Christian Conviction is Not Scripture

By S.C. Shaw

What do I mean by “Christian conviction is not scripture”? This is a topic that has been on my heart and mind for years. This is a topic not talked about in most churches, bible studies or even amongst friends. Why? Because most Christians don’t even know this is something to consider. Why is it important? Because I see more Christians wasting their time and energy trying to push their convictions on others and it needs to stop because it is unbiblical and is pushing people away from the love of Christ. We can and should share our convictions and opinions with other believers, but everything you think is wrong is not always what the Bible says is wrong. You feel guilty about something and insist that it is a sin for everyone, and that is simply not true. There are tiers to these issues.

Tier one: Salvation based truths

These are the essential Christian faith doctrinal truths that are necessary for salvation as seen in Scripture. 

Simple example: God is three in One (the Trinity). Jesus lived a perfect life as 100% man and 100% God, died for sinners on a cross, rose from the grave and ascended to heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:3–5. One day He will return for a final judgment on evil and His children will be with God for eternity. Others include authority of Scripture alone, Glory to God alone, and salvation in Christ alone.

Tier two: Conviction based ideas

These are the things that brothers and sisters in Christ can have differing opinions on and still be in Gods family for eternity. This is one of the areas many Christians try and enforce as a first-tier Gospel truth. 

Simple example: Modes of baptism, drinking alcohol, tithing, church membership, church government etc. 

These are the issues that create denominations. These are things that are important to think through and know where you stand but are not a matter of salvation. 

Tier three: Opinion based things

These are the things that one can have an idea about that is not explicit right, wrong or doctrinal truth in the Bible. These opinions can also be talked about as if they are Gospel truths but are not.  

Simple example: How long was creation, new earth, old earth, end times etc. 

Why is this important to talk about? Because we want to be confessional Christians and want to know who we are in our convictions and opinions. But we need to know where to stop. Your convictions and opinions are not inspired truths of God. In fact, nothing is if it is not systematically talked about in the Scriptures. What the whole Bible agrees on any given topic is the only thing that is salvation based. These are the issues in which why so many on lookers hate, the church, the Bible and God. This is where legalism stems from and is ungodly and wicked. Let’s read what the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith says.

1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 21 

Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience 

The liberty Christ has purchased for believers under the gospel is found in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, and the severity and curse of the law. It also includes their deliverance from this present evil age, bondage to Satan, the dominion of sin, the suffering of afflictions, the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation. In addition, it includes their free access to God and their obedience to him, not from slavish fear but from a childlike love and willing mind.

All these liberties were also enjoyed in their essence by believers under the law. But under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further expanded. They are free from the yoke of the ceremonial law to which the Jewish congregation was subjected; they have greater confidence of access to the throne of grace; and they have a fuller supply of God’s free Spirit than believers under the law usually experienced.

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and he has left it free from human doctrines and commandments that are in any way contrary to his word or not contained in it. So, believing such doctrines, or obeying such commands out of conscience, is a betrayal of true liberty of conscience. Requiring implicit faith or absolute and blind obedience destroys liberty of conscience and reason as well.

Those who use Christian liberty as an excuse to practice any sin or nurture any sinful desire pervert the main objective of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction, and they completely destroy the purpose of Christian liberty. This purpose is that we, having been delivered from the hands of all our enemies, may serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our lives.

You see the measure in which this is a big deal? 

There is a balance, however. We must not be a stumbling block to other believers. We need to put every other believer’s wellbeing in front of our own. Example: If you believe you can drink to the glory of God and are able to control yourself, then it is ok for you. But if you feel guilty when you drink then don’t drink. Another side of this is; if your brother struggles with addiction then not drinking when he’s around would be a God honoring thing. And that’s the main point to everything, honoring and glorifying God, 1 Corinthians 10:31. 

I am writing this blog, so I have a place to send people who struggle with this understanding or maybe have never thought about it. When I hear Christians argue or voice their opinion on various matters, it always stems from an ignorant view of this topic. But just as importantly, the way Christians will impose their convictions and opinions on the non-believer. First, never expect the unrepentant heart to think about right and wrong as you do. They are dead in their sin just as you were once. We stick to the Gospel and our testimony. Only the Holy Spirit can change a heart and make the dead to life. Second, our legalism is what has been the biggest problem in the church since the start. Not only should we not be imposing our second and third tier ideas on believers, but we should keep those to yourself amongst non-believers. The Christian looking down on the non-Christian for not living a life for God is unrealistic and dangerous. We are to love them, teach the truth (the first tier mainly) and live a life worthy of the Gospel. That’s it! Everything else is self-righteous, prideful and hurtful to the Kingdom. We are sinning when trying raise our opinions to the level of God’s Word. Keep the main thing the main thing. 

Lastly, sometimes we need to mature in our faith and wisdom of Scripture before we can know what our true convictions and opinions are. They will change as you grow. Like the way a child understanding of things change as they grow up. No one thinks the same at 8 years old as they do when they are 18. In fact, it might be the opposite on most matters of life. Let us all start there and most of this will handle itself. 

Closing:

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

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Honest Questions from the Youth

By S.C. Shaw

I lead musical worship for my church. Right now I am mainly leading for our youth group. Last week we handed out some paper for them to write any questions they had concerning God and the Bible. After reading through these questions and giving answers to the best of my ability and I thought it would be good for all to see. These questions are the same ones I hear from all ages. So here we go.

How can Jesus know what we are all doing at the same time?

What an amazing God right?! God is the Creator of all good things. That means He even created time and space. Which also means He operates outside of that because He is not bound by His own creation. Of-course this is all a mystery because we don’t know exactly how that works because we are not only bound by the time and space God has given to us, but we are limited in our finite minds compared to the wisdom and power of God. And you know what? It’s ok to not understand everything about God. In fact, if we could understand God completely then God wouldn’t be God.

When will Jesus bring peace to earth?

There will never be peace on earth until He comes back, judges the world justly, destroys it and then creates the new heaven and new earth. When will that be? We don’t know. But what we do know is we all have the same calling in Christ. We are to grow in our faith and share it with others. This world has been corrupted by sin and cannot be reconciled until it is made anew. But we are given the choice to have peace in this world because of what Jesus did on the cross. By dying for sinners and being raised, He gives us a peace that the world cannot understand. We have the hope of eternity with Christ and the joy that the Holy Spirit brings to us because He is living inside us. That means we can have a certain peace on this earth right now. 

How were the circumstances in Genesis so bad that He wiped out all people? 

How are the circumstances now not worse with everything happening because there are drugs and drinking still here… will He wipe out everyone else again in a different way? God said He would never flood the earth again.

There were some very different things going on in Genesis. And some things that are going on now seem just as bad if not worse. But there was a corruption of mankind with fallen angels and women making babies. I know that sounds weird and it is. It was a perversion of what God had intended. God made man in His image and now that image is being corrupted. There are many differing theories on this and what exactly was going on or to what level was the world corrupted with this problem. But we know it was bad enough for God to wipe them out. That’s a big deal. 

Plus remember, God would be just to wipe us all out all the time. The fact that He doesn’t is a major grace in our life. He gives us the opportunity to repent and follow Christ but it’s our choice. 

The world today is lost and corrupted as well. But wrath is coming for all the evil in the world. We must trust that Gods timing is better than ours. The book of Revelation says that when Christ returns, He is coming to destroy the wicked and bring His children home (plus lots of other stuff). 

So, there is judgment coming again but not in the form of a flood. He is going to destroy the whole world and make a new and perfect, never to be defiled again. A world for His children to live with Him for eternity. 

If God loves us so much, how come He allows suffering and heartbreak?

God is so loving that when He created people, He gave us the ability to make choices. When our first representatives “Adam and Eve” sinned, they cursed the whole of humanity. No one would have made a better choice for they walked with God in an undefiled relationship like no one has ever done in all of creation. To think that their choices cursing us in unfair, remember the point is that no one would have done any better. 

With that curse came a curse on all of creation. From then on God’s creation was thrown into chaos. But God is so good and loving that He didn’t destroy us like He could have justly done, He makes a way for us to know Him and ultimately be forgiven of this curse. 

This life feels all-consuming and long to us, but to God it is like a flash of light. At least in the way that time works. God is working His plan through all of this evil. That’s how good and loving He is. He is able to take our sin and suffering and turn it into beauty for His children and glory for Himself. We don’t always get to see the good that comes from bad things, but we can trust that God is working good because He can only do good. He has a purpose and point to all He does and it’s all good, holy and perfect. 

It is not that lack of love from God that we see bad things happen. It is the amount of evil people have chosen instead of turning to God for all things. It is always important for us to remember that God would have been just to kill us all. We deserve nothing from God but wrath. But He chose to offer forgiveness to those who would follow Him. Now His children have a future hope regardless of what is happening here and now. Our hope, peace, joy and life are in Christ and our eternity with Him. 

How come God allows all of humanity to suffer because of a mistake that two people made?

Adam and Eve weren’t just “two people”. They were the first man and women. They had a relationship like no other people have ever had. They represented us as our first parents. Because they were the first of creation, and had such an intimate relationship with God, they now represent all of mankind. No one would have done better and therefore we are under the curse of their sin. Thank God for Jesus right?

Why would God even create the tree that caused Adam and Eve to sin knowing that they would be tempted?

God made man very unique from the rest of His creation. Not only are man and woman made in His image. But they are also free agents, meaning they are able to make choices. Some call this “free will” but that’s another topic. God giving man a choice means they need a choice. They have to choose good or evil. If a temptation was never introduced, then having “free will” will mean nothing. God wants His children to choose Him freely. Not mindless robots or people that are forced to love Him. 

God gave them the garden of Eden full of wonderful food and a perfect relationship with their Creator. He simply asked them to not eat of one tree. But you know the rest. No matter the test for man, man would have failed. But this is good because we get to see God’s grace and mercy in our life. Plus we wouldn’t be able to see how good God is if we have never seen evil. I think that’s probably why the sinned. They really had no idea what they were doing but they knew they were disobeying. But God shows His grace and mercy right away. Sure, they cursed themselves and the rest of creation. But instead of just killing them as God had the right to do, He starts a covenant (promise) with them. He makes a way over and over again for God who is perfect able to dwell with man even though now we are corrupted with sin. Remember God can have no part of darkness and that’s all sin is. Sin causes death. 

How do I know if God is talking to me?

Short simple answer, If God speaks to you, you’ll know. But this is why it’s so important to know Gods Word because if the voice you are hearing is contradicting the Bible, then you aren’t hearing from God. God will also speak to us through our time in His Word. God has spoken to all of us very clearly. He has given us His Word. Too many Christians complain about not hearing from God while their Bible remains closed. What God wants from us or our lives is no mystery. 

Why do we fail?

We fail because we are weak. We are cursed from birth and have no hope. Too negative? It’s the truth but a more powerful truth is what Christ did for us on the cross. Us, this bunch of weak failures have the gift of eternal life and the Creator of all things as our King, Father and friend. You know that the Bible says about our weakness? When we are weak then we are strong because God uses us in and through our weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:10. That’s how powerful He is. 

Why am I not born smart?

First you would have to define “smart”. Smart in school? Smart because other people think you’re smart? All that doesn’t matter because God made you the way He wanted you. He will use you in all your strengths and weaknesses. I was terrible at school, still am. My brain doesn’t work academically (I had to look up how to spell “academically” so I could use it in this sentence). I cheated to make it through high school. I don’t recommend that, just telling you of my despicable past. But I run a successful business for almost 15 years now that I started with no help or college degree. I have a wonderful life and I don’t consider myself smart. At least not by the worlds standards. God will use you and strengthen you in ways you never even knew you had. Just trust and follow Him. Grow in the wisdom of the Gospel. Everything the world thinks is smart is foolish. 

What happens if God calls you to do something and you do not do it?

I’m pretty sure you’re talking about every day for every Christian who has ever lived. God calls us and we should listen. Are we perfect? No! But we are growing every day to be more like Christ and the more we become like Him the better we will heed (listen and obey) His call. And if God really wants you to do something, there’s nothing that will stop Him. See Jonah and the whale. 

Why did God give us the gift of worship music?

Tugging at my heart strings here. I love music in general but music that glories God is my favorite. I believe God made music very special. It is powerful. I think God created music because He is musical. He is creative and loves beauty. We sing because He sings. We worship Him because He deserves our worship. God loves giving good gifts to His children. And even though some people pervert that gift, that means nothing to our gift of music. 

What does God look like?

No one knows because no one has seen God the Father. God the Father is Spirit and does not have a body. But we have Jesus and Jesus is God. Jesus is the body of God. The bible tells us that Jesus will still have a body in heaven. In fact, Jesus will still bare His scares in His hands and feet in heaven. We don’t really know what Jesus looked like while on earth, but we know in heaven He will be glorious!

Why is it so hard to share the gospel?

I found it really hard to share the Gospel when I was still immature in my faith. Not that that is an excuse but it’s the truth. When we fill like we won’t have the answers that someone will ask then we would rather not talk at all. But no one has all the answers. What we do have is our testimony and we should at least know the basics of the Gospel as to fill in our testimony. God came, died and rose again for all who would believe. However, your life has changed because of that information, that is the Gospel you should share. But continue to grow in your faith and knowledge of the Bible because it will only do you well and serve others to be able to defend the truth and your faith.  

Why does God love us so much even though we are sinners?

That’s great news right!? Ephesians 2 tells us that even when we were dead in our sin, God loved us. Before you knew and loved God, He already loved you. Now that you know Him and are hopefully striving to know Him more, He not only loves you but delights in you. 

But if you’re asking how He could love us at all? It is because He created us. Even though we turned our backs, He still pursued us. Even when we fail, He still loved us. When we were helpless and hopeless, He gave us eternal hope. We don’t really know why, but we know He does. 

Will God forgive my recent sins that I have done in the past days?

We were born under the wrath of God. Dead in our sins. We are actually enemies of God. And yet He still saved us. Why? Because those He loves He loved since before the foundations of the world. So, before you could do anything to make Him angry or before you could do anything to make Him happy, He loved you. But as we see in Ephesians 2, there was no hope in our natural state. And yet God still chose to save us by His grace. We have done nothing to be loved by God and therefore we can do nothing to be turned away from Him. If you are in Christ, then nothing can take that away. Jesus on the cross died for every sin past present and future of those who would love and follow Him. 

But if we truly are following Him then we do still ask forgiveness because we feel the pain of our sin. Remember, Christ already paid for it. He took the wrath we deserve for each sin. So how do we respond? Hopefully with a life dedicated to Him. Yes, we are still sinning sinners. We won’t be perfect in this life. But Christ is making us more like Him each day. Even the days we can’t see it. Even the days we don’t even like ourselves because of what we’ve done. God is much more patient and loving than us. 

Will things be better in the future?

First, I would want to know what you think “better” is? The world is going to get worse; we see that in the Bible. We know that God uses our suffering in this life for our own good. As we draw nearer to Christ then we experience more peace and joy and His love. In that way everything is always better. If you are going through hard times in your family, work, whatever then yes, things will get better in the same sense if you find your peace with Him. I know we can feel like our whole world is falling apart when our home life is chaos. But remember, our real family is with God. We just need to draw nearer to Chirst. 

Does the Lord know what’s happening to my self-esteem?

God knows what’s happening at all times everywhere. In fact, He is in control of it all. But I would first want to know what you believe to be low self-esteem and why? To be honest I think we all have a big pride issue. Even our self-loathing in an example of pride. Think about what is happening when you’re feeling bad about yourself. We are self-absorbed in those moments. All we are thinking about is us. It feels like we are struggling with our self-esteem, but we are really just thinking of ourselves only. If we are truly feeling like we are struggling in ourselves then we need to strengthen our identity in Christ. That is who we were made for. When Jesus looks at His children He delights in them. So the God of the universe knows you and loves you. When we aren’t living for Him, that is when we begin to suffer through all these issues. But it’s never too late to make some changes.  

Eternity with God seems like too much. It’s scary. I question what life is going to be like in Heaven…. I can’t wrap my mind around the process of having no time stamp in Heaven.

Eternity does seem scary because we only know time. But God operates outside of time. Eternity is never ending but we can’t even really comprehend what that looks like. Our souls were created for eternity, so the only other option is actually scary and terrible. What this really comes down to is you haven’t seen God for who He is yet. The more you grow in your faith and relationship in Him the more you see His beauty and love. Then it turns from a scary unfathomable eternity to, I can’t wait to see my Savior face to face and praise Him for forever!

How do I talk with someone about God who doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong therefore isn’t interested in God?

This is a common problem in our culture today. Just because someone feels safe doesn’t mean they are. I would first break apart their false idea that they haven’t done anything wrong. I’d ask, “so you’re perfect?” Most logical people will answer “Of-course not.” Then you could simply ask them if they have ever lied before, lusted, hated someone, etc. Then point them to the Bible which is reliable in its writings (which is another whole conversation) but showing them that God of the Bible demands perfection, and we fail to meet that perfection. That means we are under His terrifying wrath. But, that’s ok because He made a way for us to be perfect in His eyes. Not that we are perfect but those who believe in Jesus and put their trust and faith in Him have eternal life and are safe from the coming wrath on all sin. 

Do some sins weigh more than others?

Some sins are obviously worse than others. Every sin is the same as it demands punishment from God. But there are three ways the bible talks about this, sins, trespasses and abominations. Each worse in their degree of sin. Of-course there are sin’s that are worse than others. 

Did God create himself?

“Nothing” is unable to create. God is the only uncreated being. That is what makes Him God. He would cease to be God if He was created. 

Is it true that God won’t give us more than we can handle?

God will always give you more than you can handle. We are weak and can’t handle anything. We see all throughout the Bible of people crying out to God and how what they’re going through is more than they can handle. Read the Psalms. This idea comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13. But the context is talking about temptation. God won’t allow us to be tempted to the point of breaking. He will always provide a way out as to not fall into sin. But as far as being able to endure suffering a trial, we have Christ to fall to for our strength and peace. It isn’t our mightiness that gets us through stuff, it’s Christ’s work in us. When Paul says “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me” doesn’t mean you have the power to kick the brick wall down and conquer all. Paul is writing that from prison, and he is saying “No matter the abundance, lacking, joy or sorrow and suffering, because I have Christ, I can endure it all. My hope is not in this world but in the life with Christ.”

Does scripture say anything about self-harm?

You’d need to define self-harm because everything we do outside of glorifying God is self-harm and it’s a sin. But I can assume you’re talking about cutting and things like that. Cutting isn’t anything new. In fact, you can see in the Old Testament where people would cut themselves to worship their false Gods. They would also do all kinds of wicked acts in the name of their false dead gods and idols. The Bible also tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we are not our own but a temple of the Holy Spirit and have been bought with a price. We belong to the God who created us. So, when we harm ourselves, we are not in line with Gods plan for us and our lives. 

Why does God allow humans to go to hell for eternity?

God has created our spirit to live forever. He has also made us free agents meaning we are able to make choices. If we live our life wanting nothing to do with the One true God, then He is not going to force you to be with Him. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but they lack understanding of what heaven is. Heaven is a place where those who chose to follow and love Christ with their entire life are now able to worship and praise Him for all eternity. That’s what makes it heaven, being face to face with our Savior forever. That sounds like hell to everyone else. But since our spirit lives forever, there has to be a place for them to go. And unfortunately living a life with an unrepentant heart leads you to eternal judgment. Which is what we all deserve. But God gave away out of that through Jesus work on the cross. But you must accept the gift and live for Him.

Why does God let some people starve and some be wealthy? What does God allow car crashes and hurricanes? Why does God allow pain and suffering?

Ever since the fall (Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve cursed us with sin), the world has been broken. Not Gods fault but ours. God has been working His plan since the fall to bring His children back to Him and the evil of the world is storing up wrath for itself. God will punish all evil and finally do away with it forever. But it is in His timing not ours. We can have hope because no matter what evil’s we face here we know we have such a powerful God that loves His children and is able to turn all the bad of the world and make it something good for us. That evil will be dealt with, but you are safe in your Fathers hands. The evilest thing ever done in all of history was Jesus dying on the cross. The only actual good person (God) coming and being killed for those who killed Him. In this He made the only way to be with God forever in eternity. This isn’t to dimmish all the suffering and sadness that comes from this broken world. But our hope isn’t found on this earth. It is found in Christ and the life to come. 

Why does God not make Himself known to everyone if the whole point of putting us on this earth is to worship Him?

First, God has made Himself known plainly in His creation. The Bible says creation declares the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) and the fool says in his heart “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). God revealed Himself in mighty ways throughout the Bible and people still denied following Him. See, it’s not that people don’t have enough evidence, it’s that they are much happier and comfortable to deny Him and live the way they want. 

Second, God wants people to worship Him because they trust in Him for who He is and what He’s doing. Before Adam and Eve sinned and cursed us all, God was able to walk with man. But now God is unable to reveal Himself in that way because He is too glorious. We would actually die if we saw Him. He has given us His Word and He says that is everything we need to know to know Him and for saving faith. We don’t agree with that usually because we don’t read it enough. We haven’t experienced the power of it and so we deny it. The way God reveals Himself to His children that seek Him is so powerful they ask for nothing more. 

This is also the importance of Christians sharing their testimonies. The way God changes hearts should be enough evidence by itself. No one changes the way they change when they meet the real and living God. 

Why are we supposed to put God over everything else when we cannot even see or feel Him?

The follower of Christ does see and feel Him every day. That’s not to deny your faith but as we grow in our faith, we see Him acting in our lives all the time and feel closer each day. We put Him first because He puts Himself first. He does that because there is nothing greater than Him. To put anything before Him would be ridiculous. But we do it all the time. But it is hard because we can’t physically see Him or touch Him. But we turn back to Him and continue to fight for more of Him because we know there is nothing better. We are simply distracted by the physical world.

Do all LGBTQ people accepted by God and go to heaven?

We are all born into sin. Sexual sin is one of those sins. God created us for His purpose and glory. We were made by Him, for Him and through Him. We are to our own. Living in anyway outside of His design is sin. It doesn’t matter what the sin is, it is sin and needs to be denied so we can live for Christ. The sin doesn’t matter as much as if we are living in it, or accepting it in our life. The important thing is are we denying ourselves and living for Christ? In heaven we will see homosexuals, murderers, adulterers, fornicaters, addicts, and every other kinds of sinners. But those in heaven have denied their desires to be able to live for Christ. No one living in any unrepentant sin will make it to heaven. If we chose our sin over Christ then the wages of our sin is death. 

With that being said, too many Christians treat homosexuality as some kind of special or bad sin. When, in actuality, their pride and arrogant ignorance is just as bad if not a worse sin. We are called to love people and share the Gospel. You are not going to change anyone. Christ will take care of matters of the heart, you just share the good new of what Christ has done for sinners and let Him do the rest.

Closing:

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

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The Gospel for the Post-Christian Culture

By S.C. Shaw

I recently went to a conference with some leaders with my church. We learned some interesting statistics about our new Post-Christian culture. I wasn’t even aware that this was such a major thing of our time. We learned how the next generation of people are growing up in a world completely oblivious to the bible and the gospel in general. The only upside to this is the excitement that can come from someone hearing the amazing saving grace of God for the first time without bringing any false or just messy life stories to the gospel from their past. My attempt in this blog is to breakdown the gospel story as simple and short as I can for those who just don’t know. 

Here’s how I would explain the gospel story to people who know very little to nothing about Jesus Christ. 

The God who created everything in this world and the whole universe has created you and me. He created man and woman very different and special from all His other creations. He made them that they may be in perfect fellowship with Him forever. God wasn’t in need of anything or lonely. In fact God is so powerful and mysterious that He is Three in One. He is One God but with three very distinct persons or essence. I know that is hard to understand, but if God could be fully understood what kind of God would He be? We will never fully understand Him.

Everything we need to know about Him and His saving grace, He has given to us in His Word, the Bible. But this awesome God creates us because of His overflowing love and creativity. He simply wants to share Himself with His creation. One of the most amazing mysteries is that God has given us the ability to make choices. What God wants more than anything, what He values above everything else in His own glory. That sounds weird and egotistical I know. But remember, we are not talking about a person. We are talking about the God who has not only made all things but upholds, rules and is in control of all things. The words for that are “sovereign and providence”. That’s a good word to know. So, what else can be above God’s glory? It is only right to put His glory first. Why does this matter? Because God creating us able to make choices means; one, this shows His power and glory, two, man and woman choosing to love and obey Him is more glorious than God just making mindless robots. And notice how I’m not using the term “free will” but able to make choices. I think the idea of free will is different and not a correct term for free agents able to make choices. But that’s a whole other blog topic.

So God makes both man and woman. He creates them special, meaning they possess certain qualities and characteristics of God Himself. God made them in His image or likeness. Not bearing a physical resemblance, God is all Spirit. But we are able to know Him and understand Him more than all the rest of creation. We share similarities with God. Mainly, made for fellowship with Him but with one another as well.

There is another side of this story. That is the side of evil. Lucifer was the most beautiful angel in heaven. So much so that Lucifer wanted to be like God. He wanted to be worshiped. So God, protecting His own glory, cast Lucifer out of heaven along with some of the angels that wanted to follow him. Now called Satan, the Devil, the Tempter, the Deceiver and many other names. Lucifer would be apposed to God forever. 

I tell you this because God gave rule and dominion to Adam and Eve (the first man and woman). They had free reign of it all except for one tree they were not to eat from. Why did God do this? Because God must test man to know if they will choose Him or not? Turns out, the first test was failed by our representatives, Adam and Eve. They had a relationship with God that no one else in this world has ever experienced and they still failed. How did they fail? Satan came to them when they were in the garden and tempted them to eat of the tree God had told them not to. To make a long story short, they ate and they broke the relationship they had with God. They now know sin and have cursed all of creation with them. Doesn’t seem fair? Remember, they were far closer to God than we can ever be this side of heaven. No one would have done any better. The represented us wholly and completely. God in all His perfection can have no part in sin. Sin is the opposite of who He is. That is why the covenant was broken. Darkness, evil and sin entered to world and God must make things right again. How? By destroying sin and sinners. 

After that the world was in chaos. Now sin in abundance entered through this one sin. God makes promises and covenants to people He sees are seeking after Him. God showing undeserved grace and mercy on us from the start. God pours out His graces on His people over and over again as His people struggle with sin and idolatry over and over again. God gives them His commandments, ways to atone for their sin by imperfect and continual sacrifices through the blood of animals and other sacrifices. 

Fast forward to the New Testament (the second grouping of books 400 years after the Old Testament ends. God’s perfect timing has come for the truth and final redemption for His people. He sends Himself in the second person of the Trinity, comes to earth as Yeshua or as we know Him best (Jesus the Christ) the man. This man is 100% God, and 100% Man. God is doing the impossible to bring His beloved rebellious people back to Himself. God again constantly showing His people grace and mercy. Why would He do this? First, because He made promises in the Old Testament (the first grouping of book in the bible that ends 400 years before Jesus enters the scene). Second, God saves us because saving us shows His glory even more than destroying us would. Even though He would still be just and glorified if He did destroy us. Once Adam and Eve sinned, God had every right to kill off His rebellious creation and start over again. But He doesn’t. Instead He has planned since before He created the world, that He would save us. That’s right, God not only knew that man would sin, but He is working out all of history for His ultimate plan of glory and our ultimate good. Again, hard to understand fully I know. 

Jesus comes and is getting ready to start His ministry after 30 years on earth. He works hard and is growing in who He is, but His ministry has not started yet. There’s some cool stuff that happens but it is not till Jesus is 30 years old that Jesus actually starts His ministry. Jesus starts His ministry by getting baptized. It’s a great example of how the new Christian should start their walk with God. Baptism isn’t a means of salvation. Just like Jesus was already God and already perfect in His life, and yet He still gets baptized to start His ministry. We are saved by God and have full assurance of heaven before we are ever baptized. But just like our lives will look very different after following Jesus. Baptism is just an outward sign to everyone of your inward conversion. Just a little side note.

Let’s continue with the life of Christ. He performs many wonders and awesome things (you should pick up a bible and read John to read about Jesus life). But we are in summary form here. Jesus finds men to follow Him on His journey. These 12 men walk with Jesus for His entire ministry. Which is only 3 years. 

At 33 Jesus and His ministry are going to come to and end. One of His disciples named Judas, betrayed Jesus for a little money. Another example of a man in a position closer to God than we will ever get in this life and still chooses evil. He makes a terrible decision. Anyway, Jesus is turned over to the authorities and is crucified. But Christ crucified was always Gods plan. Crucifixion was the worst way someone could experience death. Jesus, after being beaten a lot, is hung on a tree and dies. But that’s just the beginning of the story. After three days Jesus is raised from the dead by God. He was confirmed dead by professional killers. In fact, if they were unsuccessful in killing someone, they in turn would be killed. Needless to say, they took their killings very serious. Failure wasn’t an option.

Jesus was dead for 3 days and He rose. The whole point of Jesus dying was so He would rise. This is what secures the believers eternal life with Him. We die to ourselves and rise with Him. Not only a new life here on earth but an eternal life with Him in heaven. When Jesus rose, He made Himself known to over 500 eyewitnesses and the world would never be the same again. 

Much happened after all this, but this is where I would encourage you to start reading the Bible. Once Jesus ascended back up to heaven, His people’s ministry exploded here on earth. Jesus sent His Spirit down to dwell within His those who choose to follow Him to give them all the power and wisdom they need to make more disciples. Christians aren’t special except that we admit our sin and failures, rely on God’s grace alone and He empowers us to do good, gives us a secure place of eternity with Him and the desire to be steadfast till the He returns. 

I pray this was simple and clear enough for someone who has never heard the gospel. My goal in everything is to have more people hear this amazing grace story of Christ and the salvation He offers to all. You can choose to believe or deny, but you need to know what the truth is before you decide. Please don’t hesitate to contact me and ask questions. 

I wrote a more extensive blog on the fuller Gospel story you can read here if you are intrigued. The Good News

Closing:

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

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What is Good Friday and Why is it Good?

By S.C. Shaw

What is Good Friday and why do we start celebrating Easter two days early? For those who know what this holiday (Holy Day) represents, it is very significant, even more so than Christmas. Good Friday is the day that we use to remember Jesus work on the cross. Why He came and what that means for those who believe. Ironically, Good Friday is when Jesus was put to death. Why is it good? Because Jesus death signifies God’s children being welcome back to their Fathers presence. Before Christ, all who believed in God had many sacrifices, rituals, commands and offerings to make to atone for their sins. In other words to be made acceptable before God. God is perfect and demands perfection. A better way to understand this is, God can’t be anything but perfect which means He is unable to accept or draw near to imperfection. Because we are full of sin from birth we are naturally unable to stand before a holy and perfect God.

But God being rich in love, sent Jesus, His Son, the second person of the Trinity to make a final sacrifice for sinners. That’s you and me. Jesus death was strong enough to cover every sin that has been or will be committed. This sacrifice means nothing to those who don’t ask for forgiveness and follow Jesus. But for those who are in God’s family, today means almost everything to us. Why almost? Because the only thing that makes Jesus “death day” good is that He rose three days later. That is what gives His death the power and meaning of being a God who defeated death and therefore has raised up His children with Him. See, the Bible says we are dead in our sin and deserving of God’s wrath, (Ephesians 2.) But now that Jesus came and died for His kids and will rise or has risen, means He conquered death for us. Our souls are no longer on the path of death but on the path of eternal life in Christ.

Good Friday is the beginning of the end and the new beginning for those who love and follow Christ. We begin our celebration today and say thank you, Jesus, we remember what You did for us and we will never live the same or be the same again. Remember, this sacrifice from God means nothing to you if you are not following Christ and giving your entire life to Him. God would be unjust, unholy and unloving to allow unrepentant people to be forgiven. The choice is yours.

If you have questions or want to talk more about what all this means please contact me because there’s nothing I love talking about more than Christ!

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Contributing editor credit: Lisa M Johnston, Th.M. and Pastor/sozofreedom.com

Music StevenShaw.co

www.TheShawsMusic.com

Ministry Page www.MisfitMinistry.com

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