Why did Jesus have to die for our sins?

Skeptics have often made the claim that goes something like this, “Why would an all-powerful God need to send his son to die in order to forgive us- why not just forgive us without all that talk of death and blood?”

On the surface, this seems like a pretty legitimate argument- right? After all, you and I forgive people often enough and no one has to die, no one has to shed blood, no one has to suffer. It seems therefore that since we’re able to forgive without a loss of life that God should be able to. Since God cannot do this (or chose not to do this) God is therefore:

  1. Not worthy of our worship
  2. Not real, but a figment of the imagination of an ancient, barbaric peoples.

Let’s take this a little further because even I, as a believer, have struggled with this “why Christ had to die” argument. The victory over this skepticism comes in doing what few skeptics and/or atheists want to do and that’s to dig deeper. See, when we keep our skepticism on the surface area where emotions lie, we’re able to justify just about any belief that we have or want to hold on to. Upon digging deeper, it becomes hard to hold on to those beliefs and we become challenged. This makes us feel weak. Humans don’t like feeling weak so instead we hold to our topical belief systems; the ones rooted in emotion- the very heart of atheism.

So let’s take this down a notch.

I call this the Garage Door fallacy. Let’s say that your brother coming home from a days work pulls up the driveway a bit too fast. In his haste, he plows through the garage door and destroys it. I mean, it’s busted. Totally wasted. You hear the noise and see the hood of the car letting off a little white smoke, the door is in large pieces, and you’re brother has a look on his face of regret and fear.

You have a 2 real choices here:

  1. You can punish him. You can yell and kick and scream and bring upon him your wrath. After all, this was YOUR garage door in YOUR house and he broke it- not you. It wasn’t your fault in any way. So you decide to push him out of your life after a voracious beating and verbal lashing.
  2. You can forgive him. You may still be angry, you may still be hurt but all things said and done, you’ve made the choice to not let this accident come between your relationship and you’re not willing to throw away that relationship over a garage door.

Here’s the dilemma: Whichever decision you make, the garage door still has to be replaced or fixed. To not fix the door would be to expose the safety of your family, your goods, your property, your assets. You wouldn’t feel safe and you would be a poor steward of the stuff you’ve acquired in your life. In short, to not replace the garage door would be a dereliction of your responsibilities.

So who has to replace it?

Well, either your brother has to pay for it or you do. Whichever way it goes, someone has to pay the price for the damaged property. There is no way around it. So now, you’re once again looking at those two choices:

You can punish your brother and extend to him that responsibility whereby he must pay to fix the garage. Only problem is, your brother does not have the ability to pay for it. He is unable to pay the price for the atrocity he has committed against you.

Or you can pay for it. You’re the only one in the scenario that has the ability to fully forgive the crime and pay for the offense. You also have the will to take on that cost for the sake of your brother you who love.

Which do you do?

Let’s bring it all together. God made for us a beautiful world in which to live and grow and be happy. We broke that world with our sins. And by “sin” we mean the traditional and the etymological meaning of the word:

Sin- to miss the mark. To be imperfect.

It wasn’t just about eating fruit. It’s about disobedience and carelessness. It’s about taking what belongs to God and abusing it. Taking the rules (like “thou shall not destroy garage doors” but instead, “thou shall not lie”) and breaking them. Only, we break them over and over and over again.

A white lie- still a lie.
Stealing something stupid- still stealing.

So we destroyed God’s world and He can either punish or forgive us. In punishment, we are asked to pay for our own sins- a price that we cannot pay. In forgiveness, we are not asked to pay. We are relieved of the debt and able to enjoy the garage door- once fixed- all over again.

God chose to forgive us knowing that the price to fix the world and our relationship with Him would be too great for us to bear. That price would have destroyed us in the process. Almost like paying for a garage door that would have bankrupted your brother or put him in a debt from which he would never return. Instead, God came to earth in the form of man- he was called Jesus. He took on our sins and suffered the penalty because only God has the will and the ability to bear such a price.

Now, those of us who have heard this truth- what we call the Gospel- and have accepted this truth have been forgiven and we are able to enjoy the world- once fixed- all over again.

Of course, the world is not fixed yet.

Jesus will return to hold accountable those who have decided to fix the garage door on their own. He will come to fix the world. To repair it. We call this fixed world “Heaven.”

Those who reject the saving work of the cross will unfortunately be part of the fixing. They will need to pay a price so great that they will not return. The have made the decision not to accept the forgiveness- they’ve decided to pay that price on their own through “good works” or “meditation” or “yoga” or some other form of spirituality.

However, when it comes down to it, no amount of good works or meditation can repair the damaged world and the damaged relationship with God (Isaiah 64:6). It would be like your brother saying, “well I can’t pay for the garage door so I’ll sit in a forest for 40 years and medidate.”

How does that help the situation?

He may feel better about what he did, but it doesn’t fix the garage door.

So Christ had to die because sin had to die. Christ had to rise again because he is stronger than sin. We are doomed to pay a price we can’t pay because we are imperfect. Therefore, we must accept the forgiveness of Christ if we want to escape that price and enjoy the world that he will return to make perfect.

That is the gospel.

That is why Christ had to die.

It’s not a perfect analogy and the atheist who refuses it will find tidbits and pieces to say “ya but…” and other nonsense that we’ve all heard before.

Shallow. Nonsense.

The true skeptic- one who listens and considers- may have the ears to hear and if that’s you, I urge you to contact me with your questions and/or concerns. It’s my hearts desire to see you escape that price and enjoy that new world- once fixed.   Image

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What is the law of non-contradiction?


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In college classes across the world, young people are taught that there is “no truth.” Ironically, this statement itself makes a claim as to what is true. And if it is true that there is no truth then the statement is false. Understanding this basic chain of reasoning is the starting point of understanding logic and logic is how the discerning mind comes to know what is true.

This is important because we all have a worldview. We all have ideas of what is true and what is not true. What is possible and what is not possible. The problem is that only one worldview can be correct and that is… the correct worldview. See, this is necessarily true because the incorrect worldview cannot be the correct worldview. A thing cannot be both correct and incorrect at the same time. Similarly, a car cannot be blue and not blue at the same time. A man cannot be running and not running at the same time. These are contradictions. Contradictions are two opposing statements which means that they are opposites, they oppose one another. As we apply this to reality a person cannot be both alive and dead at the same time and in the same sense. It is one thing to say a man is both “alive” physically and “dead” spiritually at the same time but this is not in the same sense. One sense refers to the physical and the other to the spiritual. So we see by this simple example that contradictions cannot exist in reality and therefore contradictions that we come across in reality must be identified in order to pursue the correct worldview. Therefore, when we come across a contradiction we have only 3 options- either one statement is true or the other is true but not both or both statements are false. This again exemplifies the law of non-contradiction.Thinkers as early as Aristotle were able to recognize this truth but long before Aristotle, men knew this to be true from even the moment Adam was created. He could not both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense.

The law of non contradiction is one of four basic principles of logic and it is so valuable to discovering truth that the great Enemy of God (whatever you may call him) has made sure that people ignore it and live in contradiction and argue from contradictory standpoints and see nothing wrong with it. At times I will engage people who will make brazenly contradictory statements and when approached with their contradictions they will say, “I don’t see it.” I imagine a man standing on the train tracks of logic. A train is coming his way ready to destroy his position as I plead with him logically to move out of the way but he says to me…

“I don’t see it.”

Truth is no exception. Truth comes hurling at us like a train yet we cannot see it because our worldview is incorrect. We have developed a worldview that allows us to accept contradictions and think nothing of it. Rather than questions our own position we dig in our heels and question the position of others. We allow ourselves to hold onto contradictions but the moment someone else’s position contradicts ours we become deeply offended by their ignorance.  Interesting.

A thing cannot be both true and not true at the same time so what we as thinking adults have the challenge to do is discover what is true and what is not true in order for us to develop the correct worldview. This does not mean that all we have to do is discover good arguments for what is true and what is not true. No. The debate on God’s existence or whether abortion is good or bad has great minds on both sides- both forming arguments as to its rightness or wrongness; its correctness or incorrectness.  Unfortunately today more then ever our leaders know so much about the world but we as a population know very little about logic. As a result, we believe in falsehoods and we love every minute of it because we would rather live in contradiction (which is at worst to say we live in a lie or at best to say we live illogically) then to admit that we are wrong.

Most people will not point out your contradictions because they have become so imbecile they don’t recognize them. I am not one of those people. Instead, my goal is to examine your argument and look for contradictions because when I find them I know that I have identified a point that could not possibly be true. It is at this juncture where you must decide whether you are the imbecile or the Aristotle. Will you recognize your contradiction in wisdom and contemplate your position or will you dig in your heels and commit to your folly and self-deception? You can’t do both- that would be a contradiction.

For more info on contradiction please view the following links:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-noncontradiction/#1

http://carm.org/dictionary-law-of-non-contradiction

http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/lawofcon.htm

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=theapo02-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=1581345615

I Don’t Believe In Organized Religion


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The American culture is full of idioms- pithy sayings that are supposed to reflect some sort of philosophy or worldview. Often we hear people say these things in response to conversation topics or plastered to the back of their car on bumper stickers. While some of these sayings may have a rhythmic sound or rhyming words, some are couplets, some appear at first to interject what appears to be open-minded philosophy, and some are just simple statements regarding some political stance. Most of these sayings, however, are ridiculous and when examined for their intellectual fortitude, they are often found wanting. One particular saying spreads like wildfire in the culture but dies the same death as all the others once examined. You may have heard someone said it before:

“I don’t believe in organized religion”

What this statement typically intends to communicate is someone’s belief in the spiritual but dislike for the traditional gathering of like-minded peoples in a systematic fashion. Images of Catholic mass fill the mind, with its sitting and standing and incantations in Latin. Or the Mormon service of shirts and ties and speakers void of doctrine but centered on subjective experience. Even the mega-church image with its stadiums of people with outstretched hands, laser lights shows, and would-be rock bands fit into this category for some people. Those who make this statement are trying to convince their audience that it’s not the God-based belief system or the moral nature of religious teaching, but the organized way in which people gather together to share what is common to them. (Granted, all three of the aforementioned church systems worship a very different god but we will get to that later) Where this statement or mindset fails is in it’s inconsistency with the lives of people. As we shall see, it’s not the organized fashion of the worship service, it’s the worship period. What I mean is, people don’t have a problem with organization, what people have a problem with is elevating and honoring a perfect Creator. For in this brand of worship, the person must admit their own depravity, imperfection, and inadequacies in contradiction to a culture that worships people, sexuality, and materialism. The religious nature is not the problem- it’s the nature of the religion. People have no problem worshiping themselves or their things- after all, the term worship comes from the root of where we get our word “worthy” and refers to “that which is worthy of our time and attention.” We spend all sorts of “organized” time on our bodies, our make-up, our sports teams, and our stuff, but when it comes time to honor the Creator of the universe, all of a sudden we have a problem with organization. Here are some things to consider when someone who offers this non-sensical, bumper sticker mentality in conversation or online.

Is that to say that you have a preference for dis-organized religion?

So you must also reject grocery stores, government, law & order, education, families, money and economics, right? What I mean is, culture and society are by their very nature- organized. Even animals- birds, bears, and bees- organize themselves into families, flocks, and flower-finders in order to more effectively navigate a world of trouble in the constant threat of survival. Take education for example, most of us our thrilled to live in a country where from a young age we can be taught the knowledge of the world (we will not be going into the education agenda in this blog- sorry). We sit in classrooms with organized rows of chairs, in rooms organized with whiteboards and computer screens, we follow organized schedules, until we graduate with a sense of how to organize our futures. Granted, education is not perfect- it’s made by man. While we can make changes and improvements no one advocates abolishment. No one says I don’t “believe” in organized education. 

What about economics? Do you also not believe in an “organized economy?” After all, our money system is finely tuned in a global system of equivalents, exchange rates, paper and coin, precious metals, investments, income, taxes, profit and loss. Yet we would not want to give up our money would we? Granted, our economic system is not perfect- it’s made by man. While we can suggest different systems of capitalism, socialism, and even communism, no one is honestly suggesting anarchy and chaos. No ones says I don’t believe in an organized society.

So it’s not the organized nature of religion, it’s the nature of the religion itself.

So you must be a huge fan of Jesus, right? See, Around 2,000 years ago, a man names Jesus claimed to be the authentic son of the Creator God and he spend most of his time rebuking the religious leaders of his time. In those days, the “organized” religion of the area was a form of Judaism that heavily emphasized a legalistic philosophy. Contrary to what most people “know” about religion, the pure form of the faith was buried by men called Pharisees who preferred that people follow their own rules and laws rather than live by the philosophy that God gave them. They forced people to live a certain way and Jesus came to “clarify” the teachings of the Torah. He came to “set the captives free” from the bondage placed upon them by religious men. On one occasion, Jesus- a poor carpenter- stood up to these powerful and rich men and in public called them hypocrites because they required the people to live by rules that they themselves would not adhere to (Matt 23:13). Sound familiar? On the contrary,  Jesus taught that salvation (or heaven, if you will) is granted only to those who placed their trust in him and rejected the teachings of men (including popes and prophets).  He taught that those who trusted in him and what he taught would willingly obey the precept to love God and they to love their fellow man.

This made the Pharisees mad because it undermined their powerful positions. They came to hate Jesus so intensely because of his teaching against religion that they organized themselves to kill him. They not only sought his death, they sought to have him crucified on the cross- a death so gruesome and so torturous that even the most notorious Roman was, by virtue of his Roman citizenship, excused from it’s punishment. It was a death so painful that the cross (or its root, “cruc”) became the word by which we define a pain that leads to unconsciousness- the word excruciating. 

Sadly, churches today still have their pharisees. They still have their religious leaders who plague their attendees with rules and traditions outside of what Jesus taught. Some churches still require Papal authority, Cardinals, Gurus, Prophets, Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Sages and sadly none of these men have the authority to act on Gods behalf. They exist in every church and in every country. Every body of believers will have their men who are either too conservative, too liberal, to rigid, too loose, too loud, too quiet, and so forth. There will always be people who don’t think you measure up to their flawed definition of what a believer should be.  The issue then is not “organized religion.” It’s about discovering who God is and coming to a personal relationship with him through the person of Jesus. See, God is too big and too perfect for us to relate to. God is like a burning flame and we are a dried up leaf. In coming to know him we would burn up. Jesus came to act as our mediator, to liberate us from the false teachings of men who desire power over the people. Jesus was the ultimate rebel and we can come to know him just like we come to know an author of a book we’ve read. We’ve never met the author but we feel like we’ve come to know them. We do the same with actors, with oppressed peoples from tv commercials and local activism, with politicians, and the like.

The church is not a building, its a body of people who have come to worship Jesus instead of their cars, their sports teams, their girlfriends, or the latest scientific journal, or out-spoken cosmologist. The questions then is not whether or not you prefer organized religion, it’s which organized religion are you attending- a church that honors God through Jesus Christ or a church that honors something else- a prophet, a scientist, a model, an activist, a Guru, or some other false god. We all choose to follow someone. Who is it?

I’m reminded of what Joshua wrote in 24:15

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”


Who is “they”?

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We are constantly bombarded in our culture with terms like “scientific evidence” and “top doctors agree” and”scholars testify” and other such appeals to some unknown authority. From toothpaste, to literary analysis, to archaeology, to batteries, and psycho-pharmacology (aka: anti-depressants) and so on, we are asked to put down our simple minds in exchange for what the experts believe. The questions is, who are these experts?

A quick analysis of the professional and academic landscape will reveal that there are two types of people- those who believe in God and the much larger field of those who don’t. Those who believe in God readily accept the existence of the immaterial world- things like love, hope, beauty, and evil. These things are immaterial- you cannot weigh love or hold beauty in your hand. You can of course hold a flower in your hand but the material aspect is the flower- not the beauty. The beauty is a metaphysical concept that you’ve thrust onto the flower. These attributes are transcendent- love is love here and love is love 1 billion miles away at the farthest star and love 100 years ago is still love. These attributes cannot exist in a reductionist, material world where only nature (or, that which can be measured) exists. Those who believe in God, therefore have access to a world that those who don’t believe in God do not. The kicker is, those who don’t believe in God would be scarce to admit that they don’t believe in love, hope, beauty, and evil and therefore find themselves in a precarious situation- they must either admit to their inconsistent worldview or try to explain away the immaterial as material. In this way, atheists and secular humanists live as if they do believe in God but profess with their mouth that they don’t. This is exactly what the Bible tells us we can expect:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (emphasis added) Romans 1:18

What Paul is writing here (and in subsequent verses) is that Gods existence is plainly seen in the design of nature and in the existence of the immaterial; things like justice, and love. However, those who hate God suppress this truth in order to accomplish their own goals.

Take the genius Richard Dawkins.  In one breath Richard Dawkins will say:

“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” (New York Times, 1989)

And in the next breath say something like:

“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” (The Blind Watchmaker, p. 133)

Here we have the leader of the Western secular humanism movement declaring with one voice that some people are evil (or wicked as he says) and in the next breath saying that there is no such thing as evil. These are direct and total contradictions to each other and since contradictions cannot exist in nature, he is either wrong, blind, ignorant, or all of the above. Furthermore, Dawkins is very dedicated to an agenda. He lives his life supporting causes he finds to be good and decrying causes he finds to be bad. Why would one do this if one believes that good and bad are things that don’t exist?

Here’s the point- secular thinkers must find a natural or material cause behind the ailments of the world. They must find a “gene” for evil or a virus for “justice.” Often, these things are explained away by some magical process that no one has ever seen- a process called Darwinian evolution where things just happen because the alternative- that there is a Creator- is too much to bear. Take another Dick. Richard C. Lewontin wrote in a review of Carl Sagans book:

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…we cannot let a divine foot in the door.” (emphasis added).

Dawkins agreed. In a letter to design theorist Phillip Johnson, Dawkins wrote:

“Our philosophical commitment to naturalism and reductionism is true…”

Here we see that top scientists and humanists agree- they have decided on the answer before they’ve even researched the question and therefore when they begin to research whatever pursuit they may fancy, they will always be closed off to the transcendent and immaterial world while living in it at the same time. Lewontin goes so far as to say that he takes the side of naturalism in spite of it’s failures. Here we see an atheists committed to failure rather than simply consider the Creator. These are our scientists (not all but some and certainly a vocal bunch). They view the world through a lens that eliminates a large portion of reality and prescribe us pills, recommend vaccines, educate our kids, and run our school systems.

This is why we must look at facts and figures skeptically. We must remember that psychiatry (for example) and psychology (another example) are fields that are largely atheistic. The men who have led the way in paving these fields- Freud, Vygotsky, Gardener, Erickson, Dewey- are all atheists. They do not believe in a soul and therefore reduce the problems and ills of man to their limited worldview. If a problem “must” be material, so too must the solution be. While these men are now and have been in the past willing to addict patients to drugs and alcohol (Freud single-handedly can be blamed for the modern cocaine epidemic) because asking them to pray is far to far fetched. The trend continues today as people we know across the country are addicted to pysco-tropic drugs that aren’t curing anything.

We must be more diligent in our approach to culture. We must ask “who” these doctors are who all agree. We must ask “why” do doctors all agree- should they not disagree at some point? We must remember that the ungodly will walk in contradiction and ungodliness in order to pursue an agenda of ungodliness. They will try to eliminate sin with words like “biological” and “chemical imbalance.” After all, if you’re “born that way” you can’t really be responsible can you?  You don’t need Jesus- you need a pill. Trust us- we’re the doctors.

Remember, Christian. A few hundred years ago everyone bought the line sold to them- top scientists agree- the sun revolves around the earth.