Paying Your Tax to God

Giving Back

Luke 20

22 “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

23 But He detected their trickery and said to them,

24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.”

25 And He said to them “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Jesus not only encourages the following of civil laws, such as paying taxes, but uses it to demonstrate a bigger principle: to also give to God what legally belongs to Him. But what is it that belongs to Him which we are to give? If by looking at a coin we can see the identity of it’s authority, who’s identity do we find by looking at ourselves?

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The Word for the Homeless

I had an idea a while back to give Bibles out to homeless people that dwell in my area, but not just any Bible – the idea was to highlight certain passages of the Bible that dealt with specific topics in different colors. So far the simplest categories I could come up with were Christian Identity and Instructions, Christ and His Work, and Sin.

My hope is that the recipient would look at the Bible in a new light – as something that has answers instead of an intimidating book I could never read. As they flip through it not sure what to read they may find helpful passages that they would otherwise have skipped over.

I posted this as it may help other believers in their Bible reading and I’d appreciate it if any of you have any scriptures to add to this collection.

 

Jesus and His Work

Isa. 9:6

Mic. 5:2

Mat. 4:23, 8:29

Mar 3:11, 15:2

Luk. 4:43, 5:31-32, 27:70

Jhn. 1:1-14, 29, 8:28, 10:30, 12:50, 14:10, 15:1-2, 20:28

Act. 8:37, 9:20

Rom. 1:4, 3:24, 5:8, 5:8-11, 6:8

Php. 2:6-11

Col. 1:3, 13-22, 2:9-15

1 Tim. 3:16

Tts. 2:11, 13-14

Heb. 1, 2:3, 9-11, 18, 4:14-16, 9:13-15

1Pet. 1:18-21, 3:18, 4:6-10

2Pet. 2:1-2

1Jhn. 2:1-2, 3:1, 4:9-10, 5:5, 20

 

Christian Identity & Instruction

Psa. 1:1-5

Pro. 16:2-3, 6-8, 16, 18, 22, 25, 32

Isa. 1:16-17

Mat. 6:33-34, 7:14, 21-24, 10:39

Mar. 13:35-37

Luk. 11:13, 12:34-36, 14:27, 18:17

Jhn. 14:13-15, 21, 15:7, 12-13

Rom. 6:1-3, 8:1, 6-7, 12:1-2

1Cor. 6:12, 10:13, 13:4-8, 14:1

Gal. 5:22-26

Eph. 4:1-6, 17-19, 21-28, 5:1-5, 8-11, 6:10-18

Php. 2:3-5, 3:8, 18-20

Col. 1:10-12, 2:8

Tts. 2:12

Heb. 11:1, 12:1-8, 13:5

Jam. 1:2-4, 7-10, 12, 2:14-17, 3:3-12, 3:16-18, 4:3-8, 17, 5:7-9

1Pet. 1:13-17, 22-23, 2:1-3, 3:9

1Jhn. 1:6-10,16, 2:3-6, 15-18, 3:1-3, 16-20, 4:1-3, 7-8, 11

 

Sin and the Carnal Nature

Psa. 1:6, 32:5

Pro. 15:29, 26:11, 28:13

Isa. 1:18, 59:2

Mat. 5:28, 12:31

Luk.8:17

Jhn. 3:19-20

Rom 6:1-3, 23,

1Cor 6:9-13

Gal. 5:19-21

Eph. 5:5-6

Col. 3:5-6

Heb. 10:26

Jam. 1:14, 4:4

1Pet. 4:18

1Jhn. 1:8, 10, 2:15-17, 3:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do You Know Christianity is Right?

This is part one of my new “Big Questions” series where I am addressing common questions and disagreements with the Christian faith in a simple and dialogue oriented way.

 

“How Do You Know Christianity Is Right?”

 

Uniqueness

  • It deals with the human condition of sin unlike all other religions.
  • World religions don’t acknowledge sin or imperfection.
  • Christianity provides not only an explanation for our problems, for evil, and for imperfection but it provides a solution – Jesus Christ.
  • Because of Jesus we don’t have to work our way to God.

1Jhn 1:10 – If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Rom 3:24 – being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Eph 1:7, Col 1:14, 20

  • God came to us (relationship) not us searching for Him (religion)
  • God came to Earth and was born as a human so that He could come to our level and redeem us from our limitations that held us back from our destiny.

Jhn 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Jhn 3:17 – For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Rom 5:8

  • Our Savior can relate to our temptations because he was tempted, he can relate to suffering and struggles because he endured them also

Hbr 4:15 – For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

  • God desires a personal relationship with us
  • Yahweh is not distant, impersonal, or absent.
  • He wants an intimate relationship with you similar to marriage.

Jhn 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

1Cr 2:12

 

Effectiveness

  • The God of the Bible works
  • If the God of the Bible were not real- miracles would not happen the way they do. When we say “In Jesus name get up and walk” and they walk it is evidence toward the God of the Bible.
  • When we obey the Word of God miracles happen, it works
    • It answers the questions
    • Purpose
    • Identity
    • Strength
  • It satisfies the soul
  • Christianity meets the psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs of mankind in a way that other lifestyles cannot imitate.
  • People have been set free from decades of drugs, addictions, sickness, and hurt because of Christianity. Other religions imitate this change.
    • It works for the good of mankind
    • Abolition of slavery
    • Equal rights – slavery doesn’t work when we’re all the same
    • Science – flourished under Isaac Newton, Galileo, Robert Boyle, Gregor Mendel, Kelvin, Planck,
    • Universities – Ivey League, Harvard, Oxford,
    • America

 

Exclusivity

  • The Bible does not allow for any other way to God or Heaven

Jhn 11:25 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

Jhn 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Act 4:12 – “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

  • Other religions don’t allow for other gods or paths to salvation
  • Hinduism says you must meditate and liberate yourself to Moksha
  • In Buddhism you perfect yourself until you reach Nirvana
  • With Islam you must serve Allah who the Quran says cannot have a son

Jhn 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Religious Truth and Jesus

To piggy back on my last post which focuses on the problem of pluralism and the unavoidable contradictions between mainstream religions here I want to focus on identity of Jesus Christ when it comes to the world religions. He is, after all, the stumbling block and the rock of offense!

Departure From Truth

The Bible tells us that there will be an increase of deception and lies as the days draw closer to Christ’s return. This will come through confusion of the truth (Rom 1:25, Gal 3, 1Tim 6:5, 2Tim 4:4, 2Pet 2:1-3) and by false prophets (Mat 24:11, 2Tim3:13, 2Pet 2:1-3). It is crucial that we be able to recognize an untruth when we hear one and separate it from the Truth so that we are not misled as many surely will be (Mat 24:24). When approaching this subject Biblically we must recognize that Satan is ultimately behind this global departure from the Truth and that he will use the intentions of wicked and innocent men alike as long as his goals are accomplished.

2Corinthians 11:4 – For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted–you may well put up with it!

Anti-Christ

The message of Christ is precisely what Satan has labored so intensely to get rid of so that we would not embrace the saving truth of Jesus Christ. The true gospel message of Christ has been pushed aside by entire religious movements claiming new deities and methods of redemption, it has been corrupted by false doctrines from within the church such as Unitarianism and Universalism, and it has been discredited by atheistic theories such as Agnosticism, Buddhism, and Atheism.

Galatians 1:6-8 – I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

1John 4:3 – and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

Types of Truth

  • Absolute Truth- A truth or set of truths that is believed to remain true despite the circumstance, personal perception or personal opinion. Unalterable facts and inflexible reality.
  • Relative Truth   – What is considered truth is not consistently true but flexible depending on the circumstance or outcome.
  • Existential Truth – Truth is discovered personally and one must choose what is truth, what you choose to be true is true for you.

Types of Religious Truth

  • Pluralism – All major world religions lead to God and salvation. Thus, no one religion is inherently better or superior to any other major world religion. Pluralists acknowledge the differences among major religions but consider them minor and focus more on the “major” similarities such as love for God and love for others.
  • Inclusivism – One religion is best but salvation is possible in others. Inclusivists do not go as far as pluralists in that inclusivists do not claim that all religions are equal. They do believe, though, that truth and salvation can be found in other religions. Some Christian inclusivists claim that the salvation of Jesus is unknowingly applied to adherents of other religions who live good, moral lives.
  • Exclusivism – Salvation is found in only one religion which is uniquely and supremely true and all other religions are false. Christianity is an exclusive religion because of the many of the claims Christ made about Himself such as John 14:6.

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Is Jesus God?

Along side the Rapture, Spiritual Gifts and Mary, the question of “Is Jesus God” is one of the most debated theological issues so should I dare tackle it? You bet!

This subject surfaced yesterday in my Apologetics class where I was assigned to debate for Mormonism and my friend Josh was debating for Christianity. We got to discussing the issue of salvation and then the subject of Christ’s true identity came up. The teacher took over and we went over a number of points in the Bible that pointed to Jesus as being God. I want to share our findings and expound on them here.

Jesus forgave sins

If Bob offended Claire and you don’t know wither individual personally, can you approach Bob and say “I forgive you for what you did to Claire”? Of course not, the only person who can say “I forgive you” is Claire herself. Similarly how can Jesus tell sinners that they are forgiven of sin when they only sinned against a possible victim and against God? Because Jesus is God. Jesus is recorded saying “your sins are forgiven you” in two different instances in the Gospels.

No other person could forgive sins, High Priests could make offerings for sins but ultimately it was not them who was forgiving the person, it was God on behalf of their offering. When Jesus forgave sins even the Jews understood that this was only something God could do, and because they would not accept Him as God they labeled this blasphemy.

Mat 9:2 – Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
Mat 9:3 – And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”

Luk 7:48 – Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luk 7:49 – And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus is God Revealed

A few times in the Old Testament some fortunate men have had God reveal Himself to them in some kind of human form, now we know that God is not a man so this seems strange. On top of that the scriptures say that no one has ever seen God (Exo 33:20, Jhn 1:18, 1Jhn 4:12) yet men are still recorded as seeing God (Gen 32:30, Exo 33:11,

  • Ezekiel saw a vision of a man on a throne above four heavenly creatures, his body was ablaze with fire, he was surrounded by rainbow like light, Ezekiel described him as the appearance of the glory of the Lord. (Ezekiel 1:25-28)
  • Daniel saw the Ancient of Days in a vision, He wore white garments, had hair like wool. (Dan 7:9)
    (^Thanks Peter for this addition)
  • Jacob wrestled with a Man who refused to tell him His name, Jacob assumed it was God. (Gen 32:30)
  • Moses and some others saw God on the mountain standing on a ground of sapphire. (Exo 24:10)
  • John saw Jesus in a vision as a man with hair white like wool, eyes of fire, feet like brass, and his countenance was like the shining of the sun. (Rev 1:11-18)

I believe that when men “saw God” they actually saw Christ who preexisted the birth of the human Jesus. In the scripture we find ground for this understanding of Christ’s part in the trinity, He is the image of God that we can see and perceive.
Hbr 1:3 – who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person
Phl 2:6 – who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
Col 2:9 – For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Jesus is Above Angels and Man

  • Jesus has angels or is in charge of select mighty angels. (2Thes 1:7)
  • God never called any angel His Son, but He did called Jesus Son. (Heb 1:5)
  • The Angels worshiped Jesus. (Heb 1:6)
  • No Angel ever sat at God’s right hand but Jesus does. (Heb 1:13)

The only living beings God is recorded as having made is Angels, Heavenly beasts, Humans, and Animals. Jesus Christ does not fit completely in any of the categories because He was part of creation and divine so He is not simply a human. He is given authority of angels yet is not an angel. The only other being who fits this description is God Himself.

Jesus Never Refuted His Divinity

The Apostles as well as John the Baptist and Paul were believed to be gods or divine people by different people but they were quick to correct their theology by saying they were not divine nor were they gods. Jesus on the other hand did not fight it when people thought He was God. The Jews understood some of His sayings as claiming that He was God and they wanted to stone Him yet Jesus did not correct them as He did with other theological errors they expressed. If Jesus was not God He did us a great injustice by not saying “I am not God”. We are left to perceive that by His inaction He agreed with peoples accusations of Him being God.

Jhn 10:33 – The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
Jhn 5:18 – Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

When Thomas touched the wounds of the resurrected Christ he said “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) ^Thanks Mathetes for this contribution

Jesus Fulfilled Prophecies about God

Many scriptures in the Old Testament speak of things God promised to do but had not done, until Jesus came along. It’s not a coincidence that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies or promises of God, because He is God. God did them while He was Jesus on this Earth.

Psa 107:29 – He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.
Who does that sound like? Can you think of anyone else but Jesus who is recorded as calming the storm in Biblical or secular history? Didn’t think so…

Isa 45:17 – But Israel shall be saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced Forever and ever.
Isa 51:5 – My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait upon Me, And on My arm they will trust.
Israel will not always be oppressed by the people of the Earth! They will rule and reign with Christ in the New Jerusalem. Jesus will also judge all nations.

Isa 59:16 – He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.

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The Secret Place of Relationship

Psalm 91
1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.

Where Is This Secret Place?

This is one of the most famous scriptures because it is full of hope, salvation, assurance, God’s love and concern for us. Reading it now, I realize that everyone loves to soak it up because of the hope and promises it contains between the forth word and the end of the sixteenth verse.

“He who dwells…”

But realize this: the first three words set up the requirements for the other 15 verses to be in effect in your life! If you don’t meet the requirements at the beginning than the rest of the chapter does not apply to you.
If you are not one who dwells in the secret place of the Most High God then you can just stop reading chapter 91 because it doesn’t apply to you.

We have got to dwell there.
So what is this “secret place of the most high”?
It is a growing, correcting, and love based relationship one engages in with God.

Works Do Not Create Intimacy

Knowing scriptures is not enough. Isaiah 29:13
Praying every night is not going to do it. Proverb 28:9
Praying in am impressive and educated won’t help you either. Matthew 6:7
Attending church, or having attended church during childhood is not enough. James 1:22
Being able to honestly say you think about God a lot during the day is not enough. James 2:19
Never breaking any of the 10 commandments is not enough. Matthew 19:19-22
Singing passionately during every worship song, raising your hands thinking you felt God is not even enough! 1 Corinthians 13:1

So what is enough?
Relationship.

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Jesus the Spotless Lamb

Jesus the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God

Often we hear in hymns or sermons Jesus referred to as a lamb, or more specifically the lamb of God. But what does this mean? Why is the King of the universe and the savior of mankind portrayed as a such helpless, cute little animal as a lamb?

To find the significance of the lamb and it’s uses we must look beyond the New Testament in to the Old Covenant established with Moses; the Law. In the Law, God explained in detail how the nation of Israel was to live and serve God. However, there was a problem: sin. But God also provided instructions for dealing with that too. In Leviticus we see 17 mentions of the use of lambs for offerings concerning people’s sins.

However, the Lord would not accept just any lamb to pay the debt of sin, it had to be one without blemish, deformity, sickness, or spot (Leviticus 4:32-35). If the lamb was not acceptable by the Law’s standards the Lord would not accept it and it would be a defiled sacrifice (Malachi 1:8). Why was this? Because God wanted Israel to see and understand that sin has a high price that must be paid, this was demonstrated by God’s requirement to kill something valuable, rare, and beautiful – a spotless lamb. This is why John the Baptist said of Jesus “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

So where does Jesus fit in? He is our sacrifice for sin; our lamb. Because of what He did we don’t have to make sacrifices everyday when we sin as the Israelites did under the Old Covenant (Matthew 5:17). Another significant difference from the Old Covenant is that Jesus’ sacrifice was a “once and for all” sacrifice that applied to all who would accept it (Heb 7:27, 9:12, 10:10, 1Jhn 2:2) where as in the Old Testament offerings of animals and food items were offered repeatedly. Jesus was the spotless lamb that met God’s strict requirements of perfection that was needed to redeem mankind (1Pet 1:18,19, 2:22, Heb 2:17). This is why no man, no priest, no king, and no offering could fully get rid of the problem of sin (Act 4:12, Jhn 3:16, Heb 5:9).

Another use for a lamb in the Old Testament was redeeming the firstborn of an unclean animal. In Exodus the Law tells us “But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem [it], then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.” So we see there is only redemption or death for the unclean. This is a spiritual principal for us as well; if we are not redeemed we are unable to enter heaven. Lambs were used to redeem both men and donkeys which were considered an unclean animal, this scripture seems to put us on the same level as unclean animals and rightly so. Mankind being unclean, because of our guilt of sin before God (Rom 3:23), has been redeemed by the Lamb sent by God (1Pet 1:19) so that we can be holy and pleasing to God (2Tit 2:21, Heb 10:14).

Hbr 9:13 – For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,

Hbr 9:14 – how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?