Monthly Archives: January 2017

(Gasp!) Some Greed Is Moral!

If we were to be completely honest, one of the prevailing themes we have grown accustomed to hearing is the idea that greed is inherently evil. Now, I have to be honest: As a Christian, I personally believe that it is my duty to seek first the Lord and His kingdom. If I do this, all these things (my needs being met) will be added unto me. So, for me, the byproduct of work is not primarily money. The byproduct of work is, first and foremost, glorifying God through excellence and through the giving of my talents.

Secondly, I know it is not right to cheat other people.  I know that to hurt another person is to violate God’s law.

Third, I know that placing making money over my devotion to God is idolotry.

That being said—if I seek Christ’s Kingdom first, there is nothing wrong with me also desiring to earn compensation for my work. I cannot find any instance in the Bible in which desiring to be paid an adequate wage for ones efforts is wrong. You might say, “But those greedy Wall Street guys are surely engaging in immoral behavior,” or “Greed is the root of their evil.” In some cases, that is true.  In fact, the very college academics that make that claim teach moral relativism, but when a banking clerk actually practices moral relativism while cashing their paycheck, there is suddenly a cry of immoral conduct.  What they are really saying is, “That guy does less than me, but he has more than me!  Injustice!”  The problem with this type of reasoning is that to make this case, one has to read social grievances into the Biblical text itself.

Jesus Christ did not come to give us a perfect economic system or to be a social agitator. He came to cure man’s sin problem. I do agree that Jesus talked about the impact of money, but I feel it comes from a different angle than just “wealth disparity.” I think Jesus’ commands about money and not loving money have to do with what a person places ultimate value in. Is your ultimate value your money? If so, you are a slave to your money. Is your ultimate value your body? If so, you are a slave to your health. Do you find your ultimate value in your financial success? If so, you are a slave to work.

Our ultimate value should be found in Jesus Christ. The Bible even says, “for they did not love their lives when faced with death.” Our lives are not our ultimate value. Neither is our money.

But is ‘greed’ necessarily evil? Let’s look at it. While we do so, let us remember that passionate issues require dispassionate analysis.

If you look objectively at definitions of greed, you will see that greed is very different from envy, jealousy, or covetousness. It is unambiguosly different than materialism. It is even different than sheer greediness. Greed is nothing more than seeing the furthering of one’s own interests as a motivation for his work. This goes against the conventional wisdom, without question.

So how can greed be a driver of a person’s work?

Let us think about a few examples of this in real life:

Picture for a moment, a farmer in Idaho. Can you imagine his days’ work? Picture him getting up well before daylight, venturing out into a field—facing sleet, snow, and bitterly cold wind. All this is done in order to harvest potatoes. He doesn’t do this because he has a hobby for harvesting potatoes.  No.  Because of his hard work, however, New Yorkers can have potatoes for dinner.

Now picture a Colorado cattle rancher. He gets up well before dawn as well. He feeds the cattle. He breeds them. He moves them from location to location so that they can eat greener grass. His entire life is circumscribed by taking care of cattle. He faces the dead of night, winter and snow, cold rainy mornings, and even the dry heat of the summer.  He doesn’t do this because he loves cows.  No.  He does all this to make sure New Yorkers can have a steak next to that potato.

Does the potato farmer or the cattle rancher do what they do because they love potatoes and cattle?  No, they do it because they love their wife and kids!

Here is the question: What if New Yorkers—in their desire to have a steak and potato for dinner—had to rely on the inherent charity and willingness of ranchers and farmers to care enough about New Yorkers to send them steak and potatoes—rather than their desire to make a living for themselves?

I would feel sorry for New Yorkers.  They would starve.

You see, in serving the interest of themselves, the rancher and farmer necessarily serve their fellow man. Their desire to earn for themselves (greed) demands that they produce what other people want.

Our free market is driven by an imperative: It is more profitable to serve your fellow man than not to serve him. Adam Smith talked about these principles in his book, Wealth of Nations. The free market system is essentially a moral one. It depends upon supplying people with what they desire at a price that they are willing to pay for it.

This of course comes with risk. What if the New Yorker doesn’t want to eat a steak or order a potato? What if instead, he desires to eat bacon and eggs? No one forces him to buy what the rancher has to offer. Then again, no one forces the rancher to plant potatoes. It is all about individual choice.

Similar to this is the idea that the free market works only because of trust. When is the last time you bought beef at the supermarket and actually weighed it yourself to see if it weighed what the packaging said? When was the last time you measured a 2-liter of soda to see if it really contained 2 liters? In fact, we rely on trust all the time. You dont carry around scales and measuring devices in your pockets. It would cost too much. It would take up too much room. It would cost you convenience. Trust is an important concept here.

Still yet, is an even more moral situation: If I cut a person’s grass, and at the end of my work, he pays me 30 dollars; that is essentially a certificate showing that I served my fellow man. When I take my thirty dollars and walk into the supermarket and buy steaks, potatoes, and sodas for my family and I to eat for dinner—the cashier of the supermarket basically says to me: “You want the rancher in Colorado and the farmer in Idaho to serve you? How have you served your fellow man?” I then produce the certificate of achievement (30 bucks).

Wealth itself is nothing more than scarce information. I have 30 dollars in my pocket. If you just compare the cost of goods, you could say that my 30 dollars is worth much less than the food I eat at Applebees. In fact, if I were to buy the same products that I will consume at Applebees, it might be half as much. The problem is, I cannot consume 30 dollars. It is only a piece of paper. So, I exchange it gladly for something that is worth more to me than the money itself: namely, food. Because I am not in the restaurant industry, I do not have the skills, infrastructure, information, or the resources to make quality dinners. I don’t have the extra time either! So—for that scarcity of information, I gladly pay more than it is worth.

A thing derives its value by how much a person is willing to pay for it.

Consider this: I walk into a supermarket and tell the manager I want a gallon of milk. He charges me 3 dollars. If that milk is worth to me more than my three dollars, and my three dollars is worth more to the manager of the store than the milk, we engage in a voluntary contract. We voluntarily engage in a transaction of trust. I trust he gives me a gallon of milk, and he trusts that my three dollars are worth three dollars. I make him feel good and in return, he makes me feel good. This is called a positive sum gain. On the flip-side, if I were to walk into that same supermarket and hold a gun to the manager’s head and say, “Give me the milk or I will kill you,” I have just said, “If you do not make me feel good, I am going to make you feel bad.” This is a zero sum gain.

In all of human history, there has never been an economic system prior to the free market that did not function without zero sum gains. Most of recorded history notes looting, plundering, theft, and coercion as the norm. The exception has been the free market system. It is a system based on trust and reciprocity.

The rule among fallen men is theft. The exception is voluntary trade.

These are all moral concepts.

Greed isn’t inherently evil. It drives our transactions. After all, what is wrong with wanting to better the lives of you and your family? Even the most ardent socialists I know send their child to piano lessons. Why? They want the best for their child.

The contrast of greed is the idea of envy. Picture this: You work a 60-hour per week job sweeping floors at a Fortune 500 company. One night while walking home, you see a large group of people who work at the company eating in the restaurant. You pause and watch through the window. The person driven by greed will think to himself, “What must I do to be where they are at? What have they done that I haven’t?” This might prompt your working so hard that everyone notices, taking night classes, reading more books so that you can pass a promotion test, or finding a new job at which advancement is possible. Either way, these are healthy questions to ask. The other view would say, “It is inherently unfair that they have what I do not. How can I have some of what they have?”

Now, the political left is well aware of these two differing types of thinking. The conservative would usually reply to this man, “I am going to work to get you equality of opportunity; you are going to have to work to ensure an equality of outcome.” The progressive, on the other hand would declare, “I agree with you. It is unfair. He only has his stuff because he stole it from you. You deserve to be in there too. In fact, if you vote for me, I will promise to take some of what he has and give it to you. I cannot ensure equal opportunity, but I can ensure equal outcome.”

This is zero sum economics.

If you pick the pockets of Peter to pay Paul, you will always have Paul’s vote.

Now, which form of greed is more insidious?

Pro Choice Vs. Pro Life Logic

 

Disclaimer: This isn’t a comprehensive rebuke of the pro-choice position:

I got into a conversation this evening with someone taking up the dubious “pro-choice but personally opposed position.”  I thought I would share with you a bit of my reply.

The person I was dialoguing with said, “I don’t think you can label abortion right or wrong—it is merely unfortunate.”

It isn’t often that you get a softball when dialoging with abortion apologists, but this was a hanging curve.   Why would abortion be unfortunate?  Why exactly?  There must be a reason—and that must be a reason that the person thinks to be worthwhile, or they would have just said, “I wouldn’t have one, but I don’t care what others do.”  Notice, the person said it IS unfortunate.

I replied, “Your first point is noted; however, I could easily say, Eichmann and Goebbels didn’t enjoy killing Jews—that isn’t why they did it. They just worked for Hitler.”  Its not like it was their fault. They were just “following orders.”  How unfortunate for them!  I went on to say, “You would rightly note that such thinking is reckless and irrelevant.  They were guilty of actual crimes against humanity.”  But, what If I replied, “What crimes?  Nah, it was just unfortunate that they did that.”  How would they reply to that?  To what absolute would they point?  How do they know what is right or wrong?  By preference? By feeling?  In some countries, they love their neighbors.  In others, they eat them.  Do you have a preference?  Or is the latter just unfortunate?  This coincides with my friends previous statement that “Abortion is unfortunate.”  This is nothing more than relativism.

If things are just fortunate or unfortunate, there is no right, no wrong…No evil. Things just are.  Things are just unfortunate or not.

But here is the rub:  Why would a thing be unfortunate in the first place? In calling someont unfortunate, isn’t a person making a truth claim or a judgement by saying this? Why is abortion unfortunate, rather than just something that happens—arbitrarily in nature? I can think of no other reason to call it unfortunate except for the fact that the developing fetus might just in fact be a person—and we know that killing persons is wrong—whether on purpose or by accident. Can you think of another reason why an abortion would be unfortunate?  This is the problem with the “I’m pro-choice but personally opposed” fallacy.  Why would a person be personally opposed?  For what reason?  I can only think of one.

I noted that, “You go on to state that an abortion is between a woman and God.”  That is a VERY interesting line. In fact, I haven’t heard that phrase uttered by anyone on the pro-abortion side…EVER.  I commended them for it. What I often hear is, “It’s between a woman and her doctor.”

The truth is, when we bring God into the equation, we subject ourselves the world of absolutes. “It’s unfortunate” goes out the window when it comes to moral questions.  Therefore, the apologists for abortion cleverly remove the word God from the decision process.  When we enter this paradigm, what we personally believe about the morality of an issue doesn’t matter. Under a theistic paradigm, things are either right or wrong, regardless our relationship toward them.  Right exists whether we acknowledge it or not.  The same goes for wrong.  They are ontological categories.  If a thing is right, it is right even if we do not acknowledge that it is right.

But back, to the initial issue,  my friend was basically saying, “Just because you have a religious qualm with abortion, that doesn’t mean that the federal government should be able to legislate.” So, I applied the same logic to another issue: “Just because you have a religious qualm with slavery doesn’t mean that the federal government should legislate against it.” Do you see the problem? If our religious convictions can be pushed aside, then what are we left with?  If God is taken away, all we have left is man and the State.  That is a precarious position to be in.

And even at that, the use of the word “shouldn’t” invokes the absolue.  Why?  Is slavery wrong or is it just something that we “shouldn’t” do?  Why “should” the federal government legislate against slavery?  Who says?

In a relativistic framework, one could say, “I’d personally rather they didn’t keep slaves,” but they cannot say “shouldn’t.” Why?

Could it be because we know that things are either good or evil?  If that is so, how long will we continue to call abortion unfortunate?

Here are the basic questions of abortion:

Does abortion take a life?  I’d argue, yes.  Some might reply, “But we don’t know that a fetus is a life.”

In this case, there are only have 4 possibilities:

  1. The fetus is a life and you know it
  2. The fetus is not a life and you know it.
  3. The fetus is a life and you do not know it.
  4. The fetus is not a life and you do not know it.

Only one of those justifies an abortion.  The problem is, no embryology text supports #2.  So you are left with 1, 3, and 4.

How many potential babies will we allow to be murdered based on an agnostic (1, 3, or 4) position?

If a baby might just be under a haystack/or not—would you feel comfortable jabbing a pitchfork into it to find out?

Not a chance.

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MR. Trump? :)

I sit here a few hours before the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, with an admitted duality of emotions.  On the one hand, I am inexplicably happy that Barack Hussein Obama will be relinquished to the history books as quite possibly, a worse president than even Jimmy Carter.  On the other, I sympathize with those who are sad to see him go.  On the one hand, I welcome Donald J. Trump.  On the other, I sympathize with those who are less certain.

What is Obama’s legacy?  He arrived with a fanfare and he goes out with what Dinesh D’Souza described accurately, as “a whimper.”  The remaining question is that posed to King Arthur:  Will there be a rescue for Guinevere?  Will there be a pardon for Hillary Clinton?  PROBABLY NOT.

President Obama’s legacy includes a stagnant economy for 8 years, the doubling of our national debt, the rise of ISIS, and an overall reduced influence of the United States around the globe.  Pathetic, even in comparison to Jimmy Carter.

I wish ill on no man, but I can say this with complete sincerity: “Mr. Obama, I am glad you are finished as president.”

It’s over.  Good riddance.

I mentioned a duality of emotions.  I am glad Obama is gone, but I recognize that some aren’t.  To them, all I can say is, nothing lasts forever.  That is the joy of a Democratic Republic.  Embrace it.  I survived Bill Clinton.  You survived Bush.  I survived Obama.  Millions of unborn babies, however, did not.

We are a minority of one.  Do not forget that.

What now?  Now we get President Trump.  What does that mean?  What will that look like?  I wondered those same questions in 2008 as a charismatic young black Senator from Illinois (with no serious qualifications) was triumphantly propelled into the presidency.  I had a good idea then, what his presidency would bear out, and those fears have proved to have been true.

I did get one major thing wrong:  I thought America would be over.  I thought it was done.  I was wrong on that.  God is sovereign, and the American people could survive 8 years of a despotic Marxist.  They have emerged from those 8 years with wounds—but with life.

They are still Americans. They still believed in the American process.

God had a plan for America past 2016.  If nothing else, this should reassure you of the genius of our founders.  Our country can survive—despite a despot.  Could it survive two—I pray we don’t have to find out.

You may note that I said that we survived a despot.  My evidence:  The country rejected Hillary Clinton.  They rejected a continuation of Obama’s policies.  They chose an unknown who unashamedly stood up, unashamedly, for America.  While they didn’t know exactly what he would do as president, they knew he loved his country.  They knew they were electing a man who at the very least, shared their love for the United States.

What can you expect from a President Trump?  I cannot predit the future.  I would suspect, however:  You can expect a wall.  You can expect more strict enforcement on immigration.  You can expect to pay less in taxes.  You can expect a more robust military. You can expect that laws will be followed.  You can expect that the world will take the United States seriously.   All of those things, despite some pious evangelical bloggers and scared leftists, are legitimate.

Do I completely agree with Donald J. Trump on everything?  Is there any president I have completely agreed with?  No.  Do I agree that Trump loves his country, first and foremost?  Yes, I do.  If I were to select a president that I completely agreed with, I would have to transport the United States back to Calvin Coolidge.  Unfortunately, that isn’t possible.

When I went into the Marine Corps, and I swore in, I do not recall being asked just which America I would defend with my life.  On the contrary, I was asked if I would defend the Constitution, America, and my Marines.  I would have given my life for a liberal, conservative, or a fellow Marine had I been called to do so.  I love my country.

It its the country that provides freedom for my wife, my daughter, and  my son.  I will defend it with my life.  Policy aside:  For me, it has been and will always be about love of country.

I can say this with complete assurance about Trump:  He loves America.  His policies may not all be my policies.  He may have ideas that run counter to mine; but I know he is proud of his country.  I know he loves being an American.  I can say that for many of our founding fathers.

With Obama, I know the opposite is true.  I knew the opposite was true with Clinton.

When one is an American citizen and faced with a choice:  On the one hand, a millionaire celebrity blowhard with a penchant for womanizing, arrogance, and making a profit; and on the other side, a woman with a track record for selling out America, what is an American to do?  Not vote?  No way.

I chose Trump.

I will support Mr. Trump.  I will cheer him and his family on as he is inaugurated.  I will, however, do my duty and hold him accountable.  I did the same with Bush 41, Clinton 32, Bush 42, and Obama 44.  It is my duty as a citizen.

I have not hidden my children from my choice. They will celebrate Mr. Trump, not because he is Donald J. Trump, but because he is the President of the United States of America.  I respect the voice of Americans.  Even in 2008, though I rejected the thinking of Barrack H. Obama, I do not recall ever saying that Mr. Obama was not my president.  I disagreed with him greatly, though despite that fact, I respected the vote of the People.
Trump took out several dynasties in his victory, and I will be forever grateful:  He took out the Clinton’s, the Bush’s, the Obama’s, and the Mainstream Media.

The Mainstream Media has lost their capital.  It now belongs to the People and the New Media.  It belongs to the James O’Keefe’s and Lee Stranahan’s and the Tucker Carlson’s.  It no longer is represented by The View, George Stephanopoulos, Katie Couric, and Lester Holt.

Where am I on Trump’s inauguration day?  Bring it on.  Strike up the band.  Hail to the Chief.  Send in the Marines.  For once in a long time, since before 1999, I say gladly, “Mr. President, if America demands it, I will give my life.”

Is Mr. Trump my first choice?  No.  However, Mr. Coolidge was not on the ballot. I support Mr. Trump.  I will support him. Pray for him, hold him accountable—as I have done for every President of the United States–As I did for Mr. Obama.

 

Hail to the Chief.

 

Philosophy and Apologetics with a 6-year Old

Have you ever wondered why words carry meaning?  Why is it when we see a word printed on the page, we instantly know the message it carries?  Is this the result of an intelligent mind or is it merely the result of nature, time, and randomness?

One of the more intriguing arguments used in the defense of the Christian faith is the Teleological Argument.  This is basically the argument from design.  The argument in its simplest form posits that a designer must exist since the universe and living things exhibit marks of design in their order, consistency, unity, and pattern.

William Paley made an analogy that communicates this argument well.  It is called the Watchmaker Argument.  Suppose that you found a watch in an empty field-you would logically conclude that it was designed and not the product of a mindless unguided process of chemicals over time. Likewise, when we look at life and the universe, it is natural to conclude there is a designer since we see how perfectly the universe and life forms operate. The eye is typically used as an example of design. It is a marvelous development. In order for it to work, there must be many different convergent parts that individually have no function but have value only in a designed whole. It is only in the combined total that they exhibit their total function. This function is by design.

Another example is the bacterial flagellum.  This tiny propeller driven craft has all the things you would expect of a boat; a hull, a drive shaft, a rotor, an engine, and a propeller.  None of its individual parts are viable or useful on their own.  Therefore, they are not Darwinian.  It is difficult to look at this amazing machine and conclude that it came about from randomness.

I want to look at this argument in a more basic way.  As my 6-year old daughter, Ava and I were discussing God, I posed a question to her:  I said, “Ava, if you walked onto a beach and saw the letters AVA IS BEAUTIFUL written there-in huge letters constructed from rocks and seaweed-what would you think?”  Her reply was intriguing.  She said, “That someone wrote it for me.”  I asked her, “What if you looked up and down the beach and saw no people?  What if the island was completely empty?”  She reiterated, “I’d think that someone wrote it.”  I pressed further:  “Ava, how could words appear on a beach if no person was there?”

She said, and I quote:  “Someone was there.  Someone wrote it.”

someonewrote it.  someonewroteit.

s o m e o n e w r o t e i t

 

Why is it I could go into a cave and see a scratch on the wall and conclude, erosion; yet a trained archaeologist would assume an ancient Chinese marking? Intelligence is assumed when we see the evidence of intelligence.

I love the story that John Lennox tells about having dinner at Oxford, and finding himself sitting across from one of the more eminent biochemistry academics in the world.  John expressed that he was looking forward to the evening, to which the other man asked what he did for a living.  John replied that he was a mathematician and a Christian, the other man replied that it would not be a fun night and that they had nothing to talk about.  Lennox, being the engaging type didn’t let this ruin his evening.  He engaged the man, and their conversation had its apex when they began talking about words. Lennox asked the man if he was a reductionist (a person who reduces everything down to natural events), to which the man answered in the affirmative.  Lennox began to ask him about the menu he was holding.  The words “roast chicken” were among many that were found on the menu.  Lennox honed in on that.  He asked the man if he could explain the power that the words

R O A S T C H I C K E N carried in terms of material forces:

“You can’t explain the semiotics of the words “roast chicken” in terms of paper and ink.  You need intelligence. The explanatory power of chemistry and physics doesn’t extend to semiotics.”

The man conceded:  I have spent years trying to figure out how semiotic power exists, materially speaking.  I can find no way.

Lennox noted, “Whenever you see language you infer intelligence.” ‘You see “roast” in English and you infer intelligence. Then you see the 3.7 billion letters of DNA and you don’t? What’s wrong there?’

“Information itself is not material. Information is not reducible to physics and chemistry.”

Lennox even goes on to say that matter is derivative of mind.  The Bible says “In the beginning was the Word.”  From a Christian perspective this is accurate.  Mind came before matter.  In fact, it was Mind that spoke matter into existence.

We see the evidence of design every day.  We govern our lives to look for it.  Why should we  pause that intuition when it comes to DNA?

In the beginning was the Word.  From that Word came everything else.

 

Theology with a 6-Year old!

Every night after dinner, my family and I read a passage of Scripture and then go through a devotion that is based on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Tonight, our passage was from Exodus 34 and the topic of discussion was the character of God.  Let me just say that there is nothing more fulfilling, even amidst your 2-year old son wreaking havoc and being a perpetual source of sound effects and noise, than being a part of your 6-year old daughter engaging with real theological concepts.  Each lesson ends with a series of questions.  Ava, my 6-year old looks forward to this portion.  It warms my heart.

Exodus 34 picks up with Moses getting the second copy of the 10 Commandments.  He was on the mountain for the second time, you remember, because he smashed the original copy at the sight of the idolatrous outrage that was taking place at the feet of a golden calf.

The devotion very quickly moved to its main point:  Moses prayed that God would have mercy on them.  God is fully merciful yet fully just.  We often read that with little regard for what it actually means.  This is a difficult concept to comprehend.  Imagine for a moment,  Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump being found guilty of something horrific:  In Hillary’s case, exposing top secret info that was shown to have directly caused the death of 4 Americans in Benghazi.  In Trump’s case, evidence showing his willful colluding with the Russians in order to help them hack the DNC so he could win the election.  Imagine they went to court and were found guilty.  Instead of imposing a sentence, the judge says, “You are free to go.  Forget it even happened”  How would you feel about that?

When justice collapses in a society, hope collapses with it.

Total mercy comes as the expense of total justice.  Total justice comes at the expense of total mercy.  If someone was fully just they could not be fully merciful.  If one were fully merciful they could not be fully just.  Unless…well, we will get there in a moment.

Surpassingly enough, my 6-year old daughter, Ava, was able to grasp this paradox.  I believe I put to her a hypothetical situation in which she did something wrong, and rather than punishing her, I told her it was ok–that she could forget that it even happened.  Initially, she was ok with that.  Who wouldn’t be?  You could take something that isn’t yours, and then get no punishment.  But then it became more real:  I asked her, “What if someone did something very wrong to you; perhaps they stole your favorite toy, and I told their parents, ‘its ok, don’t worry about it–let your kid keep the toy?'”  She understood that my being overly kind would mean that she would not be getting a fair shake.

For her, justice would have been denied.  Complete mercy necessarily denies complete justice.

On the other hand, if I were fully just–If I called the police and reported the child for theft–what would that teach my daughter?  My lack of mercy would in the long run damage not only the kid who stole Ava’s stuff, but also Ava!  Would that be right?

No.  At times, justice must be bore by someone not involved.

This concept was strange to her.  It is strange to all of us.

One of the things we have been talking about lately in our home is the nature of sin.  Many Christians wrongly believe sin to be merely the wrong things that we do.  I remember hearing this as a child.  I was more concerned with whether I was doing the right or wrong things, that I defined sin as some sort of barometer for bad behavior.  There is perhaps nothing more absurd in all of Christendom than to believe that.  It took me a long time to be delivered from that way of thinking!  Heck, I am still being delivered from it.   While behavior is a part of sin, it is not sin in its fullest and most sordid sense.  Sin is more than just bad behavior.  Bad behavior is a symptom of something else–something more sinister.

In fact, if Jesus’ death on the cross only cured our sinful behavior, we would still go to hell. Yeah, read that again:

“If Jesus’ death on the cross only cured our sinful behavior, we would still go to hell.”

As I described to Ava, sin is like a perpetual cancer.  When we get the sniffles or the couch, it isn’t the sniffles or the cough that is making us sick. As Ava described it to me, “Its the germs that make us sick.”  Absolutely right.  Sin is like a disease that controls our being and dictates how we live. It is our moral compass.  Unfortunately, the byproducts of sin run the gamut from speeding to lying to rape to murder.   The New Testament refers to sin as a power that controls us.  Paul talks about knowing what he ought to do, but instead doing the opposite. If Paul had to struggle with sin, what does that say about you or me?  It is a power that influences us.  It can enslave us.

I asked Ava, “If sin separates us from God, and our sinful behavior was instantly cured, would we still go to hell?”  She thought about this for a few moments, and answered “Yes.”  I think she understood that sin is more than just bad behavior. If Jesus death on the cross was simply done in order to make us do good deeds, would that really be worth His death on the cross?  Isn’t that just some sort of moralism?

Jesus has brought us something more wonderful than just some sort of pragmatism.

I agree with Ravi Zacharias, “Jesus did not come into the world to make bad men good.  He came into the world to make dead men live.”  That, my friend, is worth shouting about.

We talked about that cosmic courtroom that is in session not because of our bad deeds, but because of our cancer–our sinful nature–the nature that caused human beings to crucify the Son of God.  The cancer that caused human beings to wonder, “Did God really say…?”

Because of our cancer–our sin–we deserve to go to hell.

Fortunately, God is fully just.  He is also fully merciful.  What is He to do with us?  We deserve death, but His character grants mercy, right?

This is where I was able to share with Ava the most incredible news of all:  Yes, we deserve hell, but instead of God banging down the gavel and sentencing us to death, Jesus entered the courtroom and volunteered to pay the price for our sin.   He intermediated on our behalf.  He had a direct influence on God’s wrath.

He went to hell in our place.

God was fully merciful:  he let us go free.  Yet, he was fully just:  Our sin was punished.  Jesus took our punishment.  He lived so that He could die.  He died so we could live.

Without Jesus Christ, none of us could escape hell.  We would all be there eventually.

God’s being fully just and fully merciful would be a paradox…unless…Jesus hadn’t come to be our propitiation.

I pray my sweet 6-year old can grasp that.  Full disclaimer:

I pray I can grasp that.

 

 

 

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