Give Me Understanding

Wisdom is the principal thing, the most important thing: wisdom and understanding. (Pr 4:7)

Five times in the Bible someone asks God directly: give me understanding; each time it’s the same person, all in the same chapter, Psalm 119, a singularity in itself on multiple levels.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. (34) The psalmist is committed to obeying God fully and passionately, without reservation or reluctance, in every possible way. Obedience is the foundation of faith in prayer (1Jn 3:22); there’s no hope for an audience in God apart from obedience. (Ps 66:18)

Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. (73) The psalmist, admitting God is his personal Creator and Designer, worthy of all worship and obedience, asks for understanding so he may learn God’s laws. Though He has God’s commands plainly written out, he doesn’t presume to understand fully and completely the nuances and proper applications of God’s commands, and asks for this enlightenment that he may please and honor God in rightly obeying them.

am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies. (125) The psalmist, testifying that he is God’s servant, committed to obeying Him in every respect, asks for understanding that he might fully know and fathom God testimonies, God’s witness of reality as revealed in His laws.

The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. (144) The Psalmist admits that the rightness and holiness of God’s testimonies is eternal, and asks for help to understand them so his life might be complete, as if there’s no life worth living apart from knowing and keeping the commandments of God. (77)

Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word. (169) The Psalmist finally cries out to God for understanding, appealing to His promise to give to those who seek Him out earnestly, an open door to those who knock with a committed heart. (Mt 7:7-8)

Seeking understanding without an intent to obey is pointless (155); those who don’t choose the fear of God will never find true wisdom and understanding, regardless how hard they try. (Pr 1:28-29) To rightly know anything we must start here, reverencing God and seeking to obey Him. (Pr 1:7) If anyone will do as God wills, they’ll understand (Jn 7:17); the rest deceive themselves (Ja 1:22), ever learning, yet never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2Ti 3:7)

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They Became Vain

There are consequences to how we respond to God, a series of resulting states inevitably play out in us as we react to Him. There’s a right way, an appropriate and proper response to God; any other is inappropriate and dangerous.

We may glorify God as God, recognizing Him as supreme authority and worthy of all obedience and worship, thanking Him for creating us (Ps 139:14), for giving us life, consciousness and purpose, for giving us His Law (Ps 119:164), and above all, for being as He is. (Ps 63:3)

Or we may choose otherwise and become unimpressed, dismissive, unthankful, demanding and resentful. (Ro 1:21a) This reaction exposes us as children of the devil, for this is exactly what the devil does. (Jn 8:44) It is all from pride, a claim that we know better than God, a demand that He treat us as we wish.

In choosing this way, we turn from all that is good, right and holy; by default we are left to lies, darkness and corruption.

Since we’re imaginative creatures with an instinct for meaning, purpose and morality, we inevitably invent empty, twisted, ridiculous notions about ourselves and God (Ro 1:21b), making up our own moral standard, thinking we know better. Yet our unwillingness to return to God compels us to embrace utter foolishness and inconsistency. (Ro 1:22)

And the more we embrace foolish concepts about ourselves and God, the more we deviate from God’s way, the more corrupt and depraved and broken our life choices become, such that we begin to dishonor ourselves and each other. (24)

And the more we embrace such foolishness, the more corrupt and depraved our emotions and affections become. (25) The pattern continues to spiral downward, unless God intervenes and restrains us, until our very ability to think and reason becomes corrupt and broken. (28)

Unless we repent, turn around and seek after God, responding to Him appropriately, we eventually fill ourselves up with our own devices (Pr 1:31), pushing out the light and relishing darkness (Jn 3:19), resulting in empty, pointless, vain existence; we thus become prisoners of Satan, taken captive by him at his will. (2Ti 2:24-26)

This journey, the way of unthankfulness, is both dangerous and unnecessary; we may respond to injustice and suffering in this world power and passion without becoming passive, bitter, arrogant or resentful. While we’re not to promote wickedness in any way, or be thankful for wickedness itself (Mk 3:5), we may be confident in the fact that God intends to glorify Himself in all He allows in our lives (Ro 8:28), and for this we should always be thankful. (Ep 5:20)

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Foolish Questions

We’re commanded to avoid foolish questions (Tit 3:9); so, not all questions are good. To understand the difference between foolish questions and wise questions (Ep 5:16), we ask: What kinds of questions are foolish? This particular question isn’t foolish; it’s wisdom.

The context is profitability (Tit 3:9b), implying a way to measure and evaluate questions. Is the question profitable? depends on what we value. To ask meaningful questions we must have a proper motive and direction to orient our asking.

So, when we’re considering a question, a good question to ask is: Why the question? What’s the goal, or objective, in asking?

Is the atheist seeking to destroy another’s faith or value system? Or distracting from the soul-wound they’ve been using to justify their hatred and dismissal of God? Or searching out an explanation to resolve what seems insurmountable inconsistency, extreme lack of credibility hiding behind the façade of religion?

Is the church-goer showing off, looking for respect, to be valued for their knowledge of scripture? Are they looking to generate controversy and cause divisions and offenses? (Ro 16:17) Or looking to avoid responsibility by casting doubt on instructions and raising up controversy? Or trying to learn and understand, so they can rightly order their thoughts and actions?

Is the biblical scholar ever asking, ever learning, yet never able to come to the knowledge of the truth? (2Ti 3:7) Are we content with theological exercises and pontifications, ducking relational responsibility, ignoring sins of the heart? Are we content piling up knowledge, without regard to the poor (Ga 2:10), the fatherless, orphan and widow?

Or are we asking so we can deliver ourselves from the bondage of our lies (2Ti 2:25-26), freeing ourselves to serve more effectively, more joyfully and fruitfully, equipping ourselves unto love and good works? (Tit 3:14)

If we’re after God and His kingdom (Mt 6:33), if we fear God and want to please Him (Pr 1:7), our questions should bring us closer to God, into more alignment with Him, more obedience to Him, more love for Him.

Jesus asked a lot of questions; we can learn from watching Him. He was always pointing others to the kingdom of God. His questions penetrated hearts and exposed motives, helping us see our need for Him and pointing us toward a more perfect knowledge of His Way.

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Praise His Word

I was warned early in my spiritual journey to not worship the Bible, to not make an idol out of it (1Jn 5:21), to avoid what we might call bibliolatry.

Certainly, the idea of bowing down to a bible, a literal physical book, worshipping it or praying to it, never crossed my mind. Yet the spirit of this warning might be taken a bit further, suggesting we shouldn’t love the words of scripture too much, and this is perhaps a more interesting and relevant concept. How much should we value the words of scripture? (Ps 19:10) What does the value we place on them reveal about us and our spiritual state? (Ps 119:127)

Asked another way, can I envision God reprimanding me for loving what He says too much? for taking Him too seriously? for treasuring His words too much, or trying too hard to understand His ways and obey His commands? (Is 66:2)

In other words, what’s the practical difference between loving God and loving what He says? (1Jn 2:5) Can I be loving Him and disinterested, even the slightest bit, in what He’s saying? (Ps 119:155)

Jesus says those who love Him will keep, guard or cherish His words. (Jn 14:23) He’s telling us there’s a direct connection between how we treat His Word and how we view Him; our view of His Word reveals our heart toward Him. (24)

It’s easy to mistake a love of Bible study and teaching the Bible, even memorizing it and quoting it to others, for a love of God’s Word. Yet, if we aren’t earnestly obeying all of it as well as we can, in both letter and spirit, we aren’t loving God’s Word itself at all: we’re just loving what we can do with it, and missing the whole point. (1Ti 1:5-7) God equates loving Himself with obeying His commands. (1Jn 5:3)

Do we praise God’s Word as we’re praising Him? (Ps 56:10) Are we delighting in God’s Law so much that we’re constantly thinking about it? (Ps 119:97) consumed with wanting to understand and obey it more and more? (20)

If God actually were to equate our love for Him with how we treat the Bible (Re 3:8), how would it go? (Mt 7:24-27) Seems to me very likely that He will. (Jn 12:48)

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Pluck It Out

It is perhaps the harshest statement in the entire Bible: “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee.” (Mt 5:29) The command is at the epicenter of the greatest sermon ever preached, spoken by Christ Himself. It’s obviously important. (Mt 7:26) What does He mean?

Context is helpful: sexual sin, lust and adultery. (27-28) The implication is that efforts to avoid sinning, particularly in this area (1Co 6:18), are to be as extreme as necessary, such that if even a part of our own body is compelling us, it’s better to rid ourselves of that body part than live in sin. If our eye is forcing us to break God’s Law … lose the eye.

Yet, clearly, body parts don’t make us sin; they simply can’t offend us in this way: our body does what we tell it. The problem isn’t any part of our body, it’s our mind and heart. Plucking out our eye would only help if our eye were actually the root cause of our sin. It isn’t, so don’t take Christ literally here.

Perhaps there’s a hint in how Christ frames it: “if thy right eye offend thee … “. How could one of our eyes be offensive and not the other? one eye flitting back and forth on its own whether we like it or not? Or our right hand be offensive (Mt 5:30), always getting into things without our permission? He’s speaking in metaphor, using body parts to illustrate heart tendencies.

Point is, nothing physical can make us sin: sin is always a choice of our will (Ja 1:14), a choice to move away from God, from Truth. This is why God holds us accountable, and why sin makes Him angry. (Ro 1:18)

And sin always springs from a lie we’re believing and clinging to instead of God. The only way to root sin out is to supplant our lies with truth and move back toward God. (2Ti 2:25-26) It’s a journey, actually a battle, one lie at a time, and Christ is telling us to be intense about it.

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His Own Purpose

Humans are distinct from animals in that we must have purpose in our lives, meaning, a reason to be alive. We act as if we’re aware that we’re designed with some objective in mind, and that we expect to be evaluated according to some standard, related to how well we’ve realized our purpose.

The existence of a design standard further implies someone, the Grand Designer, Who is evaluating us, and that there are real consequences for neglecting or resisting our design, rewards and punishments involved in this life and the next, due to our performance. (Php 2:12) This is all instinctive, built deeply into our very physiology; we know it’s true, and we can’t escape it. (Ro 1:20)

To pretend we are the ultimate judge of ourselves is to miss the whole point; we didn’t design ourselves so we can’t give ourselves purpose. We know the standard isn’t arbitrary, it’s not something we can simply make up as we go. And no other created person can tell us our purpose any more than we can.

We may try to obtain some semblance of meaning by taking up responsibility, putting ourselves together and trying to make the world a better place. The fact this actually works is telling; it must be somewhat aligned with our true purpose. (1Ti 5:8) If there weren’t an ultimate Designer, this might be the best we could do.

Yet our instincts reflect reality; we’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), and it’s our Creator Who gives us meaning: if God says we’re missing the point in some way, ignoring this isn’t helpful. God is love, and His design is best.

God has set specific, unique objectives for each of us (Ep 2:10); this is our calling, which we must discover in Him and pursue. (2Ti 1:9) It’s an invitation to challenge and adventure, to discover beauty and fulfillment of indescribable value; though there are shadows all about us pointing us to this reality, there’s no earthly parallel.

The genius of God’s Way is that it not only perfectly suits our individual design, it places each believer within the context of a cosmic team, part of a divine body pursuing an eternal goal together, for which we’re all perfectly suited. We aren’t struggling through this life, enduring all its suffering and malevolence, alone. (1Pe 5:8-9)

It is only within this context that suffering itself can truly be called a gift (Php 1:29), when we’re voluntarily suffering for a higher purpose. (Mt 5:11-12) What He has called us to is unspeakable glory in Him. (Ro 8:18) Perfect fulfillment and satisfaction on every conceivable level.

Christ, our perfect example (1Pe 2:21), perfectly exemplified how to find and fulfill our purpose: He didn’t come to make everyone happy, or even Himself (Ro 15:3); He came to do His Father’s will, and to finish His work. (Jn 4:34) In the same way, we’re to prove the will of God for ourselves, and then do it. (Ro 12:2)

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Drawn Away

Is it a sin to be tempted? Evidently not: Christ was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. (He 4:15) Then again, perhaps tempted can mean different things depending on who’s being tempted, and by what.

It isn’t a sin to be tested, merely to have sinful choices presented to us. It was in this sense Christ was tempted (Mt 4:1); He certainly had many opportunities to sin, to break God’s Law (1Jn 3:4), but He never did.

But we are tempted when we’re drawn away of our own lust and enticed. (Ja 1:14) Drawn away from what? From God, from holiness, from wisdom, purity and love. We are enticed, feeling the internal pull and attraction of sin drawing us away from the light into the darkness. This isn’t Christ (Jn 14:30): God cannot be tempted in this way. (Ja 1:13) The very suggestion of sin is repulsive to Him. (Ps 45:7)

We may not feel this is sin, to be drawn away from God and enticed; we may be confident that we aren’t in sin until our lust — the unlawful desire within us — conceives, giving birth in our hearts and minds to intent and will to pursue what’s forbidden us. After all, we’re only human.

Clearly, intending to break God’s law is sin as well (Ja 1:15a); that’s  taking disobedience to a whole new level, often resulting in outwardly sinful behavior, leading ultimately to death. (15b) Considering the consequences and long-term impact of our sin when we’re feeling tempted like this is a certainly a powerful deterrent. (1Co 6:18) This is wisdom, and the fear of God. (Pr 14:16)

Yet, by definition, being enticed by a sinful choice actually is sin if being in that state necessarily violates any of God’s laws. So, we might look at it this way: Can we be loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (De 6:5), as we’re being drawn away from God? Or does being drawn away from God necessarily imply that we’re already, in some way, loving Him less than He deserves? When our soul is fully satisfied in Him (Ps 63:5-6), what can draw us away? (Ps 73:25)

When we aren’t in deep communion with God, feeding on the majesty, whenever we’re distracted, tired, bitter or wounded, that same old primal lie that God doesn’t quite satisfy, and that something else will, beckons. Lust can then draw us even farther away, our desires becoming more pronounced and powerful, because we’re not fully satisfied in God, we’re not pursuing and enjoying Him as we ought, we’re not loving Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. That’s how we give place to the devil (Ep 4:27), offering him ground to work in us all manner of wrongful desire. (Ro 7:8)

We may choose to live our lives in unfulfilled passion, exerting a brute force asceticism in denying ourselves the pleasures of sin for a season. (He 11:25) This is certainly better than giving in to our lusts, yet there must be a better way. (Ps 63:3)

Perhaps if we seek (Mt 7:7-8), we can find the life of Christ rooting out the sin nature itself (Ro 7:24-25a), bit by bit, realigning our internal affections in God (Ro 12:2), cleansing us of the great lie in all its insidious shades and nuance, until we’re joyfully esteeming the unsearchable riches of Christ greater than any earthly pleasure. (He 11:26) Perhaps then would grace reign through rightesouness in us (Ro 5:21), and the world would not be so enticing. (1Jn 2:15-16)

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Sound Speech

God forbids us from using words improperly, saying or writing anything that’s destructive or harmful, speech which isn’t edifying. He calls this corrupt communication, and says we aren’t to tolerate it within ourselves. (Ep 4:29) What He’s looking for is sound speech which shines under the strictest moral scrutiny. (Tit 2:8a)

Sound speech is speaking the truth in love (Ep 4:15), to move the hearer to a better place, springing from wisdom, knowledge and humility, encouraging others and ourselves in a godly way. Anything else is corrupt.

For example, if we say something arrogantly, proudly or maliciously it can’t be edifying (1Pr 2:1); this isn’t sound speech. If we’re seeking someone’s harm in an unrighteous manner, speaking ill of them (Ja 4:11), this can’t be helpful: it’s corrupt. (Ep 4:31)

If we speak simply to draw attention to ourselves, to exalt to boast or commend ourselves, this isn’t edifying. (Php 2:3) It may be edifying to point out our behavior and experience as an example or encouragement (Php 3:17), or to invite souls to rejoice with us in our accomplishments (Ro 12:15), or even to describe our faults and ask for prayer (Ja 5:16), but simply drawing attention to ourselves isn’t edifying. (1Co 13:4-5)

Certainly, no lie, false accusation (1Ti 3:3), or half-truth can be edifying because it seeks to hide the light from those who ought to know it (1Jn 2:10), and encourages them to remain in darkness. Even claims which might be true should not be stated as true unless we’re certain. Silence might be wisdom when speaking certain truths would not be edifying (Jn 16:12), but we should put away lying: whenever we do speak, speak only the truth. (Ep 4:25)

Also, we shouldn’t swear as a means of assuring others we’re telling the truth; that’s the way of lying. (Ps 119:29) No gradations are permitted in the Way of truth (30), everything we express must be completely and utterly aligned with what we know to be true. A simple Yes or No is sufficient when we’re walking in truth; anything less is corrupt. (Mt 5:34-37)

And what of exclamations, expletives, cursing and profanity? If we shall give an account for every idle word (Mt 12:36), how shall explain our use of these?Some seem harmless, but are they sound speech?

Using God’s name or title as any kind of expletive or exclamation is taking His name in vain, irreverently, not as intended, a violation of the 3rd Commandment (Ex 20:7), so it is corrupt. Similarly, cursing — invoking spiritual power to harm someone — is off limits. (Ja 3:9-10)

But what about words expressing anger, frustration, annoyance, surprise or even wonder? Expletives and exclamations, is this sound speech, or corrupt communication? A good test might be, “Do I see Jesus saying this?” (1Pe 4:11) In other words, can I say it in His name, on His behalf?” (Col 3:17) Does it glorify God? (1Co 10:31) Is it the most effective and efficient way to encourage or edify another? Is there a more precise way to express what I’m feeling or thinking? Is it something I need to express, such that I’ll be negligent and unloving if I don’t?

A general rule here might be: When in doubt, don’t. (Ro 14:23) Be swift to hear, but thoughtfully precise, selective and deliberate in speech (Ja 1:19), choosing words carefully, prayerfully and intentionally. (Pr 19:10) To the degree we don’t control our tongue, even when we’re surprised and excited, our religion is empty and pointless. (26)

And what of idle conversation, words filing the air just because we’re uncomfortable with silence? If it isn’t edifying, again, it’s  not sound speech, it’s corrupt.

And finally, speech which weakens us, deprecating words designed to lower or belittle ourselves — this also is corrupt, unloving to both ourselves and others. Perhaps we’re afraid of the strength of those about us, wanting to make ourselves small so as avoid abuse or oppression, or we may be looking for sympathy, or forgiveness, or nursing a deep father wound and lack that robust, healthy self-confidence which is unashamed of God’s design and gifting within us. Whatever the root of unhealthy speech, if it isn’t grounded in the dignity and love of God, it’s corrupt, profane and vain babbling. (2T 2:16)

The overriding principle is edification: does my communication honor all people (1Pe 2:7), treating all – including myself – with love, wisdom, compassion and respect? (Col 4:5) Is God at work within and through my words, not to control and manipulate, but to empower in godliness? Am I considering others, where they are and what they need, deliberately enabling them in a right relationship with God (Col 4:5-6), laying a good foundation against the time to come? (Mt 12:37)

This is the high calling (Php 3:14), for sure. I count myself to have apprehended (13) and press forward toward the mark. To master the tongue in sound speech and not offend is to be mature, able to properly discipline the entire body.  (Ja 3:2)

The ideal in Christ is sound speech that can’t be condemned, so when the adversaries come to accuse, they’ll have nothing to say (Tit 2:8), and then to hear God will say, “Well done!” (1Co 4:5)

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Make Friends

The parable of the Unjust Steward is challenging, putting it mildly. When Christ says, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” (Lk 16:9), is He saying befriend the wealthy so when we fall on hard times they’ll be there to rescue us?

The mammon of unrighteousness would be material things this unrighteous world values, tools for good and evil. They aren’t ours (Ps 24:1), so we’re all stewards, and like the steward in the parable (Lk 16:1-2) we’ll all be accused of mismanagement (Jn 5:45) and held accountable. (Ro 14:11-12)

So, we all find ourselves in a similar crisis: we’re flawed in fundamental ways, our record shows this and judgment is coming; we should prepare to make the best of it using every means at our disposal. Pass or fail, the consequences will be eternal. (Ro 2:6-11) In this predicament, Christ is telling us, “make friends.” In other words, live such that when Judgment Day comes those testifying in the heavenly court will be on our side, welcoming us into Paradise.

Consider that everyone who has ever lived will be present at this final Day of Judgment, and those we’ve impacted through our lives will be testifying about us (Ja 5:4), agreeing with God in how they view us, being for or against us. (Mt 12:41-42) Our own works will also bear witness (Ja 5:3), our every act testifying in heavenly court. (Mt 12:36) There will be no deception or partiality; if we’ve walked in holiness before God even the wicked will be forced to agree. (1Pe 2:12)

So, the kinds of friends we should be thinking about here aren’t those who’d pay our bills when we’re unemployed, but those who’ll be receiving us into everlasting habitations, standing between us and our eternal home, inviting us in or barring our way. We must keep short accounts (Mt 5:25-26) and manage our affairs with an eternal perspective. (Col 4:5) As the unjust steward wisely navigated his crisis to secure his earthly comfort for a season (Lk 16:8), Christ is calling us to holy intensity (Mt 5:29-30), striving to secure our eternal welfare. (2Pe 1:10-11)

As we steward earthly resources we’re laying an eternal foundation (1Ti 6:17-19), so let’s make it solid, grounded firmly in the Rock of our salvation (Ps 95:1), to withstand the blasts of God’s penetrating inspection. (Mt 7:24-25)

This isn’t salvation by works; we’re saved by faith (Ep 2:8-9), but our works do reveal our faith. (Ja 2:18) We show what we believe by what we do, so when our actions don’t align with faith in Christ it’s a faith issue (Lk 6:46), a peril of sobering consequences. (Ro 8:13)

To find healing we examine ourselves (2Co 13:5), confess our faults to those who are praying for us (Ja 5:16), and root out the lies which bind us. (Jn 8:32) Living this way doesn’t produce salvation – it’s the life salvation produces. (Ep 2:10)

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Of the Truth

Our orientation toward truth is fundamental; it defines what kind of people we are. In relation to truth, there are only two kinds of people: those who love the truth, and those who don’t.

Almost everyone who has ever lived is in this second group: those who don’t love truth. To them, truth is desirable when it suits their purpose, when it aligns with their agenda, when it gives them what they want. Otherwise, truth is a burden, a threat, an obstacle they intend to manage and work around, in which case a lie appears as a relief, preferred and most easily accepted.

Those who want to believe what suits them don’t love the truth and seek it out, regardless how it might impact them. Once the lie is offered with any chance of being correct, they grasp on to it and hold it close. They must then love darkness rather than light, because they’ve not aligned themselves with truth (Jn 3:19), but hold the truth in unrighteousness, angering God. (Ro 1:18)

Those who love the truth obey and follow the truth at any cost. It becomes our only way; we know no other. We know no lie is of the truth (1Jn 2:21), and all truth is consistent with all other truth. So, we can accept no real inconsistency in our world view — we permit nothing in it that doesn’t align with all reality as we perceive it.

It’s a narrow way, often lonely — any step to the side is indeed treacherous. It’s better not to know the truth, not to even come this way, if we aren’t going to obey it. (1Pe 2:21) Yet the effort eventually leads us to God, so we end up with God, in God, aligned with Him Who is the Truth, because all truth, all reality, points to Him. (Ep 4:21)

For example, the complexity of Creation proves there’s a Designer. Contemplate the odds of a single useful protein forming by chance, even if all required elements happen to be present in the same space, intermingling with each other, and manage to assemble themselves in some random way. The odds are comparable to that of two people blindly selecting the same atom from among all the atoms in our Milky Way galaxy. And protein is just one element of an irreducibly and incredibly complex machine at the base of all life forms. The fact of a Designer is clearly seen, being understood by us all, and easily verified. It is the beginning of the way, and even this first step sets us in rare and precious company.

Given a Creator, Who evidently made us all in His own image, one reasonably expects some ancient religion to reveal Him. Nothing compares to Torah, not even close. The very existence of Israel is infallible proof that God is real, and that He has openly revealed Himself to the world. Yet, who’s been focusing on knowing the God of the Old Testament? This next step separates us even further, alienating us from the more popular religions of the world.

Following Torah leads us to the Jewish Messiah (Ga 3:24): the only Man to predict His own death and resurrection, pull it off exactly as predicted by Hebrew prophets hundreds of years earlier, and have the fact verified by hundreds of eye-witnesses, who were all willing to die rather than live out of step with this fact: it cost them everything. People make up lies all the time, but they aren’t willing to die for what they know is a lie. The Resurrection of Christ is the most provable fact of all history. And this step isolates us yet more, pitting us against most all of the Jews. (Ro 11:28)

The incarnation of Christ is indeed the ultimate singularity, putting the resurrection in perspective: divinity piercing the human domain for a sovereign purpose. (Jn 3:17) And this leads us to Who Jesus is, why Jesus died, and for whom He died — that He might bring us to God. (1Pe 3:18) And so, we’re home at last.

We know we’re of the truth, at home in Christ, when we walk in love, and also in truth (1Jn 3:18-19), seeking the ultimate welfare of all, yet unwilling to live apart from the truth, even a little bit, even to spare those who are deeply offended by it.

Thus, in being of the truth, though we seek the world’s good, we invariably find ourselves in the crosshairs of the world’s hatred of truth; to avoid the truth they must ultimately mock and dismiss us, or eradicate and overcome us — we shouldn’t be surprised if the world hates us (13), just as it hated Him. (Jn 7:7)

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