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Shifting Sands

Tuesday, 3 Jul 2012 Leave a comment

“The Dalai Lama specifically says that whenever science contradicts a Buddhist scripture, the scientific viewpoint should be adopted.”

I have seen this statement above in multiple places, so I believe it is probably true. The first time I read it my mouth almost hit the floor.

Clearly, Buddhism is subject to change. It obviously makes no claim to divine revelation or inspiration. If all it takes is a contradiction with science (which is often initially wrong or woefully incomplete) to change the tenets of Buddhism, how can any claim in Buddhism relating to eternity or spiritual life be wholeheartedly believed? If the claims of Buddhism in the natural realm cannot be relied upon, how can its claims in the spiritual realm be relied upon?

In many ways this is similar to Christians who pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to believe. If a scripture clashes with current social or political beliefs or is not convenient or goes against fleshly desires (e.g. homosexuality, abortion, salvation in Christ alone, etc.), many Christians today simply discard and ignore those scriptures. But, if those scriptures are not to be believed, what makes any of the other scriptures about salvation, eternal life, or redemption believable? The end result of such an approach can be nothing but a complete logical failure. And, this is NOT how Christians have believed historically.

Both of these scenarios – Buddhism and the selective Christian – can offer but one thing: shifting sands. If your beliefs (or the general beliefs in the Church) change over time and are not rooted in the Word of God, the consequences can only be disastrous…

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)

Does this mean our beliefs should never change? No. It means they should only change when they are coming into better agreement with the Word of God, not with society, science, or anyone else. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

So, the difference highlighted here between Buddhism and Christianity is that even though the Bible does explain everything in science, it is not in contradiction with it. Therefore, we are not given reason to doubt its spiritual claims.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Categories: General

New Bible Reading Plan

Sunday, 10 Jun 2012 Leave a comment

As I picked up my Bible to do my daily reading one day, I noticed the Bible reading plan I was using had just finished Colossians in one day after having spent 7 days on II Samuel. Coming up was 8 more days in the Old Testament followed by just one day in the New Testament. I had liked this plan for a number of reasons, including going book by book, but it has been emphasized in Bible college that as New Testament believers we should really be reading the New Testament more than the Old Testament. This plan was definitely not doing this. But, as I said, I liked many of its other features.

Now, to actually read the NT more than the OT with your reading plan, you would have to read in parallel the Old Testament over something like 2-3 years and the New Testament twice a year. I didn’t feel like that was best, as it would probably be better to see all of the Old Testament once each year. Nevertheless, I felt it was time for a change.

Over the years, one of the challenges I have faced is finding a Bible reading plan that works well for me. I used this one for a while because it provides catch-up days, mostly goes book by book, and intersperses the Old and New Testament books. But, as I described above, I was not seeing nearly enough of the New Testament each day.

Many other plans read the Old and New Testament in parallel. But, the reading is still heavily favored towards the Old Testament. I also wanted a plan that functioned like the one I had been using but brought the New Testament forward in frequency and comparative time allotted.

So, I created a plan of my own. If you feel that you are “in the market” for a new Bible reading plan, take a look at the one I have created by visiting the Bible Reading Plan page and see if it works well for you.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Categories: General

The Name (Part 2) – The Hope of Glory

Sunday, 20 Nov 2011 Leave a comment

As described in the inaugural post, the title of this blog is a combination of parts of two scriptures that speak to the heart of being a Christian, growing as a Christian, and knowing who you are as a Christian. The second part of the title, “The Hope of Glory,” comes from the book of Colossians.

25Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27)

The mystery hidden from those in the Old Testament that has now been made manifest is that in the New Covenant Christ lives in the saints. This is the hope of glory. And, this is precisely what the first part of the title exhorts you to acknowledge for your faith to have effect in your life!

So, what exactly does this phrase “the hope of glory” mean?  The word “hope” (“elpis” in the Greek) means “a confident expectation of good.” The word “glory” (“doxa” in the Greek) is a more interesting and complicated word. If this is part of what we are seeking to acknowledge the presence of in our spirit, what exactly is it?

In many places in the Bible “glory” means what we most often visualize it to mean: majesty, splendor, brightness, magnificence. We have a confident expectation of majesty. Using this definition, we are likely to anticipate this in the future in heaven even though it lives on the inside of us right now. While it should give us pause to realize that glory of this nature literally lives on the inside of us (and this should cause our faith to become effectual), there is another definition of glory that is rarely mentioned that will change your life if you understand it.

“Glory” can mean an opinion or estimate, and in the New Testament it always means a good opinion. (This is especially emphasized in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.) So, Christ in you should give you a confident expectation of a good opinion. Whose opinion, and what does that opinion look like?

Ephesians 1:17 tells us that God is the Father of glory (the next verse also goes on to talk of the riches of the inheritance of God in the saints – the same point that is being made here in Colossians 1:27). So, of course God is the Father (the Greek word in this context means “the originator, generator, or source”) of majesty, but with the extended definition of “glory” we see that God is also the source of opinion of you. God’s opinion of you is the original opinion (and the only opinion that matters). And, what opinion does God have of you?

21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23)

In verse 22, we see the glory (opinion) which God expressed to Jesus was also given to us by Jesus. God’s opinion of us is the same as His opinion of Jesus! Hallelujah! The verses surrounding verse 22 elaborate on and reinforce the exact truth being taught in Colossians 1:27 where we began – Christ lives in us as New Testament saints (“I in them” in verse 23).

Applying this back to Philemon 6, part of acknowledging the good things in us (as part of Christ being in us) is to understand that the view or opinion God has of us is the same as His opinion of Jesus. When God sees you, He sees Jesus! Right now. Meaning today. Not just tomorrow, but today.

Your faith will begin to have effect in your life when you acknowledge these good things that are in your spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the hope of glory.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Categories: General

The Name (Part 1) – Effectual Faith

Friday, 18 Nov 2011 Leave a comment

The title of this blog is a combination of parts of two scriptures that speak to the heart of being a Christian, growing as a Christian, and knowing who you are as a Christian. The first part of the title, “Effectual Faith,” comes from the little one chapter book of Philemon:

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. (Philemon 6)

This scripture is only one example of many that speak to a foundational Christian truth. To bring out the meaning of this verse, consider the following words.

communication – Thayer’s Greek lexicon gives the meaning “the share which one has in anything, participation.” So, this is speaking of the share of faith you have, or the participation or action of your faith.

effectual – Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines effectual as “produces an effect, or the effect desired”

So, this verse can be understood as saying the following.

“Your faith becomes active and produces the desired effect in your life when you acknowledge every good thing that is in you in Christ Jesus.”, OR

“The share of faith you have been given begins to work or participate in your life when you acknowledge every good thing that is in you in Christ Jesus.”

If you want to see God move dramatically in your life and in the lives of those around you, begin to acknowledge the good things placed in you (in your spirit) at your salvation. What are these things? How do I find out what these things are? The Bible tells you. James 1:23-25 tells us that the Bible is our spiritual mirror. Look for the promises of God to you through the sacrifice of Christ. Look for the view and opinion God has of you through Christ. They are everywhere in the New Testament if you only open the eyes of your heart to look for and see them as you read the Word.

So, the first part of the name of this blog describes one of its primary objectives – to point you towards an effectual faith by illustrating the good things in you in Christ Jesus.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Categories: General