Saturday, February 27, 2010

To Live is Christ

Last time, I mentioned the verse in Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." That verse is divided into two parts - living and dying. Today, we'll look at the first part of that verse, "to live is Christ." What does it mean? Obviously it means to live differently than if life was all about us. It means living with Christ at the center of our lives where everything we do is for Him.

But this means more than simply that Christ is the center of our lives, it means Christ is our life. Look at what Paul said in Galatians 2:20,
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
When Paul says that to live is Christ, he's not just saying that he lives for Christ, but literally that he lives Christ's life - that it is Christ that lives in and through him. As Christ lived through him, Paul's body became Christ's eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet - so Paul became the instrument by which Christ acted out His will. Even our wills become His, our minds become His. We are transformed more and more into the image of Christ. We become Christlike.

How else do you suppose God can transform our lives like He does? How else can he take us who are reprobate sinners and make us like Jesus? He does it as Christ lives through us. Christ comes to live within us, and He energizes us with His power and love. He literally lives through us.

St. Francis of Assisi is an example of a man transformed by Christ. Shortly after he trusted Christ, he sensed God telling him,
"Francis, all those things that you loved in the flesh you must now despise, and from those things that you formerly loathed you will drink great sweetness and immeasurable delight."
Later, as Francis rode his horse out of town, he saw what he once despised - a leper. "During my life of sin," Francis wrote, "Nothing disgusted me like seeing victims of leprosy." What would Francis do? Exuberant in his new found faith and with joy flooding his soul, and remembering that he was now in love with and even treasured those things he once loathed; Francis leaped from his horse, knelt before the leper, and proceeded to kiss those deformed, diseased hands that had probably not felt human touch in years. Then he pressed money into those hands.

But he didn't stop there. He jumped back on his horse and rode to the nearest leper colony, and, as he recounts it, "begged their pardon for so often having despised them." then he gave them each money. He wouldn't leave until he had kissed each one of them. Francis was a transformed man. He was no longer the same. Christ now lived in and through Francis.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

To Live or Die? It Doesn't Matter.

This week, one of the dear men of our church lingers at the point of death. It has caused me to ponder what happens when a person dies. But it isn't enough to ponder the imponderable from our own human perspective, we need to find the truth. That truth only comes from the one who is the author of life, but also the one who conquered death - Jesus Christ. So to find the truth, we look into the Word.

An obvious question is, "Is death a tragedy for a believer? Is it a gain or a loss?" In the book of Philippians, Paul argued that question with himself. He was under arrest for preaching the Gospel, and he faced the possibility of death by execution. Would he prefer to live? Would dying not actually be better? He didn't know. If he lived, he could go on serving God and preaching the Gospel. But if he died, he would be in heaven with the Savior he loved. The answer he found is in Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." That's his final conclusion. As long as he lives, he will serve Christ. When he dies, Hallelujah! He will see Christ face to face in heaven forever. And that will be gain, he says. It will be so much better.

Remember Paul's situation? He is awaiting trial. He expects to be vindicated, but he isn't sure. Never-the-less, he trusts God. In Philippians 1:20, he says, "According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death." Paul knew God would get him out of his situation. It might be by life. He might be released from arrest. But, it might be by death. He might be executed. Either way, he is out of his trouble. But death for a believer is the ultimate release - the ultimate healing - and that is what Paul concludes is better.

Certainly, with Paul, we too can have confidence in God. Not that we can count on Him always doing things the way we would want. We would never choose to be executed. But God will always be there for us - always go through troubles with us. He will get us through somehow. Paul's confidence is in the fact that God is in control. The decision isn't in the hand of the Roman judge, the decision is in the hand of our sovereign God.

So Paul concludes that to live is Christ, and to die is better. Living is all about Christ. Dying only gives us more Christ. Therefore, dying must be better. Dr. William L. Pettingill used to say that the word translated as gain in the Greek language always mean more of the same thing. So if to live is Christ, to die means more Christ if it is gain. To die means, as a believer, we will never live apart from hHim again. To live in His presence is the ultimate gain.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Don't Believe in Science

A couple of days ago, Howard Dean, head of the Democratic National Committee, made a statement that Republicans don't believe in science any more because they weren't buying into the Global Warming hype. I don't know about Republicans, but I for one don't. I don't believe in science. There, I've said it. And I speak as one who has a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology and post graduate work in Biological Sciences. I once believed everything they said. I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker (much to my embarrassment). But not any more. The truth is, I believe in "real" science. What I don't believe in is the way much of science is practiced today.

Why have I changed my mind about science? Because science has changed. Like much of our modern world, science has bought into the postmodern mindset. That is a mindset that has declared war on truth.

"Truth is whatever you believe."
"There is no absolute truth."
"If there were such a thing as absolute truth, how could we know what it is?"
"People who believe in absolute truth are dangerous."

These are the kinds of assertions that are made by postmodernists, even scientists who have a postmodern mindset. Postmodernists believe that truth is created, not discovered. They think that things like reason, rationality, and confidence in science are cultural biases. Therefore truth isn't the purpose of scientific study any more, the agenda is. Righting the wrongs becomes the goal of science even if it means manipulating the data to bolster the agenda.

The latest example of this is the "Global Warming" hysteria. When the pilfered e-mails were published, it showed our respected scientific community was guilty of hiding conflicting data, secrecy, and the intimidation of any opposing views or research. Now that they have been exposed for their hoax, rather than causing them to slink off into a corner in shame (as they would in any rational world); they become ever more shrill in their insistence that "Global Warming" is definitely real in spite of the evidence we can see and feel around us, and that immediate action must be taken to "save the world."

Anyone familiar with the creation-evolution debate has seen the similarity of the tactics since the days of Darwin- the evolutionists ignore or hide contrary evidence and intimidate the opposition. The movie by Ben Stein, "Expelled - No Intelligence Allowed," humorously documented the outrageous efforts to stifle free debate about the scientific evidence. For years, the evolutionists have presented pure fabrications and hoaxes as evidence for their "theory," and have been reluctant to pull the evidence even when the evidence has been proven false or proven a fabrication. This is why I don't believe in science.

When I look at the evidence, It cries out that this world was shaped by the global flood of Noah's day. You laugh? Think about it. If the global flood actually occurred, what evidence would it leave? Quoting Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, the evidence would be "billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water." Isn't that what you would expect from a global flood that is reported to have destroyed all that has breath not on the ark? Amazing, that is exactly what we see all around this globe. Yet this obvious explanation for the massive rocks layers laid down by water filled with the fossil record is thrown out.

Why? Because it doesn't fit their atheistic presuppositions. The truth is, it is never a lack of proof that explains why men don't believe. They don't believe because of their wills. To acknowledge a creator God would force them to acknowledge that their creator has the right to demand certain behavior from them, and to judge them for their transgressions. Yet the evidence of God's creative hand is all around us (For documentation, see I haven't taken the time to provide that evidence to you, but you can easily find it if you are interested. But be warned, the evidence leads us to God. And the evidence will force you to make a decision about Him. The eternal consequences for that decision you will bear.