Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Post about the Changing Seasons, and Spiritual Applications

My point is simple, "Things Change."

Romans 5:6-6:5
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

We are at that time of year called "Easter" by most everyone, "Resurrection Sunday" by the 'hardcore', "Passover" by the Jews, "Earth day" by the pagans, "Birthday" by some cousins of mine. It's a time of year where "Change" is clearly apparent:

Winter's gloom and grey
The Time is greening to Spring
Life begins again

Life begins again, but not in the same way. Sure some things look the same but there are some noticeable differences between this year and last. Last year, I had a different job. I was working as an "Environmental Sanitor," cleaning the corn line in manufacturing. Now I work within a completely different area of the company, doing things that are miles away from doing what I was doing a year ago. By and large, though, life is sort of like a Lorenz Attractor.

I first learned about Lorenz attractors studying chaos theory in high school. Short version: they are pretty pictures created by certain mathematical formulas when those formulas have specific values in key variables. If you look close enough at the pictures generated by the attractors you will see that they follow a similar path, yet that path is never retraced. I would argue that time is much like this, and the attractors in the year are Summer and Winter. Many people think that life is cyclical. I don't blame them. Life appears that way, until you discover Lorenz attractors. Then you realize that things aren't really repeating! I want to talk about differences, between old and new, and between living and dieing. I want to tell you from this passage that I've quoted above that God has brought us to a point where we decide whether to be attracted to death, or whether we will be attracted to life. Our eternal attractors are Adam, man of Death, or Jesus man of Life. Because God gives us the chance to choose life, let's choose it while we can. Unfortunately, this is a decision man has been choosing wrong, even from the beginning.

I am unashamedly an old school, whole Bible believing Christian. Some people would substitute the word "unfortunately", or "unthinkingly", or "foolishly" where I say "unashamedly", but that's not my fault, and I love them anyway. I believe in a literal Adam, and a literal Eve, and I believe that Eve considered the lie, but Adam allowed her to die.

Adam was in the garden with Eve when the Serpent tempted her(Genesis 3:6). He heard the arguments, he saw the source of the lie, he knew where they were, and what they were doing. No excuse for the boy! He sinned first by keeping silent, by watching the sin happen, by not defending his wife. Every man in my family knows that a poison tongue snake in the garden got to get a hoe to the head, especially if it talks! Adam knew that what the serpent was saying was wrong. He didn't defend, he stood by, and by standing by, allowed sin to take root in himself, and his wife. Ever since, we've been suffering from Adam's sin.

When Adam participated in the sin, death came as a result. Sin and death overcome us all. Adam's sin lead to Eve's guilt, Cain's sin lead to Able's death. A little earlier in Romans, Chapter 3, verse 23, we discover that all sin, and fall short of the Glory of God. Because of Adam, my sins lead to my death. Adam brought sin, and sin brought us death. Since Adam, there's been more sin! One man has irrevocably changed the history of the world by sinning. Such still happens today. Recently I read about a mother who drowned herself and three of her small children by driving into a lake. Supposedly, she tried to correct her horrible error, but she was too late. One of her kids escaped. Just one out of four. How can this happen? Why does this happen? When will the suffering stop? Because Adam stood and watched, Death has come into the world. The world is too broken to continue indefinitely, there must be a rescue, and a recovery. Fortunately, just as death was brought into the world through one man, so also, life has been brought into the world through one man.

Ambition is a funny thing. I originally started writing this post Good Friday, hoping to be done in time to publish it Sunday morning, Sunday has come and gone. *SIGH* On that Sunday morning, Christians every where celebrated an amazing event in human history. Jesus Christ rose from the dead! Jesus' bones aren't in the tomb. God chose to bring life back into the world through Jesus his son. "At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly". What marvelous words! I want us to look at three word phrases in that verse snippet that will illuminate the importance of the events of Easter:
1. "Right Time" - some things can only happen when conditions are right. There can be a deep study of the time when Jesus came to this earth, and about how it was the right time when he was born, right time when he grew up, and the right time when he died. I want to focus on the week he died, the passover week, because it will be clearly the strongest symbol to those alive with him at that time. Passover time was significant to the Jews (as it still is today) because it commemorates the time when the Jews came out of bondage in Egypt. From the time of Adam till the time of Christ, the world was held in bondage by sin. The book of Hebrews teaches that the sacrifices offered by the priests under the old covenant could not take away the sins of the people. Those sacrifices could only look forward to the time when they would be taken away. The passover meal was a remembrance of the shedding of blood that happened so that the Israelites could leave Egypt and go to Freedom in the Promised Land. It was and still is a homage to shed blood. In the original Passover (See Exodus 12 a lamb was slain, it's blood applied to the lintel of the door of the Israelite, and the lamb consumed by the members of the house. We have in Jesus, a lamb "without blemish" slain allow God's wrath to pass us by on our way to freedom.

2. "Christ" Christ means 'Anointed One'. You don't just up and anoint people for no reason. He didn't come by accident, he came with a purpose, God anointed him for the work he had to do. The first Gospel sermon was given by God himself in Genesis chapter 3:15 "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

3. "ungodly" Jesus' timing and purpose had to do with reconciling people who are without God to God. Jesus didn't come to feed people, or make the sick better. He wasn't some hippie social do gooder who wanted people to get along. He brought a message: "the Kingdom of God is at hand", and in bringing that message, he died for our sins! All of Jesus' actions, all of the miracles, all of the feedings, all of the travel, all of the dialogue served one purpose, to bring God to the ungodly. Without Jesus, you cannot know God beyond his Authority as creator, and his Role as Judge. When you put on Jesus, taking his sacrifice for your own, you know God as you could otherwise not know him, as a father! Galatians 3:23-4:7 echoes this sentiment. Many of the same words and ideas are presented, Jesus came at the right time, for a purpose, to take the ungodly and make them sons of God! Just as Jesus came at the right time, we also have a right time to become a son or a daughter of God.

The law given to Moses cannot convict me of my sins if I am in Jesus. Praise God it has no hold on me! I have experienced a washing away of sins in my life that Peter calls "an appeal to God for a clean conscience." Notice that God grants the appeal! The giver of the law has given me a clean conscience even though under the law I stand condemned! In Romans 6, Galatians 3 and 1 Peter 3 we see that a time comes when the seasons of our life change, we move from the dead of winter to the green life of summer. We go from being dead in our sins to being alive in the spirit. We go from guilty to having a clean and pure conscience before God.

I want to close today by re-quoting the last four (short) verses in the long passage I quoted in the beginning. I want to quote them again because it highlights the wonderful difference between the condemnation I had under the law, and the wonderful life in Jesus I have now, and because it shows us the time when God moves our equation from winter to summer:

"1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. "


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