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Saturday, March 24, 2018

"It's all in the perspective."

This issue of Martin Zender's Clanging Gong News will help you understand seemingly contradictory statements in the Scriptures. And it will also help you see Who's really running this show we call "life."

Monday, March 5, 2018

"Mommy, why do people die?"

This question from a curious child may come out of the blue from the mind of a small human trying to figure out the world he lives in.

It's a question we've all probably asked at some point in our lives, whether silently or out loud.

But as we grow older and realize that death is simply a fact that we can't change, we accept it, try to ignore it, and seek to make the most of our breathing hours.

But why we die is a vital question.

I'm not talking about the mode of death—disease, impaling, accident, beheading. We may be able to dodge the occasional shark attack or suicide bomb, but we can't evade death forever.

If we squeeze 100 years out of this life it's considered a minor miracle. The Amplified Bible describes us like this, "You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air]" (James 4:14). That's depressing.

What gives Death the right to crash our party when it's just starting to pop? 

Why are we mortal when we're made in the image of an immortal Creator?

Act I: Adam enters stage from below

The first man, Adam, was the first global trendsetter, way before Al Gore's internet even existed. Sin ("missing the mark," or falling short of God's standard of righteousness) entered the world through Adam. And through his sin death entered mankind.

We read in Romans 5:12,
Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned --
Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT)
The moment a human is conceived, their destiny is death. Innumerable millions don't even make it out of the womb. We all suffer from the hereditary "disease" of mortality—"death passed through into all mankind ... ."

We die because we are related to Adam. His one sin affected us all, resulting in death. Our mortality was set in stone by Adam long before any of us were even born.

None of us asked to be born. None of us asked to be mortal. But we are all affected negatively by no choice or action of our own. We are completely passive in this, and we can't stop Death from snuffing us out. 

There are many ends in our lives: the end of childhood, the end of our teenage years, the end of high school, the end of singleness, the end of marriage, etc. Death will end your current life. However, your death will be an end for you but not thē end of you.

The fact that one man brought death to the whole human race with one sinful act is, in one aspect, good news.

Act II: Jesus enters stage from above

You may ask, "How the hell is all of us dying because of Adam in any way good news, you idiot?" Thanks for asking. It's good news because it shows us the power of one act.

There's another act, already accomplished in human history, that is good and benefits all the same people that Adam brought death to.

The apostle Paul shows us the amazing results of this beneficial act contrasted with Adam's detrimental act.

Romans 5:18,
so then as [it was] by one offence towards all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men for justification of life.
Darby Translation
Just as Adam's one offense brought condemnation to all men, Jesus' one act of righteousness (His death) justifies life for all. God includes us all in Adam's sin, and He includes us all in Christ's death and resurrection. Just as we all follow Adam into death, we will all follow Jesus into immortality via resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:21–22,
For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead. 22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified.
Being "vivified" is being made immortal.

Just as we all die because we're related to Adam by birth, all of us will live because we're related to Jesus as our Creator, "for in Him is all created ... all is created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16 - CLNT). We are all created for Him. Do not minimize this amazing fact!

None of us asked Jesus to come to earth as a man. None of us asked Him to die for us. He was resurrected from the dead with no help from us. This is God's work for us.

We will all be affected positively by no choice or action of our own. We are completely passive in this, and we can't stop Jesus from making us immortal (why would we?).

I believe part of God's reason for contrasting Jesus with Adam is so we can understand the scope of Jesus' work. We don't need faith to see the universal results of Adam's sin. But we do need faith to see the future universal results of Jesus' work.

Sadly, Christianity sees the obvious magnitude of Adam's sin but diminishes the impact of Jesus' work. They teach that He saves only a small percent of people condemned in Adam. What a slap in the face to the One the Father put on stage "to be the Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14).

Related image
"Sir, Jared refuses to die. ... Yes, of course, the shark tank!"
But you don't have to believe what Christianity tells you, especially when they contradict the Scriptures.

Act III: Death exits stage left

We are all on the stage in God's grand production, and He's directing it toward His desired end.

Jesus' death and resurrection give Him the right to finish all of God's future goals. His Father has given Him "all authority in heaven and on the earth" (Matthew 28:18). One of these great goals is the complete defeat of Death (which He already overcame in His resurrection).

1 Corinthians 15,
25 For [Jesus] must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy is being abolished: death. ... 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. 54 Now, whenever this corruptible should be putting on incorruption and this mortal should be putting on immortality, then shall come to pass the word which is written, Swallowed up was Death by Victory. 55 Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?

Related imageSuck it, Death, you will lose.

But the fat lady has not yet sung. Jesus is still working. The score is lopsided right now. Death does have a temporary hold on us.

But Jesus is famous for His comebacks.

In the end Death will have no victory. When Jesus makes all people immortal, they will be beyond the reach of Death, and our enemy will be rendered completely inoperative.

It's like Jesus takes Death by the feet, holds it upside down and shakes it stupid until it releases all of its captives. Jesus does for us what we can't do for ourselves—He conquers Death.

We all belong to our Creator Jesus, not Death. He made us for Himself.

Jesus truly is greater than Adam.


P.S. Read Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 to get a fuller view of the contrast between Adam and Jesus.

P.P.S. And if you don't yet know Jesus, read "What are the foundational truths of Jesus we must believe to realize our salvation?"