Confident Faith - May 2017

Post Easter thought on the importance of the Resurrection.

When you buy a house or a car, there's a transaction that occurs. Two people sign a bill of sale. You sign accepting the property in exchange for your payment, and the seller signs accepting your payment and tranferring the property to you. There's no deal unless both buyer and seller sign.

There was a transaction as Jesus suffered on the cross, but it was an unseen one occuring in heaven. Jesus was buying our sins and their death penalty in exchange for the payment of his perfect blood. He signed the transaction that his side of the deal was done when he uttered the words, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

In the physical world, people only saw a man die by crucifixion for the crime of blasphemy. He had claimed to be God, did what only God had the right to do, and accepted praise rightly due God alone. Justice was served.

The rocks stopped shaking. The skies cleared. The dead man was placed in a tomb. People went home to celebrate Passover. The world thought all was the same it had been.

Then, the third day, God signed the transaction. He affirmed Jesus' identity and worthiness to take our sins, proclaimed justice satisfied, and set us free from the penalty of our sin by killing death through Resurrection! "He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25, HCSB). Without the Resurrection, we are not justifed in Jesus' sacrifice.

Both parties - Son and Father - had to sign the transaction. There had to be both a Cross and a Resurrection - else "... if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17, NASB95).

Where you see a cross, also see an empty tomb.

Harold Henderson

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Confident Faith - April 2017

It seems with the new season of Spring there also comes a new season called “Wedding.” In his new book, “This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel”, Trevin Wax examines several facets of current culture through the eyes of a younger generation. Below are several quotes on marriage from that book.

“… historically, wedding vows have not focused so much on the feeling of love but on the vow of commitment— to be an unbreakable source of faithfulness no matter what may come, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. That last line has always stuck with me. “Until death do us part.” I don’t think many couples sense the weight of that last line. What you are saying is, “One of us will stand at the grave of the other.” In other words, I’m with you until your last breath, or you’re with me until mine, whichever comes first.” (pp144-145)

“In Tim Keller’s pastoral counseling sessions of married couples, he often hears this statement: “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” Keller responds by asking, “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?

Why is marriage hard? Because “any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered . . . . Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature?” (pp145-146)

“It’s not about finding the “soul mate” who completes you. Only God can complete us. Marriage is, at best, a deeply flawed man and woman coming together before God and His people and agreeing to love and honor and cherish each other until the end of their days. All marriages are broken, but what makes a marriage is they are broken together.” (p146)

In one of the central thoughts of the book, Trevin says, “Evangelism is not just convincing people the gospel is true but also that it is better.” (p12) May our marriages be a witness of “better” to our culture and an invitation to hear the Gospel that makes them better.

(The Tim Keller quotes are from Tim and Kathy Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage, an excellent book for newlyweds … and seasoned veterans, too.)

Harold Henderson

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Confident Faith - March 2017

Many believe abortion is a hidden holocaust and a great stench in God’s nostrils – yet, abortion continues though there is great pro-life sentiment in this country. Perhaps that is the real issue: pro-life sentiment has not translated to effective action.

God is not silent choosing between sentiment and action in moral situations. "Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:15-17 (NASB).

Many have pinned their pro-life hopes to a reversal of Roe vs Wade by the Supreme Court - if we could just elect the right president to appoint the right Justices. And now 44 years later the toll is 60,000,000 babies and rising each hour. Instead, maybe WE – YOU and I - are being called to personal action! Continue trying to make abortion illegal, but we should be working daily to make abortion unthinkable by changing hearts and minds – one person at a time.

Take one small step toward personal action today: learn to make the case for life in an effective, persuasive, and non-aggressive way. Here is a good beginning - Scott Klusendorf’s one minute case for life. Sometimes, all you have to make your case is a minute.

“I am pro-life because the science of embryology establishes that from the earliest stages of development, you were a distinct, living, and whole human being. You didn’t come from an embryo; you once were an embryo. True, you were immature and had yet to visibly develop, but the kind of thing you were was not in question. And there is no essential difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that justifies killing you at that earlier stage of development. Differences of size, development, environment, and dependency are not good reasons for killing you then but not now.”

Scott uses scientific (yes, science is on our side) and moral arguments to make his case. Take the next step and learn a few more details behind the scientific-moral argument by going to this link - http://prolifetraining.com/resources/five-minute-1/. It will help you flesh out the one minute case. This site is an excellent pro-life resource.

Learn the one minute case for life. The next time abortion comes up in a gathering of friends or family, you’ll be prepared to move from sentiment to action.

Harold Henderson

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Confident Faith - February 2017

Did you ever think of Christianity as the story of reality? Isn’t that what the Bible is – the story of reality from beginning to end? But it’s more than just a history for it is also the roadmap to life – and for everyone, not just Christians.

Story is a powerful way of getting messages through to people who might not otherwise read or listen to another form of presentation. Story engages the imagination and draws you in. Have you ever thought of commercials as a form of story? Are commercials effective? Were Jesus’ parables (stories) effective?

Think back on Cook Baptist Church’s two presentations of Judgement House. We were presenting the Gospel message in story form, and it was effective in changing lives. The core message was there but it was presented in story. Story is a powerful medium – particularly in today’s visual media obsessed culture.

We have been commissioned to carry the Gospel message to the world, yet right here in a nation founded on Biblical principles, there are more people conversant in the Star Wars universe than in the Bible. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but I think you get my point.

The power of the Biblical message presented in story is not just in the story format itself but in the fact that this story is the true picture of reality for everyone.

To help you in seeing Christianity as story, I want to commend a new book to you: “The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How it Ends, and Everything Important in Between” by Greg Koukl. Greg weaves the story around five words – God, Man, Jesus, Cross, and Resurrection. This is a story you can tell others.

p.s. This book is in the church library - or will shortly be there.

Harold Henderson

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Confident Faith - March 2016

The Problem of Pain and Suffering

The theodicy (the problem of pain and suffering) is among the top "problems" raised against Christianity, yet when properly understood and seen from the "inside", actually is a strong case FOR Christianity. I cannot fully develop arguments to support this in such a small space, but I want to give you two quotes that point us in the right direction–pain and suffering leads us to Christ.

Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, "Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained....This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ."*

"It is a glorious phrase of the New Testament, that 'he led captivity captive.' [Eph 4:8 quoting Psalm 68:18] The very triumphs of His foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to sub-serve his end, not theirs. They nailed him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet. They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne. They flung him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in. They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had defeated God with His back to the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it."* James Stewart

Living in the midst of pain and suffering, I can say that I do not like this answer any more than I liked Dr.Everist's shots as the answer to my childhood strep throat, but this is a beautiful answer to behold.

Some may be in the depths of pain and suffering right now, and "no volume of words can bring comfort. But it is also true that even if the impact is not immediate, at some moment, the truth takes hold."*

Harold Henderson

* As quoted in "Why Suffering: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn't Make Sense" pp 54-57, by Ravi Zacharias and Vincent Vitale

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