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Day 1: Living Daily in Reality - default
Day 1: Living Daily in Reality ============================== Living daily in reality. That’s what we all want to do! But what is reality? Is it just what we face in our jobs, getting enough money to keep us working so that we can have children so that they can grow up like us to get jobs so that they can repeat the whole thing all over again until we all cease to exist? Is this the sum-total of reality? Or is there some real reality behind this world that we see around us? I will tell you the answer I’ve come to?but only if we can talk a little more together so that I have the chance to explain why I think this. REALITY IS THAT YOU PERSONALLY HAVE A LOVING FATHER WHO CREATED THE UNIVERSE – HE MADE YOU INSIDE HIS ONLY SON SO THAT HE COULD LIVE A UNIQUE LIFE IN YOU HERE ON EARTH. That’s reality! Why do I say that? Because about 2,000 years ago there lived a man who was actually that son of the Creator of the universe. How do we know he lived on earth? The British Museum in London has the details of his life in two old manuscripts written just about 300 years after he lived in Palestine! And there are over 4,000 other Greek manuscripts that have the same details. Some of them are dated only 70 years after he died. But besides these, many of the people who knew him wrote and talked about him in their books and letters, and the actual garden in Jerusalem where he prayed his last prayers before he died still exists in the very place it was described almost 2000 years ago. So even though religious people have tried to turn this man into a mystical fairy-tale figure, the facts of his life and history are clearer and more certain than those of any other man of that time. Reality is that he existed with the Creator before the world was made – and that was when your existence was planned! But now, remember I asked you to think with me a little longer so that you can see I’m not some kind of crazy fanatic. So – why do I say all this? First, because he himself,the Son of our Creator, actually lived here on earth in the first century of our era i.e. he was born about 6 B.C. when the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, decreed that a census of the whole world should be taken. Quirinius was the governor of Syria, and a man called Joseph, who was the human father of this only son of our maker, had to go to the town, Bethlehem, where he had been born. These facts are all recorded in government records and accepted as history by dozens of contemporary writers, many of whom are not themselves religious people. Fifty years later (when many people were still alive who had been in Bethlehem at that time) the account of this Joseph and his miraculous son was circulating in written form throughout the first century world. So the history of this unique human-being’s life is inextricably intertwined with the local and national political and public figures of the Mediterranean world of the first century. In the thousands of historical records not one questions that this man actually lived on the earth at that time. Secondly, because the history of his actions and his words has been preserved so precisely one is compelled to respect and examine closely the authenticity of his explanation of reality. His death and return to life are attested and recorded by ordinary people and by scholars who died because of their eye-witness accounts. So the serious thinker has no option but to delve deeply into the words this person spoke about the Creator that he called Father. If you and I were actually made as part of our Creator? only Son, then our visit here on earth is only a small part of our real existence, and our whole life opens up into something far more spacious and limitless than we ever imagined. So, let’s think together about this again.
Day 2: Beyond Time - default
Day 2: Living Daily in Reality: Historicity of Christ ===================================================== We’re talking about living daily in reality – and we’ve been saying that reality was explained to us by a unique human being who lived in Palestine in the first century of our era. Although certain Western religions have tried to turn him into a figurehead for their particular beliefs, he himself was a well-known public figure to ordinary people and political leaders of the first century. Four different eye-witness accounts of his life were written and circulating throughout the Mediterranean world just twenty years after his execution by the Romans. The writers themselves were written about and quoted by dozens of contemporaries while the opposition of the authorities is part of the general literature and government records of the period. Eventually his explanation of reality was accepted by the Emperors of Rome and became the accepted explanation of reality for the known world. This Jesus of Nazareth said that His father created the universe and made you and me inside him so that he could live in us here on earth the life he had planned. These eyewitness accounts were collected as the first four books in the New Testament part of the collection known in Greek as TA BIBLIA – the Bible. The authors themselves are quoted at the end of the first century by men like Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Papias, while thousands who had seen the man himself and read the original accounts were still alive. The Roman historians Pliny and Tacitus in the second century communicated with their Emperor about this man Christ and what they should do to stop the spread of his teaching. But all the time, the personal chain of witnesses increased the confirmation of the historical facts – men like Irenaeus (born about 97 A.D.) talked about Polycarp (born in 70 A.D.) and said: “I can tell the place in which Polycarp sat and related his conversation with John and others who had seen Jesus.” Similarly, the unbroken chain of personal transmission of historical facts is attested by accounts of men like Papias, who was alive in the first century and wrote: “Mark being the interpreter of Peter wrote exactly whatever he remembered; but not in the order in which things were spoken or done by Christ. For he was neither a hearer nor a follower of the Lord; but, as I said, afterwards followed Peter, who made his discourses for the profit of those that heard him, but not in the way of a regular history of our Lord’s words. Mark however committed no mistake in writing some things, as they occurred to his memory. For this one thing he made his care – to omit nothing which he had heard, and to say nothing false in what he related.” So the existence of this unique human being is part and parcel of the historical records of the Jewish nation, the Roman government, and attested by thousands of manuscripts written in Greek, Latin and Syriac and confirmed by international crowds who heard him and his disciples. The significance of this man’s life and influence has been so universal that our history is measured by the number of years preceding and following his birth – B.C. and A.D.. The Old Testament prophets which he respected and trusted and the New Testament writers who respected and trusted Him have been the basis for the world’s laws and ethics for centuries. And this man has said that he existed before the creation of the universe and that you and I were made inside him and are part of him. But how could this be if he is simply an ordinary human-being like us? If this man was born of an ordinary woman and died the way we die, how can we possibly believe that we were created inside him before we were born here on earth? How can we believe that he is alive now if he was executed by the Romans almost two thousand years ago? Let’s discuss this again.
Day 3: Credibility of History - default
Day 3: Living Daily in Reality: Credibility of History ====================================================== Living daily in reality – not in the world of soap-opera on TV, not in the disasters happening on the other side of the world – but living in actual reality!!! But what is reality i.e. what reality really lies behind this world that we see around us? To know that you’d have to get off this world and look at it from the outside. And this is what a unique human being was able to do! He lived in the first century and was known and acknowledged by thousands of ordinary people who heard and saw him. But – more than that – he was written about and talked about in Greek, Latin, and Syriac books – and in the highest circles of government. Here’s what Tertullian, a Roman juris-consult, wrote in 145 A.D.. – about this man – â€œthere was an old decree that no god should be consecrated by the emperor till first approved by the senate. Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate with his own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all accusers of the Christians. Consult your histories!â€(cid:157) says Tertullian. This Jesus was born in Bethlehem in 6 B.C., talked about our Creator as an only son would, demonstrated power to heal sickness and raise the dead, was executed and came back from the dead for over thirty days, and explained that he was returning to his Father, the Creator, with whom he existed outside time and space. But above all of this, he made it plain that he was not just a local figure to be used as an example by religions – he explained that you – and I – were made by his Father, our Creator, inside him so that he could live through us the life he had planned before we were born! This is reality. In fact, he explained what Einstein and modern physics teach us – that time is relative – depending on where you are in the universe. If you could get far enough away out in space and returned fifty years later, you’d be younger than the rest of us on earth. This Jesus explained â€œbefore Abraham was, I amâ€(cid:157) – and he said â€œI am in you and you in meâ€(cid:157); one of his associates wrote that â€œall things were created though him and for him; he is before all things, and in him all things hold togetherâ€(cid:157). A milli-second after our God had his only Son he created humanity – all of us individually inside that Son so that we would share his life. So we now have the opportunity to accept and enjoy our position or to deny and miss our privileged relationship to our Maker! This obviously changes the way we all think of our little lives. So, it is important for us to study the historicity of this man’s life and especially his resurrection! We need to realize that non-religious historians like Tacitus acknowledged the existence and character of this Jesus of Nazareth, that the facts and history of his actions and words are so well-documented that expert British scholars have said there is no question about any of the New Testament except about a thousandth part – and that only concerning punctuation and spelling. It’s important to know that the original accounts were written by men who were actual eye-witnesses who suffered torture and death for what they knew was true. It’s also significant that the transmission of those accounts down through the centuries is established not simply by the twenty ancient manuscripts on which we depend for Plato’s Republic BUT in more than 4,000 Greek manuscripts from as early as 100 to 1100 A.D. None of them differ from one another on matters of fact. Let’s look at some of this evidence again.
Day 4: A Divine Man - default
Day 4L:iving Daily in Reality: A Divine Man? ============================================= If reality is that you and I were made by a fatherly Creator who actually cares about us and made us inside his only son, it’s essential that we know why we believe that is reality. First, it’s necessary to know that such a person as this son actually exists. Many of us have read the Greek and Roman myths that were written by the great poets and philosophers about their gods but we don’t believe for a moment that those myths are reality. When you see movies like “Jesus of Nazareth” or read fiction like “The Davinci Code” you wonder if there is any truth at all believing there was a human being called Jesus of Nazareth. What is the evidence for his existence? As we’ve discussed during the past few conversations, the evidence is similar to but immensely more solid than the evidence we have for the historical figures that form the basis of our laws and philosophy and national histories. Most of our universities, for instance, regard any evidence that is within 200 years of an event as an eye-witness account — even though it is 200 years later than the eye-witnesses actually lived. This is the way we treat the lives of men like Julius Caesar, Plato, Aristotle, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and Nero. This man Jesus lived in the first century and was executed in 29 A.D. Four of his followers wrote their accounts of his words and actions and circulated them throughout Palestine, Greece, and Rome during the next sixty years while hundreds of people were alive who had seen what they had seen. Many like Clement, Papias, Pliny, and Irenaeus referred to these in their own writings and scores of people were executed during those years because they talked about this Jesus of Nazareth, yet his existence and life were never questioned by either the authorities or the ordinary people. In fact, the opposite is true. There are many official government documents and references to the trouble this Christ-talk was causing. Here’s an old Bible of my grandmother’s. She was in the Salvation Army, was born in 1860 and died in 1945. I’ll read you the little presentation page, “Presented to Lieutenant Jane Ann Duff for love and service. 21st of June, 1887.” Now I knew her during the first 11 years of my life, and she could remember what happened in Ireland from about 1870, so if someone during that time had risen from the dead and the whole thing was shown to be a hoax or a kind of Houdini illusion, she would have been able to tell me about it. Moreover, if hundreds of books had been written about the lie, she would certainly have protested. But think about it – she therefore could guarantee the events during her 75 years of conscious life, but I’m still alive 60 years after she died, so events that occurred 135 years ago can be corroborated by hundreds of people who are still alive and had the kind of direct contact that I had with an eye-witness. This Jesus died in 29 A.D. so people who had spoken with eye-witnesses of his death and resurrection would still be alive in 165 A.D. There were thousands who are in this category – who were alive during the period from 29 to 165 A.D. while hundreds of books and letters were being read and circulated about these momentous events. Of course, what makes the historical facts so certain in the minds of historians is that the eye-witnesses themselves and those who believed them gained nothing by their talk. They did not become famous or rich or powerful through their speaking or their writing. In fact, the opposite was true – they died in their hundreds in the mouths of lions, at the hands of gladiators, for the pleasure of Nero and the Roman emperors. They led their children into lion arenas because they knew this Jesus was divine. They had no doubt that he had power to die and to live again. Were they deceived? Let’s talk again about this.
Day 5: Resurrection - default
Day 5: Living Daily in Reality: Resurrection? ============================================= If reality is that we were made inside the only son of our Creator, then the human being that we identify with him must have power over life and death. But only Jesus of Nazareth has credibly demonstrated that ability to die and come back to life. Many fakirs, spiritualists, and con men have claimed to do this, but none has the kind of public and documented testimony that surrounds this phenomenal event which split our history into B.C. and A.D.. Mohammed was a prophet, Buddha was an inspired teacher and example, but Christ was the only son of the Maker of the universe and was the being inside whom you and I were created. But WAS he the one human being who had power to overcome the power of death? All the contemporary witnesses of his life attest to the facts that he had power to die, to leave the earth, and to return and live here for several weeks. The two vital facts are the empty tomb and the various appearances. The usual imaginative alternatives have never stood the test of simple logic. If the disciples had stolen the body, why would they then have died for a lie and allowed their wives and children and friends to be persecuted and executed for what they knew to be untrue? People will die for what they think is true, but they will not die for what they know to be a lie. If the Romans or the Jewish leaders had stolen the body, why didn’t they parade it through the streets in order to quell this troublesome Christian insurgency that was destroying their society and their religion ? If Jesus had simply swooned and been unconscious, how could he revive enough to roll back the heavy stone from the grave – and – more than that – how could he, with open wounds in his side and his hands call up enough energy and strength to appear in thirteen different places miles apart over a period of more than a month and give an appearance of being more alive than ever before? It’s the same kind of logical impossibility in the argument about the resurrection appearances. He was just a ghost, but he not only walked through walls, but he ate fish and told sceptical Thomas to actually put his fingers into the holes in his hands and said, “a ghost does not have flesh and blood as you see I have.” Perhaps the women AND the men had hallucinations. But hallucinations have well-known psychological attributes – they occur in people who have a somewhat emotional and tentative character – the big, practical fishermen don’t fit that characterization. Hallucinations occur normally among people who want and expect something to happen – the disciples had given up any thought of Jesus rising from the dead and expressed their disappointment. Hallucinations usually occur over a long period of time at lengthy invervals; Jesus’ thirteen appearances occurred over a relatively short compact period of about a month and then ceased completely. Hallucinations are usually seen by one person on their own, but Jesus appeared to groups of people – on one occasion 500 people at one time. The truth is that the explanations for the resurrection are more difficult to believe than the unprecedented fact itself. Because of this demonstrated power over death and because of his ethically faultless life and profound grasp of truth, this man was recognized by the leaders of the world as the divine son of God, and in 325 A.D. belief in him became the established religion of the Roman Empire and our very dates and time came to be measured as before and after his birth.
Day 6: Reality in the Creator’s Son - default
Day 5: Living Daily in Reality: Reality is in the Creator’s Son ============================================================== Living daily in reality – that’s what we’re talking about for five minutes each day. Naturally the first question that we’ve been dealing with is ‘what is reality?’ And we’ve answered so far that the only human being that seems to have existed outside this earth – and been conscious of his existence – and therefore of any reality behind what we all see and touch here – is the man known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ. We’ve discussed the fact that he undoubtedly existed in the first century and we’ve looked at some of the ancient manuscripts that contain the accounts written and spoken by eye-witnesses. These old documents are older and more numerous than those we have for any of the other well-known classical histories of those days. When, for instance, we think of Plato’s Republic (the basic text for most university philosophy departments), we accept the text on the basis of one manuscript which was written 1200 years after Plato wrote his masterpiece, yet we do not question that we have what Plato wrote. Similarly with Herodotus, Aristotle, and Lucretius whose works are based on 2 to 8 manuscripts all of which were written about 1300 years after the author died. The eye-witness accounts of this man Jesus, on the other hand, are found in more than 4,000 Greek manuscripts some of which were written as early as 125 a.d. – while contemporaries were still alive. So we have no doubt that we are reading what actually happened: there just wasn’t the time gap for a legend to develop. But why do we think he was the only son of the Creator of the universe and that you and I were made inside him? Why would you think he was the only son of God? Because he talked like God’s son! Even though his earthly father was an ordinary carpenter, he said to his parents once when he was just twelve and they found him in the temple, “Did you not know I would be about my father’s business?” His mother, of course, knew her husband had no business in the temple. In a very natural way, he identified himself with God, saying things like, “If you knew me, you would know my Father also” (John 14:7) and “He who has seen me has seen the Father also.”(John 14:9) Indeed, where prophets like Mohamed avoided claiming a unique kinship with God, this man made it the focal point of his followers with the question, “Who do men say that I am…who do you say that I am?”(Matthew 16:15) Well, probably all of us can think of people who make all kinds of wild claims as long as they will benefit from them; but this man was pointed and blunt about it even when he was on trial for his life about this very question of his identity. He was being tried for his life and the presiding official asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” He replied, “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”(Mark 14:62) When I read that as a sceptic, I thought, “That explains it right there – the man was a lunatic. The psyche wards are full of crazy people claiming to be anything from Napoleon to God’s Son – that’s what he was – just another mad demagogue!” But this man Jesus didn’t act like a lunatic! The insane people in psyche wards not only make insane claims for themselves, but they act insanely – they produce other symptoms of their mental imbalance. But this man Jesus does not behave as a deranged person; his character does not have the abnormalities or extremes of a madman. Indeed, the opposite is true. When anyone in the world – whatever their religious or non-religious background – wishes to set forth an example of a perfectly balanced and integrated personality, Jesus of Nazareth is the one who is presented as the model to follow. “His zeal never degenerated into passion, nor his constancy into obstinacy, nor his benevolence into weakness, nor his tenderness into sentimentality. His unworldliness was free from indifference and unsociability or undue familiarity; his self-denial from moroseness; his temperance from austerity.” Such are the opinions of most of the behavioral experts of our time. If this man was a lunatic, then all of us are hopelessly insane. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, “No one has yet explained how such deep, moral teaching could come from the lips of a megalomaniac!” But perhaps Jesus was simply a con man, a simple liar! Maybe he knew he wasn’t God but deliberately deceived his hearers about his true identity in order to lend authority to his preaching. But he is universally regarded as the teacher of the highest ethical ideals the world has ever seen; moreover, his life is looked upon as the outstanding example of a perfect, faultless example of his teaching. If he is a liar, then the whole world of logic crumbles in our hands, and our ability to make even the simplest observations with our five senses becomes questionable. It is nonsense to say that the greatest moral teacher and example the world has ever seen — lied — about the focal point of all his teaching — his own identity! If Jesus was a liar, then the world is a “tale told by an idiot.” Or is reality that he is the only son of our Maker and that you and I were created inside him?
Day 7: Made Inside Christ - default
Day 7:Living Daily in Reality: Made Inside His Son =================================================== We’re talking about living daily in reality and we’ve spent the past six videos sharing why we think the man known as Jesus of Nazareth is best able to tell us what reality is. This doesn’t mean that we have to be critical or disrespectful of other great prophets like Mohammed and Buddha: it simply means that history seems to show that this man is the one that died, had the ability to come back to life, and spoke about the Creator as his own personal father. If you question the historicity or superhuman nature of this Jesus Christ, please do look at the first six videos which deal specifically with this intellectual undergirding of what we’re about to talk about now. The first startling fact we have to face is that this Jesus said that he existed with the Creator before the universe was created. The Jews then said to him,”You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham ?” His reply is “before Abraham was, I am”. He makes his pre-existence explicit when he says “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad”. In this same conversation he says, “it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God. But you have not known him: I know him.” This natural, unaffected consciousness of his prior existence is expressed again in his prayer “now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began”. All of these statements were put in writing within 10 years of a manuscript dated about 110 A.D. while some people were still alive who had actually seen this man called Jesus. Believing that this human being knew life before he ever came to the earth would seem utterly impossible if his ability to come back to life after crucifixion were not so widely and analytically documented. But, given the sane and prudent influence that his followers and eye-witnesses have exercised in our world, this person’s pre-existence with our Creator seems a more credible explanation for his wisdom than anything else. It is in keeping with his power over death and disease that his apostle Paul wrote in a letter to the people in Colossae “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” And it is these facts that make his own words believable when he says: “Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”. What then is reality? Reality is that you are actually part of the only son of our Creator! Far from being the chance accident of a blind evolutionary process, you are a carefully and uniquely designed development of God’s only Son. Evolved? Probably, but by a process consciously and lovingly designed and cared for by a loving father’s concern for his only son. Reality was stated simply by this man Jesus’ scholarly apostle when he wrote to the people at Ephesus about 60 A.D. “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. Why would our creator make us inside his only Son? Let’s talk again about this.
Day 8: Why Did God Make Us in His Son? - default
Day 8: Living Daily in Reality: Why make us in His Son? ======================================================= We’re talking about the one human being in the world who had the power to die and come back to life for more than a month in the first century of our present era. He is also the man that has been regarded as the wisest and most ethical human being by both religious and non-religious philosophers. He behaved and spoke as one would expect the son of the creator to behave, and he said that you and I were made inside him before the world was created. Why would our maker make us inside his only son? This man’s resurrection, you remember, is so reliably reported in history and fully documented in thousands of manuscripts that our very history is divided into B.C. and A.D.. He explained his final departure from the earth by saying “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there you may be also”. It’s plain from his other statements that the creator is a loving person who made us because he wanted other children like his only son. He obviously made us in his son so that we would share his life and nature and be as dear to him personally. But Jesus made it clear that his father did not want little toy automatons but free-will people who could actually be friends that he could love. This meant we could choose non-existence if we wanted, so he would have to sustain us and bear the consequences while we chose. He did this by making us inside his own son. So our present world is the temporary effect of our current decision to live in independent nothingness! It also explains why so many of us have within us good and kindly impulses along with selfish and cruel attitudes. The goodness comes from this life of Christ within us while the hostile attitudes express our choice of non-existence. But all of this is sustained by the only human life that has been called “the first-born of all creation” – Jesus, the only son of our maker. He carries us within himself along with every consequence of our sin or independent living. As the most responsible being in the whole universe he has committed himself to enduring whatever we do with our free wills. Although there is no ‘before’ and ‘after’ in eternity, let’s for a moment talk in simple terms. A millisecond after God had his only Son he made you and me inside his Son so that he could come to earth in the human race. This is the meaning of those words we quoted before from the book called ‘Ephesians’ – “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. In his son our creator works to complete his universe through us — and bears all the negative consequences of our rejection of his life in us. Thus this present world is a temporary picture of what life was not meant to beLiving Daily in Reality the creator himself bears the fatal consequences of all our autonomous actions so that we may be kept alive for a further opportunity to accept his life within us. God is no distant, impassive scientific experimenter observing us through a microscope — he has put himself at risk and bears all the strains internally of his will and nature being assaulted by children whom he loves as his only son. This is the cost of making free-will beings and giving them every chance to make the choice between life and nothingness.
Day 9: Does the Maker of World Know Everything? - default
Day 9: Living Daily in Reality: Does our Maker Know Everything? =============================================================== We’re talking about living each day in reality rather than the dream-world of the media or the transitory world of each day’s activities. Obviously this forces us to face the question ‘what is reality’. We’ve answered on the basis of the only human life that seems to have been directly related to the Maker of the world. We’ve been saying that this (the actions and words of Jesus of Nazareth whose historicity we’ve discussed in the first six videos) indicates that there is no life outside him and his father. This is part of the reason we were created actually inside him — so that we would share his existence and could continue to exist even after initially choosing to reject his life. In this way our creator made us with the same free will as he has, allowed us to reject his life, see the consequences of our choice in this world, and then choose finally life or nothingness. Most parents know what an agony they’ve often had to bear to give their children this privilege of free will; this is obviously multiplied and intensified billions of times when one thinks of a good, loving father bearing within himself the tortures of world-wars and domestic strife. Did the maker of the universe know this would happen? Even we humans with our finite minds are capable of foreseeing and foreknowing what certain children and adults will probably do. But an infinite mind that originates everything certainly knows what we humans will do: his love is not in his ignorance but in his willingness to bear the consequences in his own heart so that we will see plainly the effects of our choices. Indeed, he foreknew because he foreordained, and he foreordained because his love has to bear and transform its opposite. So our maker has to conceive not only what he is but also what he is not – and he has to endure that. This endurance or patience is intensified by the reality of the eternity that Einstein clarified in scientific terms when he posited the relativity of time. Through illustrations with one clock at sea-level and the other at the top of a mountain, he pointed out not only that time is relative to space but that eternity includes and transcends time. So God himself foresaw the long, agonizing history of the universe in a millisecond, saw his son come to earth in his own physical body, then in our billions of personal bodies, and bore the pain of it all instantaneously. In so far as he shares all our moments in his son, he bears the pain continuously in time until it ends “for we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. Although his love requires that he never force our wills yet it also requires that he work with our waywardness to enable us to make a true choice between life and death, his son within us and our empty selves. If you imagine yourself as the absolute and ultimate maker and sustainer of the universe, you know that your ensuring free will in your creatures must stem from your own inner integrity and respect for free will. It cannot come from your handing them over to some abstract force called chance: otherwise that force would be the ultimate ruler. Thus you have to know all that will happen in the universe that you have made!
Day 10: The Basis of Our Life - default
Day 10: Living Daily in Reality: The Basis of our Life ====================================================== We’re talking about living each day in reality and in the first six days of these five-minute presentations we talked about the human being called Jesus and the intellectual evidence for regarding him as a historical person. We then dealt with some of the reasons for believing that he really is the only son of the creator of the universe; and on the basis of that we leaped into his own explanation of reality – that his father, the creator of the universe, had made you and me inside him. This is why an eye-witness of his life wrote â€œhe is the first-born of all creation and in him all things were created and in him all things hold togetherâ€(cid:157). Obviously each of us first appeared on earth when we were born in our mother but he himself said â€œbefore Abraham was, I amâ€(cid:157) and even he appeared in his own body at the beginning of our era. However, the implication of his own words and those of his followers is that â€œwe are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in themâ€(cid:157). In other words, our maker planned for his only son to come to this earth and through his life in us to complete it for his father, the creator. Since our maker’s infinite mind conceives of everything in a moment in eternity, he has already walked through the life he planned to lead in his son through us, so all our works are prepared beforehand for us to walk in. It’s plain to all of us that we have been given freedom to walk in those works or not to walk in them, but in some profound way our creator continues to work in us, through us, and despite us to bring about his original design. The agony of his son’s death in Jerusalem is his plainest expression to us of the strain our autonomy causes him personally and of his readiness to put himself at risk to draw us towards his will. But the most obvious fact that his explanation of reality establishes is that your life and mine have a significance far beyond our own little abilities and talents. We are not what we thought we were – little bits of flotsam and jetsam being buffeted from one place to another by forces of economy and our own little desires and ambitions. We are far more than that – actual beings that are known personally by the Creator of the universe – created in his son even before the world began. Our lives are not only already planned but have been already lived – in the sense that the infinite being who originated everything sees it all in a moment – far better than our most advanced computer will ever work out the future economy of the world. The statement is startling and complex but â€œevery one of our days has been written in his book before there were any of themâ€(cid:157). In other words, our maker has seen not only the plan he has for us but also the choices we will make and the counter-moves that he will also bring about. Our life is a planned adventure – created by a father who loves us! HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING? Â My life flows on in endless song Above earth’s lamentation; I hear the real though distant hymn That hails a new creation No storm can shake my calm repose While to this rock I’m clinging: If Christ is Lord of heaven and earth How can I keep from singing? What though my joys and comforts die! I know my Savior liveth; What though the darkness round me lie! Songs in the night he giveth I lift my eyes – the cloud grows thin, I see the blue above it; And day by day this pathway smoothes Since first I learned to love it. The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart A fountain ever springing All things are mine since I am His How can I keep from singing?
Day 11: The Release of Living Daily in Reality - default
Day 11: Living Daily in Reality: Some Difficulties ================================================== I try to think of the difficulty you might face as you think about this challenge to live daily in reality. I myself had little trouble with the question of the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. In my early university days I spent time in Latin and Greek and Hebrew and the world of manuscripts and documenting of ancient history. It was just very obvious to anyone with even a little knowledge of higher criticism that the manuscript evidence for the historicity of Jesus was far better than that for any of the other famous historical figures of that time. The writings of Julius Caesar and Plato and Homer are accepted by all scholars of repute on the basis of 10 to 20 ancient manuscripts most of which were written a thousand years after they died. The manuscripts for Jesus’ life can be traced to not only thousands of Greek and Latin manuscripts of various ages which confirm the text we have today, but also thousands of Syriac and Egyptian versions together with numberless quotations in non-Biblical literature and letters. But all of this evidence can be found in books by authors like Bruce and Kenyon – even the most liberal critics reinforce the opinion of Westcott and Hort – “the words still subject to doubt can hardly amount to more than a thousandth part of the whole New Testament”. What might be new to you is the wide difference that exists between the other great and respected leaders of the world’s religions and this person, Jesus. He not only rose from the dead and came alive again as a real, human-being who could eat fish and talk with his followers about what happened, but he spoke naturally about his life with his father, the Creator, BEFORE the world was made. In other words he was not bound by time and space like all other human-beings, but seemed equally at home in time-space or outside time-space – and lived that way by passing easily from one world to the other. Again, the historicity of his resurrection is dealt with by many sceptics like the lawyer Morrison or the philosopher, C.E.M. Joad. Moreover, Jesus himself emphasizes his supra-temporal existence by saying plainly “I am in my Father, and you are in me”. His disciple, John, writes “he was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made”. Another of his apostles affirms that “he was the express image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” The implication is that we all were first given life in him: indeed the Greek phrase used by John is literally “all that is was life in him”. Paul also writes to the Ephesians “for we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus” while our own poets and intuitions attest to some sense of our being part of eternity. But certainly this is a claim that goes far beyond that of being just a prophet – this is a claim that we are part of him and have been made and sustained by him. This is far different from its human imitation – reincarnation; for there is no indication that we come back in some other form in some future life; the clear indication is that Jesus “goes to prepare a place for us that where he is there we may be also”. The other difficulty I thought you might have is one that I had for years – how can God foreknow what we will do or be? Indeed, how can he foreordain what we will do or be without making us automatons who cannot exercise our free wills? My only answer was that God cannot know what I’m going to do so everything depends on what I will. I thought that he must be like me and that he would undoubtedly work to subvert my will if he saw me heading in the wrong direction. So he must not know and certainly does not foreordain or predestine me since he gives me the right to choose life or death. But then I began to see that God makes everything so he makes us capable of rejecting him and choosing nothingness or death. He can bear that or let it destroy us; if he lets it destroy us, his will is defeated; if he bears the rejection, we may be won by his love. Thus he puts himself at risk and bears the unbearable as God even though he knows each move we will make. Yet his steadfast love continues forever to work all things according to the counsel of his will.
Day 12: A Known Future - default
Day 12: Living Daily in Reality: A Known Future =============================================== Living daily in reality means seeing that we are not just little nothings that occur by chance from some huge explosion in space, but that we are the intricate creation of a personal, loving Father who made us inside his own son. Of course that changes the whole way we think of ourselves and our origin. We see that our physical parents were a gracious way for our Father to get us on the earth but that we are really “God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. This transforms our attitude to our futures – if our maker has some things that he has prepared for us to do. This lifts a heavy burden off our shoulders – we are not left to chance encounters with important people or the best opinions of guidance-counselors or the driving fears of our own ambitions. We are here to do something that we were made for – something that only we can do in the way our maker wants. At last we know what to do about that sense of uniqueness that we have: we don’t have to be driven by the need for others to acknowledge our uniqueness by gaining some little celebrity status. We see that it doesn’t matter if the whole world ignores us as long as our maker esteems us as part of himself. But this reality of our being part of the son of the Creator of the universe also affects our attitude to the future. You can see that if you look again at that statement by Paul (to whom Jesus appeared in Palestine) – “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. Even we with our finite minds can see that our maker obviously knows everything there is to be known about his creation. It is the job of human manufacturers to know the potentials and limitations of their product. How much more does the infinite being who made everything know what will happen when millions of beings through thousands of years interact with each other and their environment! Indeed, when you think how many circumstances and contingent events must occur repeatedly for you to get up each morning and get to work, the being or power that enables all these to occur on time must know everything in detail. So, obviously the creator knows all that will happen and all the things we will do in our lifetime. The great difference between the exercise of this power and that of a software programmer is that our father is committed to guarding and preserving our exercising free will. He put us here to give us that opportunity – to come willingly to accept his plan for us – however long it takes and however much he has to bear as we choose our own ways. But the immeasurable benefit for us is that our future is a known way – one that has been carefully planned and prepared and provided for by someone who really loves and cares for us!
Day 13: A Planned Life - default
Day 13: Living Daily in Reality: A Planned Life =============================================== If living daily in reality is living in the certainty that we have been made by somebody who actually knows us and loves us, how does that affect the way we think of our futures? The first thought that comes to us is that this creator must know exactly why and for what purpose he made us and put us here. It doesn’t take much intelligence to see the detailed planning and supervision that he must exercise to get you to successfully stand up, walk to the door and open it. Millions of actions in your body, muscles, blood, and brain have to be carefully co-ordinated to enable you to perform that simple act. And when you apply that thought to six billion people throughout the world that avoid colliding with each other and operate millions of personal and financial decisions every hour so that payables and receivables, sales and purchases, imports and exports operate efficiently time after time, it’s easy to see that our creator knows exactly where everything is and will be every moment. So your creator certainly knows what he’s planned for you! The idea that he just makes the whole thing and then rolls it like a dice is something that Einstein utterly rejected as inconsistent with the complicated activities of human and physical nature. Even the growing development of chaos theories by our scientists imply the same belief that nothing happens by chance. Indeed, one could say that if chance ruled, then chance would be the ultimate power in the universe and an intelligent supreme being would be impossible. The alternative to chance is a loving, infinite person who wants us to choose freely to love him so badly that he uses his complete sovereignty with such restraint that we actually are able to choose to acquiesce in his plan for us. And this even if he himself has to bear the strain and pain of our destructive behaviour. This seems to be the situation that is described by Jesus when he expresses his Father’s attitude to Jerusalem in the words “Jerusalem,, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens, but you would not”. It also represents the paradox expressed by one of Jesus’ disciples when he says “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God that works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure”. In some profound way, Christ in us acts yet it is we who do the actual deed. So reality is that our lives are planned for us and the power of our creator works in us to fulfil that plan, yet submission to the treatment of his son, Jesus, here on earth makes it clear that he is no dominating dictator or puppeteer. In some paradoxical way he acts and we act also.
Day 14: The Way we Live Now - default
Day 14: Living Daily in Reality: The Way We Live Now ==================================================== Living daily in reality means living lives that have been planned by the infinite father-creator who knows how many times every fly in the world beats its wings each minute. Although his love for us necessitates his making us free to love him or not, each of us has been put here by him to do something that he has planned for us alone. Obviously the state of our personal and international lives shows that we have not made the best choices or the choices that we would expect him to approve. Generally, few of us have seriously accepted that we were made by a creator who cared for us so much that he made us inside his own son so that we could be like him. From we were born we’ve assumed that we were on our own – after a few years of help from our parents. Normally we’ve taken it for granted that it was up to us to decide how we were going to survive. It’s simple to see there are six billion other people like ourselves so it’s up to us to get enough food, shelter, and clothing to maintain life. You quickly see that this means getting as good a job as you can so education will help, but most of all you see that you have to compete with thousands of other human beings who are thinking the same thing as you are. Moreover, even at school you feel inside that others don’t seem to see how absolutely unique you are; that’s why the approval and admiration of your peers becomes so important: Little League is not just fun; sport is not just games; these things can bring you respect and even promotion. But along with these concerns you yearn for that combination of excitement and contentment that gives you a sense of well-being and happiness. So pleasure of all kinds becomes an important part of your life. The result of this view of reality is that most of us find ourselves pretty indifferent to what our maker may or may not want: through teen years and into the twenties we are like little machines that live each day to get enough things to give us some sense of security, enough prestige to get some feeling of significance, and enough pleasures to give us some happiness. And the only source of this security, significance, and happiness is this world around us with its things, its people, and its pleasant circumstances and surroundings. So we grow utterly dependent not on the creator but on the creation. The result is we have no idea why we were put here, and we have little time to think about such things because life has just carried us along so fast that we haven’t noticed the time going. Needless to say, this chaotic, meaningless rat-race is far removed from what your creator has in mind, but wouldn’t he have foreseen some of this? If he made us, wouldn’t he have foreseen all of it? Of course, so let’s talk together again about this.
Day 15: Why Does God Allow Evil? - default
Day 15: Living Daily in Reality: Why does God allow evil? ======================================================== Living daily in reality entails seeing clearly that you personally have a loving father who made you inside his own son so that he could live the life through you that he has planned. What we saw yesterday was that we have had no time for that kind of thinking; we are utterly taken up with getting enough food, clothing, and shelter to gain some sense of security from these things; getting enough respect and recognition from other people to give us some sense of significance; and arranging circumstances and events so that we have a little pleasure and happiness to make life bearable. All of this focuses us – not on some creator somewhere out there – but solidly on this world around us; it is the source we look to for our livelihood. Why does our maker allow this to happen? Because of his own nature – which is love – a real desire to give what he has and is – to others – not because he has to but because he wants to. This means giving the free will that he himself has – so that we are truly free to return that to him; so he gives us the freedom to reject him and his love or to love him in return. This was expressed by his son here on earth when he said “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens, but you would not”. It’s why throughout the years in which the nation of Israel turned away from him to other gods, the prophets said “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end”. Although God has planned that the rarest flower has a bee or moth that is able to pollinate it and that the air pressure of our atmosphere is precisely right for us to exist without exploding or imploding – and although he has carefully planned your life in detail, yet he bears all the independent selfishness and irritability you choose to express. The result is that this world is actually a picture of what life would be like without a creator who is our loving Father. Just as permission to eat of the tree of life and to reject the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was given in the Genesis account of creation, so this present world is a clear presentation to us of life or death – it is our opportunity to acquiesce to our creator’s plan for us or to reject it. However, there is no permanent life apart from our Maker’s, so our father faces a devastating situation when He creates us. We can only be what he is if we have his freedom, but if we use it to reject him, then we lose any possibility of retaining life – because there is no life apart from him! This is why he made us in his son.