Thursday, May 19, 2005

Love is...

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the Bible describes the characteristics of love:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Since God is love, these verses are a description of His love (Agape) for us and if we, as Christians, abide in Him, they are also the characteristics of His love expressed through us. An attitude of pride has characteristics which are polar opposites of the ones expressed by love. The following is a link to a table that relates the characteristics of love described in Corinthians to Christ's expression of that love through the believer who is abiding in Him. The table also describes the behavior of someone with an attitude of pride.

Love is...

28 comments:

Judah Himango said...

It's interesting to note that while Jesus was quite apparently about love, the whole of Scripture is also about love.

Some modern Christians tend to think the God of the Old Testament was a legalistic, angry God, unconcerned with grace and love, whereas the God of the New Testament was just the opposite.

But if one is to look at the Old Testament, even the Law is about love. Jesus himself said all of the Law hangs on 2 specific commandments: loving others, and loving God.

If the Old Testament is about love, and Jesus also was about love, we have a continuing theme throughout Scripture, yet sadly the continuing theme throughout the history of Christianity has not always been one of love.

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello Judah,

Thank you for commenting on my post. I agree with all of your comments. I think of the whole Bible as God's love letter to the world. I also agree that the theme of Christianity has not always been one of love, but that has also been true of God's people since Adam.

The Bible has the constant theme of God's people turning away from Him and God allowing things to happen in order to turn them back. These things that God allowed to happen were not too pleasant, but they all happened because God loved His people and wanted the best for them.

It is really not much different in the life of a Christian than it was for the Israelites. We often turn away from God and chose paths that are not good for us and because God loves us He turns us back to Him. This discipline that we endure is often not too pleasant and it may cause some think that God is punishing them and that He doesn't love them. But they happen because He loves us and knows what is best for us...and that has never changed since Adam.

Judah Himango said...

Gary, I'm not sure where to post this, so hey, I figured I'd post it in your latest blog thread...

I was looking through your profile: The Outlaw Josie Wales, Heck yeah man! I thought me and my brother were the only ones who liked that movie. :-) So many good lines in that one. :-)

Gary Kirkham said...

TOJW is one of my favorites. Clint is the king of the one-liners and that movie had several.

"You gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?"

"Leave em. Buzzards got to eat, same as the worms."

"Dying ain't much of a living boy."

Just to name a few...

Judah Himango said...

"Son, Get back in line. Or I'll kick you so hard you'll be wearing your *** for a hat."

"Do you really think you can shoot all those men? Oh no no, Mr. Wales, there's a thing in this country called justice."

"Well, Mr. Carpetbagger, there's a thing in this territory called a Missour'a boat ride."

"Fletcher, there's an old sayin', 'To the victors belong the spoils.'"

"There's another sayin', Senator: don't piss down my back and tell me it's rainin.'"

Or the granny in the rocking chair,

"They say you're a desperate man, Josey Wales, they say you killed your own men. You know what I think?"

"What's that, granny?"

"I think that talk's worth doodly-squat."

So many good ones. I could spend 20 minutes writing them all. :-) Great movie.

Anonymous said...

god's love is somewhat harder to find and define when you are a 6 year old child suffering bone cancer?

Gary Kirkham said...

I am sorry that you are suffering. I am not sure who you are, since you posted anonymously. I’m sure you have your reasons for posting anonymously and I won’t trouble you for them. It is also not clear to me whether you are the six year old who has the cancer or if it is someone you know, such as one of your children. I also don’t know if you are a Christian. So, I will make some generalities and assumptions. If I miss the mark of where you are coming from then please let me know.

I know that it is human nature to look for some meaning in the things that happen to us and Christians do it also. It seems like the first question we always ask is, “why is this happening?” We look toward God and ask Him. We may even become convinced that He doesn’t love us or that He caused the bad thing to happen in order to punish us. But, nothing is further from the truth. God loves us very much and He has but one goal, to have a relationship with us on a personal level.

Make no mistakes, God is in control. Does that mean that He causes everything that happens? No. The Bible makes it clear that every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17). So, where does the bad stuff come from? And beyond that, how do you define good and bad? Does God really care that we are suffering?

To start with, God doesn’t cause bad or evil things to happen to us. A lot of the bad things that happen to us are due to the choices we make in life. Others are due to the human condition as a consequence of sin entering into the world. These include sickness and death. Most people look at death as a bad thing. From our perspective it seems that way. It causes pain and suffering in the people who were close to the one who died. When the person who dies is old we tend to accept it as a part of life even as we mourn the loss.

Things are different if the person is younger and much different if the person who is suffering and dying is your child. No parent wants to see their child suffer or die. They will do anything to keep it from happening. Parents are supposed to be able to fix things, to make it better. We see ourselves being robbed of years of happiness, watching our child grow up. It is perfectly natural to blame God and maybe even curse God for what you are going through. Talk to God and honestly tell Him how you feel and I will pray that He opens your eyes to His love and shows you things from His perspective.

As humans, we often judge something to be good if it brings us happiness and joy and we judge something to be bad if it brings us sorrow and pain. But how does God view these things? God views them from the standpoint of eternity. To God, the things that happen to us are neither good nor bad, they are like Northern stars that point us to Him. As I mentioned, God is in control. He knows everything about us. He knows our past, he knows our future…he even knows how long we will live. Every day that we live and every day that we get to spend with our loved ones is a gift from God. If God chose to, He could prevent anything “bad” from happening to us. But He has a purpose in everything and He chooses to allow these things to happen in order to draw us to Him...to trust Him. It all depends upon where we allow our troubles to fall.

Our troubles in life move us. We rarely move away from things that bring us joy and peace. We tend to move away from the things that are causing us trouble and pain…to distance ourselves from them. I am not necessarily talking about physical displacement (moving to another town); I am also talking about emotional and spiritual displacement. If we allow our troubles, our pain and suffering, to fall between us and God; our troubles then tend to move us away from God. We feel ourselves moving away from God and we don’t sense that it is our troubles that are moving us away. We may feel like God is rejecting us, pushing us away, because He doesn’t love us. We look for ways to move away from our troubles. We may try drugs and alcohol in order to alleviate or dull the pain…to move us a way. But these don’t work, because the troubles still remain. The utter since of helplessness we feel may cause us to become depressed and seek to remove our troubles with anti-depressants…but the troubles still remain.

If we allow our troubles to fall somewhere other than between us and God, then our troubles move us toward God. As I mentioned, what God wants more than anything is to have a relationship with you. He wants you to spend His eternity with Him in Heaven. What you see as trouble in pain in this temporary thing called life, God sees as something He can use for good in order to change our eternity. Does that mean that we suffer fewer troubles the closer we move toward God? No it doesn’t. The Bible says that there will always be pain and suffering in this world. However the closer we move toward God, the more we trust Him. The closer we get the more convinced we become that He loves us, that He is all we need, that He is in control, and that He is good. It is then that we see our suffering and pain from His perspective. It is then that we can cast all our worries and cares upon Him and live in peace trusting that He is causing everything that we go through to work for our good because we love Him. God isn’t a cold and calculating God, not caring about the pain we suffer. Far from it! He loves us so much, that He wishes for no one to perish, but for everyone to have eternal life.

He wants that for you and your family. I don’t know if you or your family has ever trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you haven’t, then it is my prayer that you and your family will. I would encourage you and your family to go to and read the following link: http://blogontheweb.com/bgkirkham/articles/FindingPeace.aspx. I will also pray that God will heal the 6 year old and that He will use what is happening to draw you closer to Him.

Anonymous said...

"Talk to God and honestly tell Him how you feel and I will pray that He opens your eyes to His love"

What love is being shown the child dying in extreme pain? How does the continued physical torture of a 6 year old assist THAT CHILD to gain knowledge of god's love?

"If God chose to, He could prevent anything “bad” from happening to us. But He has a purpose in everything and He chooses to allow these things to happen in order to draw us to Him...to trust Him."

Does this apply to the child? When this child dies, do they gain 'trust' in him?

"I will also pray that God will heal the 6 year old... "

What conclusion should I draw when the child dies? What does this tell me about the purpose of prayer? Obviously not all prayers are answered - why?

Gary Kirkham said...

I appreciate you writing again. I know that you are in a lot of pain and that the 6 year old child is someone very close to you. Other than that, I know very little more about you today than I did yesterday. I know that you are looking for answers and I am not sure that I have them. I know that God does and that He can and will provide comfort and strength to those who draw near to Him.

I can’t really add much more to what I wrote yesterday. I can’t speak for God. I don’t know what His purposes are in allowing a 6 year old child to suffer. I can only speculate and God has shown me that is not a good thing for me to do…He simply wants me to trust Him. Again, I don’t know you. I don’t know if you are a Christian or even if you believe in God. How was your relationship with God before the child became sick? Do you feel like you and God are moving apart?

I know that you can’t see any evidence of God’s love in the suffering of a 6 year old, but He does love you and your family and the child very much. He also feels compassion for our suffering. In the Bible there is a story about Lazarus (John 11). Lazarus was a man that Jesus loved very much and when Jesus received word that Lazarus was very ill He didn’t go to him immediately. Even though Jesus loved Lazarus and could have prevented his suffering He chose not to go to him. When He received word that Lazarus had died, He then went to the place where Lazarus was laid to rest. The family of Lazarus was in great pain and mourning the loss of their loved one. And even though Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and restore their family, He felt compassion and wept because of their pain.

I believe that God weeps for us when we suffer and even though He could stop the suffering He sees beyond it into eternity. If the child dies then, I believe, he will be in Heaven with God and all of his suffering will be ended. He will spend His eternity with God. But what about those close to the child, who remain. How will this affect your eternity? Will you let it come between you and God or will it drive you to Him? God always answers the prayers of those who love Him and have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior…however, sometimes the answer is no. Not because He doesn’t love us, but precisely because He does love us and wants us to love and trust Him…to trust that He causes all things to work together for the good for those who love Him.

Anonymous said...

"I don’t know what His purposes are in allowing a 6 year old child to suffer."

There can be no purpose that is compatible with a compassionate and omnipotent god. The two attributes are shown clearly to be in contradiction in the form of a young body constantly racked with pain, forced to die slowly and agonisingly. Choose - which attribute are you prepared to relinquish, compassion or omnipotence?

This one child is all the evidence required to demonstrate that the two are in contradiction with the truth of the world we live in.

"I can only speculate and God has shown me that is not a good thing for me to do…He simply wants me to trust Him."

No, he wants you to obey him. The god of the bible is not the kind, caring father figure offering free water and food to any and all weary travellers who pass his door - he's the manipulator who created the desert, place the travellers in it, removed all their food and water, waitied until they arrived at his door, then demanded they agree to his terms before allowing them to eat and drink. There is no 'grace' in the compassion of this god, there is simply a desire to embrace and cherish only those who accept the conditions of entry. This is the very definition of 'conditional love' - that which is given only in response to your acceptence of his terms.

You use the word 'Trust' because the biblical god is in fact a clear contradiction, and his alleged attributes cannot be resolved with the current shape of the world. Therefore you must either reject him, or back away from the contradictions and replace them with 'trust'. Blind faith. An unwillingness to see the reality that conflicts with the desired shape of god. You can't answer the contradictions because the contradictions are real, and so it becomes a maater of 'trust'. Please, look beyond that word to what it is hiding from you - clear evidence that the biblical god cannot be, and that the nature of god is not revealed in scripture. Rather, scripture reflects the god that the writers wished to find.

"If the child dies then, I believe, he will be in Heaven with God and all of his suffering will be ended."

So the child is denied a chance to find god? The whole 'trust/love' thing doesn't apply to this child for some reason? Why has this child been chosen to be 'immune' from the need to accept Jesus? Why divide humanity into 'those that choose' and 'those that have it chosen for them'?

Gary Kirkham said...

Thanks for writing again. You seem to have an extremely distorted notion of who God is and the nature of His unconditional love for you. I am not saying that to throw stones, because I had that same notion for a long time. No one could tell me any different. I believed that God was an angry old man with a club that was just sitting up there waiting for me to screw up so He could whack me on the head. One day he opened my eyes and showed me the truth, He showed me that He truly did love me and wanted nothing but the best for me. I will never be able to convince you of His love, only He can do that. It is my prayer that He will open your eyes the way He opened mine.

Let’s suspend, for a moment, any talk of God and dying children. I assume you are a man and a father even though you have chosen to share very little about yourself. Picture this; you are the father of a two year old boy and he has stepped on a piece of glass and cut his foot very badly. You take him to the emergency room and they tell you that they need repair some internal damage and suture the wound closed. They also tell you that, because of the nature of the injury, they will not be able to do much for his pain during the procedure. If they do nothing, then the child risks permanent injury.

The doctor begins the procedure and the child is in pain and very frightened. He fights the doctor and doesn’t allow him to touch his foot. You try to reason with the child and tell him that this is for his own good, but he doesn’t understand. He only wants to make the doctor stop hurting him. At this point, the only option you have is to hold the child down, in order to restrain him, so the procedure can continue. It rips your heart out as the child pleads with you to make it stop, but you have to let it continue because you know that this is for his good. You can see beyond his pain to a healthy foot and a normal life.

This is a picture of God’s love for you. He is not some sadistic monster that enjoys inflicting pain on us. He is a loving father that wants only what is best for us. He allows us to go through pain because be sees the eternal good beyond our suffering. And like the two year old child we don’t understand it, we don’t like it, and we fight against it for all we are worth. That is where trust comes in. He wants us to trust that He loves us and that he will do what is best for us. This is just like the way you would want your child to trust you. In case you are wondering, the example I used above is based on true events.

God would love nothing more than for you to love Him and to have a personal relationship with Him. He wants to show you truth that transcends the here and now, reaching into eternity. He wants to show you that He truly is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). He wants you to have peace and joy in spite of your circumstances. These things only come by accepting and trusting His son Jesus as your Lord and Savior. God didn’t spare His own son, He sent Him to die on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins. God has provided the only way to come to Him, through His son Jesus. You can accept His offer of eternal life or reject it…the choice is yours.

Anonymous said...

"You seem to have an extremely distorted notion of who God is and the nature of His unconditional love for you."

Again, there IS a condition on god's love. Simply repeating the word 'unconditional' doesn't alter the fact that god has set a very clear, and absolute, condition.

Imagine a person who comes up to a starving beggar and says "I'll give you all you can eat and drink for ever more - all you need to give me is a single cent. Just one cent, and it's all yours". That's a condition. The biblical god offers you everything, based on a condition.

"He is not some sadistic monster that enjoys inflicting pain on us."

No, he is unfathomable and presents a contract to you that is clearly unacceptable and violates simple human rights. There is no sense of fairness and justice in god's clear desires to punish the son for the sins of the father.

In fact god goes even further. Imagine you kidnap and keep as a prisoner a number of poeple. Eventually you are discovered and the police come to your street. But rather than arrest you they take away the 6 year old boy who lives 10 houses down the street from you, the 9 year old girl from the next block, and the 56 year old grandfather from the next suburb. They are removed and executed, despite the fact that they have never even met you. The police come back to you and say "let that be a warning to you - don't do it again".

This is exactly god's idea of 'a lesson' and 'justice'.

It might be teaching YOU something, but what is it teaching those that died? And how do you know that next time a random stranger needs 'a lesson' that god won't choose you to be the example?

"And like the two year old child we don’t understand it, we don’t like it, and we fight against it for all we are worth."

You once again side step the real issue - for your analogy to hold, then the child would die from it's wounds, despite the effort of the father and the doctor. Again, address the real issue here - where is the benefit for the child who dies? Why has this human been singled out to (a) suffer extreme pain for a prolonged period; and (b) to finally die without ever having the chance to know the 'love' of god, or to make a 'choice' about his future? Where is the question of faith for this child? If there is none, the god chooses (yes god, not you) on behalf of some humans. Or if there is a choice, in what way can a dying child exercise and make such a choice?

Don't run from this example - if a scientist wants to develop a theory to explain some observations, the theory MUST explain ALL relevant observations, or it's not acceptable. This applies here - if you wish to believe that the bible offers "the roadmap" for humans to find god, then the theory must explain ALL observations.
Yet within you you know you can't, so you run to 'trust' and 'faith' to plaster over the cracks in this conception of god. This might make you feel good, but it reveals for the lie that it is that the bible describes god to us.

"God didn’t spare His own son, He sent Him to die on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins."

What sort of a 'sacrifice' is it to offer something that has no permanence? The son who died, yet was raised again? I'm sure the parent's of every child that has died in pain would love that same ability.

"God has provided the only way to come to Him, through His son Jesus. You can accept His offer of eternal life or reject it…the choice is yours."

There can be no choice here. If you believe in an omnipotent god, then the nature of the universe and the nature of man are god's creations. It is as he intended, and can only be as he allows. All outcomes fall within the boundaries he has set. Choice can only exist in the absence of such a god ... again you blindly look past the clear contradictions under the guise of 'faith'.

Gary Kirkham said...

Thank you for posting again. We seem to be running around in circles. You seem to be trying to convince me that my view of God's love is wrong, something that you will never be able to do. I have tried to show you my understanding of what God's love is, all the while admitting that I would never be able to convince you of His love...only He can do that. You have constructed a "straw man" God that bears little resemblance to the actual. There are no contradictions, only lack of understanding.

I don't really want to run around in circles anymore. I would challenge you to read the Gospel of John...it illustrates the love of God perhaps better than any other book in the Bible. If you want to ask me specific questions about specific verses, then feel free. I don't really have the desire to spend my time trying to nock down straw men.

Anonymous said...

Gary,

No strawmen - the simple fact that you'd rather read one book of the bible that describes god in terms you like (John) while ignoring another book of the Bible's description of god that completely contradicts this (Exodus) is simply 'data mining' by you - finding what you already needed to find.

Please explain the 'love' that god showed to the first born Egyptians as he slaughtered them by the tens of thousands simply because of Pharoah's intransigence?

And if you want to avoid 'circles' in any discussion then how about addressing the one simple point made numerous times, but not addressed by you at any time : where is the question of faith for a child dying in enourmous pain? Why does god apparently divide humnaity into those that choose, and those that he choose for? If you wish to understand your god, you have to look deeply into the sufering of a child dying from a extremely painfull and incurrable disease.

If you can't reconcile such a act with a 'loving god' except by saying "don't know, but I'll just trust I'm right" then you have no understanding of a crucial aspect of the world you live in. Perhaps you're content to live in a world of blind faith ... certainly there are plenty of suicide bombers who think like that.

Gary Kirkham said...

Anonymous,
Once again, thank you for writing. I haven’t avoided the question; I have answered it several different times in different ways. You just can’t accept them as answers, because I don’t believe that you are looking for answers. There are no contradictions in the Bible. You may find contradictions in what I write, because I am fallible. I didn’t suggest the Gospel of John in order to ignore the supposed contradictions in the other books.

You only know God based on what you think you see in the Old Testament. You have assigned motives to His actions and divined things about His character based on your own perspective and understanding. Instead of doing that, why don’t you allow God to reveal Himself to you directly instead of just assuming things? God chose to reveal Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 14:9, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” That is why I challenge you to read the Gospel of John. It is only when you know Jesus, that the Father is revealed.

You talk about a dying child as if that is the only thing that is important and, I guess, from your perspective it is. You assume that God’s purposes only lie with the child and, in relation to the child; you can’t see the point or reconcile it with the Love of God. You need to shift you focus from the here and now to eternity. How will your eternity be changed by what’s happening to the child? The here and now will pass away, for we all die…some sooner than others…some due to old age…some due to disease…some due to natural disasters…some due to the evil of men. The only thing that remains at that point is eternity. If the suffering of someone changes the eternity of others from eternal death to eternal life, then who has given love and who has received love. In 2 Corinthians 7:9, 10 the Bible says, “yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

Jesus suffered and died in order to change our eternity. The salvation provided through Him is a gift of God's love. The only thing that you have to do is receive it by faith. You called me by my name, yet I still call you anonymous. There is so much that I don’t know about you…your background, your motives, if you even believe there is a God, if there is/was someone close to you dying of cancer. Tell me about yourself.

Anonymous said...

"There are no contradictions in the Bible."

So you are a believer in biblical inerrancy? Oh well, that just about dooms educated conversation. perhaps you should read this :

http://www.religioustolerance.org/inerran2.htm

In particular, hopefully the following quote might give you pause to think rather than just believe... "The Gospel of John was almost rejected by the early Church because of its Gnostic content."

Please try to understand what this means ... that almost 300 years after Christ the Gospel of John was considered by many within the church to be an incorrect work. What you consider 'the bible' is the result of people - not god - making judgements on what to include and what not to include.

Jesus wrote nothing...his disciples, even if they did write the individual books, did not create 'the bible'. How many books are in your canon? Why?

And perhaps, because it's an attempt to create understanding rather than trying to prove, try reading this :

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ine_none1.htm

And if you feel like indulging yourself in issues of canon, start with :

http://www.foundationsforfreedom.net/Topics/Bible/Bible_Books_Extent.html

"You need to shift you focus from the here and now to eternity. How will your eternity be changed by what’s happening to the child?"

And you need to shift your focus from 'those left behind' to 'the child'. How is the child's eternity determined, and by whom? Why is god denying some humans the right/need to choose Jesus?

"You have assigned motives to His actions and divined things about His character based on your own perspective and understanding."

This is what you do, yet refuse to admit it. Please explain 2 Kings 2.23-2.24?

Gary Kirkham said...

Thanks for writing again. I see that you continue in your attempt to prove something to me. It really is a waste of time. I know that I have better things to do and I would hope that you would as well. Your assumption that blindly chose a life of faith is in error. I am an engineer working in a high tech industry and trained to think logically for myself. Do you really think that you are going to paste a few links with assertions that I have never heard? We could also spend months arguing about the meaning Bible verses or the perceived contradictions therein. But after all that there will be one question that will remain. It is a very important question and how you answer it means life or death:

What will you do with Jesus Christ?

There are only two possible answers, you can choose to accept Him or you can choose to reject Him.

God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9, 10)

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Then Jesus spoke to them again: "I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God… (1 Peter 3:18)

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8)

But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)

If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9, 10)

Anonymous said...

"I am an engineer working in a high tech industry and trained to think logically for myself."

Then it is a pity you choose to ignore your training when confronted with clear contradictions. Please explain, I ask yet again, how the dying CHILD chooses Christ. Why does god divide humanity into 'those that must choose' and 'those that I choose on behalf of'?

"Do you really think that you are going to paste a few links with assertions that I have never heard? "

No, but perhaps if you read this site it would serve to show how many assumptions you make. It was you who suggested that I simply "find what I want to find" in scripture. I'm trying to help you understand that there are any number of ways to read scripture - none can demonstrate their 'correctness'. ALL simply assume they are right, none can logically prove it. Please, feel free to prove your interpretations are correct without assuming you conclusion. This is what you have accused me of - I post the links to show that it is a behaviour common to all christian sects, and I challenge you to show how 'logic' proves you right. You know you can't, you make assumptions also, but choose not to challenge them because you just "know they are right". Oh well...

"It is a very important question and how you answer it means life or death:"

For ease of conversation, I'll assume that this 'life or death' question can be expressed as the simple concept 'go to heaven'.

Can I ask you - can an atheist ever 'go to heaven'? Can a Muslim?
Can a christian priest that commits sexual assualt on children? What happened to ALL humans who lived before Christ - are they in heaven?

"What will you do with Jesus Christ?"

Why would this matter? Can't god see into my 'true self'? If I work tirelessly for the betterment of those around me, seek nothing for myself, yet fail to accept Jesus why would I be condemned? If Hitler repented on his deathbed and acecpted Christ why should he be 'absolved' from the deaths of over 60 million people? This is not love or justice, it's obedience.

Please, please explain how ignoring a persons' behavior, motivations, desires and thoughts in favour of a simple "yes/no" decision can be defined as 'just' or 'loving'?

"There are only two possible answers, you can choose to accept Him or you can choose to reject Him."
What happens if you've never heard of him? What happens if you've heard of him, perhaps even read a gospel or two, but live in a culture that denies and actively rejects Jesus? Say you are born into a mountain village in Pakistan where everyone - your parents, your siblings, the village elders, the local law enforcement, the local goverment, the priest - ALL tell you that Jesus is a lie and false. You have doubts - perhaps the gospels have a 'ring of truth' for you and you find them interesting, but when you talk to the priest about this it is explained that such feelings are a test of you faith in Islam, and that evil is tempting you to test your commitment. You fall back into your past and reject Jesus. Are you going to heaven?

Gary Kirkham said...

Thanks for writing again. You ask the same questions as if I haven’t answered them before, yet I have answered them…you just can’t accept the answer. You ask why the child doesn’t get to choose and why God chooses on his behalf. Suppose your 4 year old son seriously injures himself. Do you ask him if he wants to go to the hospital? If you are honest, you will have to answer no to that question. You take him to the hospital regardless of his desire. Why, because he is not old enough to know what is best or the consequences of his choice. You, on the other hand, do know what is best and because you love him you choose to do what is best. Similarly, do you allow a child to make a choice about school attendance? I can go on and on. Why would you expect anything else from a loving God?

As I told you before, it really is a waste of time for me to address all of your perceived contradictions. You ask me to prove my interpretation of the Bible is correct, again a waste of time. Why? I have told you repeatedly that I will never be able to convince you, only the Holy Spirit can do that. Until He gives you a revelation, the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ will appear to be foolishness. “For to those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God's power.”(1 Corinthians 1:18) The first revelation that the Holy Spirit gives to you is that you are a sinner.

Our sin separates us from God. God created us in His own image to have eternal life. He did not make us as robots to automatically love and obey Him. God gave us a will and freedom of choice. Man (Adam) chose to disobey God and go his own willful way. We still make this choice today. This results in separation from God. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Our choice results in a separation from God.

People have tried in many ways to bridge the gap between themselves and God. There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12) But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:2) There is only one way to bridge the gap between you and God. Doing good things doesn’t get you there. Religion doesn’t get you there. Being moral doesn’t get you there. Why? Because of sin! You would have to live a perfect life and that is not possible because you were born into sin. God loves us so much that He provided the only way to bridge the gap between ourselves and Him.

Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose from the grave. He paid the penalty for our sin and bridged the gap between God and people. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5) For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God… (1 Peter 3:18) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) God has provided the only way. You must make a choice.

You must trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receive Him by personal invitation. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will abide with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12) That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9)

God wants to give you the gift of eternal life and, as with any other gift; you simply have to receive it by faith. But, faith in what? Faith in the only thing that can give you life and bring you to God, the Lord Jesus Christ. It all boils down to a choice. Will you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Anonymous said...

"You take him to the hospital regardless of his desire."

If you want to keep running with this analogy then you need to add in the fact that it is the father that causes the serious injury, deliberately. What does that do to you image of the loving father than makes tough decisions on behave of a suffering child? The decisions only become necessary as a direct result of the father's violent actions.

"God gave us a will and freedom of choice."

You need to define 'will'. If god created 'everything' then he created 'will'. he sets the boundaries - nothing is possible that he did not intend. Whatever your will is, it remians a creation of god. Therefore you cannot do anything he does not intend.

"He paid the penalty for our sin and bridged the gap between God and people."

Can you explain how one person can 'pay the penalty' for another in a moral sense? Your son takes your car, drives it through a red light and gets a fine. You pay the fine for him. Sure, the debt is paid in the eyes of society, but both you and your son know he was in the wrong.

Now follow the analogy through - god loans you his car, you drive it through the read light he placed there, he fines you, then he sends his son down to pay him the fine. In what sense have you been anything except a puppet in a silly little drama of his own creating? In what MORAL sense have you been held accountable?

"Until He gives you a revelation, the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ will appear to be foolishness."

So there is no choice to be made UNTIL this revelation? Just to be sure I understand you, you believe the revelation comes first, then comes the choice? SO you believe that ALL people recieve a revelation, but some choose to ignore it?

"It all boils down to a choice. Will you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior?"

And yet the evidence required to make this choice is not equally presented to all men, and all men do not equally posses the capacity to make informed choices.

Jesus died in 33CE. What happened to all people who died before that time? Do they all get into heaven 'for free', removed from the need to choose? Did none of them? What happened to every SOuth American who died before the arrival of the conquistadors? Did they get a 'free pass' as well? If "haven't heard of the gospel, so get ito Heaven free" is the rule, then we need to destroy every copy of the bible as soon as possible to ensure that all huamsn make it to Heaven.

Why Did god decide to reveal the "secret password" to heaven in Judea in 33CE? Knowing it would take thousands of years to travel the globe and reach (almost) everyone?

Since you failed to directly answer the question, can I assume that you believe no Muslim can go to Heaven, ever?

Gary Kirkham said...

Thanks again for replying, but this is getting rather pointless. God didn’t cause the accident.

Jesus became the propitiation for our sins…we are no longer held accountable because our sins were placed on Him. If you want to be held accountable for your sins then go right ahead…the choice is yours.

You cannot know something until it is revealed:
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (John 16:7-11)

Concerning people who have never heard of God:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:18-21)

Can a _____________ be saved?
Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

Jesus was the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the earth. (Revelation 13:8)

The requirement for salvation has always been faith. The object of one's faith for salvation has always been God. The psalmist wrote, "Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him" (Psalm 2:12). Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abraham believed God and that was enough for God to account it to him for righteousness (see also Romans 4:3-8). The Old Testament sacrificial system did not take away sin, as Hebrews 9:1-10:4 clearly teaches. It did, however, point to the day when the Son of God would shed His blood for the sinful human race.

It still comes to this:
You…Jesus…Choice

So far you have chosen pride. Pride in assigning motives to the actions of God…pride in claiming that He is something other than what He claims to be…pride in saying that the God who created the heavens and the earth and you doesn’t get to make the rules and be in control.

You have based your eternity on what you think you know and what you can reason from what you think you know. There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12) You better be right.

I choose to have faith in Jesus and there is nothing that you can say, or do, that will take that away. So, if that is your only goal, then you are wasting your time.

Anonymous said...

"God didn’t cause the accident."

He allows everything. THink about what it means to say 'god created free will'. Are you denying he created free will? If he did, what does it say about the cause and effect implicit in that creation?

"You cannot know something until it is revealed"

Wht if you die before such a personal revelation? What becomes of you then?

"Jesus became the propitiation for our sins…we are no longer held accountable because our sins were placed on Him."

This is just ridiculous. If it was possible in a moral sense ot 'place' your guilt elsewhere then god could simply have absolved us all instantly. Your time spent recycling scripture might be better spent investigating the thoughts of theologians on what excatly christ's sacrifice was.

"If you want to be held accountable for your sins then go right ahead…the choice is yours."

And if you want to believe that your sins can be transferred away from you just because you waih it to be so, then I'm happy to debate which of us grasps the concept of 'morality' better.

"Concerning people who have never heard of God:"

You must be a Baptist? At les the Catholics are prepared to face this issue with thought rather such cheap scripture quotes. I suggest you do some reading on current catholic thoughts on these issues, rather that spouting 2000 year old lines (writtent before the existence of side a global spread of humanity was even suspected).

"Can a _____________ be saved?"

Thanks for the reply - it's clear that you have the same need to feel superior as the average Taliban recruit. Knowing you are 'right' must make it easy to make tough decisions.

"Pride in assigning motives to the actions of God…"

The bible makes his motives perfectly clear. Blackmail and bribery are his tools of trade, an irrational failure to allow loving caring people to find their own way through life is clearly shown.

"pride in claiming that He is something other than what He claims to be…"
I don't claim any such thing - the bible clearly reveals him to be vain, arrogant, selfish, violent, hateful and petulant to those who question or doubt, and generous and caring to those who faun on him. His need to build a universe in which he squashs the ants who annoy him and rewards the ants who crawl to him is all you need to know about his character and motives.

"pride in saying that the God who created the heavens and the earth and you doesn’t get to make the rules and be in control."

Sure he makes the rules. And even a moment spent studying the rules reveals the idiocy of the system.

"I choose to have faith in Jesus and there is nothing that you can say, or do, that will take that away."

Strange, but a recent converstion with a Muslim ended in almost the exact same words (substitute Allah for Jesus, of course). I wonder what that might tell you about the meaning, source and implications of faith?

"then you are wasting your time."

Probably. Since you seem determined to switch off the brain that god gave you there seems little chance you'll really think about the implications of your won words.

Anonymous said...

Gary,

At the risk of simply sending yet another link past your blinkered eyes, can I suggest you take some of the reason and logic you believe you possess and try reading... really reading ... this :

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/theory.html

Pay attention to the conclusion ... faith is no substitute for using the brain your were born with, and those
'feelings' of revelation you have experienced are shared by those (ie, Muslims for one) who deny your conclusion.

You share a process (revelation/personal experience/scripture/holy words) with a huge number of fellow humans on this planet yet only some of whom share your conclusion. If the exact same process can be used to reach contradictory conclusions then (a) the process is faulty and (b) the conclusions(s) are highly suspect.

Like the concept a dying child in a universe created by a loving/omniscient god, there is an inherent flaw in putting faith above reason. You're smarter than this ... but probably too scared to see where your own mind and reason can really take you. I guess if you enjoy the blinkered view from inside the box then that's a personal choice you make.

Anonymous said...

AH .. the internet and formatting...

The full link (broken up:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/
richard_carrier/theory.html

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello again. I must say, I admire your persistence in the face of futility. I haven’t read your link, but I must ask; who is Richard Carrier? Why should I hold what he thinks above what God has said? I presume that he makes some sort of good argument in support of your position. Here’s the rub, a good argument in support of “A” doesn’t mean that “A” is true. For example, I can present to you a very convincing mathematical proof that 1+1 is not equal to 2. But, what is the truth…1+1=2. So, if you start with the truth 1+1=2 it then becomes obvious that any logical argument to the contrary must be false. I don’t really need to examine any arguments to the contrary because I know that 1+1=2…I have taken it on faith.

Isn’t that what both of us have done in regard to God. I have placed my faith in God because I believe that He exists and that He has revealed Himself to us through His Holy Word. I start on the side His truth and have no problem seeing the flaws in everything that is contrary to His truth. You have placed your faith in the belief that He doesn’t exist or that He is not who He claims to be. You start on the side of your truth and seek validation in everything that supports that truth and you reject everything that doesn’t validate that truth. So, both of us are placing our faith in something. I am placing my faith in the unseen and eternal and you are placing you faith in what you can reason for yourself, or in what others can reason for you.

So, who is right and who is wrong? Time will reveal all. If you are right then I have lost nothing and you have gained nothing. I will have lived my life; a life where I have loved and helped others and will be remembered by those who remain, after I cease to exit and return to “nothing”. If I am right then I will have gained everything and you will have lost everything because you will be eternally separated from God because you have rejected the truth. The truth is that God really does love you and He really does want you to spend your eternity with Him. He sent His own son, Jesus Christ, to brutally die on a cross in order to make it possible for everyone (that includes you) to receive eternal life.

As before, you can accept Him or reject Him.

Anonymous said...

Gary,

"Here’s the rub, a good argument in support of “A” doesn’t mean that “A” is true."

Gee, thanks for that! You'd be aware I hope that it seems slightly (well, not so slightly actually) contradictory for you to be using an argument of logic to support an argument that is, in essence "logic isn't what counts". Please, make up your mind - you either do accept that logic is valuable, or you accept that if logic and 'truth' conflict then 'truth' wins.

"I start on the side His truth and have no problem seeing the flaws in everything that is contrary to His truth. You have placed your faith in the belief that He doesn’t exist..."

THanls for making so plain. You start with your conclusion, then find evidecne to support it. You assertion that I do the same is false. I start from the data, and find a conclusion.

You use logic and reason to support a preconceived position.

I use logic and reaons to find a position.

Let me tell you about a certain CodeProject member - a Pentecostal Christian. He is highly intelligent, and follwing your path exactly - using his intelect to support his starting position. Unfortunately for you, he KNOWS, with utter certainty, that you are not a christian! Sorry, you think yoyu are, but you're not. Only those who speak in tongues at mass are true christians. All others are deluded, thinking they follow Christ but until the Holy Spirit touches you and graces you witht eh gift of tongues you are doomed to join the heathens in the burning pits of eternity.

How does he know this with so much conviction and surety? Simple - start from the position that Christ is real and the bible is the word of god. Read that word, think about what it says. There's no doubting the need for 'tongues' as described by the bible. THe experience peronal revelation - feel the power of tiongues decend on you. Logic flows from a position of faith, backed by overwhelming personal experience, and produces an unshakeable conclusion.

Now, the fact that this conclusion differs from yours should alert you to something. But it's clear you wish to preserve a 'pure' view untainted by possibilties. Me, I get to watch two men declaring they 'know the truth' and that this knowledge is rooted in experience and reason. Yet the conclusions contradict. At least one of you is clearly wrong, by your own standards. But both of you claim the exact same level of support. And let me give you a little tip (which I'm sure you'll dismiss as easily as you have the various links I've offered) - if you start from a of position of "don't know", then apply your intellect perhaps you'll catch a glimpse of the world outside your box. Of perhaps not - you seem determined to avoid scrutiny.

"... or that He is not who He claims to be."

No, I examine his own claims and try to find the reasons for the contradictions. Please explain 2 Kings 2.23, 2.24 in terms of a loving god?

"If I am right then I will have gained everything and you will have lost everything.."

Ah .. Pascal's Wager. You know, this probably sounds like a killer argument to you. You have access to the internet - look at some responses to Pascal's Wager and try (yes, try) to understand why this is theology for 12 year olds. Please, for a smart guy you're showing very little depth. Or perhaps you prefer it that way - don't dig deep 'cos you may find something unpleasant.

"As before, you can accept Him or reject Him."

And as before, he can accept me or reject me. That fact that you believe he chooses to place my obedience to him above ALL my behaviours and thoughts to those that I love and interact with should tell you something ... unfortunately it apparently doesn't.

Gary Kirkham said...

Apparently we haven't communicated very well. I don't believe that in anything I have written I have tried to use logic as a basis for my faith. I was simply countering your assertion that logic can be used to arrive at the truth. I haven't started with a conclusion; I have started with the truth and placed my faith in that truth. Go back and read what I wrote in this light. I have not tried to persuade you with logic because, as I admitted from the start, I knew that I would not be able to do so. It is not my job to persuade you, it is the Holy Spirit’s job.

I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt that no man can know my heart. It not up to any man to say whether or not I am saved. Just as it not my place to know his heart. So this anonymous cp member that claims to know my heart cannot possibly know my heart. If he claims to, then he denies scripture. Or, he really didn’t say this about me specifically and, perhaps, you are disingenuously projecting something he said onto me. Whatever the case, the assertion is plainly wrong.

You claim you start with data then reach a conclusion. Since there is no data, this only leaves two possibilities. Either you haven't reached a conclusion or you have reached a conclusion that is unsupported by data. It sounds to me like you have done the latter. You may claim that things you observe are your “data,” but these things are not God…who cannot be seen.

I have never claimed to be a smart guy, I simply said that I have logically examined the arguments against God and remain unconvinced. Go back and read what I wrote.

Pascal?
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36

Your posts have become increasingly uncivil and condescending. This is quite incongruous for a man of your intellect. I am not sure why that is, but it really is uncalled for. I have been civil to you, yet you seem to be getting frustrated. I am not sure what is driving this frustration. The best thing I can come up with is that you are frustrated that my faith in God has survived, and will continue to survive, your withering display of logic and reason.

I really have no personal desire to continue this conversation since we are just going around in circles anyway.

God loves you.
He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins.
He is offering His gift of salvation to you, specifically.
The only thing that you have to do is receive it by faith.

No amount of logic and reason can deny this truth. No amount of logic and reason can bypass this truth and get you to heaven. I have prayed in the past that God will take away everything you trust in and leave you nowhere to turn but Him…and I will continue to do so. You probably think that sounds harsh, but I pray that one day you will see it for what it really is; an act of love.

Anonymous said...

" know that beyond a shadow of a doubt that no man can know my heart. It not up to any man to say whether or not I am saved. Just as it not my place to know his heart. So this anonymous cp member that claims to know my heart cannot possibly know my heart. If he claims to, then he denies scripture. Or, he really didn’t say this about me specifically and, perhaps, you are disingenuously projecting something he said onto me. Whatever the case, the assertion is plainly wrong."

You fail to understand - he doesn't claim to know you or your heart, but he clains to now the truth. THe same thing you are basing your replies on. Yet his truth is not your truth. According to his truth, derived from a belive in scripture, god's love, and his own personal revelations, then you are not a christian. You are deluded. Without the gift of tongues your are not chosen by god. This is his truth. It is real to him. It is based on the same foundations as your beliefs. It contradicts your beliefs. His conciction and faith in god's love missors your own. Yet his trith does not. Please, think about what that means for building a world view on "inner experieced truth".

"I have never claimed to be a smart guy, I simply said that I have logically examined the arguments against God and remain unconvinced."

But can you not see that you have no where to go with this? If yous tart from a positoin of 'knowing the truth' the logic will always fail against it. You will always be able to find logic 'insufficient'. By default you have already surrendered any claim on reason as a valid tool. This despite your 'truth' being at odds with billions of other humans who also claim 'the truth' as their starting point.

Try starting from a position of "perhaps..." and be prepared for the journey it will take you on. Hell of a ride, and the world will become a bigger and better place for you. There's a lot of space outside your box Gary...

"He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins"

Can I ask how you know this? What evidence do you have to support the existence of jesus? Oh, don't bother - I'm understand when you have a knowledge of 'truth' then facts become unnecessary.