Welcome to my blog! I hope to be a resource to help you in your walk with God. Now more than ever we need to get back to the basic fundamentals of moral living and take a stand for what is right and truthful with God as our ultimate authority. His Word is reliable and preserved and can be trusted, so that is the basis for my advice and teaching. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or topics you would like me to cover. I look forward to sharing what God has placed on my heart. See my website at http://www.dawnfoss.tateauthor.com and http://www.dawnfoss.com/ for books and music I have written that will enrich your life!

Ezekiel 22:30: "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." Let's stand in the gap together!

Monday, October 5, 2015

The holiness of God - #6 of 6

This is the last part of the series by Dr. R.C. Sproul on the holiness of God.  This is specifically about the holiness of Jesus Christ.  He brings some great things to light about our human response to someone who is holy.  I recommend watching the link, but I also typed up a summary. God bless you as you learn more about the holiness of God, and may it draw you into a closer relationship with Him.


#6 – The Holiness of Christ

On a college campus a gentleman was speaking about Christ, and someone heckled him and hollered out, “Who cares?” He noted that the audience was hostile.  There has been a growing hostility in our nation toward the Christian faith and a growing sense of militancy from pro Christian and anti-Christian forces. The unbelievers are deeply afraid that militant Christians are going to try to force religious adherence through law on unbelievers and they are justifiably afraid of that.  Remember: the 1st amendment of the Constitution of the United States protects the non-Christian as much as the Christian. We have to be careful about that.  Anguish and hostility is directed against Christians, theologians, ministers, tele-evangelists, etc.  However, it is rare that people will publicly criticize the integrity of Jesus.  

George Bernard Shaw, who was not a Christian, once commented that “there were times when Jesus did not behave as a Christian”! There is some irony in that!  When Shaw wanted to criticize Jesus he could think of no higher moral standard by which to criticize Him than the standard of Christ Himself.  When there is hostility against us, there is a kind of restraint about Jesus.  Of all the human beings who have ever lived, there has never been someone who has engendered more universal respect for his integrity than Jesus of Nazareth.  The world is so complimentary about him, but if he was so wonderful, kind and compassionate, why was He killed?  Not only was He executed, but the masses were clamoring for His blood.  What was it about Jesus of Nazareth that inflamed people’s passions either for Him or against Him?

Let's read a passage in the New Testament. Mark 4:35-41: “And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

There would be terrible wind tunnels that came upon the Sea of Galilee without any warning, and still do to this day.  There was a bad storm, and Jesus was sleeping during this storm.  The disciples were afraid.  

Dr. R.C. Sproul taught a course called, "Academic Atheism."  Students had to read the primary sources/writings of the most articulate atheists of western history.  They did these readings and found the atheists of the 19th and 20th century asked this question: we know there is no God, but why is it that mankind seems to be incurably devoted to the pursuit of religion? Madelyn Murray said they are given to superstition, and not thinking critically, and we need to educate further.  They agreed on this: religion emerges historically out of the psychological needs of people, out of man’s human fraility.  We all share our mortality. Frued and Marx said that every human has a built-in fear of natural forces that threaten our very lives.  Historically people began to invent religion to impose the idea of a living soul inside these forces, a god in the storm, in the earthquake, in the pestilence.  Personalization of nature was a first step in the evolutionary process.  

All kinds of things threaten our existence: cancer, fire, flood, war, other people.  We have learned to survive the hostility of other people.  We have learned how to deal with that.  If we are around someone who is angry, we may beg for mercy, compliment him, bribe him, find ways to short circuit personal attacks against us. Freud asked, how does one negotiate with a hurricane or flood? You can’t plead with a storm, bribe an earthquake, flatter cancer and make it go away. These are non personal forces, but we project onto nature personal characteristics so we can talk to the storm, then sacrilege it into deity. Or we invent monotheism and talk to one God about all of these problems.  It's thought that if you worship God and honor God and tithe, send in your check, then God who is more powerful than the storm will protect you from all of these problems. 

Emphasis on prosperity and health on TV, it's said by some preachers that God always wills these things, "name it and claim it."  To experience prosperity you have to name it and believe in it and God will deliver these things.  We certainly have an ability to project our desires and wishes upon nature as Freud indicated. He said out of fear of nature we invent God, so God becomes a crutch, or opiate at Marx suggested, for people who simply can’t bear to live in a hostile or indifferent universe.  

Going back to the Scripture in Mark, we find the disciples of Jesus terrified because of an encounter with the destructive forces of nature. Their lives are in jeopardy from the tempest arising at sea, so as people will often do when they are afraid, they went to their leader, woke him up, and said, "Master, do something or we perish!" He looked around and apprised the situation and then the Lord God incarnate, the Creator of heaven and earth issued a verbal command not to men but to the impersonal forces of nature. He addressed the sea and the wind and commanded in a loud voice, “Peace be still!” Instantly the response of the cosmos in obedience took place so that the sea became as glass and the wind was still.  

What is the response of the disciples when Jesus removes the clear and present threat of nature? Did they rejoice and say they knew he would do it? No, at that moment they became very much afraid.  Their fears now became intensified instead of relieved.  There is something inside the human heart that fears more than the impersonal forces of nature and that is the power and presence of a person who is holy.  Now the disciples are trembling, and say, “what manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” 

Xenophobia, the apartness, the difference of God that threatens and frightens us – the disciples realized we have just now witnessed a display of a kind of humanity with which we are utterly unfamiliar.  When you meet a new person, your brain goes through a catalog of responses, if smiling, frowning, tall people, etc., it tells us different things from our experience, and we learn how to be with other people from our experience.  There was once a therapy to strip of their clothes and reveal their secrets of their heart.  Premium of openness, vulnerability, but that movement was short lived, and people were brutally hurt when they opened up.  Everyone has had a secret betrayed, someone tramples over your soul. We learn to put some armour on after that happens.  We don’t want to be vulnerable and open.  We use this mechanism very carefully to see if a person is safe or not safe.  

They saw Jesus and their mind’s computers went haywire; we don’t have a category for this man. Never encountered someone who is so other and so different, separate and apart from normal humanity that He can command the sea and the sea obeys.  They realized they were in the presence of the holy and their fear was increased. This is the only time that sort of thing happens in the NT.  

However, on another occasion, same people, same sea, they were out all night fishing and came back with empty nets.  Jesus approaches them and says to Peter, how did it go? Lousy night, no fish. Jesus said to put the nets on this side of the boat. Peter was probably thinking, “Hey, Jesus, you are a fantastic theologian, but give me some credit, I’m a professional fisherman, are you going to tell me how to fish?” But he figured, Let’s humor him. Then every fish in the sea of Galilee jumps in the net!  For Peter, fishing was not for fun but for profit.  Peter could have said to Jesus that he wanted to contract with him, split the profits 50/50, and make some real money here!  But no, Peter said to Jesus, “depart from me for I am a sinful man.” In other words, Jesus, please leave. I can’t stand it. 

When one who is holy comes into our midst, immediately we are uncomfortable and dreadfully aware of our unholiness, and want that person to get as far from us as possible.  A golfer played with Billy Graham once and that person felt that religion was shoved down his throat for 18 holes, but Billy Graham never said a word.  People are uncomfortable in our presence not because we are holy but because we represent the One who is.  The Pharisees were Jesus’ worst enemy, devoted to righteousness, but were self righteous. The people who were most comfortable around Jesus were the outcast sinners because they had no illusions about their own righteousness.  Those who took pride in their moral purity were uncomfortable because Jesus exposed their unholy character.  When the light comes, the darkness cannot stand in its presence.  

Jesus didn’t leave Peter.  He told Peter to come unto me, your burden, I will give you peace.  We are invited to come into the presence of a holy God.  The Psalmist said, "Search me and know me."  The secret the Christian carries around with him is that the one place we can be naked without fear is in the presence of Christ.  Even though we have this built in fear toward the holy one and we recognize we are unholy, in Christ we are welcome. The first fruits of a person’s justification is peace with God and access into His presence.  

If you are saying, Please leave, Jesus, you make me uncomfortable, realize this: 1. There is no possible escape ever from the holiness of God. You are going to have to deal with it now or at some point. Get it settled right now. 2. Understand there is a righteousness that God has provided for you in Christ, it’s foreign, it's not your own, it’s the righteousness of Christ freely offered to you if you submit to the Lordship of Christ.  All He has and all He has done becomes yours. The worst storms of divine wrath is silenced forever and He declared “PEACE.”  Your guilt is taken away. To be a Christian is to be forgiven. Not arrogance but gratitude is the response. No Christian is righteous in and of himself.  Will you come into His presence today and receive His free gift of grace, salvation for your soul?

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