John of Patmos watches the descent of the New Jerusalem from God in a 14th century tapestry (from here).
This is the sixth and the final post in a series of posts that proposes to answer the following question.
Can you name a single thing Jesus said which was genuinely new, original, or useful?
We had The Presentation Of The Question in part 1. If you wish to understand why we are considering this question and how we intend to answer it, please visit part 1.
With respect to the question above, here we will examine the following.
Why Is The Result Important?
Of Sinners Made To Do Good Works
Of Heaven And Hell
Some people don’t believe in Satan. Others have no trouble believing in Satan. About a decade ago, I have moved into the later camp. Nevertheless, I do not see Satan’s fallen angels behind every evil. As Jesus once observed, we are weak. Even when He most needed comfort, that lonely night before the beginning of His ordeal, His disciples would not wait with Him.
Matthew 26:39-41 English Standard Version (ESV)
39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Because we are incapable of being holy and doing what is right on our own, Jesus died on a cross for us. Drinking from the cup meant for us, he paid our debt for our sins.
If we choose to accept the grace Jesus offers us, we have only an inkling of what it means. Except to make it clear that heaven is wonderful and hell is awful, the Bible says relatively little about either heaven or hell. We just get hints of what is to come. In 1 Corinthians 15, for example, the Apostle argues that the resurrection of the dead is real, that we will receive new, imperishable bodies. In Revelation 21, we get a glimpse of the new heaven and the new earth. In verse 8, Revelation 21 also speaks of the second death, eternal separation from God, but what does that mean?
Jesus, in one of His parables, The Rich Man and Lazarus, offered a clue.
Luke 16:19-31 English Standard Version (ESV)
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out,‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
What did this Lazarus do to earn salvation? What acts of charity did he perform? Jesus does not tell us. What are are given to know is that the rich man had no charity in his heart. He did not hear Moses and the Prophets. When given the opportunity, he gave nothing of himself for the love of his fellow man.
The Christian Life Includes Full Participation
How should each of us live out the Christian life? Since each of us is different, I think that is for each of us to say. What the Bible does make clear is that each of us must give life to our faith through good works.
James 2:14-17 English Standard Version (ESV)
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
We usually think of good works as acts of charity, sharing our wealth with the poor. However, there is more to it than that. We are called upon to put on The Whole Armor of God, resist evil, and do good.
Christians Must Support Good Government
Much of the Old Testament is about government. Consider how Jesus referred to the Old Testament.
Matthew 5:17-18 English Standard Version (ESV)
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
In fact, some call the first five books of the Hebrew Bible the Mosaic Code or the Law of Moses. What was the purpose of the Mosaic Law? (www.gotquestions.org) provides an explanation as to why God gave the Mosaic Code to the Hebrews that includes these two statements.
(1) Reveal the holy character of the eternal God to the nation of Israel (Leviticus 19:2;20:7–8).
(2) Set apart the nation of Israel as distinct from all the other nations (Exodus 19:5).
To set aside Israel as a nation, God provided the people of Israel their own legal system, showing that He understands that how we choose to govern ourselves matters.
Think about that rich man (Luke 16:19-31 above) who refused to offer any charity to Lazarus. Instead, the rich man relied upon his wealth for salvation, and finding himself in hell, he looked for an excuse:
“Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
With this request he implied he would have reformed if only he had been properly warned. Abraham made it clear he had been warned, but he ignored Moses and the Prophets. Instead, even as he spoke to Abraham, that rich man set himself above Lazarus, and we still try set ourselves above the poor and the downtrodden today.
When your new boobs destroy your marriage…REALLY??? illustrates the absurd importance we place upon our possessions. Here culturemonk also delves into the difficulty of long term relationships, but what precipitated the problem? It seems the lady’s boob job went from her chest to her head.
As Scientists Are Beginning to Figure Out Why Conservatives Are…Conservative (www.motherjones.com), we still look for esoteric excuses to believe we are more special than others, that we are smarter and more deserving. That is, we look for any excuse we can to treat other people as undeserving objects. Yet the Bible teaches we must love one another as we love ourselves. Instead of setting others apart, we must learn how to empathize with each others problems and joys.
Empathy requires us to work with and relate with our neighbors personally. Hence God did not want to give Israel a king (1 Samuel 8). God did not want Israel to hand their problems over to a king; He wanted the Israelites to obey Him and help each other. Instead, the Israelites forgot God, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).
What is the problem with a king? What is the problem with a tyrant? Why should Christians oppose monarchy, tyranny, and any form of government that permits overreaching by bureaucrats? When government becomes too powerful, our leaders begin to block The Way (christianity.stackexchange.com).
- Instead of allowing parents to teach their children Christianity, government bureaucrats interfere by indoctrinating children in state-approved ideologies and “isms”.
- Instead of allowing individuals to share the products of their labor, government bureaucrats will redistribute the wealth. Since this is effectively stealing, such a perversion of government impoverishes people. Then our struggles in this life can become so difficult we think of the next only because death becomes more commonplace.
- Instead of allowing individuals to exercise the right to follow the dictates of their conscience, government seeks to define all our choices. Sometimes the government will try to force us to do things we know to be wrong.
- In a free society, the Law proscribes certain activities because when we perform those activities we interfere with each other rights. In a tyrannical society, the Law says what we are allowed to do. When we need to do something, we have to get permission, and so in tyrannical societies people wait and wait, and wait….. In tyrannical societies, instead of doing good works, the People wait.
Jesus does not call us to wait. Jesus saved us, but He saved us for a purpose.
Ephesians 2:1-10 English Standard Version (ESV)
2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
He is risen! Happy Easter!