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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Do we have an excuse?

Do we have an excuse? What about those who are illiterate and have no Bible or teachers? How about those people who may never hear the Gospel preached?

Log cabin church on Blue Ridge Parkway, people were willing to walk and ride horses or in wagons to log cabin churches that were hot or cold, uncomfortable wooden benches, etc.

Here, in America, we have churches on every corner that are easily reached via automobile and are heated or air conditioned with soft seats, sound systems and musical instruments. We have Christian leaders who are highly trained in seminaries and have a wealth of information to tap into. Bibles are affordable and available in nearly every major store, in every language and of all kinds of translations. We are inundated with Christian books, teachings, teaching tapes. We have the ability for mass medias such as TV, radio, Internet and all are being used by Christians to preach and teach the Word of God. We can get free Bible study software on the Internet. We live in a time such as has never before been seen in the history of mankind with technology, health, wealth and opportunity like never before. We can go to a nearby grocery store and indulge our every whim with food from all over the world regardless of the season. This has never been before. We can drive our cars 60 miles in less than an hourand in complete comfort when it took days for every other generation of mankind before. We have free education available to every person in the United States. This has never been before. Do we really have any excuse for turning away from God, being ignorant of the Word of God, for not attending church? To those whom much has been given, much will be required. We have raised a generation of people who are more ignorant of the Bible than the generations of illiterate masses before the 20th century. We have a generation of people who are so ignorant of Christian beliefs that they can't even recite the 10 Commandments or know the Golden Rule. We have raised a generation who have no fear of God and who don't have the value system in place to know right from wrong, and generally could care less what is right or wrong. We have no excuse!

But what about this generation? What about those who live their life without ever going inside a church, never read the bible, don't know even the basic tenets of the Christian faith? What about those who are so removed from civilization that they don't get to hear the gospel? Are they beyond the reach of God? Are they able to be saved?

The Bible teaches us that God has put the revelation of God into every man/woman. And we have no excuse. In other words, we all have the special revelation that there is one, living God who created the world and created us. Nature proclaims God, the Creator and Sustainer of life. Based on that, we can worship the Creator.

Psalm 19: 1-4a
The heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech,

And night unto night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their words to the end of the world.

Romans 1: 18-25
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Science used to be the study of God's Creation and learning God's marvelous works and leading to the worship of such a wonderful God. It was based first and foremost on the knowledge that there was a God, a Creator, a loving and eternal and all wise God. Now Science has only one purpose and that is to disprove God, to prove that there is no need for God. A majority of Scientists refuse to believe in a Creator God and therefore are willing to believe in any theory as long as it does NOT rest on God.

All men have a most clear and evident mirror in which to behold the everlasting and almighty nature of God, even in his creatures, yet they have fallen away from those principles to most foolish and stupid ideas of their own brains, in their worship of God and of what God requires of them. -Geneva Study Bible

Our Creator's invisible power and Godhead are so clearly shown in the works he has made, that even idolaters and wicked Gentiles are left without excuse. They foolishly followed idolatry; and rational creatures changed the worship of the glorious Creator, for that of brutes, reptiles, and senseless images. They wandered from God, till all traces of true religion must have been lost, had not the revelation of the gospel prevented it. -Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

The outward creation is not the parent but the interpreter of our faith in God. That faith has its primary sources within our own breast but it becomes an intelligible and articulate conviction only through what we observe around us. And thus are the inner and the outer revelation of God the complement of each other, making up between them one universal and immovable conviction that God is. -Jamison, Fawcett, and Brown

For what is to be known of God - Those great principles which are indispensably necessary to be known. Is manifest in them; for God hath showed it to them - By the light which enlightens every man that cometh into the world. -John Wesley's Notes

Nature speaks of nature's God.

Turning from the glorious revelation of God in nature, they showed that they were fools by making an image, like man, or lower animals, and calling it a god. -People's New Testament

For instance, let's look at the heavens and how God revealed Himself even in the stars.

1. Virgo, the Virgin
Christ was born of a Virgin, the Virgin Mary, as prophesied in Isaiah 7:14. Virgo symbolizes Christ as the Son of Man (or Seed of Woman). Because, from Mary, He was conceived a human and from God, He was conceived as deity. The perfect God-man.
2. Libra, the Scales God is a just and righteous Judge and we are wanting in the scales because of our sin. But God provided His own Son to atone for our sins and to take the punishment on our behalf. The scales are now justified through the work of Christ. Justice was done and yet, it was done to Christ who could take the punishment and pay the debt. The Price to be paid, the Cross to be endured, the Victim slain, the Crown purchased.

3. Scorpio, the Scorpion
Christ was bruised on His heel but satan had a crushing and fatal head blow as prophesied in Genesis 3:15. Christ was stung with torture, crucifixion and death but He was resurrected and lives forever. Psalm 91:13. The Conflict, the Serpent's coils, the struggle with the Enemy, the toiling Vanquisher of evil

4. Sagittarius, the Archer The double-natured One (God-man) triumphing as a Warrior, he gladdens the Heavens, he builds the fires of punishment, he casts down the Dragon. He is a successful hunter.

5. Capricorn, the Goat

Capricorn symbolizes the scapegoat used to carry away the sins of the people of the wilderness (Lev. 16:8, 10). Jesus is the sacrifice slain on our behalf and resurrected in eternal life. Life out of Death, the Arrow of God, pierced and falling, springing up again in abundant life.

6. Aquarius, Water

Jesus was baptized in water by John the Baptist. As Christians we are encouraged to follow His example. Jesus selects some fishermen as His Disciples and He tells them they will become fishers of men. Matt. 4:18-22
John 7:38-39a
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive:...

7. Pisces, the Fish
Multiplication of the Redeemer's people, upheld and governed by the Lamb. By His own Hands Christ blessed and multiplied the 2 fish and loaf of bread to feed the thousands. It is by His own blessing and supernatural touch, through the Holy Spirit, that the Gospel message reaches to the unsaved and multiplies, adding people to His flock.

8. Aries, the Ram

Like the bull, the ram came to represent aggression, strength and courage. It is a symbol of the wild and procreative forces of nature. Considered the first sign of the zodiac, Aries, the ram, announces spring and the bursting forth of nature. Christ was sacrificed in our stead, as the ram was instead of Isaac. Rams became symbols of Christ who went to the Cross as a willing sacrifice for our sins. Christian symbolism considered the Golden Fleece an image of Christ who rescued the children, helping them to soar above the darkness of the pagan world as long as they clung to His fleece (teachings). As leaders of the flock, rams were symbols of leadership and of Jesus Christ as the guide of souls. Sheep were believed to follow the bleating of rams. Therefore, St. Ambrose considered rams emblems of the divine Word. The tendency of rams to butt their enemies with their foreheads made them symbols of military courage and might. Bronze and cast iron ram's heads were placed on the ends of siege-engines known as "battering rams" and used to smash through the walls and gates of cities. Ram skins were dyed red and sewn into the third of four coverings for the Tabernacle used by Israel in the wilderness (Ex 22:5; 26:14; 35:23). These helped to prevent dust and rain from entering the sanctuary.

Genesis 22
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you." So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am." And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The Lord it shall be provided." Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

Exodus 29
"And this is what you shall do to them to hallow them for ministering to Me as priests: Take one young bull and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil (you shall make them of wheat flour). You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, with the bull and the two rams. And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water. Then you shall take the garments, put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the intricately woven band of the ephod. You shall put the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban. And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him. Then you shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. And you shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them. The priesthood shall be theirs for a perpetual statute. So you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons. You shall also have the bull brought before the tabernacle of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the bull. Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour all the blood beside the base of the altar. And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. But the flesh of the bull, with its skin and its offal, you shall burn with fire outside the camp. It is a sin offering. You shall also take one ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram; and you shall kill the ram, and you shall take its blood and sprinkle it all around on the altar. Then you shall cut the ram in pieces, wash its entrails and its legs, and put them with its pieces and with its head. And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord. You shall also take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram. Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons' garments with him."

9. Taurus, the Bull

Bulls are needed for plowing and tilling the fields. The bulls are his disciples. Just as the lion is the king and terror of the wild beasts, the bull is the king of the domestic beasts. He often represents fiery temper, aggression, father of a herd, brute strength, ferocity, power, thunderous, kingship, resurrection, impulsiveness. The Israelites sacrificed bulls on many occasions, usually as tokens of repentance and reconciliation with God, foreshadowing of the purifying sacrifice of Christ (Heb 9:13-14). God did not require animal sacrifices for His own sustenance. After all, every living creature is His to eat if He so desires. Mosaic sacrifices were for cleansing the ritually unclean, restoring the sinner, fulfilling vows, and thanksgiving. God was more pleased with thanksgiving, righteousness, and songs of praise than with the sacrifice of bulls.

10. Gemini, the Twins

In faith, we believe and are born again. We are bound to Christ and are His forever. The Marriage of the Lamb, the enemy trodden down, the Prince coming in glory, His princely followers to be His forevermore.

11. Cancer, the Crab

Siezes, holds. He will never let us go. We may backslide and zig zag around but Jesus never lets us go. No one can take us from His Hands, His grip is sure. We are His treasure, His possession.

12. Leo, the Lion

Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in Revelation 5:5. He rules forever. A lion symbolizes the king of the wild beasts, leadership, kingship. The King is aroused and His enemies are scattered. He takes His own and leads them to victory.

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