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The Human Heart
The story of humanity is the story of technological, medical, and artistic progress, but devastating moral failure.
Anyone who takes a long, hard, and honest look at themselves will discover that they are very much part of the problem.
The Wrath of God... Against Sin
If God forgave sin and injustice without any form of punishment whatsoever He would neither be a holy nor a just God. And He is both
Funny how, when faced with specific situations (such as molesting children or indulging in ethnic cleaning) rather than abstract philosophical arguments most people do believe in moral absolutes... But who sets the standard?
Stop For a Moment And Imagine A World Without Sin
And if you do you might be surprised to realize that perhaps the Bible has a point after all..
The Mercy and Love of the God of the Bible
While you are sure to hear many, many long and philosophical discourses, no other religion besides Christianity will tell you of a God who willingly came down to earth to save those who would be His people by paying the price of their sins. ..This by dying a horrible death.
The Kingdom Might Be An Gift off God Given Without Any Merit on Our Part But ...
From the very outset Jesus made it clear that He did not want on-lookers, casual followers, or even admirers. What He wants is dedicated disciples who are aware that the kingdom doesn't come without cost.
Picking And Choosing Will Cost Us... Plenty
Do We Really Need Jesus?... Maybe Not
Jesus Himself indicated that there is actually another way to God.
Why Would Anyone In Their Right Mind Invent The God of The Bible?
Why would anyone invent a God that has His arrow of justice pointed squarely and unwaveringly at you.
This life is the only opportunity we will ever have to choose where we will spend eternity.
The Human Heart
In the last century or so (even in our own lifetimes) most of us have witnessed dramatic developments...
Our immediate ancestors rarely journeyed a hundred miles from where they lived but commercial airline travel permits us to travel around the world in a matter of hours.
We've seen the dawn of the computer age in which enormous amounts of data are transferred in seconds 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 crime investigation. We can remove tumors from human brains and replace defective heart valves 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 20th and 21st centuries have been the bloodiest in history. Two world wars aside, Countless numbers die of drug overdoses every week. 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 catch tantalizing glimpses of peace and safety that is until the next megalomaniac (the current one being Putin) rises on the world stage with the desire for power and control in his heart . Until the next serial killer leaves a trail of blood behind him. And we are back to square one.
The fact that an incalculable number of people battle tirelessly for human rights and to help those most in need cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately, this is like trying to stem the leak in the dyke with our fingers... we only have ten but the dyke springs new holes every minute.
The story of humanity is the story of technological, medical, and artistic progress, but complete moral failure
Think about it for a moment - natural disasters aside the root of virtually all humanity's problems have one or another evils at their root. Hate, intolerance, greed, lust being prime examples.
Each of Us Is The Problem
There is no doubt that most religions have their own version of a moral code and 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.
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, (also quoted in Chapter 3 Faith and The Bible) 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? 
Think of it this way... committing one sin a day for fifty years of adult life comes to 18,250 sins. And that is 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.
So, considering neither technology, human justice, nor anything else has done the first thing to change the heart of man, why would it surprise anyone that Someone is going to do something about the evil in our world?
The Wrath of God... Against Sin
God is not, as some have chosen to believe, a kindly old gentleman in the sky that wouldn't say 'boo' to a goose. Nor is he the celestial version of a bell hop as some modern 'believers' are inclined to treat Him.
Much to the contrary, the Bible repeatedly emphasizes the point that God is good to those who trust and follow Him and lead righteous lives, but terrible to those who do not. The Bible warns us that He will bring a final and terrible judgment down on sinners and evildoers and that this unleashing of His wrath will bring an end to this world as we know it. After this period such as man has never before seen, God will descend to earth to establish His kingdom. (Note this is the extremely abbreviated version... See End of The Age)
But I would like to make one thing absolutely clear - when the Bible speaks of the wrath of God it does not mean an emotion similar to the one we think of when we talk of man's anger. The wrath of God is completely different inasmuch as He doesn't just fly off the handle, blow a fuse, yell, rant and rave, or put His fist through a wall. His wrath is a measured response to one thing, and one thing only... sin. See The Wrath of God
Note: The very word 'sin' means missing the mark which in the Bible means the benchmark set by God. So the question is not whether I'm a 'Mother Teresa' or a 'Ted Bundy' but whether I have fallen short of God's standard and will not be saved from the death penalty. See The Biblical Definition of Sin
So the Bible is not being melodramatic nor particularly harsh, when it so emphatically states... You sin, you don't get to be part of His kingdom. In other words... you die!
The wrath of God is real, whether or not your church preaches it, whether or not you know very much about it, whether or not you choose to bury your head in the sand and pretend that God cannot possibly render judgment on this planet. And when He unleashes it on this planet, it will be, by far, the most terrible time in human history.
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8 NASB)
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. (Revelation 22:14-15 NASB)
And... it is very near at hand.
And, no natural disasters are not God's judgment on a sinful people - not yet anyway. Incidentally Hell as most Christians understand it... does not exist (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?
If you are pinning your hopes on a God who will forgive sin and injustice without any form of punishment whatsoever, you have a very large problem because if He did, He would neither be a holy nor a just God.
And He is both.
I have come across those 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. In other words, 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 (See Chapter 2 - Religious Pluralism), they have taken this position without really thinking it through.
I'd like to ask them a question based on the never ending acts of terrorism that continuously takes place all over the world. The question is, regardless of the perpetrator's ideology do you believe they have to be stopped from slaughtering people?
Is there a single sane person in this world who would not answer this question in the affirmative?
And that means there are moral absolutes. Regardless of your ideology you don't go around killing people. 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.
In order to understand God's point of view we need to take a few minutes to visualize what our lives would be like without any transgression of God's laws. ...
Stop For a Moment And Imagine A World Without Sin.
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. 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.
I am sure that many have considered the Bible's pronouncement that all sin merits the death sentence way too harsh. After all, how can a tiny infraction deserve death? Lets look at it this way... where does one draw the line between a 'big' sin and a 'small' one? Let me give you an illustration of what I mean.
If I as a 'friend' of yours walked away with a paper clip from your desk without permission you would simply think I needed a paper clip for some reason and dismiss it. If I took a quarter from your desk it is more than likely that you would assume I was short one coin for the vending machine and not give it a second thought. If I walked away with a ten-dollar bill in all likely-hood you would get very uneasy but, due to the smallness of the amount, you may just look the other way.
However, your reaction would grow in direct proportion to the value of the object.... if I walked off with $100 you would probably jump up and down.
So where shall we draw the line between a paper clip and a hundred dollar bill? At a penny? A dime? A fiver? And how much are you willing to bet that because individuals and cultures across the globe have different standards, if asked ten people would give ten different answers. So whose standard shall we judge by?
God made it simple. He set the standard... He said 'no sin' simply because (think about it for a moment) a perfect world cannot exist as long as sin does. If one person commits a crime, we are pretty much back to square one.
And because sinlessness is an impossible goal for humanity He has offered us a way out.
The Mercy and Love of God
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 dying in our place Jesus came to offer all those who choose to trust and follow Him, safety from the wrath of the Father Himself and the gift of eternal life. 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.
One of the best known and best loved verses in the Bible tells us how to avail of that gift. Note that by implication the verses says that those who do not believe in Him, will perish.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NASB).
The message and the hope revolve around Jesus. If, for example, you took Buddha out of Buddhism, Mohammed out of Islam, and Guru Nanak out of Sikhism, but could still access their teachings, little or nothing would change. But if you were to take Christ out of Christianity, there would be nothing left, but our destruction. As Dr. Ryken also writes (Emphasis Added)
The mortal failure of the religions of the world - Christianity excepted - is that they do not take sin seriously enough. Other religions teach that people can become better on their own. Somehow, someway, they can work their own way back to God. People can observe the eight fold path which leads to nirvana, or follow the five pillars of Islam, or become one with the universe, or offer good deeds to be accepted before God. Yet Christianity insists that everyone is a sinner through and through. Paul puts it like this: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). 
And at rock bottom the different religions in the world are all alike inasmuch as they all have men trying to earn their own salvation and earn their way into God's good books. The only difference between them is what they are called to do. This stands in vivid contrast to the Gospel that tells us what God has already done for us.
See What Salvation means and how it is achieved.
It is not "intolerant" to tell our fellow human beings that it is folly to trust in their own efforts to get to heaven. Much to the contrary it is the kindest thing we can do for them. Because 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. As a result they have been 'born again, adopted as "sons" by God and as Hischildren will live in His coming kingdom.
The Kingdom Might Be An Gift of God Given Without Any Merit on Our Part, But It 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! 
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)
See The Myth of Faith Alone
Salvation - Part III
In the church today one often hears that salvation is a 'free' gift from God - words supposedly based on 3 verses in Romans. But does the Bible say this or have we ourselves conjured up (and spread) a completely erroneous idea?
And Salvation - Part IV
To imagine that we can live our lives like the rest of the world, but still be welcome in God's presence, is little more than wishful thinking.
Obedience? Obedience to what?
What demands does our Lord make of us? Is His idea of obedience some kind of intolerable military regime, or 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.
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 any of that, I would certainly like to know what you think it is.
Note: The God of the Bible is not 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.
Picking And Choosing Will Cost Us... Plenty
In spite of ample evidence to the contrary, the vast majority of people deny that God exists at all or that the God of the Bible is the Sovereign God of the universe.
Many follow false gods or spiritual paths that based on unsubstantiated claims made by mere people (See Chapter 6 Why Jesus is Without Equal) Therefore, the question is why in the world should God allow into His kingdom people who willfully deny Him of His rightful place. 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.
Regardless of religion or creed, many non-Christians consider Jesus a "great man"... an amazing philosopher, one of the most 'enlightened' beings to ever walk the planet, a truly good man, a prophet etc. etc. etc. Over and over again, they speak about how He not only preached 'love', but commanded us to love one another.
And where do they get all this about Jesus?
The ONLY source for ANY information about Jesus' teachings is the Bible. Yet, this same Bible has Jesus Himself saying
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me". (John 14:6 Emphasis Added).
And for those that happen to believe that everyone (or at least most people) will get to Heaven, He also said... (All Emphasis Added)
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 NASB)
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36 NASB)
But these statements are relegated to the dust heap because they do not fit our worldview. And, by the way, those who believe that Jesus only came to preach love and unity should also read Luke 12:51-53, which has Him saying...
"Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. "They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (NASB)
But Do We Really Need Jesus?... Maybe Not, Since There Is Another Way to God
And before you jump down my throat, I would like to point you to the fact that Jesus Himself indicated that this was possible.
The nineteenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew relates the story of a rich young man who came to Jesus and asked Him what he had to do to obtain eternal life. Jesus' answer was very explicit. He did not tell the man to believe in Him, but simply told him to "keep the commandments" if he wished to "enter into life". (Vs. 17)
At which the rich man asked Jesus which commandments He was taking about. "And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Vs. 18-19)
Note that all the commandments Jesus asked the young man if he had kept were the aspects of the Mosaic Law that dealt with man's relationship to man.
The young man then told Jesus that he had kept all the mentioned commandments and asked what he was still lacking.
Jesus then turned to the aspects of the law that related to man's relationship to God, telling him
"If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (V. 21)
This call to forsake everything and follow Jesus was a call to put God first in all things. Jesus was telling the young man that it isn't enough to do right by our fellow man - we have to put God first. Which the young man could not bring himself to do.
But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:21-24 NASB)
See Sin Repentance, Salvation
And Being Born Again. (The Bible says "Ye Must Be Born Again." (John 3:7),
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 in some way (comforting perhaps?) to invent him.
After all the idea of a 'superior being' is useful for any number of reasons... 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 quite 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 which means even the most moral of human beings are not virtuous 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. 
The fear of death alone would probably be enough reason to invent god. However, in this 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.
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". 
I do not know how 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, Christ will descend once more onto the earth... sword in hand. He will destroy and then rebuild.
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.
If, in the end, there is no God and the Bible is simply a book of fairy tales, I have lost nothing. Like everyone else I will 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 did not accept His unbelievable sacrifice. You are going to have to explain why you chose other gods, who did nothing for you, and offered you nothing but long and complicated philosophical discourses.
And there is warning to those who did not believe the truth... they will be judged and perish.
Continue To Part 15: Who Is and Isn't a Christian
Because Christianity is rooted in and inseparable from the Scriptures everything a Christian knows about God and everything he believes and practices is based not on human knowledge, insight, or experience, but rests solely on God's word to man as recorded in the Scriptures. Thus any group that claims to be Christian but significantly and consistently deviates from what the Scriptures teach concerning the key doctrines of the Christian faith, cannot possibly be genuinely Christian. HERE
End Notes (Chapter 14)
 Dr. Philip G. Ryken. How Can Jesus Be the Only Way? https://www.monergism.com/how-can-jesus-be-only-way
 Dick Tripp With So Many Religions, Why Christianity? http://christianity.co.nz/2016/02/religions/
 Greg Koukl. Religious Stew. Stand to Reason Ministries https://www.str.org/w/religious-stew
 Todd Murphy. The Spiritual Personality https://www.god-helmet.com/wp/traits.htm