..........Myspace Codes An Extraordinary Life: May 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Genesis 1 ~ The Evolution Confusion

The age old question on the origin of the universe can sometimes be misconstrued to be a conflict between "modern science" and "outdated Genesis". While the book of Genesis is to be read literally, it should not always be read in a literalistic fashion as it utilizes metaphors as well.

God was right there in the beginning (verse 1) and He made this world from chaos to order. The earth was without form and void (verse 2) and lacked structure. It was empty save for darkness. Yet the Spirit of God (verse 2) was there - where you have the breath of God, the word of God is present as well and so God spoke from verse 3 onwards.

Certain phrases are frequently repeated in the first chapter of this first book in the Old Testament, such as "And God said" (10 times), "Let there be" (8 times), "and there was" or "and it was" (7 times), "And God made" (7 times), "God called" (5 times), "God saw that it was good" after each of the creation day as well as "And there was evening, and there was morning, the _____ day" (after each of the 6 days). Such repetitions show a very structured or orderly account of creation itself.

The pattern of creation is of complementary form and filling: day and night (day 1) and sun and moon (day 4), expanse separating waters (day 2) and birds and sea creatures (day 5), and vegetation (day 3) and beasts and man (day 6). A word can be very powerful if it brings things into existence and such is the power of God's Word and His sovereign design, which is all summed up in verse 31 where God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. This is a personal, purposeful God who made everything, fulfilling His plan. Passages like John 1:1-3, John 1:14, Colossians 1:16-17, and Hebrews 1:1-3 demonstrate that God is personally involved with creation throughout all of time. Jesus is the one who sustains the world and He is in sovereign control of all.

The evolution confusion is that science is in conflict with Genesis. The reality, however, is that evolution does not necessarily contradict Genesis. These are two different fields of studies or disciplines in that science provides the mechanistic explanation while Genesis asks the "bigger questions" of "who made it", "what is it made for", and "where are we going". In fact, it is Genesis 1 that gave rise to modern science for the only way you can do science is if you appreciate orderliness (exemplified in Genesis 1 that proposes the clockwork model). The real conflict lies where people argue for accidental evolution (e.g. the Big Bang theory that hypothesizes that creation happened by accident, purely all out of chance) whereas Genesis has explicitly made it clear that creation is of purposeful design.

How did you get here? Are you a purposeful creation of God or a product of atoms that randomly gathered and interacted by chance and accident?

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 12, 2011

John 6 ~ Jesus or Who Else?

Our world today perceives religion in many distorted ways including religious relativism and pluralism. According to religious relativism, truths are relative, depending on different individuals. As for religious pluralism, it proposes that all different religions lead to God anyway.

In John 6, miracles were performed by Jesus that people may believe as they were reminded of events in the Old Testament. For instance, the feeding of the five thousand was a reminder of God’s provision of manna while Jesus walking on water could draw its parallel to the setting apart of the Red Sea. Verses 26-27 implied that the crowds were seeking the wrong kind of food. Jesus showed that He can provide food for a day (i.e. food that spoils) but He can also sustain them with food that does not spoil.

The question on our lips will then be, “What do I need to do to gain eternal life?” Sometimes we make the mistake of telling God, “Well, God, I’ll tell you what I’ll do that will make You happy.” Our self-centredness makes us tell God what He should accept as we set the bar that is high enough for us to jump over. Verse 29 tells us instead that God wants us to believe in the Son that He has sent to die for us. The subsequent verses 30-31 described how the crowd wanted to see a sign as they made the mistake of comparing Jesus with Moses. They should instead compare Him with the bread of life (verse 32).

Jesus is the bread of life that has come down from heaven (verses 33, 38, 46, and 51). John 6 also records seven occurrences of the phrase “I am”, a metaphor of the identity of Jesus and what He has been sent to do. And the purpose He was sent was to give life (verses 40, 44, 47, and 51). Jesus Christ gives eternal life by raising the dead. He offers us the resurrection of life.

What follows next in this passage can be perceived as an offensive imagery, especially to the Jews. Verses 53-54 paint the confronting idea of cannibalism and drinking of blood, which are forbidden in the Old Testament. But if one carefully reads the passage, verse 40 should hint that this imagery is a metaphor for believing in Jesus, as the idea of “eating” and “drinking” can mean to fully take something on board (e.g. “an opinion that is hard to swallow”, “thirst for knowledge”).

Christians also need to beware that John 6 is not describing the Lord’s Supper as it has not yet been instituted till a later time in this chronology of events. Also, thinking this way may potentially pose the dangerous idea that the way to gain eternal life is by partaking in the Lord’s Supper. John 6 is not about the Lord’s Supper but the Lord Supper is to remind us about John 6 that we may come and believe.

Our Saviour may appear offensive and it is easy to see how followers may be lost, as exemplified in verse 66 where many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. It is tempting for us to lose the bits that are hard to accept and lower the bar to lure people into Christianity. But as verses 67-69 pointed out, where else have we to go if Jesus has the words of eternal life? The offensive thing to people today is that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life (i.e. exclusivity of Jesus) and not any other religion or guru.

Will we love people enough to tell them the hard truth, to say that this is the truth and everything else is a lie?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ephesians 2:1-10 ~ The Meaning of Life

The starting point of Ecclesiastes says that all is vanity yet towards the end, we find there is meaning in life for God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14). We know there is judgment because when Jesus died, He didn't remain dead but rose to life - it doesn't all stop at just death. Acts 17:30-31 reminds us that when Jesus rose from the dead, we don't just know that judgment has begun but also that He is the one appointed to judge. Daniel 12:1-3 points out that while the Book of Life exists, not everyone's name will be listed. Some will be judged and raised to life, to everlasting life. The question that should then be asked is what Jesus will think of us. This is all the more so when John 5:21-22 and John 5:26-27 tell us that God the Father has given the Son the authority to decide who gets to enter heaven and who goes to hell.

In line with this, we need to correct our view of sin, heaven and works and this is where the first half of Ephesians 2 comes into the picture. The first 3 verses reveal our identity as being dead, followers of Satan, and children of wrath. It is not whether we sin more or less or how much good we do, it is a matter of who we belong to. If we belong to Jesus, we're on the winning team. The "good" that some may do are not for Jesus, so it is not a matter of how good a player we are but whose team we're playing for. When we belong to Jesus' team, no matter how poorly we play, we're still on Jesus' side. Even if we cannot score or perform up to expectations, we're still on victory's side because Jesus scores and wins. Jesus has victory even over death itself. The questions to then ask ourselves are: Are we followers of Jesus? Which team are we playing for? Are we making decisions that will make our team captain happy?

Verses 4-7 seek to correct our view on heaven. Some people may not want to follow Jesus just yet. They may even see Christianity as an insurance policy for the unforeseeable future where they'll cash in when they start to think they need it. Often, our view of heaven is shaped by our greed and sinful desires. Romans 1:24-32 tells us that it is a judgment from God to allow us to indulge in lusts. Hell is here now and it happens when God gives people over to their sins. We need God's mercy now as a salvation from our slavery to sin, which is hell. The correct view of heaven is to be free from our slavery to sin and to see that the best way to live now is by following Jesus. In heaven, we approach God now as Father for we are fellow heirs with Christ. I Corinthians 15:55-57 assures us that there is certain victory through our Lord Jesus Christ that even death cannot snatch away from ourselves. Our struggle with sin as Christians is an indication that we're alive. We can look forward to a final day judgment that we need not fear but will have life fully instead.

Last but not least, we also need to correct our view of works. Verses 8-10 serve to remind us that salvation has nothing to do with the tally of our good works but it is the gift of God. It is God's grace that saves so we should never boast. Heaven is God's Kingdom, not ours - Jesus is at the centre and at the top of it all. We should avoid reverting back to being slaves of sin when we have been saved from sin. It is instead good to be slaves of God (Romans 6:20-23) because our heavenly Master actually cares for us. It is this Master who has qualified us to be co-heirs with Christ who redeems us from sin (Colossians 1:11-14). God raises Jesus back to life so that we can have a life that worships Him (Philippians 2:8-11). Matthew 7:21 advises us that it is the one who does God's will who will enter heaven. Indeed, passages like Titus 2:11-14 provide us with great encouragement to leave hell and be in heaven now as we renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.

Do you find your meaning of life in Christ?

Labels: , ,