people will never be allowed into God's Kingdom.


The Human Heart
The story of humanity is the story of technological, medical, and artistic progress, but moral failure.

Our generation has witnessed dramatic developments in technology. Although most of our ancestors rarely journeyed a hundred miles from where they lived, commercial planes permit us to travel around the world in a matter of hours. We have seen the dawn of the computer age in which data transfers and unbelievably complicated calculations are literally made at the speed of light. The information super highway brings the knowledge of the world to our desk tops at the click of a few buttons. The science of DNA has made unbelievable contributions to both medicine and criminal investigation. We can remove tumors from human brains and repair defective heart valves and knee and hip joints.

The list is endless.

But, in spite of all our progress, the ugly specters of famine, war, violence, and genocide still raise their heads. In fact, the twentieth century was the bloodiest in history. Our prisons are overflowing. Terrorists walk among us, nameless face less men that are willing to kill themselves and innocent civilians for yet another cause. On an even larger scale, the other side of our technological advances has resulted in our world being threatened with a nightmarish catastrophe of our own making.

We can cry "peace and safety" for short periods of time until the next megalomaniac rises on the world stage with greed, lust, and the desire for power and control in his heart. Until the next serial killer leaves a trail of blood behind him. Then we are back to square one.

While there is little doubt that an incalculable number of people have (and do) battle tirelessly to fight for basic human rights, all their efforts are akin to a man trying to stem the leak in the dyke with his fingers... He only has ten fingers, but the dyke springs new holes every minute.

This because technology and human courts can do nothing to alter the heart of man.

Modern spirituality's insistence that we are spiritual beings whose purpose is to awaken to our true nature is a problem in itself, because much of humanity's 'true nature' is more than a little scary. Think about it for a moment, natural disasters aside, virtually every single problem that exists in the world today springs from stupid, ignorant, greedy or selfish and uncaring people. Those only concerned with feathering their own nests.

And God is going to do something about it. And, no natural disasters are not God's judgment on a sinful people. Not yet anyway.

    As an aside, the question of how tragedies that derive from natural phenomena can be reconciled with a good God  is a far more involved topic than many are aware of. I suggest you read Natural Disasters and a Benevolent God?


Moral Absolutes
Quite amazingly, there are many, many people who believe that everyone has the right to define 'right' and 'wrong' for themselves shaped perhaps by the traditions, customs and practices of their culture and/or their own convictions.  Something is wrong only if the person concerned thinks or feels it is wrong. Unfortunately, like the 'all paths led to the same god' bit, they have taken this position without really thinking it through.

I would be curious to know how they would answer the question as to whether the organization ISIS has to be stopped from slaughtering people regardless of what they think and believe. Is there a single sane person in this world who will not answer this question in the affirmative?

Which means there are moral absolutes. You don't go around killing people, regardless of your ideology. Nor do you molest or abuse children (or any one else), hack people's identities, or steal from shops.

However, whether you believe it or not, whether you choose to live by it or not, the final decision as to what is right and wrong is in the hands of the God of the Universe and, no matter how much we kick and scream, nothing is going to change that.

Just as nothing is going to change the fact that as the Supreme judge God is going to punish people for all their sins. The Bible calls it the ...

 
The Wrath of God
But let us be absolutely clear about one thing - the wrath of God is completely different inasmuch as He doesn't fly off the handle, blow a fuse, yell, rant and rave, say foolish things, or put His fist through a wall. His wrath is a measured response to one thing, and one thing only... sin.

See What Is Sin? and The Wrath of God

The God of the Bible is not exactly concerned with rituals. In fact, as said by more than one of the Old Testament prophets, He actually hates prescribed ceremonies if they are unaccompanied by justice and righteousness. He asks people to practice kindness and compassion, administer true justice, defend, protect, and take care of those who cannot do it for themselves, avoid bitterness and anger, and speak the truth. The things that people do which God hates and which will cause His wrath to rain down on them, are violence, injustice, murder, malice, lies and slander, oppression, robbery, evil and unrighteousness.

And, if there is something wrong with that, I would certainly like to know what it is.

There is a day looming on the horizon when mankind's iniquity will exhaust the patience of God Himself, at which point in time He will pour out His wrath on the earth, punishing transgressors, and ending all the injustice and suffering in this world. This devastating period of time will be the darkest time in human history, when even the heavens and earth will tremble at His power and fury, the moon will turn to blood, and the sun will no longer gives out its light. It will bring an end to this world, as we know it. After this terrible period, God will descend to earth to establish His kingdom.

(And that is the extremely abbreviated version... See End of The Age)

I believe we totally ignore or are offended by the concept of God judging the world for two reasons.

    1) Over an extended period of time, we have become extremely desensitized to sin - be it a mass terrorist attack in Europe or Vegas, or a credit card fraud in the next county. We move on very easily. What we forget is that God never can and never will. Every incident - every injustice - every act of cruelty - every sin makes Him just that much more wrathful. 

    2) We neither truly understand God's holiness nor what the kingdom He intends to establish right here on earth will be like - a place that virtually all of us would give our left arm to be a part of. If we really understood this, then we would also understand that no sinner could ever be a part of this kingdom because, if they were, it would soon deteriorate into exactly the mess we have now. See Previous Chapter The Message of the Bible

What we really need to do is understand His point of view but, in order to do that, we need to take a few minutes to envision...

A World Without Sin.
Let us visualize what our lives would be, or would have been, like without transgression of God's laws. How liberating would it be to never have to worry about the safety of our children, and never have to lock the doors to our homes or cars. A young woman could walk home in the late evening and know she would get there safely. Pornography would not exist. There would have been no Enron and no Watergate. What would it be like if politicians and used car salesmen told nothing but the truth? Children would be raised in the security of two parents who are committed to one another.

While there is little doubt that some crimes arise out of need and desperation, the vast amounts of funds we would save on our police force, judiciary, armed forces, jails, and related organizations would ensure that no one would be in want. Are we getting the picture yet?

Perhaps the Bible has a point after all.


Each of Us Is The Problem
There is no doubt that most religions have their own version of a moral code. Over and above which, most human beings have an in-built sense of right and wrong. The problem is that none of us fully lives up to what we believe. As the Old Testament prophet so succinctly expressed it... "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

We do not have to look at the Hitlers or Pol Pots of this world to prove what is being said here. Anyone who takes a long, hard, and honest look at themselves will discover that they are very much part of the problem. Have you ever taken, or even coveted, something that wasn't yours. Have you ever slept with someone that wasn't your spouse, or even thought about it (Matthew 5:28)? Have you lied, harbored evil thoughts towards someone, or cheated them in any way? Have you scorned or despised someone less fortunate than yourself? Have you been less than kind or generous to the needy?

As Dr. Philip G. Ryken, eighth and current president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, asks

    Have you ever taken a serious look at what is inside you? Have you done one thing today entirely for the benefit of another human being, without any thought of your advantage? Isn't it true that your whole approach to life is essentially selfish, that you spend most of your time thinking about your own food, clothes, music, work, and entertainment?... [01]

Think of it this way... If a person commits one sin a day for fifty years of their adult life, it totals 18,250 sins over a span of fifty years. And note, I am not talking about rape and murder, just the so called "small sins". Lies, cheating, dishonesty, greed, selfish 'me first' attitudes etc. etc. etc. In other words.... the lack of righteousness and goodness.


The Mercy and Love of God
However, not only is our God a God of justice, but He is also a God of great kindness and mercy, seen by the fact that He sent His own Son to pay the price of our sin, i.e. to be put to death in our place. In other words...

God has released us from the demands of eternal justice on the basis that someone else paid our fine...

In the most momentous event in human history, Jesus Christ saved us from the death penalty by offering Himself in our place. Sent by the Father, Jesus came to offer all those who choose to put their trust in, and follow Him, safety from the wrath of the Father Himself. If that sounds a little odd to you, look at it this way.

    God Himself said the penalty of sin is death.

    Perfect judgment means He doesn't break His own laws.

    Infinite love means He has given us the opportunity to escape the death penalty by sending His own Son to die in our place. See Salvation


The Kingdom Doesn't Come Without Cost
From the very outset Jesus made it clear that He did not want on-lookers, casual followers, or even admirers. He wanted dedicated disciples, who were aware that discipleship came at a very high price. He did not want anyone to commit themselves to a course they would never complete. He gave us more than one illustration to show how important it is to count the cost before embarking on the difficult road of Christian discipleship, because the consequences of not doing so are far more serious than we realize. Sadly, as the Rev. Dick Tripp says..

    it is possible to adopt Christian beliefs, seek to live by Christian standards, take part in Christian religious observances, and still not be really Christian! [02]

We are usually inclined to interpret the English word believe as that something we think is true. However, this is not how the Bible uses it. Biblical "belief" means obedience to God's commandments. We will eventually be judged according to our deeds, because what we do is clear evidence of what we really believe.

    "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21 NASB)

    For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)

The will of the Father??

What demands does our Lord make of us? Is His idea of obedience some kind of intolerable military regime, or does His kingdom resemble one of the more disciplined boarding schools with their rigid adherence to rules and procedures, all rigorously enforced on a daily basis?

In other words, will there be any pleasure or enjoyment left in life?

Be assured that God is not a celestial version of the consummate killjoy. In fact, Jesus told us to come to Him, for His burden was "light". Aside from loving the brethren, about the only command that is repeated over and over again, in different words in the New Testament is to stay away from sin. For example.. "abstain from wickedness." (2 Timothy 2:19), and from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Dwell on whatever is right, pure, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8). In other words to be holy. 

Why?

Because a perfect world cannot exist if its inhabitants are sinners... which takes us in a complete, and very logical circle... 


Unbelievers
Either the vast majority of people deny that God exists at all, or deny that the God of the Bible is the Sovereign God of the universe. This in spite of the fact that there is ample evidence for both. Instead, they follow other false gods and spiritual paths that are based on unsubstantiated claims made by mere people, or they come up with ridiculous and far fetched theories for the universe and everything in it.

Therefore, the question is why in the world should God allow people who willfully deny Him of His rightful place into His kingdom. Especially since, these people would have exactly the same nature as they did in this world and be just as sinful as they are now. It wouldn't take very long for "heaven" to deteriorate into the same mess we are presently faced with.

The kingdom of heaven can only be populated by people who have chosen to trust that Jesus will do what He promised ie. save them from the wrath of the Father, and have chosen to acknowledge Him as Lord. What God calls heaven can only be inhabited by people who think like He does, who want the same thing and have been Born Again. The last enables them to live as Christ did and may involve most science than we possible suspect. See Original Sin and Epigenetics

Which brings me to one question you really should ask yourself.


Why Would Anyone In Their Right Mind Invent The God of The Bible?
Atheists commonly claim that humans invented God to satisfy some of their deepest needs and fears. And certainly, it is quite possible, probable even, that if God did not exist, people might find it necessary, or just plain comforting, to invent him. After all the idea of a 'superior being' is useful for any number of reasons... such as to add a layer of depth to life, to hope rather than despair, to codify morality and behavior, to find an escape from the complexities of the world, to share in rituals that help strengthen community bonds, to explain things we have no rational explanation for, and even to have someone to blame for everything that goes wrong in our lives.

However, who in the world would be dumb enough to invent the God of the Bible?

A God who is so holy that no human can stand before Him. Worse, He not only demands we be as holy as He is, but even the most moral of human beings are not righteous enough to escape His death sentence. As pastor Greg Koukl so aptly says,

    If I were inclined to invent a religion and a god, the God of the Bible is the very last God I would ever invent. I rather like the pantheistic god myself, the monistic god of eastern religions. Eastern religions are high on individual freedom and low on personal responsibility. I like the notion that god is in all of us and we are god, and we are a law to ourselves. Life would be a lot easier if that were the case.

    I certainly would not invent a holy God whose perfect moral character becomes the absolute law of the universe. He is utterly demanding, encroaching on every corner of our life. Who would invent a God like that? That isn't the kind of God that would make me feel more comfortable. That God makes me feel uncomfortable because His demand is so much greater than my ability to deliver. [03]

It is true that the fear of death alone would probably be enough reason to invent god. In which case, why would anyone invent a God that has His arrow of justice pointed squarely and unwaveringly at you. A God that warns that being more morally upright than most other people is not sufficient to escape His punishment, and that you will die, not once, but twice... the second time after you face His judgment.


Summary and Conclusion
In winding up an article on The Spiritual Personality, Behavioral Neuroscientist, Todd Murphy says he prefers to "support spiritual people in their beliefs", because although he "might be right" in his views, "spirituality is one area of human experience where being right doesn't really count for much".  [04]

I do not know how much more wrong someone can be.

What we believe is a matter of life and death.

God has provided the way for us to be saved from the consequences of sin, but few have heeded the call. and we only have a limited time to respond. When that time is done, He will descend once more onto the earth... sword in hand. He will destroy and then rebuild. At that time the one question we will not be able to ask Him is "Why didn't You tell us? Why didn't You give us any warning?"

He has!

This life is the only opportunity we will ever have to choose where we will spend eternity. When we close our eyes for the last time, and step into what lies beyond, we will take nothing with us. Not our money, fame, power, influence, looks, skills, achievements, eloquence, or intelligence. All we will take with us is whether or not we obeyed the commandments of God. Whether or not we lived a righteous life. Whether or not were true followers of Jesus Christ. 

The doors are still open but they won't be for long.

    "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:30-31 NASB)

If it turns out there is no God and the Bible is simply a book of fairy tales, I have lost nothing. Like everyone else, I will simply be buried and soon forgotten.

On the other hand, if you are wrong, in the not so distant future you are going to have to stand before a God who sent His Son to die for your sins, and you are going to have to explain why you ignored it, thought you were smarter that He is, or why you chose other gods, who offered you long and complicated discourses but never did the the first thing to show they cared about you as an individual

And there is warning to those who did not believe the truth... they will be judged and perish.

    I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live. If you love the Lord God, walk in His ways and keep His commandments you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you. But if your heart turns away, if you are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. (Deuteronomy 30)

    "Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord. "They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof. "So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. "For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. "But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil." (Proverbs 1:24-33 NASB)

    For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26 NASB)


Also See - Christians Need to Stop Over Simplifying The Gospel. See Other Shallow, abbreviated, and highly inaccurate salvation messages on THIS page. Also hell as most Christians understand it... does not exist, but was a decision arrived at hundreds of years after Christ and was jockeyed along by erroneous, self-serving translations. DETAILS

 

End Notes (Chapter 14)

[01] Dr. Philip G. Ryken. How Can Jesus Be the Only Way?
http://solochristo.com/theology/Salvation/PhilipRyken_HowCanJesusBetheOnlyWay.html

[02] Dick Tripp. Exploring Christianity. The kind of commitment it asks of its members. http://www.christianity.co.nz/religon8.htm

[03] Greg Koukl. Religious Stew. Stand to Reason Ministries.. www.str.org/articles/religious-stew#.U6iTGdLn9cY

[04] Todd Murphy. The Spiritual Personality http://www.shaktitechnology.com/traits.htm

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