Ultimately everything that is important, what is eternal, the answer even for everything in this age, comes by faith. It must be faith. One, our abilities are flawed, our sight is muddled. We cannot count on us, are not going to see it right. Two, the forensics have been trampled. We do not enter a clean crime scene. Whatever it is we are looking at has been affected by the harmful effects of the curse. We can’t trust our sight nor what we see. We can trust God’s Word, and we can believe by means of the Word of God, because that is a gift of God. When James says we are begotten by the Word of Truth (James 1:18), he ties that into God’s unchangeable nature, the lack of variation of God. God is outside of the box. There is no shadow of turning with Him. He is not effected or affected. That’s why every good and perfect gift comes from above. It can’t originate here. This scene has been spoiled. It has to come from the outside, which is why we have to live by faith.
Several times in the upper room discourse, you might notice that Jesus said something like the imperative in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Same chapter, v. 21, then says, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me,” v. 23, “If a man love me, he will keep my words,” v. 24, “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings,” 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,” 17:6, “thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word,” 1 John 2:3, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments,” and 1 John 3:22, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” There are several more like these samples. God wants His Word “kept.” When believers stop believing, practicing, and practicing God’s Word, it falls by the wayside, so it is not kept, and people, families, nations, and the world suffer.
The concept of heart is woven into English culture. This comes from the Bible, because it’s from there that people understand the existence of and importance of the heart. I’m not talking about the pulsating muscle in the middle of the chest, although they relate to one another in a certain fashion. The two words, “the heart,” are used together as such 115 times in the King James Version. The first one is in Exodus 9:7 when “the heart of Pharaoh was hardened.” This certainly wasn’t hardening of the arteries. However, you find that the usage of “the heart” is how we understand what it means. Psalm 19:8 says, “The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.” “The heart” is man on the inside, which is mainly his mind. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” People memorize scripture in the mind, but it is relates to more than the mind, because when they think about scripture, it can change them, affect their will.
No saved person in the New Testament refuses baptism by immersion. A person is saved and then he is baptized. It is an act of obedience. Jesus told John, Suffer it to be so to fulfill all righteousness. Going unbaptized is unrighteous as a practice, according to Jesus. Paul uses the terminology, baptized into Christ’s death. The preposition translated “into” means identification. Baptism identifies with Jesus Christ, first His death. Someone baptized goes under the water to picture death and burial. Paul also said someone is buried with Christ in baptism. The old person is pictured as gone. A saved person wants people to see that. He is a new person in Christ. Peter says that baptism saves someone from the world. By making a public profession of faith in Christ, someone says he’s not going the way of the world any more, but after Christ. The Apostle Paul also says that the saved person is baptized into the church, associating with the church through baptism as a new convert.
If I had preached a traditional Easter sermon today, I would have preached about the Bible as evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus Christ is as much or more than anything, believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The defeat of death could be described as our salvation. If Jesus defeated death, and can defeat death, then He can save us from death. He did. He can. Can we trust the Bible as evidence? People treat the Bible like it can’t be evidence. Instead, to them that must come from outside of the Bible to be legitimate. However, faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not by hearing external evidence, non-scriptural evidence (Rom 10:17). We should not bow to secular, pagan faithless rejection of scripture as evidence. Even as a matter of history and science, the Bible stands as greater evidence, sufficient evidence for anything. As ancient evidence, there is nothing like the Bible. Everything else shrinks in comparison.
Men by themselves don’t know what is the right or correct standard of evidence for the truth. As this is applied to believing the Lord, most men would say that they want more. If God gave more, would that be better? That is where God is right and we are wrong. The people God saves are those who believe the evidence He gives. This isn’t necessarily the most evidence or even the amount that men want. It is what God gives, what He wants to give, that is, therefore, perfect. God gives the exact right amount. If that’s not enough for a man, it’s not that it’s not enough. It’s just not enough for him. It’s enough, just not for him, and he’s wrong. He’s proven to be a rebel by what it takes for him to believe. From my perspective, there is far more evidence than man needs for what he normally says he needs. He’s being dishonest about the evidence. There’s a lot. The amount of evidence God gives is enough for the believer, the one who believes and pleases God.
When the most fundamental, foundational truths no longer are received or accepted as true, that is, we will not believe the truth, then we are left with a world of lies. The truth doesn’t matter any more, except as a matter of personal taste. In that sense it is just relative truth. It’s truth relative to me, if it is convenient for me. We start with truth about God and His Word, because this is most fundamental. Even if men construct a world of lies, it doesn’t mean that we can’t know the truth or that we are not responsible for knowing it. There is still the truth and we are supposed to know it and we will be judged based upon it. It also, as Jesus said, sets us free. We are free to live just like God wants us to live and not be fooled by the lies. We are free to believe the truth about ourselves so that we can either repent of our sin or persevere in the faith. We can live with confidence, knowing that God does not lie and our eternity is set. We can look at a world of lies and diagnose it.
I’ve preached on this in different ways in the last year, but I also talk about it with various people out in evangelism. God doesn’t want knowledge of His existence like knowledge that your foot exists, that is, recognition that He’s here. We see this all over scripture, which is the major means by which God reveals Himself. He has already manifested Himself in numerous ways satisfying to Him. He wants to be sought. He will be found by those who genuinely seek Him, but all over the Bible we can see that He has shown Himself through general and special revelation, and He wants us to seek after Him. The people who want Him are the ones who will get through that gauntlet, pass through the threshold into life eternal. They believed. Those that wait for God to jump through their hoops, do the dog and pony show, come beckoning life a heavenly bell hop – they aren’t going to find Him, know Him, or receive Him. When you do know Him, you’re life will change
Instagram started in 2010. For most of human history, people lived without it. You could say they were missing nothing, except that instagram isn’t nothing. In general, I’d say that it causes problems. In and of itself it’s not wrong, like a piece of paper isn’t wrong—it depends on how it is used. Social networking sites like Instagram have become little Towers of Babel, bringing people together very often in a bad way. In 2012 Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg paid $1,000,000,000 for Instagram, which amounted to 25% of Facebook’s cash at hand. In 2013, Instagram grew by 23%, while it’s parent company, Facebook, grew by only 3%. It has grown to 150 million users. Like anything else, the morality of Instagram depends on its user. Like what scripture tells us, if it isn’t about Jesus Christ, then it is about Satan. There is no middle ground. There is no neutrality. You either love or hate Jesus with anything in your life, as far as He is concerned. And what He says is the truth.
What’s the main point of the Bible? This is a common discussion among Christians, church leaders, and theologians. The Bible has a unified meaning if it is not a hodge-podge of literature culled from disparate sources, and it is not. It has a central theme, unified around its one Author, God Himself. Nothing in scripture contradicts anything else in it. As you read it, you see an ultimate end to which subordinate ends serve to highlight. Judgment is a theme. Salvation or redemption is a theme. The end is the glory of God. God will be glorified through salvation, which comes by means of judgment. Everyone is judged by His standard and those who are saved are those who submit to His judgment. God will judge sin. When we stand before God, justice must be done. Jesus died for us so that justice for sin would be done and redemption still could be paid. He receives the glory through this in many different ways, but in general for His holiness and for His love.