Why Did God Create Us?

Why Did God Create Us?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-9 (NKJV)

 

The question that I often hear asked goes something like this, “If God is so self-sufficient then why did He create us? If He is so perfect and holy why do this?”  This is a question that has been answered several different ways over the years. So I am not going to try and go into all of the intricacies that are involved, but I will attempt to answer the question in a simple way that will bring enlightenment.

Scripture revolves around some themes that will answer this question. 1 John 4:8 says that God is love. John 3:16 proves this by telling us that Jesus came into this world to save us from sin, because He loved us. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says that we are called to be in close relationship with Jesus.

When we look at all of these, and many more, we find that God created us to have a relationship with us and lavish His love upon us. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden did they seek out God? No! God sought them out because He loved them. There are many other people God walked with in the Bible, not just Adam and Eve. For example, the Bible talks about Him walking with Enoch; so much so that He spared Enoch physical death and took him to be with Him so Enoch would not experience it. God desires us!

Remember that in 1 Corinthians 13 (written above) talks about love. If we take love out of that passage we could interchange it with God. Love is in God’s nature. We must remember that if God had never created us, He would not be lacking. God didn’t create us because He needed us; He created us because He wanted us, to lavish His love on us.

If God did this to be with us, and we as descendants of Adam have pushed God away, then perhaps we as Christians should share the good news with those who haven’t heard it. Perhaps you should share with others the salvation experience in order that they might start to walk with Him and in His love. Will you do this today? The choice is yours.

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What is The Unpardonable Sin?

What is The Unpardonable Sin?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

What is this sin that God gives no forgiveness for? This is called the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This sin is the only sin where there is no forgiveness and today we will be looking at it in its context.

 

“22Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. 23And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebub the ruler of the demons.” 25And knowing their thoughts He said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. 26″And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 27″And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. 28″But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29″Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30″He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. 31″Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32″And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come,” (All Scripture quotes are from the NASB).
-Matt. 12:22-32 (NASB)

 

There are a lot of thoughts on this subject, but Scripture, in context, gives us this answer. Look at verse 22. In this verse Jesus heals a man who was blind and could not speak. The Pharisees (the religious leaders of the time) state that Jesus does this by the power of Satan! Jesus responds stating how illogical that is because a kingdom that is divided can’t stand (we could go into politics here, but I won’t).

Now here is something you won’t hear every day. In the context of the passage we are dealing with miracles and who gets credit for them. Blasphemy against the Spirit is crediting the miracles of Jesus to Satan. But why is this case?

Well we can find clues in Jesus’ baptism. At His baptism He was baptized so that he might fulfill all righteousness. At this event the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. Now the priests of the day would anoint with Olive Oil and allow it to be poured on their heads and it would fall to around their feet. This was representative of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit; here we have the Holy Spirit actually descending on Jesus. This shows that He is the anointed of God and that His miracles come from the Holy Spirit.  This would have been well-known by these Pharisees before they ever made their statements.

These miracles were done to validate what Jesus was here on earth to do (i.e. die and rise again for our sins). To attribute these miracles to Satan attributes the work of redemption to Satan as well. These Pharisees knew better in their minds and hearts and not only resisted Jesus in themselves but maligned all that He stood for. By doing this they not only resisted Him till death, but tried to lead others to do the same!

So the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is when an individual, knowing full well what they are doing (i.e. the redemptive work of Christ), resists Him till death while leading others to do the same. They attribute His works to Satan and mar what Christ has done for us.

A true believer would never commit this sin, because they have surrendered their hearts and lives to Christ. So if anyone out there is truly distressed as to whether or not they have committed this sin should not worry about it. This distress is evidence that they have not. Why? Well, the reason is because someone who has committed this sin wouldn’t be distressed at all over their choice. They have hardened their hearts to such a point that it would not bother them in the slightest.

I hope this has helped those who were wondering about this sin, and that it has placed some fears at ease with Christians.

What Makes A Group Non-Christian?

What Makes A Group Non-Christian?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

Today we aren’t talking about the occult (witchcraft, devil worship etc.) but cults; known as Christian aberrations. These are groups that have “gone off the rails” from true Christianity. These are groups that may not be using the Bible or may use it, albeit in a distorted manner, to advance ideas and doctrines that don’t line up with the plain meaning of Scripture. What makes these groups non-Christian is when they deny the three main tenants of Christianity:

  • The deity of Christ (including the doctrine of The Trinity)
  • Resurrection
  • Salvation is by faith in grace alone

Without adherence to these three tenants a group/individual is not an Evangelical Christian. These are non-negotiable. So what things do Christians disagree about and are still Christian? Well there are many things; some include tattoos, long hair, makeup, the ecstatic gifts of the Spirit etc. We can disagree on a great many things but still be considered Christians, however when someone disagrees on those three things they are considered an aberration.

Some of these groups include Mormons (see previous article), Jehovah’s witnesses (who literally change the Bible’s words), and even Oneness Pentecostals (because they deny the trinity). Now there are a great many other groups out there, but these are just a few. As a side note, the Oneness Pentecostals should not be confused with other Pentecostal traditions (Two of the most popular Pentecostal traditions that are Christian and DO NOT deny the trinity is the Church of God out of Cleveland, TN and the Assemblies of God. By our definition they are not cults.).

Cults tend to add their own kind of works righteousness to the mix. By doing so, in effect, they make a statement that salvation in itself is not enough, but that you must do works as well in order to receive/maintain your salvation. This violates the doctrine that salvation is by faith in grace alone. To add to it takes away from grace, this violates the simplicity of the Gospel and what God has set up. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB95) reminds us of this, “(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (9)not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Many cults will cite James 2:26 which states that faith without works is dead in order to propagate their message. This ignores the context of scripture. James is telling us that if a person is saved then he will do works out of the love that God has shed abroad in our hearts. In other words, we do works because of the salvation experience and our love and gratefulness toward God, not to try and earn salvation in any way, shape, or form.  Remember that context is the key to Scripture. I can take any verse(s) out of context and make them mean anything I want. This does not make it true. Only in context can Scripture be applied to our lives and cause spiritual growth to happen.

Cults not only take Scripture out of context but will read into Scripture what is truly not there (known as Eisegesis). This employs poor interpretational skills. The goal of interpreting scripture is to pull out the principles that are found there and apply it to our lives (known as Exegesis). To properly interpret a passage (exegete the passage) one must do three things, (1) look at the context, (2) look at the historical background of the passages, and (3) look at the audience to which it was written; doing this will find the principle that is being conveyed. Once you do these steps then, and only then, can you apply the principles to your life. To do this we have many tools and scholars available to us (see LOGOS Bible Software, LOGOS.com).

We must be careful about everything we say and do. We need to interpret Scripture properly so as to not be sucked down into these kinds of groups. Remember that if a group violates any one of the three tenants of the core of Christianity then they are not Christians, no matter how much they claim to be. I hope this article today has challenged you to do some of your own study. Remember that these latest posts are designed to hit the high points while spurring you on to read/study more. What will you do? The Bible calls us to be prepared and have an answer for those who ask. Will you be? The choice is yours.

What is Relativism & Why Does it Matter?

What is Relativism & Why Does it Matter?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This is another topic that can be interesting, but again we can’t possibly exhaust this topic in the short time we have together. So I will hit the high points for you. Hopefully you will find this useful as you are bombarded by it on a daily basis. Relativism shapes your thinking every day.

Relativism is simply a covering that a lot of groups use, but in general relativism is the philosophy that all points of view about a given subject are equally valid. People today believe that all truth is relative. They will say that what is true for you is not true for them. In this way they negate the notion of absolute truth. However, this falls apart because they have made an absolute statement when they say things like “all truth is relative.” This is a self-contradicting statement. All things can’t be relative because they just made an absolute truth that all things are relative. Do you see the self-defeating statement here?

Let us look at some of three main groups that fall under the category of relativism:

  1. Cognitive Relativism – This affirms what we said before, that in our minds there is no absolute truth. What is right for you is right and what is right for me is right. Without this all of relativism falls apart (which it does because it claims an absolute truth that all things are relative).
  2. Moral Relativism – All morals are relative within your social group.
  3. Situational Relativism – Right and wrong are dependent on the situation. For example, a hungry man steals some bread to feed himself and his family. This is right for him. However, a wealthy and well-fed man steals the same loaf of bread to eat. This is wrong because he could afford it. If truth is absolute then both are wrong.

How did this become so prevalent? As people abandon God, an absolute law giver, they embrace this thinking and the result is an “anything goes” mentality that begins to take over our society. The effects can be seen in the judicial system, politics, and the media. We find that those things that were once seen as wrong are no longer seen that way (i.e. homosexuality, fornication, adultery etc.). If you come to these people and tell them that these things are wrong you are labeled as an intolerant bigot who needs to be rounded up and done something about. So in this way they violate their own tenants (i.e. all points of view are equally valid). What they really mean is that all points of view are valid, except for those who hold to absolute truth.

A society, just like the Israelites experienced in ancient Israel when there were just judges and no kings, will become fragmented and separated on all social issues (this does take time as relativism spreads through society). Why does this happen? Because everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Without an absolute truth, and an absolute lawgiver, society begins to break down and become fragmented. This can be seen by those who are in power; you can’t go an hour on any news station and not see some example of corruption in the government, at the local and national levels; as society has increasingly become relativistic so has corruption increased by those in power. This kind of corruption and thinking has begun to invade the church world as well. Could it have been any other way? You take people who are exposed to it through the media ever day and are not taught about relativism and how to spot it and push it back and expect it not to enter into the churches? Ridiculous! As Christians we have failed to teach about relativism and it is our fault. We need to start teaching about it so we can understand where these attitudes come from.

Hang on! It is right to drive on the left side of the road in some countries and wrong to do it here. Is this not an example of relativism? Yes it is. Now notice that the statement relativists make is that all truth is relative. These kinds of non-issue issues are relative. Notice that this has no bearing on our moral or ethical thinking, just what side of the rode we drive on. Yes there are some things that are relative, but not all things not the moral/ethical considerations of life. These kinds of things are really non-issues and must be treated as such.

Now a lot of relativists will say that you can’t apply logic to relativism, “relativism” they say “just is”. Well that is kind of odd isn’t it? Why? Because in order to convince someone that relativism is true you must apply logic and reason, which is self-defeating. So this argument is really a non-argument.

So what should you do? Well this is only some thoughts on relativism. It is up to you to do your own research on the subject. This is literally the tip of the iceberg. Won’t you learn more about it? Ask God to open your eyes to it. The Choice is yours.

For more resources look to rzim.org and 4truth.net as some starting places. Buy books, from both sides, and apply logic and reason to everything.

Is Mormonism Just Another Evangelical Denomination?

Is Mormonism Just Another Evangelical Denomination?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Mormonism has become a hot topic recently. So I decided that we should address this question today. This will not be an exhaustive look at Mormonism but just the “top of the iceberg.”

There are some essential beliefs that one MUST hold to be true in order to be considered Christian. Each group must agree to these or they are not truly Christian. First you must believe that there is only one God, Jesus is divine the second in the trinity, there is a trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) and this trinity makes up the one true God, forgiveness of sin is through grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), Jesus rose from the dead physically not spiritually (Ephesians 2:19), and the group/individual must believe in the Gospel (Jesus was born of a virgin, died for our sins, and rose on the third day) and because of the Gospel we are made right with God. Unfortunately Mormonism disagrees with three of these tenants: (1) that there is only one God, (2) this one God is the God of all things, and (3) How one obtains salvation.

The Bible teaches that God the Father is Spirit and that Jesus is God in the flesh. It teaches that Jesus is eternal (John 1:1), He was not created, yet He came to earth through birth (Col. 1:15), and Jesus is the creator of all things (John 1:3). Mormonism does not teach this. Mormonism teaches that God the Father has a body of flesh. Mormonism also teaches that Jesus is a created being, that he is not the second in the trinity that has always existed. Mormonism teaches that God the Father and his wife had “relations” and Jesus is a spirit child of them. Mormonism also denies the trinity in the Christian sense, they say that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit make up the office known as the trinity; this makes them consistent on their view of Jesus considering that they don’t believe Jesus is of the same being as God. No, they believe that they are three separate gods. They believe Jesus to be “a” god, not The God.

Mormonism also teaches that God came to this world from another world where He was just a man, and by obeying that god he ascended to godhood. He then came to this planet and produces spirit babies to inhabit humans at birth. The first spirit baby is Jesus, and then Satan. We all follow after them. If we are good Mormons we too can become gods over our own planet. The Bible denies other gods. The Bible teaches that there is only one God. We do not become a god. So the God of Mormonism is NOT the God of the Bible.

Now what are the differences between what Mormonism teaches and what the Bible Teaches? Let us explore this. In order to fix this problem of not being Biblical they use the book of Mormon over the Bible. They teach the Bible is God’s Word but has been translated over the years incorrectly. So where there is a contradiction in teaching they look to the Book of Mormon, not the Bible. A Moromon will claim to respect and live by the Bible, but because they hold the book of Mormon higher, they prove that they don’t.

Because of all of this Mormonism is a non-Christian religion. It denies that there is one God, denies the deity of Christ, adds works to salvation (when salvation is by faith in grace alone), and distorts the reliability of the Scripture, this is just to name a few things. With just these things in mind we come to the conclusion that Mormonism is NOT BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY.

To start looking into Mormonism more deeply I would suggest starting with the book “Behind the Mask of Mormonism” by John Ankerberg & John Weldon.

Where Did Cain Get His Wife?

Where Did Cain Get His Wife?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This is a question that has perplexed people, but has an honest and quick answer to it. So let us examine it some today.

 

16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. 17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch.
-Genesis 1:16-17 (NKJV)

A lot of people assume that Cain and Able were the only two people, besides their parents, in the Bible. This is simply not the case. Adam and Eve had other children. We find that in Genesis 5:1-4.

 

5 This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. 3 And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. 4 After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters.
-Genesis 5:1-4 (NKJV)

So, you see Cain had to have married a sister or a niece.  Seeing as how Adam and Eve were around for hundreds of years there were plenty of people to choose from for marriage. They would marry and then their children would marry etc.

At this point many people will bring up inbreeding issues. Most Bible scholars believe that the genetic purity of that time (believing that we are more impure now than we were then) was so much more pure that inbreeding wasn’t a problem. The prohibition on marriages didn’t come around until the book of Leviticus chapter eighteen.

So why is there so much detail about Cain and Abel and not the other descendants? The story of Cain and Abel is not about the children of Adam and Eve, but about the first murder that had ever occurred. Cain was enraged because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his own. Abel gave God the best he had out of a pure heart, but Can gave God what was left over. This was not acceptable to God.

I hope this answers some of your questions, from a Biblical standpoint, and if you need to know more or have other questions please submit them using the link above for submitting questions. Thanks.

What is Sharper, Your Sword or Your Tongue?

What is Sharper, Your Sword or Your Tongue?
By: Amanda D. Kramer

“…..and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
-Ephesians 6:17b NIV

 

“For the work of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
-Hebrews 4:12 NIV

 

The Bible tells us in Ephesians chapter 6 verse 11 to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (NIV).  Part of the armor that is described in the verses that follow talk about how our Bible, the mighty word of God, is the sword of the Spirit. Hebrews describes it as being alive and sharper than any double-edged sword. So the question that comes to my mind is how are you using this “weapon” that has been given to help you stand against the “devil’s schemes”? Are you using it as a defensive or an offensive weapon? Are you standing firm or are you attacking?

Too many times I have seen Christians attacking both other Christians and non-Christians, but their weapon is twofold; they are using the words of their sword, usually incorrectly, and combining with it another weapon so many people forget our body has, the tongue.

 

 “We stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, set the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
-James 3:2-6 NIV

 

What are you doing with your tongue? Are you setting small sparks that starts a mighty fire? I happen to live right next to a forest and every year they burn a part so that if a wildfire does get out of hand it will have nothing to burn close to our houses, keeping us out of danger. You always know when it is that time of year because you can smell and see the smoke for miles. When you actually look at what is burning though, they do not have a blazing fire just enough to catch the grass and trees of a small area smoldering with embers. When you look out after they are finished you would think that a mighty blaze had gone through because all of the trees are burned and blackened not just at the bottom, but all the way up and what I like to call the “damage zone” goes on for miles. We don’t realize that this is also what we sometimes do in our churches. Many people have done this and it starts out so innocently. You see a brother or a sister who is doing something that is out of order, and then instead of going to them in love you end up beating them up with the Bible. In turn they are turned against the church and all they have learned that it stands for. We push them away and they walk out thinking that the church is filled with nothing but hypocrites.

We do the same thing with non-Christians. We go around telling them everything they are doing wrong and beat them up with the Bible. Either that or we tell them what it is like to be a Christian and then do something to completely mess up what our words say. For example, the person that screams out Jesus loves you on their bumper sticker and then flicks you off after they believe you have cut them off in traffic.

 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
-Matthew 7:1-5 NIV

 

Before we try to witness and help anyone, Christian or not, we must first do what Matthew 7 tells us. We must first judge ourselves. We must get rid of the sin in our own lives and stop looking like the hypocrite that everyone already thinks we are.  We forget the love of Christ and we forget how that love changes us. So I ask you today, how is your Christian walk? Does it match the talk that you give? Each day you need to remember not only what God did for you, but we must remember the relationship that we have with Him. Once we work on our relationship with God, then the relationship that we have with others will begin to fall in line. When we walk with Him daily and read His word, refreshing our mind in the process, we will begin to live out what is there because it is what we are taking into our lives. Then as it becomes the way of life for us the love that we give out will begin to affect those around us and we will be in a better position to help our fellow man.