Ever have one of these kinds of days?
Morning by Nikolay Popov
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I've been thinking for awhile that I would like to write a book that talks about what the Bible says about justification by faith.  It's a concept that's laced all through the scriptures from the first page to the last, and it's an interesting study.  I don't have a lot written, but I do have some notes, and I thought I'd share.  I'd love to know what you think. 
Why should I be a Christian?

·         Relationship.  Because God loves you and wants a relationship with you forever.

·         Evidence.  Because there is pretty good evidence that Christianity is factual

·         Personal.  Because true faith brings peace and joy, even in hard times.

·         Pragmatic.  Because if we’re right, you have a long time to wish you had become one. 

What is a Christian?

To unbelievers, Christians are:

·         Delusional.

·         Self-righteous hypocrites who notice everyone’s sins but their own.

·         Rigid and intolerant right wingers. 

·         They’re not all wrong!  There are problems with what is presented these days as Christianity.  If Jesus returned, I think he’d find that much of the “church” today bears a marked resemblance to the Pharisees who plagued his life.  And the church has become way too politicized for my tastes. I don't think God is a Democrat or a Republican. I think he wants us to look at what each candidate, each party stands for and measure it against the Bible.

What do Christians think?

·         One who follows Christ?  Depends what you mean by “follow.”  If you mean that in order to really be a Christian, one must live the same kind of spotless life Jesus lived, good luck to you.  Many people think this, and secretly doubt whether they are really saved. 

·         One who obeys Christ?  Again, depends what meaning you pour into the word "obey."  In Eden, the first two people, without any history of sin, in a perfect world, had just one law, and they failed to keep it.  Under Moses, there were 614 commands, and Israel failed to keep those.  In the NT, there are over 1000 rules.  Jesus raised the bar.  Is that Good News to people who were already failing under what they already had? 

What does the Bible Say?

·         John 3:16.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.  If you believe in Jesus, you're a Christian.

What does "believe in Jesus" mean?

·         Some people acknowledge that a guy named Jesus lived about 2,012 years ago, maybe they even believe he was a remarkable guy.  But he was just a guy, and he may have vanished from his tomb, but that just means his corpse moldered away somewhere else.

·         Some religions teach that he is one of many. That Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers.  Or that he's one of many ways to eternal life. 

·         Some religions claim that Jesus never really said he was God.

·         .

What does the Bible teach?

·         Read John chapter 8.  What do you think was going on during these scenes? What do you think Jesus was saying about himself? 

·         He didn't judge Mary.  In context, he tacitly suggests that he alone has the right to do so. He alone was without sin, and thus able to judge her. But he didn't.

·         Not of this world.  Literally, Jesus said he is not of this cosmos. This universe. This creation.  Well, then, apparently he's not a created being.  What does that leave?

·         John 8:24.  Jesus said, " I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." I scratched out the "he" in that sentence, because Jesus didn't say that. He said unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.  What does that mean?

·         Again with the I AM:  John 8:58:  Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."  This statement is not at all grammatical. Not in English. Not in Hebrew. Not in Aramaic, and not in Greek.  So what was he saying? 

·         Look at the Pharisees' reaction:  They pick up rocks to stone him.  Understand, at the time, it was against Roman law for the Jews to execute a man.  They needed Rome's permission.  If they did it on their own, they were likely to be punished, perhaps severely. And yet these teachers of the law picked up rocks to stone Jesus.  There aren't many things that would induce them to do that.

·         In Exodus 3, Moses speaks to the voice from the burning bush.  And he said that when he went to Israel and tried to lead them out of Egypt, they were going to ask who sent him. He asked, "who should I say you are."  In Verse 14, what is the answer?  God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM."* And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" I think this is what Jesus was saying.  He was saying that HE was the voice from the burning bush.  And I submit that is exactly what the Pharisees understood him to say. That's why they got so excited they tried to stone him.  In John 5:18, we're told they set out to get Jesus executed by Rome. Why?  "… he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God."

Believing in Jesus means you believe what he said about himself.  You believe that he told the truth.  If you believe that he is the I AM, you are saved. If you do not believe this, you will die in your sins.  It's that simple.  Now, there's more to life in Christ. There is obedience, and trying to follow Jesus and sanctify yourself. But that's not to get saved. That's because you ARE saved. It's a response to salvation, and it's only possible once you ARE saved, once you have the power of God and the Holy Spirit in you to work good.  More on this later. 

Two weeks left to win a free copy of The Mirror of N'de!  http://ow.ly/9fxU3
Wise, wonderful advice for kids and adults, from Dr. Charles Stanley. Click the picture to watch the video.
A couple people have commented on the photo in the header of this site.  I got it from one of those royalty-free sites.  My initial wish was to go with this spectacular bit of artwork by Raphael Lacoste, but various issues prevented it.  Anyway, then I stumbled on this photo. In The Mirror of N'de Hadlay is asked to search for and take hold of a key, and the story is set in a desert city based on ancient Babel/Babylon, so this was a good fit, but the cincher was when I noticed the cross.  Do you see it?  Anyway, credit goes to photographer Suzanne Tucker!  Check out her profile and portfolio at http://ow.ly/9p0en