Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Real Stuff: A Simple Kind of Faith

So many things to mind, so many possible important subjects as believers. In the time of Jesus, religion was king. The society that He was steeped in was all about readying oneself to meet God,  serve God and ultimately please God. This was the life of the Jew. Yet what Jesus brought -- basically the same motives aforementioned-- is why His own people killed Him, no murdered Him. How could this be? Because one was the 'Real Stuff' and the other was not. It is said in the bible that there are two powers in this world. To put it simply, there is the flesh and the spirit. The scriptures also record that they are locked in mortal combat, one seeking to dominate the other. No better story about the flesh and the spirit is the story of Cain and Abel. One pleased God and one did not. What was the difference, one brought sacrifice through blood and the other brought his own efforts. One rose up to kill the other. Fast forward to the time of Jesus and see the same storyline played out. Jesus, bringing Himself as a sacrifice and on the other side, the culture (state religion run by the Pharisees and Sadduccees through a governing body called the Sanhedrin). Jesus confronted their approach to God in essence that it had become complex, convoluted and difficult to understand. How did this happen? Well, man did what he has always done. Taking the instructions of God and fashioning them into his own way of fulfilling those instructions. The historical fact is that there was the Torah and there was the Mishna Torah. One was the simple instructions given by God that the society was to follow. The other was an extrapolation of that law into everyday practice. What was that simple set of rules' purpose? To teach the people their ulitmate need for God to forgive and purge their sin: 
Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. Gal 3:19 
It was a pedagogue nothing more. To the Pharisee, it was the only way to heaven. Each simple law was broken down and applied to everyday practice. By the time Jesus walked the earth, there were almost 1000 different 'Mishnas' to follow. How many of us could digest that? So, religious experts were provided for guidance. Anyone who could wield the Law and help the common man apply it, were the leaders of that society. This set up the greatest and most tragic crime of all time. Jesus was literally put to death by the Mishna - an extrapolation of the Words of God written by His own finger.  
How did this come about? Jesus reset the thinking of His society and backed it up by the spiritual power He possessed. It was said of Him that 'No man can do these things unless God is with Him' Yet Jesus said of the rulers of that society:  
"Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence!...What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity." Mt 23:24-27 
Now, let's apply this to modern life. You see, the rules MUST be simple. They must be small and digestible. By the way, God has always given Man a simple plan to follow. It is the religious who cloud the way to God, make Him unapproachable.  
I have stated it before elsewere but to drive the point home, do we really believe that by our industry we will do any better than the Pharisee. When we move from the fulfillment of the commandments (love God with all you heart and love thy neighbor), we start going into the darkness and the viper's den of legalism.  
In a practical sense, let's examine the simple faith: 
1> The apostles preached the following. There was a man who was named Jesus who brought a message to bring man back to God.  
2>We were separated from God through our own choices that now imprison us, It is our sin.  
3> Jesus, a man who overcame sin, became a substitute for God's demand that transgressions against Him. There must be payment by death for our sins. . 
4> Jesus died on a cross, suffering the judgment of God, His Father on our behalf. 
5> God, the true God, vindicated Jesus and confirmed He was His son by raising Him from the dead. 
6> Jesus, in turn because of His sinless life and His willing sacrifice, His payment on our behalf was accepted by God His Father who allowed His Son to send the Holy Spirit to be with us.  
7> It is that spirit that was sent to us to be ever with us from the beginning of our faith and repentance.  
8> Jesus paid it all and a new kind of life awaits us as we accept His work. We no longer are condemned nor need to be condemned by anyone. We are free from sin and death. Free to live the life God has called us to live. 
That’s' about it.  No convolution, no further steps. All the above is based on the works and life of Christ and nothing else. It addresses all aspects of life and all the above is timeless. 
If you were to preach a message you wanted to last two millennia, what kind of message would  it be? Would it be a convoluted message? Would it be complex? Would it be cultural? Would it be a message that is inconsistent with itself? No. 
Looking back at the message given to us, one more question: Would it be a generally universal message and contains points that all people of faith could agree? Yes.  
If so, then my friend, this is where the true message is separated from the clutter of additional doctrines that have encrusted the true message to the point they obscure the pure and unchanging message. The simple message.  
On contrast, religious groups who profess that their message in its totality is required for the person to gain anything in God need to re-evaluate their message. It is pure presumption and Pharasaic to add to the pure message of faith and those that do get their doctrines from the darkness that seeks to cloud and obscure the simple message. To be clear, most churches in this day and time obscure the true message by adding requirements. We as believers must strip away teachings that move us from one another, make us feel superior to others and leave us alone with our teachings. 
When we add or take away from the true message, we bring curse upon ourselves because we become a  Cain and seek to present ourselves approved on our own merit and God will have none of that. 
Occam's razor  states 'The simplest explanation is usually the correct one'. Enough said