Last week we discussed how pervasive and destructive sin really is. We talked about how, because the first people screwed up, we all suffer the consequences. But today, we’ll talk about the reason we have hope — hope for this life and the next. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the answer to the problem of sin.
Now, to understand the cross, we need to understand the Incarnation: Jesus coming to Earth as a human being.
When we discussed the Trinity, we saw that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We saw that Jesus is the Son; that is, Jesus is God. Let’s look at one passage that illustrates that.
30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Jesus claims to be God. Yet it is also clear that He was a human being. Read the rest of this entry
This last Saturday was the first Extra Life Ministries Bible Study. We’re off to a good start.
We spent about forty minutes talking about — as you may have caught in the title — why the cross is the most epic thing ever. I’ve posted my notes below, after the link to the recording.
After the study, we shared some lunch and hung out. I can heartily recommend Safeway-brand frozen lasagna, by the way.
Plans are already underway for next month’s study. We’re gonna try to have it in a local comic book shop. The lesson, I’m thinking, is gonna be about how holiness is practically a superpower. More details to come.
Until then, thank you so much to everyone who came on Saturday, and everyone else who follows XLM as it develops into what God made it to be. Here’s our first Bible study.
Why the Cross is the Most Epic Thing Ever (.mp3)
We say things all the time like “Jesus died for your sins.” We call Him the “lamb of God.” We sing songs like “The Wonderful Cross.” All of Christianity seems focused around this one event: the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s a big deal. And today, I want to talk about why.
In this morning’s Sunday School class, I tackled one of the most troublesome questions in religion and philosophy: why is there evil in the world?
To hear my answer, click the links below. To save either file for later listening, right-click the link and select Save Link As… or Save Target As….
Feel free to argue with me in the comments or send me an e-mail!
Below is the lesson as written.
Today, we’ll talk about what may be the biggest philosophical question people struggle with day-to-day: the problem of evil. Whereas some people will look into the historicity of the Bible, and some will dig into deep theological issues, everyone wrestles with this issue. Everyone has had something bad happen to them, and frankly, everyone has done something bad to someone else. We feel the impact of evil every day. It affects our lives. And it’s often one of the issues that keeps people distant from God.
We’re going to talk about the philosophy of evil this morning. But before we do, we have to recognize that this is a very emotional issue for some people. Some people have been hurt very badly – either by other people, or just by circumstances, or even their own choices – and they’re angry with God because of it. Read the rest of this entry
Christians, pray for tomorrow morning.
There are two days a year that non-churchgoers go to church. Tomorrow is one, and for good reason.
Easter Sunday is a celebration of the only hope for humanity. Of the reason that we can have joy. Of the fact that, in the end, it will all be okay.
We fast for the 40 days of Lent because Easter is that big a deal. We need that much time to adequately prepare. Tomorrow is a day worth celebrating, perhaps more than any other.
Tomorrow is a great chance for people to meet Jesus.
Pray that they will.
The name Good Friday bothered me for a while after I learned what it was all about. It offended my sensibilities to call such a horrendous day “good.”
Today, Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. To be blunt, we remember the day humanity murdered God. And not in a swift, sanitary, humane way, either. Crucifixion is absolutely horrific. It’s a nightmarish way to kill someone. And we inflicted it on the only truly good man ever to live.
For a long time, I was preoccupied by our guilt. I focused on our sins, our actions that sent Jesus to the cross.
Then, I saw something else.
Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. Not at all. He prayed not to go. But He was ready to do it if it were the only way. Soon after that prayer, armed men came to arrest Him. Peter, one of His closest followers, tried to take of the guys’ heads off with his sword.
Jesus stopped him and healed the man Peter had attacked.
Think about that. He had just begged His Father to let Him skip the cross. One of His followers then attacked His captors. A lesser man would have run. But Jesus apparently had His answer.
He went willingly.
Even when the men who had Him arrested taunted Him, challenging Him to get off the cross and prove that He was the Messiah, He stayed. Mind you, He could have blasted the cross to splinters with his mind and called down lightning on all the unbelievers. He didn’t.
That’s the “good” of Good Friday: that Jesus chose the cross for us.
We live in a culture that avoids discomfort at all costs. We see boredom, inconvenience, and pain as great evils. I don’t want that perspective.
For the past several years, I’ve fasted from the evening of Good Friday until Easter Sunday. This year, I’ll do the same, but I’ll be thinking about it differently. Before, I would think about the weight of our sin every time my stomach growled.
This year, it will be less for guilt and more for worship.
This year, the discomfort will be a reminder to say “thank you” to the God who paid the cost of mercy.
I don’t think we acknowledge Jesus’s cleverness nearly enough. Consider this:
God came to Earth and lived a pure life as a human. He then told us His new plan to connect with us, which would replace the old system.
The local religious authorities had no interest in a new system. The old system – offering pure animal sacrifices and following lots of rules – was just fine with them. So, they had God arrested and killed.
Which He used to save us all.
He lived the only pure life ever so that He could be the last sacrifice ever. By being murdered, He saved His murderers.
I wouldn’t have seen that one coming.
I sit here in comfort, writing about fictional soldiers and playing first-person shooters. Meanwhile, real, flesh-and-blood people duck behind rocks to avoid rockets.
War – the real thing – isn’t cute. It isn’t funny. It’s not glamorous. If it were in theaters, you wouldn’t want to watch it.
Generations of citizens have fought to make sure we have the right to buy and sell, believe and practice how we want. For that matter, they’ve fought for the rights of people we don’t even know; sometimes, people we don’t even like.
The reason you’re free is that someone else died. It’s a Christlike sacrifice, tremendous and selfless.
What are you doing with the freedom they bought for you?
You know a soldier, or a soldier’s family. Maybe you know someone who didn’t make it home. Remember them today. Remember what they bought, and how much they paid.