Who Do You Say That I Am?

The question of questions.  Matthew 16 is one of the most interesting and discussion-worthy chapters in all of the gospel accounts.  The chapter includes a confrontation with the Pharisees and Sadducees that causes Jesus to spank them with the Old Testament and give them the divine cold shoulder and turns around to his disciples and tells them to beware of these wackos because they infect your soul.  Jesus asks this ultimate question to His disciples in the region of Caesarea Philippi after first asking who the nation of Israel thinks He is.  This simple question is perhaps the most poignant and most important question Jesus ever asks and is most certainly deserving of a hard-thought answer.

Let’s examine it in the text.  Beginning in Matthew 16:13.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
(emphasis my own)

The Son of Man is Jesus’ favorite name to refer to Himself by and does so more in Matthew than any other gospel.  The name is quoted from Daniel 7:13 where Daniel sees a vision of God’s future reign in the kingdom of heaven.  Someone who is “like a son of man” comes and receives the throne and everything is placed under his dominion.  Jesus’ use of this title is confirmation that Daniel’s prophecy was foretelling a Messiah born as a man who will rule God’s kingdom.  When asked who the people say Jesus is the disciples give pretty much your full gamut of likely candidates.  John the Baptist is a strange answer considering that he was killed by Herod just a couple chapters ago and both were alive at the same time.  But then they say Elijah.  Elijah is an interesting choice because of all the people who have ever lived on Earth, Elijah is one of only two who have never died.  Elijah was a mighty prophet of God who was taken up into heaven by a chariot of fire.  For your curiosity, the other person was Enoch, back in Genesis 5:24.  All it says was that God took Enoch.

The next answer is kind of funny because I can imagine Jesus’ response to the first two answers being kind of like “Hmm, good guess, but no.”  The disciples wouldn’t have wanted to fail this test so they say “Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  This reminds me of the scene from the Hobbit where Bilbo and Gollum are playing the riddle game and Bilbo asks, “What have I got in my pocket?”  Frustrated, Gollum demands he get three answers.  His first answer is handses.  Wrong.  Second guess:  “Knife”  Wrong.  Final guess:  “String, or nothing!”  Both wrong.  Gollum turns to desperation with his final guess to avoid losing the game.  This sounds like what the disciples tried to do by saying “Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  That’s pretty much a blanket answer.  Little did they know, but Jesus’ real test was in His next question.

Jesus asks in verse 15, “Who do you say that I am?”  We all know Peter’s answer but let’s examine that answer in some detail.  Peter speaks up first as he is known to do.  “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” replies Peter.  Jesus responds by blessing Peter telling him that flesh and blood did not reveal this to him, but Jesus’ Father who is in heaven then says some lovely things about Peter and the church.  But let’s camp our here for a while.  What did Peter mean when he said that Jesus is the Christ?

The word “Christ” means “anointed” in Greek.  The words Christ and Messiah are used interchangeably in the New Testament.  The Jews of ancient Palestine were waiting for a messiah to come and usher in a new age of peace for God’s people.  At the time they were being ruled by the Romans and although their religion was not affected by Roman occupation they viewed the Caesar as a false king who didn’t deserve veneration because only God was their king (even though they had a monarch, Herod Antipas).  The Jews were also required to pay taxes to Caesar as tribute which was added onto their tithe to the temple for the priests.  They had a vision of a messiah who would come and free Israel from the rule of Rome and restore their nation to its former glory.  They envisioned a political leader.  It is unclear whether this is the version of the Christ that Peter was referring to in this verse but whatever was going through Peter’s head was clearly revelatory in nature since Jesus tells him that God revealed this knowledge to him.

From Jesus’ response to Peter’s proclamation we do understand that the confession of Jesus as the Christ is something that must be given to us by God.  We cannot see Jesus for who He really is apart from the revelation and gift of faith from God.  This is similar to what we see throughout the gospels when Jesus speaks in parables.  Jesus says in Matthew 13:13, “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”  Only those to whom God has granted understanding and sight to can understand the meaning of Jesus’ parables.  Those who are Jesus’ sheep hear His voice (John 10:27) so we can conversely conclude that those who aren’t Jesus’ sheep don’t hear His voice.

What blows my mind is that Jesus called Peter blessed for confessing Jesus as the Christ!  Jesus says “Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah!  Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.”  So we can see here that this confession is a gift from God and not possible on our own but that God rewards us for making this confession that He gifted us with!  That’s like a teacher giving a test and posting the correct answers on the chalkboard and still giving everybody an A+.  That just blows my mind when I consider the goodness of God.  But why is this question so important?

Jesus is by far the most polarizing person in all of human history.  Jesus Himself claimed to be God many times in the gospels.  The people who say otherwise simply don’t know what they’re talking about and/or take verses out of context (or hyper-contextualize them to the point of error).  Such a claim to divinity demands some kind of response.  Mark Hopkins in  his book Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity says “Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable.”  Furthermore, C.S. Lewis also says:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

We see from Jesus’ response to Peter that Peter’s confession was the correct one and He truly God in the flesh.  If this is indeed true then this has some pretty weighty implications in the lives of every human being.

John 5:22 says that the Father has given all judgment to the Son.  Jesus says in Matthew 28, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  As God, Jesus has authority over all people and all of God’s creation.  We see in Colossians 1:15-20 that Jesus is the sustainer and upholding of all the universe and the God who died to make peace for us.

If Jesus is God then every single human being is held accountable to Him for our lives.  To Jesus is given the authority to judge all of our thoughts, words, and deeds on the final day (Jn. 5:22) and He will determine the fate of your soul. As Jesus says in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Jesus is talking about Himself here.  The eternal fate of your soul is in His hands.  To those who receive the gospel in faith and believe Jesus died for your sins, eternal life.  To those who reject the gospel in pride and selfishness, eternal punishment for your sins.  Jesus is the gospel and the gospel is Jesus, they are inseparable.  Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all those who will believe.  All that is necessary to have your sins forgiven is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for your sins and that God raised Him up on the third day.  To reject Christ is to condemn your soul for all eternity.

There are many ways people like to think of Jesus.

Jesus is not just a good moral teacher who tells neat stories with advice for living like an ancient Oprah.

Jesus is not a therapist who helps you deal with your problems and your messy relationships.

Jesus is not some new age hippie who is into general spirituality with no conviction or truth.

Jesus is not an open-minded teacher who loves everybody, except for people who aren’t open-minded.

Jesus is not just a martyr who died so everyone could feel sorry for him.

Jesus is not the poster boy for the Aryan Nation with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion.

Jesus is not some yuppie who encourages us to reach for the moon because even if you miss you land among the stars.

Jesus is God.  He is the savior of mankind.  As Colossians 1:15-20 puts it:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Even today the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:15 reach across time and space and demand our thoughts and attention.  “Who do you say that I am?”  This is a very personal and intimate question.  The way we answer it will determine the fate of our soul.

 

Pale Blue Dot

Perspective is a powerful thing.  As is the case with much in life, we get familiar with the things we do from our homes to our jobs, our possessions, and our families.  These things, and many others, become routine to us, so much so that we fail to comprehend how important they are to us.  When we lose perspective we begin to take things for granted and we stop seeing our jobs and homes, and family as blessings and we become ungrateful.  We could all benefit from a change of perspective on a regular basis to keep us aware of the things in life that matter most.  For the Christian an ungrateful heart can be our greatest enemy and our greatest hindrance from experiencing the full depth of the love of God for us.  What I want to hopefully readjust your perspective on today is perhaps the most elementary and critical blessing of all, one that is common to all humankind.  The place we call home, planet Earth.

Those familiar with the Apollo missions of the 1960’s and ’70s will remember the famous “Earthrise” picture taken by astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.  It is widely considered the most influential environmental photo every taken.  The picture was taken on Apollo 8’s fourth lap around the moon on Christmas Eve 1968 as the Earth rose above the lunar horizon.  After the taking of the Earthrise photo astronauts Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell took turns reading Genesis 1 over the communications radio.  Many viewed the Earthrise photo as a game-changer in how people saw the Earth.  No longer was the Earth a massive planet where nations waged wars against each other or where racial hatred plagued our hearts, but instead people began to view Earth as a small and fragile world.  Despite our differences, all humans live together on this small ball of rock floating in the darkness of space.  We were all made a little bit closer and our differences seemed less important.  Perspective has a way of doing that to us.  What we once thought was normal and insignificant immediately becomes precious and important.

Earthrise photo taken by Apollo 8  Credit:  NASA/William Anders

Earthrise photo taken by Apollo 8 Credit: NASA/William Anders

More recently in 2006 the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn took one of the most remarkable photographs of space ever seen.  When Cassini passed behind Saturn and Saturn was in between the spacecraft and the sun the planet was blacked out but its marvelous rings were bathed in sunlight and shone brilliantly.  That’s hardly what makes the photo remarkable though.  On the left hand side of the rings, in between the thin G ring and the main ring group you can see a pale blue dot barely discernible.  This dot is not a meteor, an asteroid, or even a moon.  It is the planet Earth shining 1 billion miles away.  Our fragile island home was illuminated by the light reflecting off of Saturn’s rings!  For me this is the ultimate picture of perspective within the solar system.  To be reminded of our place in the solar system and that we are but a minuscule part of that solar system is extremely poignant.  I’ve always been a fan of space and the overwhelming vastness of the universe has never been lost on me.  This picture however, changed the way I view the Earth as a planet.

Pale Blue Dot from Cassini  Credit:  NASA/JPL/ESA

Pale Blue Dot from Cassini Credit: NASA/JPL/ESA

We always see in the Bible that God is the creator of everything in the universe from galaxies to tiny microscopic bacteria.  When viewed on the scale of the unimaginably large and unimaginably small God’s power and glory are revealed like nothing else.  That God would create such a staggeringly huge universe and focus His attention on us living on a small rock orbiting an average sized star about halfway out in a typical galaxy is mind-boggling!  The significance of Earth is also magnified when you consider how important humans are to God in the story of the Bible.  God determined before time that He would give a redeemed humanity to Jesus as a gift of love.  Humanity is basically a gift from God to His Son Jesus to show how much God loves Jesus.  Earth is the stage on which the human drama unfolds and all of God’s actions in history are meant to advance to the cross where Jesus offers Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of mankind.  Further than that, the Bible tells us that all of creation longs for the day when it will be restored to perfection and when God will glorify Jesus and His redeemed people in heaven.

God chose to place humans on the Earth and for the job of hosting the epic story of the  redemption of mankind and the glorification of Jesus, God equipped Earth like no other planet we know of.  Since the turn of the century astronomers have discovered literally thousands of planets in our own galaxy.  Most of them are gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn with no hope of hosting life.  A small group of the newly discovered planets are rocky planets like Earth but are either too far away or too close to their host star to support life.  There is what astronomers call “the Goldilocks zone”, being just the right distance from the parent star to be neither too hot nor too cold for life to emerge.  Earth exists happily within the sun’s Goldilocks zone where water can exist as a solid, liquid, and gas.  This is the crucial element in how life arose on Earth.  Without liquid water life on Earth would not have been possible.  So far, there have been a limited number of Earth-like planets discovered in the Goldilocks zone and there have been zero confirmations of possible liquid water on the surface.

From what we know so far, Earth is unique in the galaxy.  Will we ever find another planet that truly is like Earth in its life supporting capabilities?  Only time will tell.  Even if we eventually do, nobody will argue that Earth is a rare gem among a galaxy full of uninhabitable planets.  When seen from the vantage point of space, Earth is a diamond against a black cloth.  The blackness of space makes the Earth shine as brilliant as the most carefully cut diamond but far exceeds the value of any precious gem found on its surface.  For something as precious and invaluable as the Earth, we must take care in how we steward it.

In Genesis God gave Adam the task of subduing the Earth and He gave Adam dominion over all the animals and all that grew on the surface.  With that great power comes great responsibility.  We are not only meant to subdue the Earth, but to care for it like Adam and Eve cared for the Garden of Eden.  God made the Earth beautiful so that it would show of His glory.  We must take care that we protect the beauty of the Earth to preserve the image of God’s glory it represents.  We have done a pretty terrible job of being good stewards of the Earth over the past 200 years.  Largely in ignorance we polluted the waters and air with chemicals, deforested millions of acres of jungle and rain forest, and hunted many species to extinction.  Our focus on human progress has come at the expense of God’s beautiful creation.  We have even managed to ruin the night sky by over-using artificial lighting to light the night.  The heavens which God says proclaim His handiwork are no longer visible to 2/3 of all humans because of light pollution.  The effects of human ignorance that lead to pollution are lamentable but not wholly permanent.  The Earth, much like a living creature is able to stabilize itself and heal from injury.  With a proper understanding and respect for the Earth we can begin to live again in harmony with the Earth.  As people who know God and have a relationship with Him, we should seek to be excellent stewards of the greatest resource God has given us.  We are called to be stewards of our resources in the Bible.  The Earth is by far the most valuable resource we have been given as without it our lives would not be possible.

Good stewardship of the Earth is another way for Christians to glorify God, the same way good stewardship of money brings glory to God.  We honor God when we use our resources with respect and the understanding that they are not ours, but God’s.  When you borrow a friend’s possessions whether they be clothes, vehicles, or money you treat them with respect because you acknowledge that your friend holds them in high regard and that they trust you with what you’ve borrowed.  We need to acknowledge that the Earth belongs to God and we live here because of God’s love for us and His good grace.  Our treatment of the Earth should reflect such love and grace.  Despite the harm we’ve done to the Earth there is hope for a better future if we seek to find sustainable ways to live.  There is no need to forsake technology or the comforts of modern living but there is a pressing need to figure out how to live our lives in a way that both honors God and the fragile island home He’s given us to live on.  Technology and intelligence are a mighty gift from God so we should focus on how to use each to better steward the Earth and its resources.

Forgetting how precious and valuable the Earth is is a dangerous thing.  Losing sight of the vastness of the universe and the wonderful creation of God can create an improper sense of importance, even an arrogance that we are greater than we really are.  When it comes down to it, we are just a bunch of hopeless sinners living on a pale blue dot floating in insignificance among an innumerable amount of planets in the universe.  That’s not the full picture of humanity though.  God has chosen to create us in His image and likeness that we should reflect His glory and proclaim His greatness.  One of the simplest ways to accomplish this purpose is to better understand the uniqueness and value of the Earth, our gem of a planet.  By making much of and enjoying Earth we bring glory to our Creator who is blessed forever.

Post-Election Thoughts

Here we are one week removed from the 2012 Presidential Election and not a whole lot has changed.  President Obama was re-elected, Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate, and Republicans still have a majority in the House of Representatives.  Why then, has it seemed like the general consensus in the Christian world is that the country is now far worse off than it was one week ago?  This is something that I personally have been wrestling with since the results came in.  God has revealed sin in my heart that was unearthed by my reaction to the election results.

Being in my mid-twenties, 2012 was the fourth election I’ve taken part in going back to the 2006 gubernatorial election in Maryland.  Being a Republican in Maryland is a tough life.  Most of the counties vote Republican with the exception of the cities.  But, as is the case for most of America now, that’s where all the population is so the state has been heavily Democrat for many years.  Not a single candidate I’ve voted for, for state or federal office, has been elected.  My response has largely been hypocritical.  I will be the first to tell you that God has a plan to put in office him whom He has chosen and that this plan is perfect and just because it is God who is executing it.  However, I will also be the one bemoaning about how whoever was elected is going to ruin our society.  This was especially true in 2008 and 2012.  

I’m not a huge fan of President Obama and his policies foreign and domestic but that is neither here nor there.  The issue at hand is far worse than the President’s preferred method of governing the people.  The issue I deem most serious now is my response to the election.  God was kind enough to convict me of a lack of faith and trust in His plan almost immediately after the election.  After having a lengthy phone conversation with a friend about how Obama is ruining our country I was hit with the severity of my sin.  I was proclaiming God’s sovereign control over all things including elections then turning around and calling Him a liar by grumbling and complaining about how God is running things!

That is not what trust and faith looks like at all!  Proverbs 21:1 says The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, He directs it where He will.”  Isaiah 46:10 says “My counsel shall stand and I shall accomplish all my purpose.”  And finally Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”  We cannot escape God’s sovereign control over all aspects of life, from great to small.  There are many examples of how serious a sin not trusting God’s plan is.  We see one such example in Numbers 21:4-6 where Israel is being led through the wilderness by God towards the land of Canaan. 

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom.  And the people became impatient on the way.  And they spoke out against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

As we see in those verses God punished Israel’s complaining and lack of trust with death.  Israel had spoken out against God and His messenger Moses about the way things were being done.  They probably thought that going around the land of Edom was a bad idea and a waste of time for they had only the bread from heaven to eat.  They longed for better food, more water, and they wanted to be in the Promised Land already.  Their exodus from Egypt had so far not gone the way they thought it would.  Each person in the camp probably had their own expectations and ideas about how the journey to Canaan would be and for pretty much everyone it seems God’s plan was a huge disappointment.  

I can see a bunch of parallels between this story and my reaction to the Presidential election.  I had my own vision of the country if the people I voted for were elected.  I was clinging so tightly to that vision as the only hope for America to be saved from the path of certain decay it is on.  But the election didn’t go according to my plan and didn’t live up to my expectations which I had raised to a level where it was functioning as my savior.  Not only is that mistrusting God, it is also idolatry.  I had made an idol of hope out of the Republican ticket and feared that loosing the election would prove disastrous for the country.  This was such a serious sin for Israel that God sent fiery serpents to bite and kill those who protested!  Thankfully for me, I’ve been purchased by the blood of Christ and my sins were cast on Jesus who bore the punishment for me, or else I’d be no better off than the Israelites in the wilderness.

God wants us to trust in Him completely because He is in control and He is working His good and just plan to accomplish His redemptive purposes.  God’s ways are past finding out says Paul in Romans 11:33.  However, we can take comfort in truths like Romans 8:28 that say “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  The ultimate end of everything that God works is for His glory and our good because the two are bound up in one another since our purpose as image bearers is to glorify God.  We are far from glorifying God when we grumble and complain about political elections.  God wants our trust because He is a sovereign God who won’t ever let us out of His hand.  

That being said, we are still citizens of this nation while we’re here on the Earth and we are called to be witnesses for God to our neighbors.  We should always be standing up for God-honoring causes such as the care of orphans and widows, the poor, the downtrodden, and the weak.  Our political beliefs should be influenced by our biblical worldview.  As long as we have the God-given freedom to vote and choose our leaders we should exercise it with thanksgiving, but we should refrain from complaining because we know that nothing can take away the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.  Were Saint Paul alive today I’m sure he would be able to apply Romans 8:38, “For I am sure that neither an election, nor evil politicians, nor laws passed, nor taxes imposed, nor anything can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

The Discipline of the Mind

Last night in my men’s discipleship group we went through chapter six of Disciplines of a Godly Man by R.Kent Hughes.  The chapter was about the human mind and how we use it as Christians…or more like how we tend to not use it as Christians.  As image-bearers of God we are blessed with extraordinary mental faculties such as emotion, reason, logic, critical thinking, curiosity, and art.  No other creature in all of creation has these capabilities which makes us unique in God’s grand design.  The original purpose of the human mind was to have it be used in connection with the mind of God to work for the common goal of bringing glory to God on the Earth.  Man could originally perceive the thoughts and the will of God, and God even was bodily present with man.  This was all sundered when we rebelled against God and sin entered the world.  Since the fall mankind has used his mind for all kinds of wicked purposes.  If there was one part of creation that was affected more than anything else it was the human mind.  For all of our amazing accomplishments as a species we have done them for our glory, not God’s.  Imagine how different the world would be if we had not fallen into sin and our minds had not been corrupted by the ubiquitous nature of sin!  I believe J.C. Ryle says it best about man’s current state in his book Holiness:

I admit fully that man has many grand and noble faculties left about him, and that inarts and sciences and literature he shows immense capacity. But the fact still remains that in spiritual things he is utterly “dead,” and has no natural knowledge, or love, or fear ofGod. His best things are so interwoven and intermingled with corruption, that the contrast only brings out into sharper relief the truth and extent of the fall. That one and the same creature should be in some things so high and in others so low—so great and yet so little—so noble and yet so mean—so grand in his conception and execution of material things, and yet so grovelling and debased in his affections—that he should be able to plan and erect buildings like those to Carnac and Luxor in Egypt, and the Parthenon at Athens, and yet worship vile gods and goddesses, and birds, and beasts, and creeping things—that he should be able to produce tragedies like those of Æschylus and Sophocles, and histories like that of Thucydides, and yet be a slave to abominable vices like those described in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans—all this is a sore puzzle to those who sneer at “God’s Word written,” and scoff at us as Bibliolaters. But it is a knot that we can untie with the Bible in our hands. We can acknowledge that man has all the marks of a majestic temple about him—a temple in which God once dwelt, but a temple which is now in utter ruins—a temple in which a shattered window here, and a doorway there, and a column there, still give some faint idea of the magnificence of the original design, but a temple which from end to end has lost its glory and fallen from its high estate

The majestic temple lies in ruin, as Ryle says, but turn a corner and you get a glimpse of the grand architecture that in its day would have been glorious to behold.  I can think of no better comparison to our sinful state.  Despite its immense necessity, it is a lamentably sad occupation to dwell for too long on the sinfulness of man and his wretched state without God.  While it is right and good to know the full and complete picture of our spiritual and mental state before God, that is only half the story.  The other half is that God desires us to use our minds to glorify Him once again.

Because of the atoning and regenerating work of Christ on the cross we are reconciled to God and given a new heart that has affections for God.  Once the heart has been regenerated and made alive to God through Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins the process of sanctification, the reshaping of our entire being into the likeness of Christ.  As Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable, and perfect”  The renewing of the mind is what takes place as we study God’s Word and the truth is applied to our life by the power of the Holy Spirit.  With renewed minds we are able to see afresh the will of God and all that is good, acceptable, and perfect to God.

I believe that the Christian community is largely unaware of its true potential.  We typically define what God views as good, acceptable, and perfect as serving those less fortunate than ourselves, participating in ministry, or being good doers of the Word.  While these are all excellent to God, it rather puts a damper on how much we can do to bring glory to God with our renewed minds.  We often forget about the incredible faculties God has given us, namely the academic works.  The sciences, mathematics, and the arts have largely been neglected by many Christians.  We’ve left these to the people with the minds that have not been renewed by the power of God.  We shy away from pursuing elemental truth in nature because we have such weak faith.

As is the case with the discipline of science, Christians categorically reject many of the conventional teachings of modern science claiming that it is anti-Biblical out of fear that it may contradict their faith and the whole house of cards come shattering down.  I tell you that this is un-Biblical!  God does not want an army of Christian soldiers who shake in their armor when Goliath shouts insults at them and God Himself.  God wants an army clad in truth and the instruments of science and a knowledge of how to wield them but with an understanding that God is the god of science as well as mankind.  If God truly is the creator of the universe then we should be able to be well-versed in the rigors of the scientific method and the skills that come with it and be able to see how all the evidence points back to God.  If our faith were but a little stronger we wouldn’t be afraid of where the evidence leads because we would have full confidence in God.

The study of sciences should causes our hearts, our minds, nay, our entire being to fall more in love with God as Creator, Sustainer, and marvelously our Savior!  To gaze upon a distant galaxy through a telescope should fill our minds with wonder and curiosity and simultaneously grip us with amazement that the same God who billions of years ago shaped that galaxy knows us by name and is our personal Savior!  We then should want to find out more about that galaxy to understand more about God and how He made it.  The pursuit of knowledge in the Christian world is a quest to better understand God in all of His attributes.

I pray that the Christian world would no longer shrink away from engaging the mind that God has given us and seek to employ it in the quest to see and know God.  There will be a day when we no longer have to study God indirectly.  When we see God face to face in heaven all will be revealed to us and we’ll see God in all His unbridled glory.  But we are not there yet.  This life is like a movie trailer.  We get to have glimpses of what the finished product is like but we are limited in what we can see.  If you’re eagerly anticipating a movie’s release of course you want to see the trailer as soon as possible.  It is the same with using our minds to get sneak-peeks and previews of the glory of God that will be revealed to us in full on that last day.  Until we’re united with God in heaven let’s work on rebuilding that majestic temple!  It is a daunting project to be sure, but we’ve been given the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us.  Let all you do be done for the glory of God.

Something New

Hi followers,

I’ve started another blog about an exciting new hobby of mine…amateur astronomy!  On it I will be posting all sorts of cool stuff for geeks and nerds like me and how it all relates to God.  I’m just getting into the whole astronomy thing so it’s going to be a growing experience but I’m pretty excited about it!  Please check it out…the address is http://acrosstheuniverseinnotime.wordpress.com/.  I’ll still be posting on this site whenever I get the chance so stay tuned!

~Tim