Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Religion of the Fig Leaf

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." Genesis 2:16-17

Adam and Eve had one commandment for living a perfect life, and yet, they failed to keep that one commandment issued by God. Later, Moses came down from the mountain with ten commandments; our edict of stone for living the perfect life. If we break one of these, we have failed as surely as Adam and Eve had failed. Different circumstances, but the consequences are the same; death. This is not just a physical death, but a spiritual death that will last for an eternity, so if we have broken just one commandment throughout our journey on earth, then we deserve to die. "For the wages of sin is death...." Romans 6:23

So, how do we ever redeem ourselves? Man has been trying to redeem himself through religion since the Garden.

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." Genesis 3:6-7

This covering over sin was the very first religion - the Religion of the Fig Leaf. Although the theology of this religion sounds ridiculous to us today, it is no less ridiculous than any other religion man has invented since. You can recognize a man-made religion by three words - Do, Do, Do. All religion is based on what man can do to cover his sin.

But, God had a different plan. "And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. " Genesis 3:21. Remember God's edict - If you eat of the fruit, you will surely die. God did not want to kill Adam and Eve, yet something had to be done. So, God found a substitute death for Adam and Eve's sin. He killed two animals in their stead and used the animal skins to cover man's sin. This substitue and temporary redemption was repeated throughout the Old Testament with the animal sacrifices starting with Abraham.

The substitue death for sin was finished with Jesus dying on the cross. One pure, sinless man who would die for the sins of the world. Every man, woman and child who ever and who will ever live. Every single sin of their 80+ years on this earth. "When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. " John 19:30

The path to redemption is accepting and believing that Jesus paid the price for your sins, and like all things that come from God, it is easy and simple. No complicated doctrine, no self mutalation, no complicated tasks - Just believe!

Unlike man's redemption plan which reads - "Do, Do, Do"; God's plan is Done, Done, Done.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Celebrating the Fourth of July

Four centuries past in the year of our Lord, 1607, the first Pilgrims landed on the banks of what is now Virginia, founding the first American colony, Jamestown. I know that our history lessons teach that the first landing was in Plymouth for political correctness, but the landing in Plymouth (or Plimouth as it was so named) did not occur until 1620; some thirteen years later.

Whatever landing you choose, the reason these people endured months in tiny ships, unspeakable hardships, and the fear of the unknown, was religious persecution in their homelands. This freedom was so important to the authors of our Constitution, they made Freedom of Religion the First Amendment.

If religion is primarily a belief system, then the First Amendment has allowed us the right to think as we wish; not collectively, but individually. This freedom not only affects those with a belief in a Supreme being, but those who choose atheism, humanism, socialism and every other 'ism' that can be contrived by man. As with any freedom, there comes a responsibility. Our beliefs should never impinge the same right of another for even God has allowed man to choose him and his plan of salvation - or not.
Yet, once the our choice has been made, God does direct and admonish those who have chosen his path. In the book of Revelation, the angel of the Lord comes to the Disciple, John during his time of prayer and tells him to write what he sees for seven churches located at that time in Asia minor. John is then presented before the risen Christ and directed to record the issue Jesus has with these seven churches. But, before Jesus speaks to these churches, he shows John seven lamp stands - already housed in the throne room of God - so despite the shortcomings stated below, they are still promised for salvation.
I have listed each of the churches below. They are numbered as they are mentioned but listed from the best to the worst.
6. Philadelphia A church of brotherly love
2. Smyrna A church of martyrdom, persecution and poverty
1. Ephesus Apostolic, desirable, but they have left their first love - Jesus
3. Pergamos Married to the world. A church of mixed doctrines
4. Thyatira Continual sacrifice. Ungodly doctrines
5. Sardis A dead church although a few are not defiled.
7. Laodicea Lukewarm in their spirit - spewed out
I am employed in a very regulated industry, therefore, I must conduct my employment within the scope of my employers rules and regulations if I intend to keep my employment there. I do have the freedom to deviate from their decreed 'Best Practices', but my consequences would be the forfeit of the rewards (salary, bonuses and benefits).
So it is with God. As our Creator, he laid out the pathway to his rewards. We have the freedom to accept his plan or forfeit his rewards. Choose wisely and may God bless you, indeed.