Posts Tagged ‘Freewill’

It wouldn’t surprise me if you are in absolute agreement with George Carlin. Sometimes, I am too. That’s why I downloaded this meme for a Frank’s Cottage blog.

The question hinted at by the late, great comedian (1937-2008) is pretty obvious: how can there be a loving, involved creator when this world seems so shot through with violence, disaster, pandemics, corruption and disease? If He exists, does He just not give a darn?

These questions bugged me incessantly. But something changed after I made a life-changing decision. Prepare yourself, because this was — and is — radical. I decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God.

Once that happened, I started to see the world differently. I read about Jesus — His life, death and resurrection — and came to understand the gift of free will.

I’ll admit this is often a difficult, troubling notion that many people–maybe even you–struggle to accept and appreciate. But then I wonder:

  • Is it God’s fault that most people are greedy?
  • Is it God’s fault that governments often prefer to spend money on guns than food, healthcare and safe water?
  • Is it God’s fault that so many of us claim to hate corruption unless that corruption benefits us?
  • Is it God’s fault that most of us (and I certainly include me) claim to dislike hypocrisy, but are often so good at it that we’re blind to our insincerity?

Maybe you’re reluctantly admitting that it’s not God’s fault. But hey, why isn’t He doing something about it? To which I answer: He IS doing something about it.

God is using horribly imperfect Jesus followers like me, and Jesus-following organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Lifewater, Compassion Canada, ShareWord Global, International Justice Mission and so many more, to show the world who He is and why Jesus is His solution to most of our problems.

When I chose to follow Jesus–to make Him (and not greed/selfishness/money/power/sex) the Lord of my life–I started to fully grasp the gift of free will. And fully realize the gobsmacking LOVE which motivates that gift.

Do you want to be a goose-stepping brainless robot? I know how you’ll answer, but this is an all-or-nothing proposition. Either we have free will, with all its pitfalls, or we don’t.

I used that free will to make Jesus my leader, my motivator, my strength, my ultimate source of life. And it’s made me a better person. Oh, I’m a long, LONG way from where I should be (just ask my wife), but that’s OK. Jesus is making me more of the person I was meant to be, and that work won’t end until this life ends and I meet Him face-to-face. And that will be glorious.

All this is available to you, too. And if you say yes, you also open the door to God working through you to make this broken world a better place. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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2.16Great question, isn’t it? As soon as I saw this meme, I knew it touched on an important topic that many folks just don’t understand.

First of all, let’s get the facts straight. Nowhere in the original source documents about His life does it even hint that Jesus of Nazareth — whom many people believe is God’s divine Son — died to wipe out sin. Nowhere.

So why did He die? Let’s see what the ancient writers say about that:

Because we broke God’s laws, we owed a debt—a debt that listed all the rules we failed to follow. But God forgave us of that debt. He took it away and nailed it to the cross. (From a letter by one of Jesus’ earliest followers).

Another version of that same letter (written in ancient Greek) translates the excerpt like this: All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.

In case one excerpt isn’t enough, check these out:

I [Paul, a missionary who told people throughout the Mediterranean about Jesus] told you the most important truths: that Jesus died for our sins, as the Scriptures [other ancient writings] say; that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day, as the Scriptures say.

Jesus had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Jesus we could be right with God.

Jesus redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse.

Now maybe you’re not convinced. Maybe you’re thinking “that’s just other people talking about Jesus. That’s not Jesus Himself”. So read this, from one of four original source documents about Jesus’ life:

Jesus took bread and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving. He broke the bread, gave it to [His apostles], and said, “This is my body, which is given up for you. Do this to remember me.”

Why would Jesus give up his body if it wasn’t for something truly epic, truly world-changing like wiping out the wrongs of everyone who believes in Him and follows Him?

In fact, Jesus was fulfilling a prophesy made hundreds of years before his physical life on Earth. Isaiah, a prophet, predicted the future when he wrote this:

He [Jesus] was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain.

So why is there still sinning? Because God gave us very imperfect creatures the gift of freewill and that means we use it to do wrong and fail to do right.

But as you can see from all the quotes above, there’s a solution: believe in Jesus – His life, ministry, death and resurrection. Become His follower. Then watch how He changes your life.

Interested? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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ComfortingLackOfProof 1.15Are there people in this world who think the Bible proves God’s existence? The answer is almost certainly YES. I would beg to differ with them, and so would many thoughtful, wise people.

A majority of those who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) believe the Bible is strong evidence for God’s existence and for the life and work of Jesus. But proof? Well, here’s how Matt Slick on the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website puts it:

Proof is for mathematics and logic. How do you “prove” there is a Great Being outside of our universe? Do we look for footprints in a riverbed? Do we examine evidence under a microscope and say, “Aha! There’s God!”? That would be the wrong approach. If God exists, He would be beyond our universe, non-material, and transcendent.

Now look around you at this planet, then consider the solar system in which it exists. And the Milky Way galaxy in which our solar system exists. And the universe that includes the Milky Way. Did all that simply pop out of nowhere for no particular reason? I don’t think so. Indeed, an ancient writer says “The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship.”

That’s still not proof for God’s existence, of course. And I firmly believe there NEVER will be definitive proof. And I’m fine with that. God has never provided proof; following Jesus is about a mixture of reason, evidence and faith.

That last noun is a dirty word to some people, like the atheist who posted the meme that inspired this blog. But ancient writers acknowledge the need for faith. One of them wrote, “Whoever comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who sincerely try to find Him.”

Why am I good with a lack of definitive proof? Because if such proof existed, the freedom to be an atheist — to believe there is no God and the future of this planet is all up to us horribly greedy, immature, violent and disloyal people — would be destroyed. (Though some folks don’t let facts alter their worldview – see flat-earthers.) And if the state of this broken world tells me anything, it’s that God prizes the gift of freewill. No matter how often we spit on it.

  • I’m given a choice of whether to believe that Jesus, and all the accomplishments that original-source biographies declare He did while physically on earth, is for real.
  • I’m given a choice on whether to accept that Jesus’ death on a Roman cross makes up for all the wrong things done by His followers and all the right things His followers fail to do.
  • I’m given a choice on whether to trust that by declaring Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I’ll spend eternity with Him in the presence of the Creator of the universe.

One thing I already know: my life is better because I believe in God and follow His Son. Because of that belief, I’ve forgiven people that others have been unwilling to forgive. That belief has also had a profound, positive and life-changing influence on my career, who I married and how I think about this world and everyone in it.

Are there times when maybe you need a new and positive influence in your life? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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While on the Internet the other day, I found a website that discussed the problem of young people abandoning the Christian church.

Interesting stuff, but what really grabbed my attention was this comment made by an anonymous reader:

Christianity is based on a leap of faith, right? Islam is based on a leap of faith, right? All religions have no empirical proof and are based on a leap of faith. How then can one religion possibly claim that any other religion is wrong, since they are all based on the same leap of faith?

Perhaps you agree with these thoughts. I can write, quite easily, that I’ve never had a problem with the lack of “empirical proof” in Christianity or any other faith. Do you really think this is an accident? I don’t. Consider this: If we had empirical proof of God’s existence, wouldn’t that deny our freedom to be atheists?

If I know anything about God, it’s that He has a rock-hard commitment to free will. That means you and I can deny His existence or, even more dramatic (and sad….), we can commit unspeakable evil in His name. And, to the casual, superficial observer, we can do it without any sort of penalty. We can also do extraordinary good in His name and live lives of amazing influence and value. I think the late, great Mother Theresa tops that list.

What about one faith group claiming to be exclusively right? The faith I belong to certainly advances that point of view. But that’s not something conjured up on a whim; serious followers of Jesus of Nazareth trust in the words He tells his followers “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”

Am I supposed to ignore that? Was Jesus just a little full of himself that day? If I go down that path, then Jesus becomes nothing more than a cool dude with some good ideas. Maybe that works for some people, but it’s hardly the basis for a faith that’s going to help people like me deal with our faults and seriously consider what happens after this life ends.

Serious Jesus followers are not interested in occasionally checking in with a funky guru; we want a transformed life, now and after this existence is done. In our better moments, we want to leave behind the “it’s all about you” mentality of our culture; that’s a point of view that discourages thinking about serious issues and insists “whoever has the most toys (when he/she dies) wins”.

In your better moments, do you also see the emptiness of this kind of thinking? Post your comments and let’s have a conversation.

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