Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Episcopal, Lutheran, or What?

There are three possibilities when someone speaks:  1) It is a total lie; 2) It is a half-truth; or 3) It is the truth.  Even a half-truth is really a lie - but it is cleverly presented so that we might not discover the untruth in it.  So, the only reliable communication is the truth.  There are times we just take things at what we refer to as "face-value".  We believe what we see is what we get. How many times have you been disappointed by what you thought you were receiving?  Probably more than you can count!  What you saw was indeed not what you got - the "image" presented was really a half-truth.  I have bought into the advertising of clever marketers on occasion only to find the new and amazing "stain buster" doesn't remove the particular stains my family tends to spill down the front of their clothes!  In reality, a simple bar of lye soap works far better than this fancy chemical in the spray bottle that I paid four times more for!  Yes, it removed 'some' stains without any effort on my part other than to spray it on, but if I want all the stains removed - I rely upon my bar of Naptha soap!  Sometimes the most "basic" is really the truth, while the "fancier version" is really not!

We believe people when they say something is true. But what God says is more important. And this is what God told us: He told us the truth about his own Son.  Whoever believes in the Son of God has the truth that God told us. But people who do not believe God make God a liar, because they do not believe what God told us about his Son.  This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (I John 5:9-12 ERV)

People tell us all kinds of things - we believe them or take them at face value. In essence, we don't "test" their claims for the truth in them.  It is either because we "blindly trust" or perhaps it is too much effort to find out if their claims are true.  One good thing about God's truth - it is provided with tons and tons of evidence!  We don't have to dig too hard to know truth - he even gives us the ability to apprehend, comprehend, and trust in the truth he brings!  We can trust God to tell us the truth - even when it is something we might not first consider as truth.

In Old Testament times, the truth God taught was to look "forward" to the Son coming - the Messiah would deliver more than just a "hope" of deliverance from sin, but a "means" for deliverance.  The sacrifices in the Tabernacle pointed toward him and his shedding of blood for our sins.  The words of the prophets gave testimony to the impact of his life, death, burial, and resurrection.  In Christ's coming, the evidence of the truth spoken so long ago became real right in front of our eyes.  We can trust God's word to us - it comes with convincing evidence!

So, what "truth" has God been speaking since the beginning of time?  It is quite simple - we have sinned (all of us) and stand in need of one who can act as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Christ Jesus).  In a nutshell, we stand in need - God provides THE way for our need to be met!  Apart from our need being met by God's means, no means exists.  In truth, man tries to "add to" the message of salvation all the time - but whenever we do this, we are creating "half-truths" or total "untruths".  Nothing needs to be added - God has provided all which is needed to transition from death into life!

If we cannot see truth, God even provides the means by which we can "see". There is no other "truth" in this world which also provides the means by which we can apprehend and comprehend it.  If we doubt God's word to us, we only need to ask God to reveal the truth in such a way our doubt is removed.  I cannot say the same is true of other "truth" presented to us in this life. Recently, my daughter called with extreme frustration over my grandson's math homework.  It was never her strongest subject in school and now she is called upon to help him grasp the "truth" she barely grasped herself!  In essence, she was reaching out to me (via the phone) to help her grasp it so she could help him grasp it, as well.

If I were to be honest, I didn't "get" what he was being asked to do with this "newer" math they were teaching.  It is something called "fraction bars" and it is totally foreign to the "old math" of finding the lowest common denominator to find out which fraction was bigger.  So, in my head, I calculated the lowest common denominator, attempted to tell her how I did it, and then dealt with the frustration of neither of us "getting" how to use the "fraction bar" to teach this truth!  It was just one of the means his teacher was using to teach this concept of fractions - but it wasn't the only means he expected them to use. This is good - because if I had to go through life making "fraction bars" to figure out which piece of the pie was bigger, I'd certainly never eat any pie!

We all have "concepts" we use to teach certain things, don't we? God isn't much different - because none of us "grasps" truth quite the same way.  We need "options" for grasping the truth - some will get it right away, others need a word picture, still others need to hear and see it over and over again. It isn't "truth" which is different - it is the means by which we learn truth which is.  The reality is the same - we just arrive at the point of reality by a different means.  God knows what will "connect" for us - because he made us uniquely who we are.  Therefore, it stands to reason he will provide the exact means by which each of us can grasp the truth about his Son and our need for a Redeemer in our lives!

The truth remains:  We ALL sinned.  We ALL need a Savior.  We ALL are incapable of being "good enough" to enter into the holiness of God's presence. We ALL will live eternally.  We ALL enter into eternal life WITHIN God's presence through the means God provides and no other means - Jesus Christ. This is the truth - any other truth is really not truth at all.  It matters not which congregation you gather in as long as this is the truth they believe!  No other "truth" is truly truth!  Just sayin!

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