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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Dying and Rising God: Jesus or Osiris?



Introduction:

Since the publication of Tom Harpur’s book “The Pagan Christ” in 2004, it seems that an ever-growing number of people have come to the conclusion that modern religions drew much of their inspiration from pagan mythology, with some even arguing that all of the major religions in the world today are nothing more than a 21st century re-telling of ancient mythsif not outright plagiarism. 
When it comes to Christianity in particular, many claims have been made that the stories of Jesus, the God who died and rose again, found in the four Gospels of the Bible, is a modernized version of the Egyptian god Osiris. After all, Osiris was a king who also died and came back to life, and promised to give eternal life to his followers as a reward for their devotion. So why wouldn’t one see the obvious parallels? 
That being said, I want to present to you the facts about Osiris, as found in the ancient Egyptian mythologies, accompanied by a cross examination of the core doctrines and teachings of Christianity in order to ascertain the truth of which god is truly the Dying and Rising God.



In the Beginning: The Birth of a God

Just as the gods of ancient Egypt were numerous and varied, so too are the Egyptian accounts of creation. Some inscriptions tell of a cosmic egg that existed before creation, while other versions assert that the world was born out of water and darkness. Some of the earliest myths from the Old Kingdom attribute the creation of the world to eight primordial gods, the Ogdoad, while later stories give credit to a single creator god—Atum or Ra being two of the more popular deities. Still other accounts claim that the world began when the sun rose for the first time. However, despite their differences, most of the Egyptian creation myths do have many elements in common. That said, and for the purpose of this article, the following version of the creation myth seems to be the most appropriate, if not accurate, account of Egyptian creation.

In the beginning the world existed as a swirling void of dark, watery chaos called Nu. It was out of this darkness that the creator god, Atum emerged, creating himself through the power of his thoughts and sheer force of will. That said, spell 261 of the Coffin Text seems to imply that there was another god present before creation, Heka, the god of magic. 
Heka is sometimes referred to as “the eternal god” though in reality he seems to have been viewed more as a supernatural cosmic power—magic—used by the gods, who was later deified into the god of magic and medicine. Additionally, his claim of eternal preexistence is thrown into serious doubt by the fact that he was believed by some Egyptian cults to be the son of  the god Khnum and one of several goddesses: Nebetu’u (Hathor), Menhit, Mehetweret, or Neith, while still other texts assert that Heka was created by Atum at the time of creation.
 After creating himself, Atum created a hill, the Ben-Ben to stand on, as before that time there was no ground in Nu’s watery void. 
Now Atum was alone. Being filled with loneliness, and being neither male nor female, Atum had sex with his own shadow and gave birth to twins, a son and a daughter. His son, Shu, was born from either Atum’s sneezes or semen, depending on the myth in question. Shu became god of the air, while his sister, Tefnut, who was vomited up by Atum, became the goddess of mist and moisture. These two children of Atum brought order to the chaos and void of Nu. They divided the light from the darkness and brought stability, law and order to the world. It was this natural order that the ancient Egyptians referred to as Ma’at . Ma’at was often depicted as a feather, as it was viewed as being pure and lightweight. 
Later, the two children of Atum, Shu and his sister Tefnut had sex and gave birth to Geb, the earth god, and his sister, Nut, the sky goddess. These two gods would likewise engage in incestual relations, forcing Shu to push Nut into the sky where she would forever be separated from Geb—all for the sake of fulfilling their roles in Ma’at. However, this was not before Nut had conceived the principle gods of Egypt through her union with Geb. 
The names and number of these gods vary once again from myth to myth, with some versions of the creation story including Hathor, Thoth and Horus the Elder among those begotten of Nut. However their are four main deities that appear to be universally accepted in the narrative: Nephthys, Isis, Set (Seth) and Osiris
Therefore, it is clearly evident in Egyptian Mythology that Osiris was not preexistent. That is to say, he was not eternal. He had not always existed and had a definitive beginning, being born—as most ancient gods are—through a sexual union between two other gods. 

On the other hand, Christian theology teaches that Jesus is eternal, having existed as God for eternity. (John 1:1-18, John 10:30-33) Therefore Jesus is without beginning in regards to his divine nature. 
     With respect to Jesus’ earthly nature, however, the Bible teaches that he was born of a virgin. Not through a sexual union between Mary and God—which would make Jesus a demigod—but through a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, as foretold in Isaiah 7:14 and Genesis 3:14-15. This point was of such great importance that the Bible goes out of its way to emphasis the fact that Marry remained a virgin until after the baby was born in Matthew 1:20-25
Additionally, Christian theology states that God has existed forever, he has no beginning and no end. He was there before creation (Genesis 1:1-2) He did not need to create himself, like Atum, in order to exist. 
Furthermore, God is triune in nature. That is to say, he exists as one God in three persons. He is not three gods. He is not a three-headed god. He is three persons in one God. Just as each of us exists as one, individual person in one human being, so God exists as three distinct persons—The Father, The Son (Jesus) and The Holy Spirit—in one eternal being: God. 
Therefore, since God is triune, God was not lonely at the time of creation. He has existed in perfect love and unity within himself for all eternity. Likewise God is not dependent on his creation for purpose and meaning—He created the world simply because it pleased him to do so. The Christian God did not require other gods working for eons to create the universe for him, he created it all in just six days through his word alone! (Genesis 1-2) The God of the Bible is literally the Creator God.
In that regard the only similarity between the Genesis account of creation and Egyptian mythology is the fact that the world was a shapeless, watery void before creation; a theme that, for the most part, seems to be widely held if not universal among virtually every ancient civilization. 
     Furthermore, it is illogical to assume that these universal themes were inspired by other religions given the fact that many of these cultures (i.e the Polynesian cultures) are so far removed from one another that they are unlikely to have ever come into contact. In truth, it seems far more likely that the theme of a dark, watery void before creation is universal because it is true, and that the knowledge of this truth has been passed down from one generation to the next since the time of creation, thus serving as a common inspiration for the world’s various creation myths. 



Kingdom Come: The Reign of a God

After the creation of man—who were born from Atum’s tears in Egyptian mythology—Osiris became the ruler of Egypt, a literal pharaoh, with his sister-queen, Isis. According to the myth, Osiris was a just and gracious ruler who gave knowledge of agriculture to mankind. He also brought with him laws so that man could follow Ma’at through tending the earth and worshiping the gods.
That said, there does not appear to be any examples given of how Osiris was just or gracious aside from the statement that he simply was. 

Christ, too was a literal king, as far as his human lineage is concerned. Though he never assumed the throne of Israel during his first coming, the genealogies of Christ found in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 make it clear that he was a blood descendant of King David on both his mother’s side (Luke) and his surrogate father’s side (Matthew). Furthermore, given Jesus’ Godhood, he was also king of the universe—the creator and sustainer of life. (Psalm 36:954:4John 1:4)
Likewise, Jesus is just and gracious, not to mention righteous. He showed compassion to those who had none. (Matthew 9:35-36, 20:29-34) He healed those who could not heal themselves. (Mark 1:40-42, Luke 13:10-17) He ate with sinners (Mark 2:13-17, Luke 19:1-10) and condemned self-righteousness and hypocrisy. (Matthew 23, John 8:1-11)
The laws Jesus brought were nothing new, he simply addressed and reaffirmed the core purpose of the Law of Moses; quite unlike the law of the Jewish religious leaders, which had become extremely legalistic by the first century. (Matthew 5-7, Matthew 11:28-30) And unlike Osiris, who’s kingdom was a physical kingdom in this world, the kingdom of Christ is a spiritual kingdom. If it were not, his followers would have fought to save him from death when he was arrested. (John 18:33-40
     It is for this reason that the kingdom of God can never be overcome. (Psalm 145:13Daniel 7:13-14)



Murder: The Death of a God

Just as the accounts of creation vary greatly in Egyptian mythology, so to do the accounts of events leading up to and culminating in Osiris’ death. In one version of the story, Osiris kicked his brother Set, the god of evil. Another myth states that Osiris had sex with Set’s consort, their sister, Nephthyswho may or may not have seduced Osiris by disguising herself as his sister-queen, Isis. While yet another version of the story says that Set simply became jealous of Osiris’ kingdom and all the good he had brought to mankind.
Accounts vary too as to the exact means by which Set murdered Osiris. Some say he took on the form of a bull and trampled him to death while others attest that he killed him as a crocodile. The most common version of the myth, however, involves trickery and an elaborate coffin. 
In this version of the story, Set created a lavishly decorated chest (coffin) made to his brother’s exact measurements. When the chest was finished, Set held a banquet and offered to give the chest as a gift to whoever best fit inside it. As one would expect, Osiris fit perfectly, and once he was inside, Set closed the chest and threw it into the Nile. The chest floated down river until it got lodged in a tree which then grew up around and encased the chest with Osiris still inside. There, encased in the tree, Osiris eventually died.

Unlike Osiris who was murdered due to his own foolishness and sexual indiscretion, Jesus gave his life up voluntarily for the forgiveness of sins. (John 10:18
According to Christian theology, sin is not merely doing bad things—it is a rebellion against God. And since God is the creator and sustainer of life, choosing to rebel against Him is a literal rejection of life itself. This is why the Bible says that the consequence of sin is death, both physically and spiritually. (Romans 6:23Revelation 21:8)
It was for this reason Jesus came to earth in the first place: to live a perfect, sinless life so that he—as God—could die a criminal’s death in our place, for our sins. 

"Who has believed our message?
    To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
    like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
    nothing to attract us to him.
 He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.
 "Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.
"He was oppressed and treated harshly,
    yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
    And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
    that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
    for the rebellion of my people.
 He had done no wrong
    and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
    he was put in a rich man’s grave.
 "But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
    and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
    he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
    and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
    he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
    my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
    for he will bear all their sins.
 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
    because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
    He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels."
~Isiah 53 New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus was not murdered. Nor was he tricked. Even when he was being arrested and tried, Jesus was still in complete control of the situation. (Matthew 26:47-54John 19:6-11)
But according to Old Testament Prophecy and Jesus’ own words, his death would not be the end of the story. Genesis 3 had predicted the coming of a virgin born man (the seed of the woman) who be wounded by the serpent (Satan) but who would ultimately crush Satan's head. A wound is not fatal, but a crushed head is. This is the oldest Messianic prophecy in the Bible, and it clearly shows that Jesus would not remain dead. 



Back to Life: The Resurrection of a God

After some time and much searching, Osiris’ wife, Isis, found the chest where her husbands body lay. Taking his corpse with her, she returned to Egypt and hid his body in the swamps of the Nile delta while she went and searched for magical herbs in order to make a potion to bring him back to life. However, Set learned of her plan. Going to the swamps Set found the place where Isis had hidden his brother’s body. Wasting no time Set hacked the corpse into pieces and scattered them across Egypt, throwing Osiris’ penis into the Nile river where it was devoured by a fish. 
Upon her return, Isis was horrified to learn what Set had done. Once more she scoured the land gathering up all of the parts of Osiris’ body, which she then sewed back together and reanimated with Magic. However, in some accounts it appears that this re-animation was not permanent, and lasted just long enough for Isis to become pregnant—either by a flash of lightning, scooping up Osiris’ seed (semen) or by creating a new penis (one separate from Osiris’ body) with which to copulate. Since Isis was in the form of a kite (a small hawk) at the time, the child born of this sexual union with Osiris would become the hawk-headed god, Horus. Horus would later go on to avenge his father through a series of battles with Set by which Horus would regain the throne of Egypt. 
However, since Osiris’ penis had been eaten by a fish, his body was incomplete. Therefore he would never again be able to return to the mortal realm. Thus Osiris became the king of the underworld, where he would remain forevermore.

In stark contrast to Osiris’ resurrection, which left the mighty Egyptian god of kings, wisdom and fertility as little more than an emasculated zombie, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was complete and permanent, despite the visible wounds on his body. (Luke 24:38-40) He was seen alive by many witnesses for a period of forty days. (1 Corinthians 15:1-9, Acts 1:313:26-31) These witnesses could touch him, speak to him, and even eat and drink with him. (Luke 24:38-43) Jesus was very much alive. And when his time on earth was finished, he returned to heaven alive until the day when he will return to assume the throne of David in Jerusalem and to establish his kingdom on earth. (Acts 1:6-11, Isaiah 9:7



Bringer of Eternal Life: The Judgment of a God

In Egyptian mythology, a person’s spirit existed in a dualistic state. The Ka, or life-force, left a person’s body at the time of death, while the Ba, a person’s spiritual characteristics, stayed with the body. The Egyptian funeral rites were developed and intended as a way to release the Ba from the body so that it could join with the Ka and become Akh. However, the ancient Egyptians believed that the Ba still needed to return to the body every night to receive new life. Therefore, it was of paramount importance that the body be preserved. The fear that something might happen to a person’s body after death was so great in ancient Egypt that many people were buried with a statue of themselves which acted as substitutionary resting place for their Ba in the event that something ever happen to their body. 
Furthermore, the ancient Egyptians also believed that a person’s Kawhich required nourishment in life through food and drinkcontinued to require food and drink after death. For this reason people would  make offerings to the deceased which would then transfer into spiritual food and drink for that person’s Ka. Likewise the gods also required such offerings or they would starve. 
Due to the dualistic nature of Egyptian religion, the concept of hell was not widely accepted, though some cults did hold to a believe in a form of hell from time to time. Instead most ancient Egyptians believed in a form of annihilationisim. 
     As the belief went, when a person died, their soul would have to run a veritable gauntlet of supernatural dangers in the realm of the dead before standing before Osiris who would then judge a person by their actions in life. This ceremony was preformed by the god Anubis who would weigh the deceased person’s heart on a scale against the feather of Ma’at. 
If the person’s heart weighed more than the feather, being weighed down by evil deeds, it would be fed to Ammit, “The Gobbler” and the person’s soul would cease to exist. If the scales balanced, then the person would be allowed to enter into a lush paradise where they would live forever. In this way, Osiris was seen, at least in part, as a bringer of eternal life. Though in reality, it was a person’s good deeds that earned them a place in paradise—Osiris simply pronounced judgment on whether or not they were worthy to enter. Therefore, eternal life was not a reward for devotion to Osiris specifically, but rather was earned as a reward through devotion to the cosmic balance of Ma'at.

In contrast, the Bible teaches that it is not our good deeds that earn us a place in heaven, but rather faith in Jesus’ sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection. (Titus 3:3-5, Ephesians 2:8-9) According to Christian theology, no one is worthy, not even the righteous. We are all sinners, and no amount of good deeds will ever blot out a single sin. (Romans 3:10-18Isaiah 64:6) That is why God had to save us—because we couldn’t save ourselves. 
As far as the Christian belief in the afterlife is concerned, every human being possesses an immortal soul. However, unlike the Egyptians, this soul is not dependent on a body or statue in this world in order to exist. Nor does it need continual nourishment. Furthermore, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that when a person dies they will go to be with God—either to live with him for eternity or to be judged by him. (2 Corinthians 5:1-8Hebrews 9:27-28)
     Additionally, Christians believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead, when the bodies of everyone who has ever lived, 
both Christians and non-Christians alike, will be raised to life again, just as Jesus was. (John 5:28-29) For some Christians, this resurrectionor rather the restoration of their mortal bodieswill take place prior to their deaths in an event known as "The Rapture," (1 Corinthians 15:51-521 Thessalonians 4:13-18) though the majority of the dead will be raised shortly before God's final judgment. 
    That said, the Bible makes it clear that everyone will be judged according to their actions. (Revelation 20:11-15) However, this judgment does not decide whether or not a person will go to heaven. 
     According to the scriptures, if a person has believed the Good News about Jesus and has given their life to him, their sins have been paid for in full and their relationship with God has been restored. (Romans 5:1-11John 5:24Hebrews 10:10-12) This means that when a Christian is judged according to their deeds, they are being judged in order to determine what their reward in heaven will be based on the work they did for God in life. (1 Corinthians 3:5-14)
     By comparison, those who have chosen to reject Jesus will in turn be judged, according to their deeds, in order to determine the amount of punishment they will receive. In this, God is just. He is not a judge who gives the same level of punishment for minor offenses as he does for capitol crimes.
     The God of the Bible is a God of love, who desires relationship with his creation. He does not want anyone to suffer in hell (Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9) But he is also completely just. He cannot simply ignore the sin of one person while punishing the sin of another, when his own law demands that all sin must be punished. To ignore the smallest sin of just one person would make God guilty of showing favoritism, which would in turn mean that he is not an impartial judge and is therefore unjust in his judgment—if not corrupt.
     It is for this very reason—the absolute justice of Godthat God came to earth as a man, Jesus, to take the punishment for our sins upon himself, in order to offer forgiveness and grace to anyone who will accept it. (John 3:16-21)
     That said, all sin leads to death. Which means that even though one person may have sinned less than another, they are still a sinner. If that person chooses to reject God's offer to pay for those sins himself, then that person will instead be choosing to pay for their sins themselves, and will be held accountable for those sins.
The Christian view of hell, therefore, is not one of arbitrary punishment for wrongdoing. Rather, hell is the natural, spiritual outcome of a person's choice to reject God. Since God is the sustainer of life, choosing to walk away from him means that you are walking away from life itself. 
A modern allegory I can give is that of a person launching themselves into space without a spacesuit. They are showing a wanton disregard for the sustainer of their life—oxygen. Yet, instead of repenting of their foolish idea, they choose to do it anyway and suffer the consequences. (Repentance literally means "to changing/renew you mind", specifically in regards to sin (Romans 12:2) By comparison, Jesus is like a parachute given as a gift to our would-be astronaut by someone who deeply cares for him. If the fool launching himself into space without a spacesuit would only choose to use the parachute in order to return safely to earth before it is too late, all would be well. But he has to make that choice himself. No one else can make it for him.



Conclusion:

In light of the differences between the religion of ancient Egypt and Christianity, we can clearly see that the myths surrounding Osiris share virtually no similarities with Christian theology. Where the Egyptian creation myth is filled with disjointed chaos and contradictory stories, the Genesis account is concise, consistent and orderly. Where Osiris was born out of an incestual relationship between gods, Jesus always existed. When Osiris’ kingdom was overthrown he needed a son to avenge him, yet Jesus’ kingship is eternal. Osiris was killed due to his own stupidity and wickedness, while Jesus gave up his life as a ransom for others. (Mark 10:42-45) Osiris couldn’t save himself from death and was resurrected as a re-animated corpse through the efforts of others. Jesus on the other hand raised himself to life in full. Osiris offered eternal life based on works. Jesus offers eternal life freely based on his grace alone and the punishment he bore for us. (1 Peter 2:22)

No matter how hard you look at it, the evidence is irrefutable: Christianity did not draw its inspiration from Egyptian mythology. There is only one Dying and Rising God, and his name is Jesus. 




Friday, May 25, 2018

Sex and the Bible




When a typical person thinks of Christians and the Church, sexuality is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, many would probably be surprised to learn that the Bible not only condones sex but also encourages it. So much so that an entire book of the Old Testament is dedicated to the topic--Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs, depending on the translation.)

Despite the ancient verse and poetic language, Song of Solomon clearly depicts sexuality between a husband and his wife in ways that would have been considered quite explicit--if not scandalous--in its day.

Not only does God's Word contain an entire book dedicated to sexuality in the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul devoted most of 1 Corinthians 7 to the topic as well.


"Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
"The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
"Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
~ 1 Corinthians 7: 1-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

According to God's Word, sex is good. God created sex when he created the world and it was therefore among those things God called "very good" in Genesis 1:31. However, sex was not meant to be used flippantly. When God created man, he created woman to be there with him because it was "not good for the man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18)
He created them both, male and female, in his image, (The Hebrew word for "image" refers to a "reflection", meaning that both man and woman reflect some of the qualities of God. i.e. reason, creativity, and love, etc.) to live together with him forever in perfect love and unity.

However, the man and the woman disobeyed God and separated themselves from him and each other when they sinned. (Genesis 3)

From that point on, the perfect, loving relationship God intended for us was marred by sin. And sexuality was no exception. What was originally intended to be used between a man and a woman within the permanent protection and ever-deepening relationship of marriage quickly devolved into immorality and lust.

It is this lustful, erotic passion that is often mistaken for, and portrayed as, love in today's society. That said, there is a difference between 'love' and 'lust,' just as there is a difference between sexuality in marriage and sexual immorality. 

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

~1 Corinthians 13:4-8 New Living Translation (NLT)


Put simply, genuine love is thinking of others before yourself and putting their needs first. Lust on the other hand does the exact opposite:

Lust has no patients; it demands
immediate satisfaction, and is therefore unkind and inconsiderate of others. 


Lust is jealous; it seeks control over and objectifies others. 

Lust is boastful, proud, and rude.

Lust always demands it's own way, and when someone who is acting out of lust does not get their way they become irritable and will often keep a record of how many times they have been "wronged." 

In the most extreme cases of lust--i.e. rape, spousal abuse, etc.--lust scoffs at truth and rejoices in taking pleasure from injustice. 

Lust gives up on people when it's demands are not met, leading to broken relationships, infidelity, or worse. 

Lust causes many who have faith to abandon their faith in order to fulfill their immoral passions. 

Lust has no hope, and because of it's self-serving nature, lust cannot endure all things. 

In short Lust will destroy everything it touches (Job 31:11-12) whereas love and sex in marriage are meant to build each other up in a lasting and meaningful way.

This is why the Bible celebrates and encourages sexuality in marriage: because that is where sex was meant to be experienced and enjoyed to the fullest. Lust and sexual immorality will never satisfy. Giving in to erotic passion is like drinking salt water in the desert--you will only make yourself more thirsty.

One such example of this can be found in 2 Samuel 13:1-22 where the 'love' of King David's son Amnon quickly turned to hate after he raped his half-sister, Tamar. Amnon never loved her, he just wanted to have sex with her. And once he had given into sexual immorality, he found that it did not satisfy. Ultimately Amnon's lustful indiscretion would lead to his death at the hands of Tamar's brother, Absalom. (2 Samuel 13:23-29)

The Bible is filled with countless other examples of sexuality gone awry. Furthermore, both the Old and New Testaments are rife with references to sexual immorality (i.e. Romans 1:18-32) and sin. Which is why many Christians over the centuries have struggled to understand their God-given sexual needs--myself included.

But what sin has marred, God has redeemed through his Son, Jesus Christ. Because of him, the loving relationship that was severed when Adam and Eve sinned has been restored for all those who believe!

That said, it is a sad truth that the Church has branded sex as evil in the past, when God himself called it "very good." Sadder still is the fact that many outside the church perceive Christians as being anti-sexual or celibate, when in reality Christians should embrace their sexuality. Not by the world's standard of immoral, lustful, self-indulgence; but rather in the purest sense of sexuality. As Christians we should be champions of sexuality, living our lives in such a way as to show those around us what sex in a healthy, loving, self-sacrificial marriage looks like. We should not indulge in immorality. Instead we should live our lives to glorify God--in the bedroom and beyond--just as he has called us to do.




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Saturday, March 31, 2018

What is the Gospel?




The Gospel

It's a term many of us are aware of, and most of us have heard used countless times through out our lives. But what is the Gospel exactly? What is this good news that has been handed down for thousands of years, surviving persecution and the test of time; this message of hope so powerful that untold millions have been willing to lay down their lives so that future generations might hear it?

That you are completely known by God, and are completely loved by Him. No matter who you are, or where you have come from, the creator of the universe knows you by name. He knows everything about you, every detail of who you are, good and bad, and He loves you. But our sin--the bad things we have done--separates us from God and his love and leads to brokenness in our lives and evil in the world around us. People try to fix the brokenness we feel with other things; religion, drugs, alcohol, relationships and possessions, but nothing will ever satisfy the emptiness in our hearts--the longing to be made whole. Ultimately our sins lead us all to death. But God loves you and I so much that He was willing to die in our place so that the death penalty for all our sins would be paid in full--paid with His own blood.

Not only that, He rose from the dead three days later to prove to you and I that He is God and to show us that through faith in Jesus Christ we too can have the assurance--the absolute, beyond a shadow of a doubt promise--that we will live forever with Him when we die. All you have to do is trust Jesus and give him control of your life.

It's not about the good that you do. Eternal life isn't your reward for a good life or religious piety. Salvation is a free gift for those who will simply say yes to it.

That is the Gospel: the message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ, the savior of man-kind.

So now that you have heard the Gospel, what will you do with it? Will you believe?




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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Heart of the Matter



In the wake of the senseless, mass-shooting in Las Vegas this past weekend, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved: the victims and their families, the first-responders and members of law enforcement, the doctors and nurses, and the family of Stephen Paddock who also lost a loved one to this tragedy.

It is at times like these that many of us question how anyone could carry out such a horrendous act of violence. Was it something that could be prevented? Could the government have done something to stop the senseless killing of so many innocent people? Will they be able to prevent future attacks from taking place?

Sadly, I believe that the issue at the core of this most recent act of mass-murder—and indeed all other mass-murders in history—is something that no human institution can control or prevent. It is not a political hot-topic or a difference in ideologies, but rather a spiritual propensity for evil present in every living person: Sin. That is to say, rebellion against God and what He has ordained.

The Bible makes this clear in Jeremiah 17:9 which reads: "the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bade it is?” (New Living Translation)

Likewise, Jesus also taught that evil comes from within a person's heart, not from the outside.

"For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. ..."
~Matthew 15:19-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

That said, the first sin recorded in the Bible was rebellion—choosing to disobey a direct commandment from God. (Genesis 3) When Adam and Eve sinned, they were not only rejecting God, they were also making themselves god in their own minds—trusting their own moral judgment over God's literal word. Rather than continuing to live in a perfect world that God Himself had called "good", they chose instead to let evil and the knowledge thereof into their hearts. Is it any surprise then that the next recorded sin, found in the very next chapter of Genesis, is when Cain murdered his brother Abel? (Genesis 4:1-16)

The Bible makes it very clear: Sin—rebellion against God—leads directly to death and murder. This is why God explicitly condemned murder when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

Is it any wonder then that we find ourselves living in a country where acts of mass-murder have become commonplace, when so many Americans seek to remove the Ten Commandments from our courthouses, parks, and other public spaces? Think about it. As a nation, we have worked tirelessly to remove any and all mention of God and His commandments from our country. Rather than relying on the universal law given to all mankind by the only sovereign law-giver, we have instead turned to our own moral judgment for guidance. 
 
But if the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, then how can we trust our own moral judgment? If truth is whatever you want to make it; human life is meaningless, and we are all "just animals," then what is to stop someone from behaving like an animal by committing mass-murder?

The sad truth of the matter is, that until this nation stops denying the God who says that murder is wrong, we will never see an end to senseless acts of violence. Murder comes from within a person's sinful heart and we are all sinners. (Romans 3:10-18, 3:23) But there is hope for the hopelessness of humanity; a man of sorrows, antiquated with grief—someone who knows all too well the pain that so many are going through. (Isaiah 53

In his speech following the worst mass-shooting in recent history, President Donald Trump said, "In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness."

I would present to you that Jesus is that light—The Light of the World. And if we follow him we won't have to walk in darkness, because we will have the light that leads to eternal life.  (John 8:12)

The heart of the matter is this: Our world is broken and in desperate need of a savior. Jesus is that Savior. If you put your trust in him, believing that he died specifically for you and your sins, and that he rose from the dead three days later proving to the entire world that he is God, then you will be saved. God's spirit will join to your spirit. He will begin to heal your sinful heart and will give you lasting hope and peace. 

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."

~2 Chronicles 7:14 New Living Translation (NLT)