Infallible Church?

If ever I was confused by the teachings of the Roman Church, it is now.  I certainly do not want to stand in the shoes of an unchurched unbeliever right now, trying to make out what Roman Christianity is teaching.

You know the expression “clear as mud.” This is it.

Pope Francis delivered a daily homily in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae on Wednesday May 22, 2013 (more).  Amongst other things he said:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” (Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/22/pope_at_mass:_culture_of_encounter_is_the_foundation_of_peace/en1-694445 of the Vatican Radio website)

To provide some clarity Father Thomas Rosica  issued this statement:

Pope Francis has no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation through his homily or scriptural reflection when he stated that “God has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!”

So, the Pope was apparently not speaking ex cathedra – (more).  He did not pronounce an infallible and immutable truth (what a relief!).  He was however preaching the Word of God.  In Reformed circles a minister of the Word does not have the luxury of sometimes say immutable things and other times not.  He will (and should) be pulled up if he preaches anything else but the Word of God.

Father Rosica however is of the opinion that “Pope Francis has no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation through his homily or scriptural reflection when he stated that ‘God has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!‘”

He offers this clarifying explanation:

“A non-Christian may reject a Christian’s presentation of the gospel of Christ. That however, does not necessarily mean that the person has truly rejected Christ and God. Rejection of Christianity may not mean the rejection of Christ.  For if a given individual rejects the Christianity brought to him through the Church’s preaching, even then we are still never in any position to decide whether this rejection as it exists in the concrete signifies a grave fault or an act of faithfulness to one’s own conscience.  We can never say with ultimate certainty whether a non-Christian who has rejected Christianity and who, in spite of a certain encounter with Christianity, does not become a Christian, is still following the temporary path mapped out for his own salvation which is leading him to an encounter with God, or whether he has now entered upon the way of perdition.  (more)

However:

“Only through this Church can one obtain the fullness of the means of salvation since the Lord has entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone whose head is Peter.”

Without being sarcastic or contemptuous, I have to conclude that sometimes the Pope knows it all and sometimes he doesn’t; sometimes he chooses to not preach the whole truth, and sometimes he does; sometimes one must be saved through the [Catholic] church, sometimes not; sometimes one has certainty of salvation, sometimes not; sometimes one has some knowledge, sometimes one has to suffer confusion.

Maybe I should just read the Bible which is the infallible and immutable Word of God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 10–14, NIV)

 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:18–21, NIV)

Atheists who comes to the Light and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, can be sure that He “will never dive them away.” (John 6:37)  On the other hand, if they have no room for His word, they have the devil as their father (John 8:44).

Pope Francis, you have it wrong.  The message of last Wednesday was not the truth of God’s Word.  What you said is confusing; many walking in darkness could construe your words to mean that they will eventually end up in heaven just because they tried their best – even denying Christ.

 

Cleansed for service in the Kingdom of God

That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

Scripture Readings

  • Psalm 133
  • John 13:1-17

Introduction

Dear friends in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Over the last month or so the Word of God spoke to us from the Gospel of John.  As over-arching theme for this series we take the verse in John 20:32-33

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30–31, NIV)

I invite to have you Bible open so see something of the wonderful structure of this Gospel. The opening statement of John’s Gospel is:

…the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:2)

Our Lord in John 12 cried out with a loud voice on that last day of his public ministry (after this He would not address the crowds anymore):

“Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. (John 12:44–45, NIV)

Chapter 1:5, 10 and 11 writes about the tragedy of mankind’s stubborn unbelief born out of sin.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome (known) it. (John 1:5, NIV)

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. (John 1:10, NIV)

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1:11, NIV)

They rejected Jesus as Messiah and as Son of God, and as such God.

Now, turn with me to the end of John 12.  Now verse 37

Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. (John 12:37, NIV)

1John 1 declares:

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (John 1:9, NIV)

John 12:46 says:

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:46, NIV)

Then, in chapter 13 we find Jesus, the Son of God, with his disciples in the Upper Room.  His public ministry has ended.  The world is outside.  Now our Lord is with his disciples.  Only a handful, of which there are the Twelve Apostles.

Did Jesus fail in his mission?

The question now is, was Jesus a failure? The world rejected Him, they did not know Him, and they did not receive Him.  There are millions upon millions of people who lived through the ages who did not believe and receive Jesus as the Son of God.  There are millions, if not billions, even in our day who still reject Him.  So, why did Jesus come into this world?  Did He die for nothing? Or was his cross ineffective?  Is the power of darkness still in control?

The answer of course is absolutely, “NO!”

In John 17:12 we find our Lord on his knees before his Father, interceding for his disciples:

While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. (John 17:12, NIV)

Jesus also declared:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give sthem eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27–30, NIV)

What is “the world”?

John 13:1 reads

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13:1, NIV)

78 Times John uses the term “world” in his Gospel. What does John mean by “the world”?  God, through Jesus Christ his Son, created the world, the cosmos, the universe.

The world did not receive Him; this means the people, or the human beings living in the world did not receive Him.

Yet God loved the world and gave his only Son. John says Jesus, the son of God, “… loved his own who were in the world”.  1 John 4:14

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. (1 John 4:14, NIV)

The word “world” in this verse does not mean all people, or every individual of this world see and believe the Saviour of the world.  It refers to the those in the world who actually believe in Him.  World here is a collective term.  When I say the people of Wee Waa have one dentist, I don’t mean that all people in Wee Waa go to the one dentist; I just state that fact that there is one dentist in Wee Waa and that some go to him for treatment.  There is one Saviour for the world, but not all in the world listen to Him and are saved.  That is a fact.

This means that not everyone in the world belongs to Christ.  Our Lord declared very clearly:

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37, NIV)

He also says:

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (enables) them, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:44, NIV)

From them He would lay down his life, for they are his sheep.  Other sheep does not listen to his voice.  John 1:13 describes why:

[He gave them the right to be ] children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:13, NIV)

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:28–29, NIV)

They are the “his own in the world” mentioned in John 13:1.

The “world” has another meaning: those who oppose the Kingdom of Christ are of this word. They are in rebellion against Christ. John writes:

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1, NIV)

Our Lord spoke to his disciples as a group in the Upper Room and the last words recorded in this room were:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)

How did Jesus show his love to his own?

I believe it was the Wednesday night, the night of the preparation for the Passover, that we find Jesus and his disciples in the Upper Room.  John does not record what the other Gospels record about how they got in the Upper Room, how Peter and John prepared for the meal, how they followed the man carrying the jar to his house and that they prepared the guest room.  But John 13 begins with these words:

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end [or: He showed them the full extend of his love] (John 13:1, NIV)

This verse is an introduction for the rest of the Gospel.  What follows now is all Jesus would do to to confirm to them that He is the Son of God sent into the world to be lifted up like the serpent in the desert: He would die to take their sins upon Him.  He would promise them that He would give them what they ask in His Name as they carry out their task as disciples in the world. He would promise that He would go to the home of his Father to prepare a home for them, and then return. He would pray for them and intercede before the Father to be kept safe from this world. He would promise them the Holy Spirit.  He would be betrayed, denied, arrested, ridiculed, and nailed to the cross of shame.  And then He would raise on the third day to bring victory over death. And then He would ascend into heaven with the promise to return to make everything new.

All these things were things He showed and demonstrated to them his love and the extend of his love for them.

The glorious Son of God, rejected by the world, hated by the world, in the Upper Room with a handful of believers whom the Father gave Him and enabled to believe.  There in the Upper Room with his own, do we find Him with his disciples at his feet as they learn from Him?  No, we find the Saviour, the Son of God, the One who created the world, the One who knew and had all heaven could give Him, yet He gave it away and did not cling to it, but emptied Himself of his eternal glory, his disciples not at his feet, but He at their feet.

The most important lesson

With his public ministry now over, Jesus Christ is preparing his disciples for service.  He would empower them with the Holy Spirit and a bit less than two months, at his ascension into glory to the Father 40 days after He rose from the dead, He sent them out:

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46–48, NIV)

You are witnesses to the world.  Through his church, empowered by the Holy Spirit and the Word, the Son of God would complete his purpose to reach everyone called and enabled by the Father so that, on the last day, there will be no none lost for which Jesus died.

What He did in the Upper Room as they prepared for the Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Passover, was what the lowest of slaves did to visitors when they arrived for a meal.  And yet, listen to verse 3:

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; (John 13:3, NIV)

Why would the Son of God, who had all things in his power, knowing that He is going to receive the glory He once had with the Father do what He was about to do?

He took off his upper clothes.  Who they saw then was not their rabbi or teacher.  Stripped to the most basic of the lowest of slaves, He took a towel and wrapped it around his waist, He took as basis poured water in it and began to wash the feet of his disciples.  Slaves did this because the dusty roads and streets would soil one’s feet, especially waring open sandals.  Then people reclined at the table as they sat on the floor; the chances are that ones feet might be close someone elses body.

Twice in this paragraph there is mention of Judas who would betray Jesus.  In verse 2 we read:

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. (John 13:2, NIV)

And then again in verse 11:

For He knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. (John 13:11, NIV)

In the midst of weak and trembling disciples, who still had so much to learn about trust and faith in their Lord on the one hand, and the devil on the other, Jesus the Son of God was on his knees washing the feet of all of them – Judas included.

If ever there was a hardened heart before God, it must have the heart of Judas.  He saw the Messiah perform miracles, He hear Him pray, He heard Him teach, He saw his wash his feet – and yet, he yielded to the enemy, became an instrument in the hand of Satan and betrayed Jesus, the Saviour of the world.  Let’s learn from Judas and his service to the father of the lie: once he is finished with you, there is only one destination: death!

To have part in Christ

Jesus got to Peter who refused that Jesus wash his feet.  “You shall never wash my feet!”  “Unless I wash you, you have no part in Me,” was our Lord’s reply.

Earlier Jesus said to the crowd following Him after He multiplied the bread:

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:53–54, NIV)

These words of our Master does not refer to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. It refers to the fact that Jesus came from the Father to do the will of the Father and that those who believe in Him as the bread of God from heaven, will receive eternal life.

Here the implication is the same:  Jesus is the one who did not come to be served but to serve.  He did not come for those who not sick, but for those who need a doctor.  His mission was to seek and to save the lost.

The Master at your feet Peter is not begging you to be saved, but is the King of Heaven who came to gave Himself a ransom for the lost.  If He does not wash you, you have no part in Him.  This also implies that as the Son of God came to serve, those washed by Him must be ready to serve as He has served.  Understanding this, Peter wanted to be washed all over!

What follows tells us something about being justified in the works and grace of Jesus and him alone, and the daily walk in the Lord to be constantly washed, again and again.

“Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” (John 13:10, NIV)

Those who are Christ’s are totally justified men and women, but they do need constant cleansing from their repeated defilement by sin in order that the fellowship they have with the Father and with the Son might not be broken.

He finished washing their feet, clothed Himself again and returned to his place.  He is not the slave anymore: He is the Son of God.  What He had just done is a summary of his mission.  He then said:

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. (John 13:13–14, NIV)

He is Lord, a title only reserved for God through the Scriptures.  He washed the feet of his disciples, and said, “You should wash one another’s feet.”

He set an example that we should do

What a lesson!  The Lord will use his disciples, his church, to conquer the world with his Gospel.  But fundamental to their attitude, now tasked with this glorious privilege, lies servanthood.

And have we not forgotten this!  We can so easily take the important places, we so easily assume a position of influence, but when it comes to servanthood, we shrink.  Schisms in churches ripped the heart of the church in two by people who just couldn’t play second fiddle.  May God rescue us from pride and conceitedness.  That we return to the prayer of our Lord, “Thy Kingdom come!”  Only then do I understand my kingdom does not even exist.  I am a slave to the One who took me out of darkness and by grace put me in his Kingdom of light.

Conclusion

Paul writes:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3–4, NIV)

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 26 May 2013

 

Is sex something ugly?

There is no or little of censoring of publications in Australia – so it seems. It idea of freedom of choice for every consumer is the principle which rules what we choose to see.

The Government(s) have however thought it good to help the public to make their choices.  The Classification Board serves the public, because, “The Australian public relies on classifications to make choices about entertainment products and to decide what is suitable for those in their care to watch or play.”  (more)

Films, electronic games, books, TV programs, etc, are usually classified as G, PG, M, MA, R, and X. G is for general, PG for Parental Guidance, M for Mature, MA for Mature Audiences.

Apart from the fact that blasphemy is not included in any of the classification system, about everything else goes – provided that what is said, done and promoted do not “offend”, “demean” or “ridicule” or “provoke or perpetuate intense dislike” of a person or a group of persons, “on the grounds of age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race, religion or sexual preference.” (more)

So far so good, leaving alone the undefined meaning of “moral, artistic or other values”. (What, should we ask, defines “moral” and “artistic”?  “What is a “value”, and why are some values good and others bad?)

TV programs containing nudity, sex scenes, bad language, drug use, or violence are announced to contain these aspects.  The bad language, drug use and violence contained in these programs erode our culture and is by definition not beneficial to G, M, MA, or whatever audiences amy be.  But this principle applies not only in films or publications – it is generally bad, and not only bad for underaged children.  To prevent people (and more so children) watching programs containing these things is good, and generally it should serve the purpose to educate them that these things are bad for “moral, artistic or other values.”

There is no room for nudity and sex scenes should in any publicly released material aimed at the general public, more so when depicted outside of marriage (medical journals and other academic research are not aimed at the general public, but should still publicised discerningly).  One can, if looked through a very big magnifying glass to see what is written between the lines, probably see that the Classification Board understands this principle. It is from this premise that one can endeavour to define the term pornography.

But like violence, drugs and bad language, nudity and sex are not intrinsically bad or sinful. Don’t for one moment think that I want programs and films with nudity and sex in it not to be classified, even if it depicts the healthy marriage relationship.  No, what happens between a husband and his wife should remain in the bedroom – we understand this very well: moms and dads for this reason shut their bedroom and bathroom doors.  Nudity and sex is something exclusive and private when it happens within the confines of for what reason God created it.

My concern is that when programs and films containing sex and nudity are grouped in with vices like drug use, violence and bad language. Sex and nudity, as a criterium for what can be seen by adults, and not by children, in this context are construed as something ugly.  Desiring it, looking at it and enjoying it puts one in the section of society that enjoys bad things.

Little wonder that sex is seen as the forbidden fruit which should be enjoyed only when one stretches the rules of what is good and bad to the daring and the immoral.

The solution: keep sex and nudity out of TV programs – not because it is intrinsically bad, but because it can only really be good within the framework for which God created it: the holiness of the exclusive relationship between a married man and the wife he married (or for the gender sensitive out there: the relationship between the woman and the man she married).

Fact is, in spite of all the good intentions of any Classification Board, sex outside of marriage has become the major instrument in the breakdown of morals: family units and the value of family have been undermined, divorce and de facto relationships have increased, the number of one parent children are skyrocketing, teen pregnancies and abortions are out of control, and homosexuality is accepted as absolutely normal, etc.

The way sex and nudity are depicted through TV and films indeed “contain content that children find confusing or upsetting”. (more)

 

Called out of darkness into the light

That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

Scripture Readings

  • Isaiah 59:9-21
  • John 12:34-50

Introduction

Omar Bradley, one of the Generals in World War II also went to World War I. He became a General. He actually led one of the largest armies in history during World War II. He spoke at an Armistice Day in Boston, Massachusetts in 1948. He said,

“With the monstrous weapons man already has, humanity is in danger of being trapped in this world by its moral adolescents. Our knowledge of science has clearly outstripped our capacity to control it. We have many men of science; too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Man is stumbling blindly through a spiritual darkness while toying with the precarious secrets of life and death. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.  This is our twentieth century’s claim to distinction and to progress.”

After he made this speech, we had the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Golf War, the war in Iraq, the continuous unrest in the Middle East in and the whole group of other wars in the world. We do not know how to make peace.

If we are going to move into the future, if we want to give hope to our children and next generation, it must come through our commitment to Christ, so that His light can shine in this very dark world.

The Word come to us in these main points:

  • Who is the Son of Man?
  • What was the mission of the Son of Man
  • The light will not always shine
  • Persistent, stubborn, sinful rejection of Christ
  • An urgent shout

Who is the Son of Man?

The title “Son of Man” was virtually the only title used by Jesus of himself. He has other titles. He is the Lamb of God, the King, the Messiah, the Beloved, the Word, the Son of God, and many others. But Jesus did not prefer to use these titles when He referred to Himself. In his own speech, He was always the Son of Man.

If we would look at the Hebrew, which lies behind this expression, we find something interesting about the grammar.  The “Israelites” in the Old Testament are from the word pair “the sons of Israel.”  With this title “Son of Man” Jesus identifies with the sons of Adam.  But there is more to it.

One Old Testament reference to the expression “Son of Man” is found in chapter 7 of Daniel,. This is the chapter that relates Daniel’s vision of the four great beasts that come up out of the sea and reign in succession earth for a time.  After the four visions of the four different kingdoms are explained, the vision shifts to heaven, and Daniel describes a scene in which thrones are set up and the Ancient of Days [God] takes his place upon one of the thrones and renders judgment. In this judgment, the last of the beasts is killed and all have their kingdoms taken away.

Daniel then writes of the final defeat and the establishment of a new and everlasting kingdom:

“In my vision at night I looked and there before me was one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13–14).

Between the writing of Daniel and before the coming of Christ, this concept of the “Son of Man” was spoken of in different writings, in which “Son of Man” is one term given to the long-expected Messiah.

Through the lens of all Scripture the “Son of Man” refers to “The Man” which means in Christ we have the eternal or man who exists eternally with God and who was to appear in this world at God’s command to complete God’s plan of salvation.

The title “Messiah” denoted a political figure whose primary work would be the deliverance of Jewish people from the Romans. But if Chris used this title publicly, everyone would have expected Him to organise an army and lead a liberation movement.  So He did not make an open claim to be the Messiah. On the other hand, with the “Son of Man” title, people did not know what to think about it exactly in a political sense of the word. Jesus used this title of Himself while at the same time filling it in with the precise meaning his Father would want Him.

This is one thing we need to stop and think about today.  We need to get a fresh understanding do who Jesus, the Christ, is.  It might even be possible that we think of Jesus in all sorts of categories, other than what He actually was send for into this world.

Some see in Him the answer to their financial problems.  The so-called prosperity theology makes a lot of this idea.  It is known by many names, such as the “name it and claim it” gospel, the “blab it and grab it” gospel, the “health and wealth” gospel, the “word of faith” movement, the “gospel of success,” and “positive confession theology”.

Teachers of the prosperity gospel encourage their followers to pray, and even demand, of God “everything from modes of transportation (cars, vans, trucks, even two-seat planes), [to] homes, furniture, and large bank accounts.  God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit then becomes a medium through which one can achieve whatever he wants.

The Jews at the time of Jesus had ideas and longings they wanted to be fulfilled by the promised Messiah.  With the tile “Son of Man” Jesus wanted them to understand that He was from God, God Himself, sent into this world to rescue it from its darkness by giving Himself to be lifted up.  This idea did not fit into their expectations.

Jesus, by using the title “Son of Man” made it very clear that He is from before time began.

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. (John 3:13, ESV)

Our Lord taught the people that if they would not eat the body of the Son of Man, and drink his blood they would have no life in them.  The people were offended by these words and a great many left Him.  He then looked at the disciples and said:

“Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? (John 6:61–62, ESV)

In other words, if they did not understand and believe that He came to shed his blood and have his body broken to save them from sins, they would still be in darkness, how much more will they be offended if He told them that He would return to heaven where He was before He became flesh and lived among sinners.  It was something that choked every teacher of the Law: that a mere man could put himself on equal footing with God.

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18, ESV)

What was the mission of the Son of Man

We need to be extremely clear in this point:  John right through his Gospel points to only one thing:  God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into this world because

  • this world is in darkness and therefore it cannot see the Kingdom of God
  • this world can’t do anything about its own darkness, because flesh cannot do anything else but give birth to flesh
  • this world is in need of a Saviour who is in essence not from this world, but who makes it his business to come into this world to bring light into this darkness

Natural man does not love this message.  The concept of sin is not even welcome in dictionaries these days.  Atheists believe we do not need any concept of sin today because through evolution we have outgrown sin.

Richard Dawkins declares:

“More and more of us realize there is no god, and yet religion still has a hold over us. I think ideas of saints and sinners, heaven and hell, still shape our thinking. I want to give you a scientific alternative.”

With these words Dawkins reveals that he is still living in darkness. To him and others who think like him the Gospel still extends the warning and invitation:

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” (John 12:36, ESV)

The light will not always shine

While you have light.  This means that the light will not always shine.  Jesus said:

“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. (John 12:35, ESV)

I think it is meaningful that soon after Jesus spoke these words, we read:

When Jesus had said these things, He departed and hid himself from them. (John 12:36, ESV)

We need to tell the world, those living in darkness, this very unsettling and disturbing truth: We will not always have this light.  Now it is still time of grace for repentance, but this dispensation will come to an end.

There is a imperative, or a command, in verse 35.  It says, “Walk while you have the light.”  It does not say, “Walk in the light.” the command is, “Walk!”  Darkness is coming.  There is an earnestness and urgency in the words of our Lord.  It almost says, “Run to the light while it is still light, for the light will go out in a short while.  Grace is running out, darkness is close behind you, catching up with you.  Run for your life.”

After He withdrew from the crowd, most probably because He understood the significance of the hour, and also what follows immediately after this verse, He needed to be alone with his Father to pray; the Bible does not say why, but fact is He needed time alone.

Persistent, stubborn, sinful rejection of Christ

What followed immediately in the Gospel of John?

Though He had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in Him (John 12:37, ESV)

In Isaiah’s chapter about the suffering Messiah there are words of joy for those who walked to come into the light.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4–6, ESV)

We gladly take these words as words of salvation and bow before our Saviour who has brought us into the light so we could see we need redemption.

But Isaiah begins this very chapter with these words:

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:1,3, ESV)

John then quotes the words of Isaiah 6:10, which talk about the people in Isaiah’s time who stubbornly rejected the words of God because of their hardness of heart.  They stopped their ears when they heard the prophets of God speak to them, and they covered their eyes for the message of God, only to find out that when they took their fingers out of their ears and uncovered their eyes that they had gone blind and deaf:  there was no message for them anymore. God took it away from them.  Time of grace has run out.

So it was even at the end of the public ministry of Jesus.  He revealed the glory of God to them; He preached to them the message of the Kingdom of God; He became to them the light of the world and the bread of life; He was their good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep; He was the Son of Man who was lifted up as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the word.  Yet, they has their fingers in the ears and their hand over their eyes.

Some showed signs of some sort of faith, but out of fear for the people and their love of praise from men, they did not confess their faith.  This probably describes the lives of so many who warm the pews of the church every Sunday.

An urgent shout

It was only a few hours before our Saviour celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples now.  Then, later that night, He was arrested, taken away, sentenced and crucified.  His personal call to the public to come to the light was never heard again.

Jesus appeared again after He had withdrawn from them sometime earlier.  We read about what He said then in verse 44

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent me. (John 12:44, ESV)

The word for “cry” here is to make a vehement outcry, or to speak with a very loud voice.  He was not afraid for those who wanted to kill Him, but there openly and very publicly in the midst of the thousands of people who came to Jerusalem for the Passover, our Lord proclaimed the Gospel publicly:  He is God, send by his Father to bring people out of darkness into light and to give them light. Faith in Him is faith in the Father.  He calls people out of darkness into the light.

He also cried out very loudly and clearly for all to understand:

The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (John 12:48, ESV)

Can you in your mind’s eye see our Lord urgently warning the world not to reject his word?  Can you hear Him say that all sermons preached about Him, and all chapters read about Him in the Word – things we know and have heard thousands of time, and which we maybe not believed – will one day stand up against us – screaming at us as a judgement because we have not walked to the light at the command of Jesus, the Son of Man.  We rather loved darkness.

The last thing Jesus proclaimed publicly is a repeat of the first verses of the Gospel of John:  He is from the Father, God Himself, and He only does what his Father commanded Him.  Believe Him, and one believes in the Father; reject Him, and one rejects the Father.  This action has severe consequences

Conclusion

John wrote his Gospel with this purpose:

“…these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, ESV)

It is important to understand this.  The Son of God was lifted up, crucified, so that by believing in Him we will be able to see, hear, and believe – and have eternal life.

The alternative is too dreadful to even think about.

Sermon preached by Rev D Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 12 May 2013

 

Definition of Family now a Political Issue

We thank God regularly for the privilege of freedom of religion in our country – which seems to be the case in most western democracies.

What we however need to have an open eye for is that matters of faith, and therefore traditionally seen as matters of the Church, are taken from the domain of the Church and relabeled as political issues.

Marriage, an institution of God, is one of the issues which has now been labelled as a political issue. All other related issues like same-sex marriages, homosexuality, abortion, genetic engineering, etc. fall within this “political” field. The freedom of the Church in these matters are taken from the Church and put squarely in the political domain.

To claim that we have freedom of religion in our democracy, is only true in as far as the Church remains within its assigned (by politicians) corner.  The principle that the Church can do its work in freedom, which includes preaching and spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in its fulness, including the impact of this massage on society, is now compromised:  the definition of what the work of the church is, is now in the hands of the law-makers.  The principle of separating the spheres of work between Church and State has seen a paradigm shift – the State oversteps its limits and destroys this principle.  After encroaching on the sphere of authority of the Church and assuming more and more rights by enlarging its own sphere of authority, it is now easy for the State to charge the Church for interfering with the work of the State.

Fact is, the boundaries have shifted.  And it seems it is going to shift a lot more.  The sphere of authority assigned by the State to the Church will shrink dramatically if this trends continues.  Yet, in the same time, what is left for the Church will still be sold as “freedom of religion”.

For the Church to have courage and stand up for its God-given authority in the sphere assigned by Him for the Church, will be the challenge.  It is probably at this junction where many martyrs of the past stood and decided it is their duty to obey God rather that the State.

The Case of Family First of New Zealand is a good example.

During the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate prior to the April 17 passage of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, Family First was a major force in educating and mobilising the public to stand up for marriage being between one man and one woman.

After passing of the Bill, Family First was deregistered as a charitable organisation.  The reason:

Brendon Ward, the General Manager of Charities Services, said “Family First’s main purpose is to promote particular points of view about family life.  Under the Act promotion of a controversial point of view is a political purpose.”

 “The Commission argues that Family First’s efforts to represent the voice of 80%-plus of families on the anti-smacking law or half of New Zealanders on attempts to redefine marriage, for example, have no ‘public benefit’, and that it is in the ‘public interest’ for Family First to be deregistered.”

Read more.

Jesus Christ glorified: The kernel died and produced many seeds

That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

Scripture Readings

  • Psalm 6
  • John 12:20-36

Introduction

Dear friends in the Lord Jesus Christ,

In the past week I have read two major authors, one is Richard Dawkins, the well-known atheist.  Dawkins makes this statement in his book River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life:

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

I, however read another book this week.  It is the Bible, written and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Of itself the Bible states:

“… no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20–21, ESV)

What Dawkins says brings confusion and hopelessness to my mind, because the Bible to the believer is exactly not what Dawkins claims it to be.  The Bible, and more so the passage of John we read this morning, brings peace to my mind; it stills my heart, and it makes my look forward to something more beautiful any mind can ever fathom.

I want to proclaim the Word to you taking these main points:

  • God is in control to the finest detail
  • The Son of Man glorified:  He is approved by the God of heaven and earth
  • The hour has come:  The world and Satan are judged, while the elect are gathered in
  • The demand of discipleship

God is in control to the finest detail

The passage we read today in John’s Gospel has a verse preceding it:

So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:19)

This verse is followed by this:

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:20–21)

Greek was the spoken language of most of the world in the day of Jesus.  The “Greeks” was a term of reference to all others but the Jews of the day.  Some of these Greeks also went to worship God at the Passover and the Feast of The Unleavened Bread.  They were not formally accepted into the Jewish nation and were therefore only allowed in the outer court of the Temple.  They heard the people talk about Jesus.  Verse 17 says:The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. (John 12:17, ESV)

So the Greeks were eager to see Jesus.  They went to Philip, who went to talk to Andrew about it.  They were the only two members of the Twelve with Greek names.  Some of the Greek customs, culture and thinking actually became part of the daily living in Galilee.  Philip came from Bethesda in Galilee.

I see more than a coincidence here.  God is control – He had put Philip there to be that link between the Greeks and the Saviour of the world. Through them, as through all the nations of the world, God would “draw people to Himself”.

The two disciples might have been not too sure if they could actually go to Jesus about the Greeks wanting to see Him.  There are other verses in the Gospels telling us the time of the Son of Man had not yet come.

At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. (John 7:30, NIV)

You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” (John 7:8, NIV)

When He had sent them out on their first preaching mission, He had instructed them, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 10:5–6).

They  however did go to Jesus.  Philip had been placed by God in the position to have a Greek name and to rub shoulders with the Greeks before this event.  It was the case with Andrew, even it was only his Greek name that opened the door for them to meet Jesus.  God made the Greeks curious about Jesus at the Passover feast.  It was at that particular feast that Jesus was present – and not only was He present, but He was the Passover Lamb that would be crucified.  All prefect timing.

God placed us with everything of our background in certain places for a purpose.  Only He knows why He allowed certain things to happen to us, why we meet people at certain places in certain circumstances – but the ultimate plan is for us to be like Philip: an instrument in leading people to see Jesus.  Never underestimate the purposes of God in your life.  Nothing happens without reason.  Just be obedient and step up to the task when the opportunity presents itself to help those around you to see Jesus.

The Son of Man glorified

Attested by the Father

Study the Gospel of John carefully and you will find that Jesus never really addressed the Greeks who wanted to see Him.  Jesus replied to the request to see the Greeks with this:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. (John 12:23, NIV)

Isaiah prophesied about Jesus:

“I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6, NIV)

There was another prophesy uttered by Isaiah:

See, my servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. (Isaiah 52:13, NIV)

All of this now has reached its climax: the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified: salvation will reach the end of the earth – here represented by the Greeks – by the exaltation of the Son of Man.  Our Lord responded:

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:27–28, NIV)

A voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.”

The crowd heard the voice of God, attesting to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of Man , and also the Son of Man. Jesus told the crowd the voice from heaven was for their benefit, not his.  What is going to happen in the next 48 hours or so to Jesus, is for their benefit; the voice was for them to see, hear and believe. The hour has come.  It is almost as if what was promised to Adam and Eve in paradise after the fall, and every promise thereafter, are now going into fulfilment.  And the Father by his own voice attested to the Person and mission of his Son.

Therefore we believe – against all odds.  God has spoken, and before Him we bow in adoration, confession of sins, and reception of his Son as our Saviour.

Like a kernel to produce many seeds

How is the Son glorified?  By being lifted up.  This has two meanings: his name would be lifted up, He would be worshipped as Lord and Saviour; but He would be lifted up as promised:

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:14–15, NIV)

Jesus was also glorified by his obedience to the Father even to the death of the cross, and in the redemption He achieved for the fallen world; He was glorified when the Father highly exalted Him, giving Him a name above every name and seating Him at his right hand; He was and is glorified in the work of the Holy Spirit as He leads thousands to the feet of the Saviour.

Jesus plainly states that the glorification of the Son of Man will take place in his death: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.”Jesus sees how from his passion and his death a magnificent panorama opens, reaching onward through the ages into all eternity, and it is one shining path of glory.  He then saw even the people of Wee Waa and how He would gather in some into his family.  He saw today, He knew we would be here to hear this Word of salvation. But He knew He had to give his life to achieve the purposes of God.

If a grain of wheat be not put into the soil, it will, indeed, not die, but it will then “itself remain alone” and produce nothing. So will the Son of man remain alone if He does not stoop to death on the cross. But if the grain falls into the earth, dies, and is consumed, it brings much fruit.  Augustine said, “The death of Christ was the death of the most fertile grain of wheat.

When the Greeks requested to see Him, Jesus sees the great harvest that will go on and on as the product of the great Grain of Wheat which fell in the earth.

Therefore He can declare about Himself:

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25, NIV)

He gave his life away to keep it, but not only his life only, but all those whom the Father gave Him.  He who clings to his earthly life with passionate attachment, Jesus says, by that very act of clinging to it with such love loses it.

Paul said about this act of Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6–8,)

The hour has come

This world is judged

With Jesus about to give his life – there were less than two days lift of his earthly life – Jesus uses very definite time indications: “the hour has come” and “now”.  It is an hour of crisis; it’s crunch time.  He who made time will use His time to bring judgement.
By rejecting Jesus this world is pronouncing a verdict upon Him. In reality, by doing this very thing a judgment descends upon the world itself and it loses its right to exist. By killing Jesus the world pronounced its own death sentence, lost its right to exist.  The world would not end at once, but this hour decides that its enduring character has passed, it is doomed.

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17, NIV)

The devil is destroyed

By bringing a judgment on this world this hour throws “the ruler of this world” out of his domain and dominion over the world. By inciting the world to kill Jesus the devil wrecked his own domain.

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8, NIV)

What is happening here is nothing less than the transfer of power from the present God-hating world into the hands of the Son of Man.

With the crucifixion Satan lost all grounds of appeal against sinful humanity, because eternal redemption has been achieved through the sacrifice of Christ.  Ironically, at the cross the world and its ruler are judged, while Jesus is glorified and salvation is achieved for God’s elect.

The elect are gathered in

There is a wonderful contrast between verses 31 and 32:  The ruler of this world will be driven out and by the cross and resurrection of Jesus lose his power.  It is different with Jesus.  He contrasts Himself with Satan. Listen:

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32, NIV)

Satan will be thrown “outside”, Jesus will “be lifted up“.  Satan will lose his dominion, Jesus will receives his dominion.  This is the kind of death He would die: it is a death that would destroy death, the ruler over death, and death as a result of sin.

The Greeks asking to see Him, are the sheep of the other pens Jesus talked about.

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16, NIV)

The demand of discipleship

To follow Christ unreservedly

Whoever serves me must follow me (John 12:26)

This verse follows the verse that speaks about “the man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life ins this world will keep it.”

As Jesus was prepared to lose his life, so He now calls his disciples to give up their lives too.  The example He sets for them, has limits upon them: they could not give their lives as a ransom to save others as He did; only He could do that.  But the example He set for them is that they too must take up their cross and follow Him.  They would understand the full meaning of these words as one would betray Him, another deny Him, and all left Him alone.

After his resurrection Jesus spoke to Peter and three times asked him if he really loved the Lord.  Then the Lord told him something about what would happen to him, Peter, on his last day:

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18–19, NIV)

The price of discipleship is still the same: we have to die of ourselves, our desires, our plans, our ideals – we must follow Jesus, even if it means to receive the honour of suffering for Him.

With a promise which cannot fail

“Where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honour the one who serves me.”

If we die to ourselves in following Jesus who died like a kernel in the ground and was raised up to bring in the harvest, Jesus promises that we will be where He is.  More than that, His Father will honour those who serve Him.

The word to remember here is “serve” – like a bond slave doing the bidding of his Master:  he has nothing of his own, no program of his own, no belongings of his own; he exists for one reason, which is to serve the One who has set him free.  The Father will honour such a servant, and in the Name of his son, He will welcome them in there where Jesus is.  That’s His promise.

Conclusion

The Gospel is preached. It was God’s eternal plan for us to hear it.

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30–31, NIV)

It is so different from what Dawkins try to tell us: no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

Jesus says He destroys evil, He draws us to Himself, gives us life, and promises to take us to where He is. There is purpose, evil is destroyed, good restored, and a glorious future promised.

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 5 May 2013

The theology of Christians and Atheists

Christians believe in God who created everything out of nothing – ex nihilo.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26, ESV)

God created everything, seen and unseen, by and for his Son, Jesus Christ.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15–17, ESV)

Christians understand this because God revealed it to them through Scripture, nature and his Holy Spirit.

…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20–21, ESV)

Christians are happy, content and joyful in the Lord of the universe, because only after forgiveness of sin and restoration through the death of Jesus Christ and Him being raised to life, life makes sense, is meaningful, and leads to the goal God set for it.

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:16–19, ESV)

Christians understand that God ordained that they should be witnesses of God’s grace.

Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46–48, ESV)

The reason for this is that this universe as we know it will come to an end when God will call all men to judgement, after which He will replace the old with the new.

And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for “ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, (Acts 17: 26–28, 30, ESV)

Christians believe in the existence of evil.  The Bible is clear about the existence Satan, also called the evil one, or the devil.

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9, ESV)

For this reason some Christians, over the ages, died for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are not more than their Master, and should expect to be treated the same He was treated by this world.

Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:16, ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, ESV)

Christians build on the promise of our Lord that nothing can stand against Him and his church.  To die in the process of witnessing to the truth of the Gospel does not mean that those who oppose it has had any victory.  Against all odds and in spite of gruesome persecution through the ages the Bible, the truth of the Gospel and the message of the Church is surviving.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, ESV)

It is regrettable and deplorable that many who call themselves “Christian” do not hold to the teachings of the Bible as the infallible and inspired word of God.  They disgrace the message of the Church and compromise its truth.  Their life is no example to the world, and their message holds out no life, nor purpose for those who might benefit from Gospel.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:2–5, ESV)

Christians understand that not all who hear the Gospel will respond to it positively.  Only God can open the eye of the unbeliever.

None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:8–10, ESV)

Christians believe it is their duty to scientifically search to understand God’s creation.  Many great scientist are Christians.

You [God] have given him [man] dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:6–8, ESV)

Christian, for this reason (only) could wholeheartedly agree with Richard Dawkins:

Isn’t it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it?

But Dawkins seems to be inconsistent in this regard.  Atheists (like Richard Dawkins) don’t believe in the existence of neither God nor the devil; there is no good or bad; we come from nowhere, and we are headed nowhere; there is no purpose in life.

“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”  (Richard Dawkins― River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life) 

This quote of Dawkins is a blatant acknowledgement of the philosophy and theology of the biological assertion of Darwinism.  After all, Darwinism – or Darwinistic evolution – cannot escape the reality that it has produced a worldview based on certain theological assumptions. For this reason there is truth in what Dawkins says:

A universe with a God would look quite different from a universe without one. A physics, a biology where there is a God is bound to look different. So the most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory.

Atheists therefore, like Christians find it necessary to hold conferences to promote their views – and attack Christians on the basis of what they believe.  They decorate buses with signage to tell they world their is no God; they erect billboards to spread their theology.

They also write many books and pamphlets, they fund TV programs to promote their view.  They fund chairs at universities and see that professors are appointed to tell their story.

One wonders: Why?  Why spend all the money and effort to convince people that they come from nowhere, live for no reason and are going nowhere?  If you did nothing, most people would believe it anyhow!

If God does not exist, if evil does not exist, if good has no absolute definition, and if morality has no basis, why attack which does not exist?  Why wage a war when there is no enemy?  You only do this if you really believe in something!  It is just inconceivable that you would go through all this trouble to tell people that the “universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

Or do they somewhere deep perhaps believe that God does indeed exist, and therefore need to wage war against Him, his Son and his people?