Been thinking …

The funeral I went to recently was a humanist funeral … it was a lovely celebration of the person’s life … very moving … but so final …

Decided to read up on humanism to see why … think it relates to the third part as defined by the British Humanist Association

Roughly speaking, the word humanist has come to mean someone who:

  • trusts to the scientific method when it comes to understanding how the universe works and rejects the idea of the supernatural (and is therefore an atheist or agnostic)
  • makes their ethical decisions based on reason, empathy, and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals
  • believes that, in the absence of an afterlife and any discernible purpose to the universe, human beings can act to give their own lives meaning by seeking happiness in this life and helping others to do the same.

Many humanists are good people, in the sense that they don’t live only for
themselves but help others, give money to charitable organizations, serve
their country, truly care for their family and friends, and don’t wish to
hurt anybody but personally I don’t know how people can live their lives without a discernible purpose to the whole shooting match … is everything attributable to random events, coincidences, and the laws of probability?

Humanist John Dewey (1859-1952), co-author and signer of the Humanist Manifesto 1 (1933), declared, “There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes.”

Hmm … There is no room for … absolutes.” Dewey is declaring there are absolutely no absolutes. That is an absolute statement. The statement is logically contradictory. If the statement is true, there is, in fact, an absolute – there are absolutely no absolutes.

No absolutes tends to lead on to “Truth is relative.” Again, this is an absolute statement implying truth is absolutely relative. Besides positing an absolute, suppose the statement was true and “truth is relative.” Everything including that statement would be relative. If a statement is relative, it is not always true. If “truth is relative” is not always true, sometimes truth is not relative. This means there are absolutes, which means the above statement is false. When you follow the logic,these arguments/statements will always contradict themselves.

Further reading on the BHA site throws up the old red herring “When I die  … my soul will go to another place where I will be rewarded if I was good and punished if I was bad … along with many others they have the wrong handle on Christianity as that’s not what the bible teaches at all …

It’s not         works ->salvation

but           grace -> salvation -> works in response

(Eph 2: 8-9 … For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.)

If the works had to come first to be a Christian then why did Jesus tell the other thief on the cross that he would be with him in Paradise? Not a lot of chance to do good works on the cross to earn salvation … Luke 23:43

The humanism take on Jesus from the BHA website (pdf doc) seems to be broadly along the lines of :

Jesus Christ, if He existed at all, was a mere man. He may have been an interesting teacher but he was not divine. He performed no supernatural acts and when he died, he stayed dead like any other man. 

For myself … I think I’m with C.S. Lewis on this one …

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 patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.Mere Christianity


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With All I Am – Hillsongs

I love this song … I play it on my ipod when I cannot sleep


Keys to Make a Wilderness Journey Fruitful

Loving this series on This Side of the Cross blog … Part 1 and Part 2

Part 3 on today (27th April)

I believe in the resurrection

From LICC …

In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years? For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise. The living, the living – they praise you as I am doing today. Isaiah 38:10,18

Hezekiah voiced one of the great cries of the human heart. Is everything simply going to fade and go to waste? Is death the end? Literature is full of this deep sense of futility. From Euripides,

‘…and so we are sick for life, and cling
On earth to this nameless and shining thing.
For other life is a fountain sealed,
And the deeps below us are unrevealed
And we drift on legends for ever’,

to Bertrand Russell,

‘There is darkness without and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendour no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment and then nothing.’

Paul, however, 450 years after Euripides and 1900 before Russell, wrote with the certainty of one who had met the risen Christ.

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people the most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:16-19).

We would not be human if we were not sometimes assailed by fear of death and uncertainty of what is beyond. Then I find that I cling not so much to Paul’s powerful rhetoric, but to the picture of Jesus, waiting beside the lake for the disciples, raised from the dead but recognisably himself, cooking breakfast in the early morning. Hezekiah did not have our certainty. But, when he did reach heaven as a faithful servant of the living God, how great must have been his joy and surprise to join in the praises of his Saviour, a man like himself.

There is No Condemnation

I’d forgotten this song … There is No Condemnation by Don Francisco

Sittin’ by my window on a rainy afternoon
Everything inside my head was playin’ out of tune
I was thinkin’ of the fool I’d made of me the night before
In front of God and everyone I’d sinned and sinned some more.

I thought of all the things I’d done, I winced at things I’d said
I wallowed in self-pity, I hung my worried head
Right when I was so far down that even up looked wrong
That’s when Jesus gave to me the chorus of this song.

He said, “Satan the Accuser has been whisperin’ in your ear”
You just tell him you’re forgiven and he’s got no business here
‘Cause it doesn’t matter what you’ve done
It matters what you’ll be
There is no condemnation when the Son has set you free.

Now I could say that right away the sun burst through the clouds
And I just started singin’ on the chorus right out loud
But actually I moped around and blew another day
Before I let myself accept the words I’d heard Him say.

Repeat Chorus

So I can’t criticize you now if you want to take your time
And cling to all your problems just the way I clung to mine
But now you’ve got the answer Jesus wanted you to know
He’ll take your sin and guilt away if you’ll just let them go.

Repeat Chorus (Sing last line twice)

No Condemnation in Christ Jesus, Part 1

Great sermon – reproduced it here in case it disappears but here’s the link to the original …

Romans 8:1

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The greatest danger today in all the talk about faith-based social organizations is that Christians will begin to think about their faith the way the world does. For over twenty years I have battled in my own mind not to think this way. Because the temptation is tremendous, and comes from outside and inside the church.

The world views Christianity, and other religions, as useful, depending on what social, psychological, or physical benefits it may bring. In other words, the world doesn’t assess Christianity in the categories of true or false, but in the categories of useful or harmful. The world does not think of Christianity as divine revelation but as human opinion. The world does not believe that God must reveal our deepest need, and then provide the remedy in Jesus Christ. The world believes that we know our deepest needs and that religion can be respectable if it helps meet them.

The danger that Christians start to think this way is huge and deadly. A reporter interviews a pastor, and immediately defines, by his questions, the categories for explaining Christianity. “What are you doing about affordable housing? How do you help people get jobs? What’s your strategy for improving health care?”

Those are valid questions. But if you let the secular mind determine your starting point and then define the categories for explaining Christianity, then you will promote the erroneous notion that the church of Jesus Christ and the gospel of Jesus Christ are not an authoritative revelation from God that is true and necessary, but instead, an activity of man that is useful.

I begin this way because I am going to come back in a few minutes to point to some of the sweet, precious, practical effects of truth from our text. But I want you to know from the outset, and to feel, that if you start where the world starts – by thinking you know your real needs and that God is useful in meeting them – you will not know what Christianity is.

The Essence of Christianity

The essence of Christianity is that God is the supreme value in the universe, that we do not honor him as supremely valuable, that we are therefore guilty of sin and under his omnipotent wrath, and he alone can rescue us from his own condemnation, which he has done through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ, for everyone who is in Christ. Knowing this, if what we promote is housing, jobs, health care, sobriety, family life minus this message, we are not Christian – we are cruel. We comb man’s hair in the electric chair and hide his freedom in our hands.

Romans 1-7 lays it all out. I tried to sum it up last week: holy God, sinful man, coming wrath, perfect Savior, Jesus Christ crucified and risen, justification by faith, sanctification by faith. And now Paul sums up the message of Christianity in the great conclusion of Romans 8:1, “Therefore – in view of all that – there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That’s the essence of Christianity. That’s the central, foundational message of God to the world. This is what we announce. This is what we plead. This is what we lay down our lives to communicate to the nations and the neighborhoods: No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Let’s look at it in two parts: 1) what is the gift, and 2) who enjoys it? 1) The gift is: “now no condemnation;” and 2) those who enjoy it are: “those who are in Christ Jesus.”

What Is the Gift? “Now No Condemnation”

The word “now” can have two different connotations.

One is that finally everything is in place, everything has been done, finally, NOW I can receive what I was promised. A grandfather sends a package to his granddaughter and says, “Do not open until your birthday.” Every day the little girl says, “Now? Can I open it now?” “No, not now. Only on your birthday.” When it comes then she says, “Finally, now!” The “now” that comes after waiting.

The other connotation for “now” is the now that comes before you thought it would. That same grandfather writes to his son and sends him a $5,000 check and say, “Son, you know that someday you will inherit my estate. But I know that now is when your needs are great, so I am sending you this in advance.” Here the “now” is not “finally now,” but, “already now.”

Both of these meanings for “now” in Romans 8:1 are not far away. “There is now no condemnation.” Is it “finally now” or “already now.” We can see them both in Romans 8. Look at verse 3: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned [there’s the word!] sin in the flesh.”

So here is the “finally now”! All those years the law commanded and the law condemned law-breakers and the law pointed to a Righteousness and a Sacrifice that would someday come (Romans 3:21), but the law could not remove condemnation from sinners. If there was to come a time when sinners could experience “no condemnation!” – when the ungodly could be justified by faith – then God would have to do something besides give a law. And what he did was send his Son in human nature, as our representative and substitute and there on the cross in the suffering of his Son, God condemned sin!

Whose sin? Jesus had none (see “likeness of sinful flesh,” v. 3). Not his. Ours. This is the Gospel. This is Christianity. All of us were under God’s condemnation because of our sin. But, as Romans 5:6 says, “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” What does that mean – he died for the ungodly? Now we see what it means in Romans 8:3. It means that God poured out on his Son the condemnation that we deserved. He condemned sin (my sin!) in the flesh (Christ’s flesh!). Do you believe this?!

Therefore! Finally! Now! There is no condemnation. Now! Now that everything has been done that has to be done to absorb the wrath of God. Now, finally, there is no condemnation.

But what about the other meaning of “now”? Already now!” Look at Romans 8:33-34. Paul looks to the future. He considers the fact that the final judgment is yet to come. And on the way to it there are many days when our adversary, the devil, will try to deceive us and blind us and accuse us and swallow us up in feelings of guilt. So Paul writes about “already now” of no condemnation: “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; (34) who is the one who condemns [there’s the word!]? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

So here we not only have the backward look to remind us that Christ has died and become our condemnation, but the forward look to remind us that, even though there is a judgment coming, and we will sometimes tremble at the thought of it, nevertheless, already now there is no condemnation. You don’t have to wait for the final inheritance to know what this portion will be. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” In that last day when your whole life – with all its Romans-seven-imperfections is spread before you – this alone will be your hope: “It is God who justifies . . . it is Christ Jesus who died . . . who was raised . . . who intercedes.”

The verdict of the last judgment was given in ad 33: Not guilty! No condemnation. Already now. This is the heart of Christianity. This is the gift of God.

Who Enjoys It? “Those Who Are in Christ Jesus”

I am only going to touch on this today and save most of it for the next two weeks. Two simple points:

First, not everyone can say, “There is now no condemnation over my life.” Only those “who are in Christ Jesus.” Some are in him and some are not. Paul assumes this everywhere in his writings. There are those “in Christ” and there are those “outside.” Paul is not a universalist. He says explicitly in Romans 9:3, with grief, that there are those who are “accursed, separated from Christ.” The opposite of the precious phrase “in Christ” (en kristõ) is the terrible phrased “[separated] from Christ” (apo tou Kristou) Where are you? In Christ? Or separated from Christ?

The second point is this: only by being in Christ does Christ’s condemnation become your condemnation. If you want to be able to say now and at the last judgment, “There is no condemnation for me, because Jesus endured it for me,” then you must be “in Jesus.” If you are in him, what happened to him, happened to you. If you are “separated from him,” you have no warrant for saying that what happened to him happened to you.

If you say, “Ah, but he died for the whole world. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Yes, indeed. And what that means is that there is infinite room in Jesus. Christ is not a small hotel. There is room for everyone. And everyone is invited and commanded, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden. . . . Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. . . . The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (Matthew 11:28; Revelation 22:17; John 6:37).

But what if you don’t come? What if you don’t believe? What if you don’t receive the free gift? Jesus tells us in John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” The wrath of God – the condemnation of God is taken away in Christ. Not outside Christ.

So where are you? In Christ? Or outside Christ? Free from condemnation? Or under condemnation? You don’t have to stay under condemnation. There is room in Christ. There is always room in Christ. And Christ’s word to every sinner is, “Come! Trust me! Enter! I will be your life, your righteousness, your pardon, because I have been your condemnation.”

There is much more to say about being “in Christ” but I want to close like I said I would, with some sweet and precious practical effects of truth from our text. What difference does “no condemnation” make now? Even if you said to me, “It’s of no help now whatsoever in my practical problems,” I might answer, “Even so, it is 10,000 times more valuable than any other help you might receive. Because eternity is so long and life here is so short.” Even total misery here for 85 years, and no condemnation in the presence of the All-satisfying God for 85 million ages of years would not be a bad exchange.

But I will mention some benefits anyway. I am only going to mention them for you to ponder and pursue. These are for those of you who believe – who are in Christ Jesus. And I hope a spiritual enticement for the rest to come to Christ.

No Condemnation in Physical Pain

When you suffer physical pain, and it lasts a long time, and seems to get worse instead of better, and it even seems that it may end in death and not healing – the accuser comes – your own thoughts, the devil, Job’s friends – and says, “It’s punishment. You are under God’s condemnation. That’s why you are suffering so much.” How are you going to survive that assault? Answer: With Romans 8:1, “No, I am not under condemnation. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And I trust Christ, my righteousness and my pardon. My sins are covered. I will not come into condemnation. I have passed from death to life (John 5:24). Be gone tempter. Oh, Christ let your power be perfected in my pain.”

No Condemnation in Marriage Difficulties

Suppose you feel disappointed or even deeply wronged in your marriage. Where will you find the moral power to forgive and keep on loving and wooing and hoping and not resort to returning evil for evil and condemning? Answer: Romans 8:1. You will remind yourself again and again that, even though you are a sinner, in Christ Jesus God does not condemn you, and your future is free for everlasting joy. From that reservoir of mercy and hope you will draw up buckets of mercy for your spouse. And God will work wonders of grace in your life.

No Condemnation in the Failures of Parenting

What are you going to do if your children break your heart? We will find ample reason for thinking it was our fault. And you will never be able to sort that out. Ever. Only God can. So how will you keep going? How will you keep loving? Answer: Romans 8:1. In the end you don’t have to sort that out. Your standing with God does not hang on your figuring out how much was yours and how much was not. Your standing before God as a loved and forgiven child is this: There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. With that freedom, you will admit your failings freely and you will humble yourselves before your children and God may heal.

On and on we could go. No condemnation and ministry. No condemnation and peer pressure. No condemnation and sexual temptation. No condemnation and pride. No condemnation and racism. Oh how little does racial bigotry and prejudice and discrimination know of this truth! And on and on. The practical implications of this glorious truth are endless.

So where are you? Has the world shaped your mind so that you don’t even think about your need to escape God’s condemnation? Do you just think about how religion might be practically useful? Most important, are you in Christ, by faith, or are you outside? Don’t stay outside. There is always room in Christ. Come.

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True versus False Guilt

This excellent article has helped me a lot today ……