When the issue of death is dealt with – when the fate of death is settled and the fear of death is relinquished – the finding of life is revealed and the freedom to live is released.
BRINGING DEAD PEOPLE TO LIFE
People turn to any variety of self-improvement strategies – diets, exercise, yoga, meditation, positive thinking, religion – all trying to make big people smaller, weak people stronger, dull people brighter, bad people better, and good people “gooder”…yet only Christianity deals with the principal human predicament – that of bringing dead people to life.
Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things—holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming. 1 Timothy 4:8 (VOICE)
And you he has quickened to life also, who were dead in trespass and sin, in which you walked in time past according to the course of this world, and followed the prince that rules in the air – the spirit that now works in the children of unbelief, Ephesians 2:1-2 (NMB)
When you were dead in your sins, you were not set free from the sinful things of the world. But God forgave your sins and gave you new life through Christ. Colossians 2:13 (NLV)
This “realm of death” describes our former state, for we were held in sin’s grasp. But now, we’ve been resurrected out of that “realm of death” never to return, for we are forever alive and forgiven of all our sins! Colossians 2:13 (TPT)
Yes, there literally is “hell to pay” – the question is, “Who is picking up your tab?”
And so Jesus is able, now and forever, to save from the punishment of sin all who come to God through Him because He lives forever to pray for them. Hebrews 7:25 (NLV)
All in all, after everything has been examined and argued, dissected and debated – whether in matters of war and peace, religion and politics, gender and race, crime and justice, health and education, economy and environment, marriage and family, pride and prejudice, gossip and greed, arrogance and ignorance – it all boils down to this one thing: we have a sin problem with a JESUS solution. So until we get this right, and until He returns to make everything right again, we will continue to live in this world of hurt.
Where do you look for information and instructions? Not news, weather, and sports information. Not instructions on how to build, bake, or fix something. But “in the know” information and instructions like:
How to deal with real life situations?
How to interact with difficult people?
How to handle challenging circumstances?
How to respond when unexpected events occur?
Here’s where people “in the know” look:
That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.
The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.
God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?
Where do you turn to uncover truth, to get help, to receive healing, to find hope?
Here’s where people “in the know” turn:
There’s nothing like the written Word of GOD for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live GOD’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks GOD has for us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
People “in the know” know GOD’s Word is the best source for finding answers to life’s questions and in dealing with life’s problems. Nothing else is more practical, powerful, profound, and poignant. In the late 90’s a group named Burlap To Cashmere came out with a song titled Basic Instructions (Before Leaving Earth) which forms the acronym BIBLE (this song can be found on YouTube). Only The BIBLE reveals what has been, what is, and what will be. It explains who GOD is, who we are, and what this life is all about. GOD’s Word provides insight and understanding in regards to the happenings in our world today both near and far away. GOD’s Word puts life into life.
The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where most people are not “in the know” when it comes to the Word of GOD, but rather just say “no” to it. The majority of people place no value on the information and instructions it contains, and believe it is archaic and irrelevant. This passage describes the state of affairs today:
…because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
What is offensive about the Word of GOD? Why is it ridiculed, mocked, and ignored? How is knowing about GOD and knowing about ourselves a bad thing? Does learning to live fully and love fully have a negative side to it? Even people who claim to love Jesus and consider themselves to be Christians rarely or never read their Bibles – which is ludicrous. It’s like a person who claims to be a swimmer but never gets into the water; or a vegetarian who avoids eating vegetables.
So here are a couple questions:
Do you find information and instructions for living and loving from The Bible or from fancy fads, novel notions, and tired traditions? And when it comes to the Word of GOD are you “in the know” crowd or in the “no” crowd?
I’m at that age where I get to enjoy the blessings of grandchildren. This has helped me notice again how life is full of wonders and wows. Everything is new, special, and fun for children. This past week, my 6 month old grandson, Charlie, found out about the wonders of Cheerios. He looked them over, picked them up with his tiny fingers, and attempted to get them into his mouth to experience their texture and taste. WOW! A couple months ago, I assisted my 5 year old grandson, Brady, in the wonder of riding a bicycle without training wheels. The look on his face when he knew he had mastered this was priceless. WOW!
Here are a few more wonders and wows of childhood you may remember: building a sand castle, catching a firefly, sucking an ice cube, hearing a cricket, picking a bouquet of dandelions, making a snow angel, losing a tooth, roasting a marshmallow, chasing a butterfly.
While wonders and wows seem especially true for little ones, they are present throughout our lives. There is still much to wow us and make us wonder, even as we grow up and move through adolescence and adulthood. Do you ever wonder now? Do you ever wonder enough to be wowed?
Take a good look at God’s wonders—they’ll take your breath away. Psalm 66:5
Do you ever wonder about GOD and His creation? Things like a volcano, a coral reef, a galaxy? Do you ever wonder about the uniqueness’s of a walking stick, a sea horse, a humming bird, a giraffe, a blue whale? How about a rainbow, a snowflake, a shooting star, the morning dew, the ocean tides? Have you ever wondered about a spider’s web, a chicken’s egg, a bee hive? WOW!
Do you ever wonder how GOD gave us human beings the capacity, the intellect, and the ambition to imagine, invent, engineer, build, and manufacture? Things like the Panama Canal, the Great Pyramids, the Mackinaw Bridge, the Channel Tunnel, and Hoover Dam? Do you ever wonder how the power of hundreds of horses is harnessed into automobiles that everyday take us everywhere we want to go? How huge, heavy airplanes are able to fly through the air at unimaginable speeds and altitudes? How ships the size of a Midwestern town can float across the ocean? How we can communicate with people all over the world on devices that have no wires attached to them? WOW!
Wonders and Wows are all around, but most of us just don’t take the time to notice them. We’re too busy, too much in a hurry, too distracted, too dull. Instead of wonders and wows, our lives consist more of worries and woes. We can choose otherwise, though. And here is perhaps the greatest wonder ever:
For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. 1 Peter 3:18a
Too good for Jesus – this sounds strange doesn’t it? But isn’t this the way it is with some people? A few posts back I wrote about how The Bible separates people into two main categories: GOD-fearers and fools. One of the places this is referenced is Proverbs 1:7 which reads:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
GOD-fearers deliberately choose to acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth, they attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD, admit dependence upon GOD, accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters, and adore GOD by worshipping, thanking, and praising Him. Fools deliberately refuse to do these things. So all of us are either GOD-fearers or fools, right?
In addition, there are two basic things that keep people away from Jesus, one is ignorance, the other is arrogance. Fools then, come in two varieties – ignorant fools and arrogant fools. Now before someone gets their underpants knotted up, and thinks this is too insensitive, allow me to present a bit of personal disclosure. I used to be a fool of both types. First, I lived as an ignorant fool for many years before I investigated Jesus for myself. After that, I became an arrogant fool by allowing religion to justify my life rather than Jesus. I’m happy to say I am no longer a fool, but I am a first-degree jerk and jackass at times, since I am still very hard-hearted and hard-headed (just ask my wife). Thankfully, GOD grants many opportunities to help me develop, mature, and get over myself. I read a good book about Jerks a couple years ago titled Don’t Let Jerks Get The Best Of You, by Dr. Paul Meier, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993. It’s a good read for anyone who is interested.
Now back to the topic of fools. Here is something else that is found in Scripture:
Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself. Answer a fool in simple terms so he doesn’t get a swelled head. Proverbs 26:4-5
This sounds like a contradiction at first, but it isn’t, for the fact of the matter is ignorant fools and arrogant fools need to be handled in different ways. So it’s important to know the fool you are dealing with. Ignorant fools don’t deserve a response since they are clueless in what they are talking about, and if you attempt to enlighten them you will look just as ignorant as they are. On the other hand, arrogant fools deserve a response – a response that is in clear, plain terms that exposes their silliness and keeps them from getting even more full of themselves.
Ignorance can only be used as an excuse until information is presented. Once the GOOD NEWS message of Jesus is shared ignorance instantly changes into arrogance if it not accepted. Arrogant people struggled with Jesus since they thought they were already good – too good for anything He had to offer. They were unwilling to admit they were diseased and broken with sin, and they were infuriated that He would even suggest such a thing about them.
Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend My time with those who think they are already good enough.” Luke 5:31-32
Not much has changed. Today, arrogance (pride) is probably the greatest obstacle to Jesus as many people think they are already good enough. What a foolish notion. But this is the way arrogance operates – it lives, works, and plays in the arena of comparison. Arrogance is quite aware of everyone else’s deficiencies, but disinclined to consider its own – the very things Jesus came to save people from. And here’s the irony of it all, real fools actually think GOD and GOD-fearers are the fools:
For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. 1 Corinthians 1:18
Nothing but foolish arrogance resists Jesus, rejects His message, and refuses His gift of salvation. Only arrogant fools believe they don’t need saving – that they are too good for Jesus.
Do they really believe they are already perfect? They must. What else could keep people from believing how someone else (Jesus) has already taken their punishment and paid their debt to make them free and clear, as well as clean and new? But still they say, “No Thanks, Jesus, I’ll take what I deserve.”
Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs than a fool hell-bent on folly. Proverbs 17:12