By Bill Byrnes
(Illustrated by Rich Gowran – CaptivatingNews.com)
Mark:9:7: Then a cloud came and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud, saying, “ This is my Son, whom I love. LISTEN TO HIM !”
Let’s recap the main points from my previous article (If Everyone‘s Right–Who is Wrong?). The Right and the Left keep slamming each other with interpretations of how the Bible supports their side only. On the surface they both appear to be correct. The only way to understand this issue is to understand how the Bible applies to modern issues: in short, let’s find out about today’s news–YESTERDAY!
When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, their stubbornness caused faith break-downs that brought on God’s punishment: they would wander for 40 years, never to see the promised-land of Canaan! God imposed Mosaic law to keep the Israelites faithful and racially pure. This would insure that Jesus would, in fact, fulfill scriptural predictions regarding his birthright.
Young nation of Israel wanders the desert for 40 years.
Christ’s presence fulfilled the law–then he changed it! He simplified all previous laws into two simple commandments: love God and love each other. All his teachings (parables) explained how people could adapt to life WITHOUT Mosaic law and WITH his two rules of love. In so doing, he made INDIVIDUALS responsible for their actions NOT the group! This concept is critical to understanding the challenge of applying the Bible to modern day issues. Romans:2:2-4: “God judges those who do wrong things and we know that his judgment is right. You judge those who do wrong, but you do wrong yourselves! Do you think you will be able to escape the judgment of God? He has been very kind & patient, waiting for you to change, but you think nothing of his kindness. Perhaps you do not understand that God is kind to you so YOU WILL CHANGE your hearts and lives.”
Another passage from Romans, further establishes that the tyranny of group enforcement is finished: 3:21-22: “But God has a way to make people right with him WITHOUT the law and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about…through their faith in Jesus Christ!”
This does not mean that everyone’s personal moral compass dictates what is right and wrong. Don’t forget the THREE caveats: love God, love each other AND accept Jesus Christ as your own, personal, Lord and Savior! Jesus did not leave this concept “open-ended”. The idea of “no laws” doesn’t mean “anything goes”: Matthew 12:30-32:“Whoever is not with me is against me…So I tell you people can be forgiven for every sin and everything they say against God. BUT whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will NOT be forgiven. Any one who speaks against the Son of Man CAN be forgiven, but anyone who speaks AGAINST the Holy Spirit will NOT be forgiven, now or in the future!” Wow! This is one of those instances in the Bible where one sentence has tremendous impact! Any sin is forgivable…ANY sin – even speaking against Jesus! But speaking against the Holy Spirit…no…No…NO!
Why does this exclamation occur? A brief explanation would help with this question. The Holy Spirit is referred to in the Old Testament approximately 80 times–approximately 240 times in the New Testament. Numerous sources share this definition: the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God manifesting itself in all of Creation and especially in individuals. These manifestations enable people to perform some task for God that they normally would not be able to perform. Examples include the “gift of tongues”, or speaking a language they’ve never known; other Biblical examples include Bezalel designing the “sanctuary”(Exodus), Gideon summoning Israelites to battle (Judges), and Samson killing a lion and his Philistine enemies (Judges). In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit effects the conception of Jesus in Mary (Matthew), and teaches his disciples (Acts). The Holy Spirit definitely increases his activity after Jesus’ death–getting three times as many mentions as in the Old Testament. An easy inference: it might be forgivable to doubt God, or even Jesus: but DON’T EVER DOUBT the things you see (or that have been seen) that clearly show his presence at work in this world! Stated another way: you might doubt the cause–but DO NOT doubt the effect!
Another quick mention: many theological sources agree that while we should not judge others–it doesn’t mean that we have to agree with their views. So, if someone says something we find untenable–that does not mean that we can question their human dignity (of this, I‘m guilty)–or their right to exist–or to say that they are against God’s “laws”. I’ve explained how God and Jesus feel about “laws” and judging others. There’s nothing more to add!
One more explanation before getting to today’s issues. The issue of “church & state” is definitely a two-way street! Just as the church shouldn’t dabble in politics–politicians SHOULD NOT dabble with the church! The POTUS found that out recently with the outcry over birth-control coverage by insurance companies. Fortunately, he had a successful compromise that achieved the same goals. The GOP has discovered that they shouldn’t be bringing church issues into politics. You’ve all heard the pundits, including several GOP sources, say that candidates will find this successful ONLY with the extremely conservative elements of their party and NOT with the general public!
Getting to the real “nitty-gritty” of today’s issues. I hope I’ve successfully argued that picking any phrase from the Bible to support our arguments–whether Conservative or Liberal–is pointless! We can both find phrases supporting our views. That’s why both sides appear to be correct!. Any side constantly “judging” anyone not agreeing with them saying their opponents are not following the “laws” of God – are WRONG!
If we base our lives upon the two-great commandments, and exercise God’s caveat that we accept his Son as our Lord and Savior — we will all receive Salvation! It’s NOT me who said this—-it was GOD! Jesus himself gave the ONLY exception – NOT…ME! Even if you doubt that God and Jesus exist, ALL OF YOU CAN RECEIVE SALVATION! So any “group” judgments against the individual ARE GONE! They’re HISTORY… and have been since Jesus began his teachings!
Let’s add another thought. We are ALL sinners( see: Book of Romans)! We should ALL accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I cannot say that enough…and don’t forget, it is an important prerequisite to receiving salvation. However, I don’t believe saying this is a contradiction to any previous statements. If you have any doubts–refer, again, to Matthew: 12. Also, let me offer this Biblical reference: Luke:23:39-43:”And one of the two criminals crucified with Jesus said, ‘If thou be Christ, then save thyself and us too!’ The other criminal rebuked him saying , ‘Does thou not fear God, seeing that thou art in the same condemnation? And us, justly so being condemned, but, this man has done nothing to warrant this!’ The he looked at Jesus and he said ’Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.’ Then Jesus said unto him, ’Verily I say unto you, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.’ “ There’s no mistaking that meaning : even a convicted felon of the worst kind–even unto the moment of their death–if they accept Christ–they will be saved! (Thanks to Pastor Ted Maxx for that observation.)
My final thought is for my several Liberal friends who admit to being atheists. I will always extend to you Christian love, and give you the dignity you deserve as fellow humans. But please, stop and think! Did you ever consider that by supporting the causes you do–especially ones that adhere to Christ’s teachings–you might be a little closer to God than you realize–or might admit to?
Isaiah:58:10: “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness.”
“…Thou shalt be with me in paradise.”