Wednesday, January 24, 2007

#185: Is This for Real?

The question this post will attempt to answer is: Why are there many promises made to the disciples of Jesus Christ (us) in the New Testament (NT) that are not materializing? There are several possible answers, all of which don’t seem to suffice. One answer: Much of what Jesus taught was only meant for His immediate disciples, and does not include modern-day disciples. Another answer: Those promises of the great work disciples would be performing had ended with the death of the original 12 disciples. The third answer: Jesus didn’t know how God through the Holy Spirit would respond to various cultural changes, and therefore just put the best face on the future. The fourth possibility: All those great and wonderful promises were inserted into Scripture by the writers so they could attract many naive and gullible followers.

Truthfully, I don’t believe any of the aforementioned answers are plausible. Before I give you what I believe is the most likely reason, let me present a few of those unfulfilled promises.

Luke 17:6. “He [Jesus] replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed [indicating faith comes in various degrees], you can say to this mulberry tree, “be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.’” [emphasis added].

John 14:12. “I tell you the truth, ANYONE who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” [emphasis added].

Mark 11:22-24. “‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if ANYONE says to this mountain, “Go throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he said will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’” [emphasis added].

John 15:16-17. “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. THEN the father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” [emphasis added]. It sounds conditional, wouldn’t you think?

John 15:7. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” I will add, as long as it is in accordance with God’s will.

Continuing with what is expected of disciples . . . Matthew 10:8. “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” Does this verse include modern-day followers of Christ?

Matthew 17:21: “ . . . Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Mark 9:23-24. “‘If you can’? said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes. . . . help me overcome my unbelief.’”

What is the reason we don’t see any of these supernatural events happening in Christianity, even in my life? If someone could answer that question in an unbiased manner—if that were possible—we might get a more realistic and truthful answer. I will attempt to do just that.

Before I do that, here is a strange twist: Matthew 7:22-23. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’”

1st Corinthians 11:13-15. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

Matthew 24:24. “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible.”

The above verses are Biblical proof that miracles alone are not evidence of being one of Christ’s disciples. This reminds me of the fake miracles pastor Benny Hinn attempts to perform on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). He is a disgrace to the Christian faith. All he wants is money and fame so that he can continue his elaborate and flamboyant lifestyle, as was exposed on 60 Minutes and TV News Magazine.

I will now present an answer from a Biblical standpoint and then from a non-Christian vantage point.

There have been—and still are—so many things and attitudes in the world, especially in the U.S., that do not let Christ-like faith materialize but only produce doubt. Of those multitudes of things and attitudes that stymie faith, I really wouldn’t know where to start. If I were to try to cover them all, it would take at least a book length. For that reason I will cover only a few of the major ones.

It all hinges on the definition of faith. There are many degrees of faith. Matthew 17:19-20. “‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith.’” For supernatural phenomena to occur, there must be the highest degree of faith/belief. The most logical explanation for the lack of Christ-like faith, especially modern-day Christian faith, is that it is not made up of the quality that removes all doubt, and doubt automatically weakens or makes faith impotent.

Here is one of the most unique questions in the complete NT: Luke 18:8. “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” This verse could, in a way, be predicting the amount and type of faith in the end times. Why is faith weak or nonexistent in the world? No doubt there are a multitude of reasons. Again, let me present a few without interrupting myself.

First let me say, of the seven billion or so humans on this planet and about one billion who claim to be Christians, you would think that Jesus Christ would have a few holy disciples in whom He lives who could produce miracles and other supernatural events on demand, and all for the glory of God the Father. But as anyone can see, that is not the case.

It didn’t happen overnight; over the centuries, the Christian religion has been presented by most churches in a way that would be conducive for people to accept and become members. In other words, they made it as easy as possible, without raising suspicions, for anyone to become a Christian and join in the fun. That was the beginning and the end of genuine Christianity. From then on in, disciplined lives that the supernatural requires wereas not a working part of the “church.”

One of the main reasons dedication, discipline, and miracles are not happening is because we have so many seemingly innocent distractions which we don’t want to/can’t live without in this complex world. All this technological complexity is stealing our attention from faith in Godly matters. These distractions secretly make the supernatural, and even our devotion to Christ, unreal and unnecessary without us being aware of it. Said another way, modern technology, among other things, has replaced faith in God.

The major distraction in the world today is the affluence of industrialized nations. The problem with wealth, as mentioned in previous posts, is that it replaces faith in God, and even God Himself, as a source of security, etc. There is little or nothing in an affluent world that promotes faith. Also in an affluent country like America, life is easy in many, many ways. Some will ask, “What is wrong with having life easy?”

Answer: Easy living not only destroys faith but also willpower. Other than making us lazy—remember, “lazy” is an antonym of “discipline”—that would most likely indicate that there are no disciples of Christ who are lazy. It is easy to become lazy; one does not have to do anything to achieve laziness, since the vast majority of humans don’t enjoy exerting any form of effort, physical, mental, etc. Then the disastrous thing that happens is our devotion and faith in Christ would get in the way of our easy-does-it lifestyle. The genuine Christian life is far from easy; in fact, it is the most challenging life in existence. Faith in God is more than holy words which make us feel holy, of sorts; it is a life dedicated to actively promoting Jesus Christ and His cause. 1st Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. ALWAYS give yourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord.” [EMPHASIS ADDED].

In general, our prayer life in the world is at best anemic, including my own. We thank God for this and ask Him for that; we want Him to bless so-and-so. That may be all well and good, but are our prayers the kind that reach into the core of what Christ desires us to do and be? Is a desire for the supernatural in our prayer life? Mark 9:29. “After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘This kind comes out only by prayer.’” [Some Bibles say “prayer and fasting”]. Without continual fervent prayer, which isn’t easy, that is another reason for the lack of the supernatural. 1st Thessalonians 5:17. “Pray continually.”

Fasting from all food for a time for spiritual reasons is all but non-excitant in Christianity nowadays. In the Bible, fasting is a means of getting the attention of God while gaining entry into His holy place. It is not easy to fast, because in doing so we negate the most important function that keeps us alive. When disciples fast to petition God for holy reasons, God respects that, and when done often enough with faith minus doubt, God should answer that request. If He doesn’t, that would indicate our faith is flimsy.

A good day to fast is on God’s Holy Sabbath—Saturday, the seventh of the week—and not on Sunday, a man-made holy day. The fourth commandment: Exodus 20:-8: “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a SABBATH to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work . . . ” Check your calendar; Sunday is the first day of the week and Saturday is the seventh day of the week. Why do most Christians worship on Sunday, the first day of the week, and call it the Holy Sabbath? Big boo- boo. It is a man-made occurrence. How does Jesus Christ feel about that? Getting back to fasting, the vast majority of Christians overeat instead of fasting. You wonder why our faith is so weak.

The most popular activity in America, and possibly the world, is entertainment. How much of our life is involved in being entertained? There are hundreds of forms of entertainment to steal our devotion and faith from God, if there was any in the first place. How far from a holy life did we stray?

Therefore, from a Christian's point of view, the only reason we see no real Christ-like miracles, etc., is because the type of lives we live produce little or no faith, yet we still call ourselves Christians.

Now the non-Christian perspective: If Christ is for real, it would be most likely that at least a few people out of the one billion who believe that Christ came to earth 2,000 years ago would have the faith required to perform at least a few miracles that Jesus promised. The reason why no one sees any of these miracles—I mean real miracles recorded and reproduced for all to see—is because it is all a hoax. Since the miracles are a big fraud, most likely all the rest of the promises of eternal salvation, etc. are also fairytales. Along with that, there are many contradictions and mistakes in the Bible. Anyone who overlooks these unfulfilled promises and a multitude of errors is a gullible fool. If God really exists, He could have done a better job of leaving us accurate information and promises that would be accomplished. If you must believe in the existence of a god, then you should get another god: one who keeps His promises.

If you are interested in reading a rebuttal to these atheistic thoughts, click on Post # 143: “Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design.”

With all that said, one of the main ingredients in the Christian life is trust in God where human logic doesn’t exist. We must trust and believe as a little child in order to enter the kingdom of God. Luke 18:17. “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Without that trust, we are as good as lost. Remember, if Christianity had empirical evidence of the existence of God and Christ, we wouldn’t need faith, belief or trust.

Although we don’t have solid proof of a spiritual world/life, there is enough circumstantial evidence to convince me that the Bible—with its errors, which was written by fallible humans—is still the best book to live by. How do I know? Because I was a non-believer a good part of my life, and that type of living doesn’t deliver all the good things the material world silently promises through the mouth of the god of this world, the devil. He promises wonderful things will come our way when we put God on the back burner and the “good life” in first place.

My life now centered in Jesus Christ is all, if not more, than the Good Book promises, even if my faith doesn’t stack up as to what it should be concerning the supernatural. In fact, I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the entire world except Jesus Christ. Faith in God can and does produce the most COMPLETE AND SATISFYING LIFE in existence, while having little or nothing of material worth. Can any other type of lifestyle top that?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

where does it say in the bible sunday is the first day of the week, it is impossible to know this, or where is your proof of this, through man or god

al thinker said...

Dear Anonymous, thanks much for your short and seemingly simple though provoking question. You are correct, the word Sunday is not in the Bible. In fact, all the days of the week are man made names. Though, Webster’s New World College Dictionary forth Edition describes Sunday as “the first day of the week”.

The Sabbath, which is call Saturday is the seventh day of the week; Exodus 20:10. the day that follows is the first day of the week, which we named Sunday.

How and when early Christians started to meet on the first day of the week--what we call Sunday--I am not certain; but this I do know, there are only two New Testament verses where early Christians either met on the first day of the week Acts 29:7. or were told by Paul to put money aside as a collection for the poor in Jerusalem on the first day of the week. 1st Corinthians 16:2.

Therefore it is a mystery, how and when the first day of the week (Sunday) became that holy Sabbath for Christians. But one thing for sure: it is a man made holy day, and violates the 4th commandment. Possibly because the early Christians wanted to separate themselves from the Jews who religiously kept the Sabbath (Saturday) holy.

Again, thanks for your input. If you have more thoughts on this subject or others, let me know.

althinker

Anonymous said...

People that wear crosses around thier necks for whatever reasons, are these people breaking the second commandment.

al thinker said...

Anonymous, thanks for your question. The way you stated your question makes is difficult to say yes or no. If a person wears a cross to show that he/she is a Christian, it seems to becomes evident she/he is not a Christian. Concerning the second commandment, I would say “yes” it does violate that commandment, since a cross is a miniature idol of sorts.

There are several New Testament verses that teach about every disciple must carrying their cross, meaning a cross as the difficulties that will come their way, and doesn’t mean to literally carry a physical cross. Matthew 10:38 and Luke 9:23.

Catholics believe that cross is physical. Of course anyone who has read much of this website knows how I believe about Catholics and other religions of the type. Fakes! Althinker

Anonymous said...

I believe that this verse that says pick up your cross, really means pick up your Jesus and carry him with you everyday, or pick up your faith in christ and carry him with you everyday.

al thinker said...

Anonymous, Thanks for your response.I would not disagree with your belief. It is a good thought. althinker

Anonymous said...

ARE THERE ANY CHRISTIANS CHURCHES THAT WORSHIP ON SATURDAY

al thinker said...

Anonymous, thanks for your question. Yes, there is a church "Seventh Day Adventist." In my opinion, it is a better than the run-of-the-mill churches. Still there are too many formalities to suite me. My sister has belonged to that church for many years. althinker