So…..What's the Point?

Musings from a Fellow Struggler

Archive for the tag “eternity”

An Easter Meditation-2016

 

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I hate death. I hate it because it’s just not supposed to be here. It flies in the face of God and His creation. How could the living God, the God Who is Life, create anything other than life and how is it that death remains to this day the destroyer of life?

Most Christians believe that deaths appearance in creation is the fault of our parents, Adam and Eve; it was not there ‘in the beginning’ when the Living God made everything ‘good’. Since we are all connected to the first Adam we all sin and every sin carries the death sentence. But, death is not confined to just human experience but robs the essence of all living things thereby reducing them to coldness, darkness and decay. We see this everywhere around us; dying forests, dying oceans, dying atmosphere, dying earth, dying animals and, it seems to me, all this is on the increase.

However, death extends far beyond mere natural things because it is a supernatural phenomenon, an eternal death (called the “second death” by Jesus in Rev 2:11) and every person confronted by the truth of the Gospel therefore makes a spiritual life and death decision. Christians choose the life demonstrated by Jesus’ resurrection, the final and complete overcoming of death. Paradoxically, Christians live to die, a dying to self, a narcissistic self driven by hubris and through this ‘death’ experience the resurrection life of Jesus now and for eternity.

The alternative view is that death is the final, inevitable, necessary result of blind evolutionary, materialistic and purely ‘natural’ processes. Buying into this ‘creation story’ generates a ‘nauseating nothingness’ (see Sartre’s Being and Nothingness) forcing an already dead person (it may take decades, but we are all born dead) to forge some kind of self-defined ‘meaning’ out of a terrifying meaninglessness. The nearly universal lawlessness, terror, societal disintegration, political mayhem and constant war shows the kind of ‘meaning’ humanity has come up with.

Dismissing the Gospel and the message of Easter as some kind of religious fairy-tale, wishful thinking, or an irrational denial of the “natural order of things” is to already have chosen death over life. Anyone so choosing remains the enemy of God and continues hating God (see Romans 5:10). All who reject Him will eventually discover that natural, physical death is not the end after all, that their soul, which they probably deny exists at all, is forever separated from the Living God, the Source of eternal Life, Joy, Peace and Happiness.

So, what’s the point of all this? Those of us who have chosen life over death through Jesus must bring the message of life to all who remain dead. It is a formidable task for the enemies of God and champions of death, both natural and supernatural, are arrayed against us. But, we know this war was already won the day the Son of God arose from the dead and makes our victory today assured. Armed with this knowledge and faith, the gates of hell cannot prevail against us and we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. We can rejoice at these words of Paul this Easter Day:

Romans 8:31–39 (NKJV)

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;

We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s About Time… Part 5 Look Out…It’s Happening

 

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I’m a bit of a news junkie and particularly interested in reading about events, ideologies, political pronouncements, social issues, environmental changes, the mainstream ecclesiastical ‘mood’ revealed in religious writings, sermons, books and the like that show movements away from orthodoxy and Biblical theology. Summing up what I’m reading nearly every day it seems the vice-grip of sin and lawlessness around the neck of kosmos is getting tighter and the hammer of God (not Thor) is about to fall as history bends to His inexorable will fulfilling a plan conceived in eternity; I just keep getting more and more excited.

I don’t welcome disasters, famines, wholesale destruction, disease or war but they are here and increasing in number and severity; as one politician recently put it: “the whole world is upside down”. If this is obvious to those outside the faith, how much more should it be to us who await His appearing? Indeed, it’s happening, all those things the prophets spoke of millennia ago, the very words of Jesus unfolding before us written in newspapers and displayed through visual media.

Christians feel the pressure of this vice grip as well. It is not unreasonable to think we in this country might endure persecution, rejection, hatred, and ridicule especially since these things are already happening. The truth is seen as a lie, lies seen as truth; light is darkness and darkness, light, evil is good and good is evil and so it goes. It is remarkable that since we stand for light, truth and goodness, we are by the world as dark, as liars and as evil; all other world religions are given a pass but Christianity is now widely considered a threat to an ordered and civilized society.

In stark contrast to the foreboding and increasing disintegration preceding His appearance the Lord tells us to “rejoice” as we witness it all coming to pass. This, of course, will make those of the world around us even more disgusted and angry because our joy reflects a disregard for a world under the dominion of sin and death and an expectation of a new creation wherein the rule of God is finally and forever established.

Indeed, the time has come at last…now, today, this moment, in this generation. Therefore, the words of Jesus about the times we’re in are critical, especially His repeated exhortation to watch. For example, consider Matt. 24:42:

 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

The verb ‘watch ’used here is in the present tense, imperative mood meaning a continuous watching with the command to do so now, this moment, no hesitation; i.e. DO IT NOW! The word γρηγορεῖτε itself means, among other things, to be alert, awake and alive.

This all might seem a bit passé since His people, us included, have been watching for over 2000 years. What is different in our time from past generations, however, is the globalization and causal interconnectedness between international governments, economies, and communication conditions absent to those who have gone before yet necessary to bring about the events foretold in the Bible.

Another difference is the increasingly global phenomenon of lawlessness and rebellion against all rule of law and authority. Again, this sort of thing has always been around here and there somewhere in the world, but never on this scale and with such severity. Jesus gives us a reference point namely “as it was in the days of Noah…”; the evil of which God described was ‘global’. Therefore, these ‘days’ we are in now are very much like, or perhaps identical to, what Noah faced and which brought about God’s judgment.

So, even though some of our Christian ancestors got their eschatological predictions wrong, they nevertheless were intently watching just as Jesus commanded. And now, given this global interconnectedness, the need for watchfulness in our generation is greater than ever before.

That this is the case is clear from Mark’s version of Matt. 24.

35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” Mark 13:35-37 (NKJV)

Twice the word “watch” (γρηγορεῖτε) is used in these verses. Such an emphasis shows the high probability that many followers of the Lord will succumb to slumbering, overcome by some sort of worldly stupor, their spiritual senses dulled or much worse, like those Peter wrote about, scoffing and saying “where is His coming…?” Familiarity with the epistles of the New Testament supports this assertion with repeated warnings and exhortations to stay vigilant.

Jesus Himself announces this suddenness and unpredictability of His coming not only in the Gospels but also in the Revelation.

15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” Revelation 16:15 (NKJV)

And similarly the glorified Lord speaks to a church that He pronounced as “dead”.

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:1–3 (NKJV bold italics mine)

The particular meaning of “watch” as “being alive” (see above) directed to the “dead” congregation of Sardis is especially interesting here. That a church bearing the name of Christ should be in such a condition to be called ‘dead’ is sobering, indeed. The point is, becoming sleepy, complacent and careless is all too easy today and being watchful is difficult given the plenitude of distractions in the world. And by all indications, being watchful will become even more difficult as the vice grip tightens. It is certainly a time where none of us can “go it alone” nor a time where we tolerate church conduct or leadership that is anything but wholeheartedly committed to the ways of God. More to come next time.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s About Time… Part 4 Godly Arithmetic

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Psalm 90:11–12 (NKJV)

11    Who knows the power of Your anger?

For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.

12    So teach us to number our days,

That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 

Numbering days is just that, counting them but, in this context, with both eternity and the brevity of human existence defining the sum. It is a gaining of that particular perspective necessary for resisting the temptation of thinking time is anything other than a creation by God and a gift from God.

This numbering of days has at least four consequences-it reminds us that time is passing by and with each passing day fewer remain. It also focuses us on the day we now have, how valuable it is as an opportunity to please God in some way or other and not waste it on vain and empty projects. Thirdly, it places our lives within the framework of God’s time, measured by the days, months, years seasons and holy days He established from the beginning in Genesis and reiterated again and again throughout the Bible. Finally, numbering our days leads to wisdom that is something we gain and something we give to God, like a gift of a life well spent.

The basis for this fourth consequence is the language of Psa. 90:12 suggesting two interpretations about this wisdom of numbering days. The NKJV reads “that we may gain a heart of wisdom” whereas the NASB reads “that we may present to You a heart of wisdom”. These are both entirely acceptable translations and, therefore, can be considered together like both sides of a single coin. In other words, numbering our days does something to us and something for God. The former seems easy to understand but the latter provokes a pronounced wonderment, at least for me. It make me think that if I can present to God wisdom, I could present something else as well, say stupidity for example, like engaging in the wanton consumption of all things worldly. Consequently, according to the first translation, instead of gaining a heart of true wisdom I might instead gain that kind of wisdom James describes as “earthly, natural, demonic”. (James 2:13-15)

Given the sweeping panorama of this Psalm it is noteworthy that numbering our days follows a reference to understanding the full depth of God’s wrath and judgment, i.e. the proper ‘fear of God’ which we know is the “beginning of wisdom”. It is true that familiarity breeds contempt and with the grossly warped views of God being promulgated these days, portraying God as an indulgent parent, such familiarity excludes the respect due His Name; it is in my judgment an idolatrous frivolity. This is not to say that being a Christian is morbid but that the joy, gladness and happiness promised us can only be such when balanced with a proper fear of God; this is  ‘wisdom’ we bring to God. The upshot is we need God to teach us this unique and wise numbering of days. Left to our own devices, the gravity of the matter will surely escape us. And Who better to ask for help than the creator of time Himself? And, so with David we can pray

4      “Lord, make me to know my end,

And what is the measure of my days,

That I may know how frail I am.

5      Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,

And my age is as nothing before You;

Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.

Selah  (Psalm 39:4–5 (NKJV)

 

W.G. Ryzek 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s About Time… Part 3

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We are born into time…we die into eternity. God is the creator of time…”In the beginning God created…” He is therefore its Lord declaring that the sun, moon and stars are markers for seasons, times, signs, days and years (v15) and for determining festivals, feasts, celebrations or, in short, those “appointed times” when His people meet with Him.

We are creatures of time and have our own ways of marking it out like watches, clocks, and calendars to keep track of events and to establish special days. The Christian church, for example, has calendars recognizing certain days, months and seasons for celebrations, feasts and fasts. Easter and Christmas are two examples along with sacred events (for some traditions anyway) occurring at the time of the fall and spring equinox and winter/summer solstice. It is interesting to note that many Christian holidays were once pagan and ‘Christianized’ as Christianity grew in power and influence over societies.

In our time, the impact of the Christian calendar on societies understanding of time has all but been lost to the secularization culture and its own numerous ‘holidays’ that are nothing more than times dedicated to the god of mammon. Consider these calendar days: father’s day, mother’s day, valentine’s day, labor day, memorial day, grandmothers day, thanksgiving day and even Easter (i.e. the easter bunny) and Christmas (i.e. santa claus). No matter how we resist this conclusion, these holidays have one purpose and that is to separate us from our money by suggesting that having is the key to being; i.e. possessions equal existence. We are defined, and our value as human beings gauged by what we have and continue getting, how good of a consumer we are. So, while at one time Christianity transformed pagan observances into ones honoring God, now Christianity and it’s ‘times, seasons and festivals’ are transformed back into their original pagan orgies of consumption.

Our attitude towards time is encapsulated in the language we use. For example, we kill time (as if it were an impediment), waste time (as if there is an unlimited supply), mark time (as if we are in prison), keep track of time (as if we are lost without it), don’t have time (for this or that depending on our priorities) and finally, we spend time and buy time. These last two are especially interesting because they employ the language of currency. Buying time means we need more of it to accomplish, or avoid, something and willing to sacrifice something else to get it. Spending time means we think something, or someone, worthy of the minutes, hours, or days we might be lavishing on it, or them. As it turns out, the currency of time is far more valuable than money because getting wealth requires time. Just witness the amount of time people ‘spend’ pursuing wealth and then ‘buying more time’ to get more of it.

The flip side to buying and spending time in this godless culture is using this currency to advance the values and purposes of the kingdom of heaven. The point of all this is that God instructs us about time and how to properly use the time He gives us. As might be expected, His counsel runs counter to what we learn from the world so we are immediately confronted with a choice either to fritter it away or invest it with eternity in view. A particularly sobering verse in this passage from Ecclesiastes are the last words of chapter 3:15 (NKJV)

15    That which is has already been,

And what is to be has already been;

And God requires an account of what is past.

This last phrase hits home for, like with all monetary transactions, book keeping is required. What we have done with the time given us must be accounted for.  So if there remains any doubt as to the value of time, this should dispel it;  time’s Creator wants to know what we did with the years He gives us. Now, because the Maker of time knows best how to use it, we can ask Him this: “…teach us to number our days, that we might present to You a heart of wisdom”. (Psa. 90:12 NASB) More on this in part 4.

 

W. G. Ryzek

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s About Time… Part 2

 

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This phrase that God has put eternity into the hearts of men (Eccl. 3:11) is simply beautiful, mysterious, compelling, and awesome especially when juxtaposed to the morbid atheistic materialists and other antichrist philosophies claiming that only what which meets the eye is ‘real’, that any metaphysical claims are patently false and to be rejected as frivolous and irrational.

While many people seem to have bought into the “perception is reality” argument (what is real is only that information about the world we receive through the senses and interpreted by the mind), a nagging “what if” surfaces when questions like this are asked: If the materialistic atheists are right, how is it even possible that we can conceive of eternity in the first place when everything around us has a beginning and always ends? It is this nagging “what if they are wrong” following claims like “there is no life after death”, “there is not and can be no such thing as a God like the Jews and Christians claim” or the like that betrays, at least for those willing to admit it, the possibility there might be more to reality then they think. Arguing that such thoughts are ‘frivolous and irrational’ doesn’t explain their origin (they really need to read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason). But, to admit eternity into one’s thinking changes the whole game and puts people into a sometimes exceedingly uncomfortable position of having to consider what eternity has to do with them, personally.

Take for example “Today if you hear His voice…” from Hebrews 3:7. 15 and 4:7 referring back “in time” to David’s words in Psalm 95:7-11. It’s clear that the ‘today’ of Hebrews isn’t the same ‘time’ as it was for David since millennia have passed. Yet, from eternity’s perspective, the ‘today’ of David and the ‘today’ of the Hebrews mean the same for those hearing the words of God in their ‘time’. The same holds true for us: the time is Today because “…everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been…” (Eccl. 3:14-15 NASB, italics and bold mine). The future, the past and all the events contained therein are enfolded into now, Today and even though “…man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end” (Eccl. 3:11) all of us nevertheless have eternity placed in our hearts. The point is that all we really have of the time given us, whether past or future, is Today. Hearkening to His voice Today and believing what He says Today is to enter into His rest Today even though, for us still locked in time, the eternity of this ‘rest’ remains ‘not-yet’. To do otherwise is to die into an eternity where anything by rest awaits.

If it is the case, and I believe it is, that eternity is placed within the hearts of humankind, then it is a key ontological aspect of human existence; i.e. it is a facet of what it means to be created in the imago dei, the image of God. It is part of our nature to be aware of eternity even if we cannot understand or fathom it. While we are alive in time, the sheer beauty of creation, its vastness and immensity can trigger a consciousness of eternity while the prospect of dying can do the same. We are more than ever meets the eye and destined for more than we can ever imagine; Today, if we will hear His voice the truth of the matter will become clear. This view of human beings is vastly superior to that of a materialist who is forced to conclude we are merely beasts among other beasts who, at least for now, sit at the top of the food chain but, when dead, sit at the bottom as fertilizer. But, this view is more than just superior, it is true and we know it, or will know it, to be so because we have eternity in our hearts. It all depends on whether we are listening or not.

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