That may seem like a rough title. No, I am not saying Jesus is useless. The way some people view Him and salvation is useless.
Let's take a flashback to a small part of my life.
Some time back I was driving in my car and listening to songs in my Google Play account. Included in my playlist is Guardians of the Galaxy (Awesome Mix Vol. 1), which was legally free.
In that album is the song "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum. I was enjoying it. It's catchy. And I was so excited to find a mainstream song that supports Jesus and Heaven. (Come to find out later that might not be entirely true.) Yeah, preach it!
Then I got to the part where Greenbaum sings, "Never been a sinner, I never sinned./I got a friend in Jesus./So you know that when I die,/He's gonna set me up with the spirit in the sky." Well, that ruined it.
Let's look at two things: perfection and salvation.
"Never been a sinner." Yeah, right. Remember, "There is none righteous, no, not one;" and "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (New King James Version, Romans 3:10b, 23). Romans 3 has a fairly long section making this point abundantly clear.
If we think hard enough, we can all recall things we have done wrong at some point. We have all hurt somebody else or ourselves somehow. Even if it seems simple or you were "just a kid," it still happened and it was still sin.
Additionally, Jesus, while he was on earth, preferred to hang out with the tax collectors and sinners than with the Pharisees and other such men anyway.
Whether or not you think it is possible to be perfect, "Spirit in the Sky" suggests that you have to be a good person to have Jesus as your friend and entryway into Heaven. It is because the narrator "never sinned" that he has "got a friend in Jesus."
If you are perfect or your salvation is based on your deeds, then why does it matter whether or not you have a friend in Jesus? You do not need Him.
The works-based belief is pretty common. Many people think that you lose your salvation when you sin and have to ask for forgiveness again to get it back. Other people think that you just have to be a good person to get into Heaven and that's it. If any of that is true, then what was the point of Jesus even coming to die?
That way of thinking is the Old Testament way of thinking. There had been no perfect human sacrifice for the redemption of sins, so the ancient Jews had to make animal sacrifices. It was all based on deeds.
When Jesus came, he got rid of that way of doing things. He brought in a new way to get saved "through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe" (Rom. 3:22b). A reading of Romans 3 reveals more about the law and righteousness.
For example, the chapter says we are "justified freely by His [God's] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed" (Rom. 3:24-25). There is a lot there about Jesus's sacrifice and about faith, and this is only a portion of what is in Romans 3.
It is perhaps said most plainly in verse 28: "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." Of course, that is not the end of the chapter, but I think you get the idea.
Although the law is still important (for we still do not "make void the law through faith," but "we establish it) it is no longer our salvation (Rom. 3:31).
Anyone who believes otherwise is saying that Jesus's sacrifice was useless and that He does not matter; we do not need Him because we have to do it for ourselves. Things are just as they were before He came: based on works. So we should actually all get circumcised and make animal sacrifices instead of simply saying a prayer and trying to be good for the holy version of Santa.
(Passages retrieved from BibleGateway.com)
- James D. McIntosh Jr.
I do not associate with any one particular denomination. I just want to be a Christian, plain and simple.
As such, I believe most denominations have some things right and some things wrong. Right now I want to point out a few things I have noticed about baptism and salvation and see what comes up.
In case you are unaware, there are some denominations that believe we must be baptized to be saved.
THE PERFECTION OF JESUS:
Before we get directly into discussing baptism, we should first establish the perfection of Jesus. This is a very important concept.
In order for His sacrifice to achieve its purpose, Jesus had to be "a lamb without blemish and without spot" (New King James Version, 1 Peter 1:19b). Otherwise, what makes Him any different from the rest of us? Anyone could have done what He did, or no one could have.
BAPTISM AND THE SPIRIT:
Just before Jesus comes to be baptized in the Gospels, John says, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I" (NKJV, Matthew 3:11a). This does not necessarily mention that baptism saves. But even if baptism did play a role then, everyone was still living under the Old Testament laws at this point. Jesus was only just about to begin his public ministry, so He had not been crucified or resurrected yet.
John continues by saying, "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." This shows that baptism by Jesus with the Holy Spirit is more powerful than baptism by a simple man with water.
Furthermore, when John baptizes Jesus, it cannot be to save Jesus or cleanse Him of His sins. Jesus had to be perfect. If baptism saves, why was Jesus baptized?
John protests, and Jesus says, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (NKJV, Matthew 3:15a.b). Jesus was not getting baptized because He had sinned, but because it was a righteous thing to do. Perhaps it would even have been a sin for Him not to get baptized. Whatever the case may be, a perfect man always does what is right and righteous, and Jesus was the only perfect man.
That scene and the one right after the baptism of Jesus show that baptism is important. In the Gospels, God opens the heavens, sends the Spirit in the form of a dove to descend softy upon Jesus, and says that Jesus is His "beloved Son," whom He is "well pleased" with (NKJV, Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). It is very important to be baptized, but baptism does not save us.
(All passages retrieved from BibleGateway.com.)
- James D. McIntosh Jr.
P.S. If you find any errors in or additions to what I have said, feel free to discuss this topic. But please keep it civil.
Topic: Life Observations
My son is nearly 14 months old, and he has been dancing to music for some time now.
That's the interesting thing about music and dancing. You don't have to teach babies about them. Whenever babies hear anything that resembles any sort of beat or rhythm, they automatically begin bouncing and swaying to it.
It just goes to show how natural music and dancing are, and why they have always been such major parts of the human experience throughout history. Humanity did not create or even discover them. They have always been a part of us, serving very important roles. God created music and dance and gave them to us to use for worship, expression, and stress relief.
- James D. McIntosh Jr.
Topic: Movies & TV
Star Wars woke up while Star Trek went back in time. The same director responsible for reviving the Star Trek movies, J.J. Abrams, was responsible for reviving the Star Wars movies, but the outcomes were different. Why is this?
A LITTLE BACKGROUND:
If the filmmakers had gone back and rebooted the Star Wars story like they had the Star Trek story, the large fan base, which is comprised of several generations, would have been very upset.
According to Cinema Blend, the next Stark Trek movie is being written in a way that appeals less to the original retro style and fan base, but seems to appeal to a newer audience. On the other hand, the new Star Wars movie embraces its retro foundations, which may have caused George Lucas some disappointment, according to Polygon.
Trekkies and Warsies can go back and forth all day about which franchise is better and why. Warsies will stay Star Wars is better and that's why things turned out the way they did, but I am not going to get into that argument. I have another theory about what may have played a role in this outcome.
Although it has put out many different shows and movies through the generations, Star Trek has not appealed to all the generations the way Star Wars has. This is perhaps because of the timings.
While Star Trek continuously put out product after product, there was a large gap between the original Star Wars trilogy and the prequel Trilogy. Star Trek captured one generation and just kept pressing its content upon the public. It did not give anyone a break.
Star Wars, on the other hand, released an incomplete trilogy of groundbreaking movies to a couple generations that discovered the series together (i.e. my grandparents and parents). When the prequel trilogy was finally released, those generations were still craving more, and they brought the next generation (mine) along to discover the galaxy. This provided an opportunity to hook yet another generation with fresh material, and it worked.
It was George Lucas' timing that perhaps got all of the generations interested in Star Wars and has kept them interested, so that the story has remained very relevant and must continue even after all these years.
With this in mind, is Disney's plan to release a new Star Wars movie every year for as long as possible a good idea? (See Polygon.) Will my children enjoy it the way the rest of my family does?
- James D. McIntosh Jr.
P.S. The other planned Star Wars post coming soon!
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