Which god?    God or god?

“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

Which God Saves Us home Who gets the credit home

Bringing People To God

January 8, 2011

There was a lot to write about this week - at least that I was thinking about. Picking one was going to be hard.

Then I decided to write about all of them - by writing about none of them. Then I started writing - and now at the end - I'm changing this opening because I ended up writing quite a bit about a few of them -
because it seems they all had something to do with bringing people to God - namely who does it - how - and when.

The first thing was about Noah's Ark. The Ark shows up in the news from time to time. I even wrote about one possible finding in Noah's Ark Found? Not so Fast - back in April 27, 2010.

This time around, there's a theme park being planned by a creationist ministry - which claims the attraction will be non-religious and therefore deserves tax breaks. The write up is available in this article at msnbc.com. It turned into an argument about creating jobs - using public money for religious things - the ministry claiming it's not religious - and on and on.

But wait - the ministry says it's not religious? Absolutely -

That's why the same group that "brings the pages of the Bible to life" at the privately funded Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., believes its $172 million biblically correct Ark Encounter will be a non-religious tourist attraction eligible for $37 million in state tax incentives once it's up and running.

OMG!


Obviously, I'm no fan of the Qu 'ran - but I do have some copies, because it's always good to know what's in it. That book refers to Noah more than 60 times. There are some changes to the Biblical history of what happened with Noah - but it's still in there - and for much the same purpose - namely warning the people about not following "god" - and destruction to be brought on them for not following him. For example - here's a portion of Sura 71:

1. We sent Noah to his people:
"You shall warn your people before
a painful retribution afflicts them."
2. He said, "O my people, I am a
manifest warner to you.
3. "To alert you that you shall worship
GOD, reverence Him, and obey me.
4. "He will then forgive you your sins
and respite you for a predetermined
period. Most assuredly, GOD's
appointment can never be delayed,
once it is due, if you only knew."
5. He said, "My Lord, I have invited
my people night and day.
6. "But my invitation only increased their aversion.
7. "Whenever I invited them to be forgiven by You,
they placed their fingers in their ears, covered themselves
with their clothes, insisted, and turned arrogant.

and then a little later in the same Sura -

21. Noah said, "My Lord, they disobeyed
me, and followed those who were
even more corrupted when blessed
with money and children.
22. "They schemed terrible schemes.
23. "They said, `Do not abandon your
gods. Do not abandon Wadd, Suwaa`,
Yaghouth, Ya`ooq, and Nasr.'
24. "They misled many. Therefore, let
the wicked plunge deeper into loss."
25. Because of their sins they were
drowned and assigned to the hellfire.
They found no helpers to protect
them from GOD.
26. Noah also said, "My Lord, do not
leave a single disbeliever on earth.
27. "For if you let them, they will only mislead your servants
and give birth to nothing but wicked disbelievers.
28. "My Lord, forgive me and my parents,
and anyone who enters my home as a believer,
and all the believing men and women.
But do not give the disbelievers
anything but annihilation."


If you have read about Noah in the Jewish / Christian Old Testament - you know that the one above is a bit different. The "readers digest" version can be seen in Genesis 6:9-13 --

Ge 6:9 This is the account of Noah.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Ge 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.


Well - that certainly is different.

As it turns out - there are many more differences between Islam and the Bible as well. But the one I'm concerned with here - who gets the credit.

In the Islamic version - it's pretty much Noah telling Allah what to do. The people disobeyed Noah - and so Noah tells Allah to kill all the disbelievers. Apparently Allah goes on to do exactly what Noah told him to do.

In the Bible - the all powerful God tells Noah what to do - because He (God) has seen the corrupt ways of the earth and He (God) has already decided what to do.

What it comes down to - in Islam, Noah (a man) seems to get the credit. In the Bible - God gets the credit.


But what's happening with this Noah theme park?

No one gets any credit - because it's not "religious". It appears to be just another natural disaster and Noah comes to the rescue and saves his family and a bunch of animals from that disaster.

There's no warning from God - which both the Qu' ran and the Bible have in common.

There's no wrath of God - whether it be called on by Noah or by God Himself.

There's no lesson to be learned.

Wouldn't Satan be thrilled about that development?


So what's the deal with the ministry running the theme park?

Are they lying - to get a tax break? That's not very Christian - remember what Jesus had to say about paying taxes in Matthew 22:15-22 --

Paying Taxes to Caesar

Mt 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Mt 22:18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

Mt 22:21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Mt 22:22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

So let's hope it's not to get out of taxes.


Maybe they're just using God to make some money? Jesus let us know what He thinks of this type of behavior in Matthew 21:12-13 --

Jesus at the Temple

Mt 21:12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’’”

Maybe one could argue that this is about a theme park and the Bible verses were about God's Temple. Given that the stated objective of the theme park is to create jobs and make make a profit - I'm not sure that's a hair I'd want to be splitting with God.


I could go on with various other reasons why the ministry may want to claim a Noah's Ark theme park isn't religious. I can't imagine one that would be acceptable.

I'm all for bringing people to God - but by saying that it's not religious - I don't think that's a really good way.


The next one that I saw to write about has to do with "purity tests" in political parties.

Good grief.

It's a very short section of an article from msnbc. Just scroll down to the part about the purity test.

Basically, it has to do with litmus tests - like if you are in favor of abortion, gay marriage, higher government spending, Etc. - then you're probably not a republican and certainly shouldn't be a republican candidate for office. One problem with that theory - it's already not true.


Again - it comes down to who gets the credit.

If you're expecting to government to do things like save people by not allowing them to have abortions or gay marriages - forget it. That's not what government is for. That's what God is for. And God can't be legislated.

God has made an invitation to each of us - as individuals. It's not from the government - it's from God. And it's not forced on us like some government law - it's totally optional.

So make the government do it's work - by voting.

But at the same time - realize that God's work isn't the same - and that God's work is done by God.


And then there's the next item - going back to Islam. Once again from msnbc - this one an article titled Muslim scholars praise killer of Pakistan governor.

Why am I writing about this? Well - here's part of the article --

Even so-called moderate Muslim scholars praised 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri for allegedly killing Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer on Tuesday in a hail of gunfire while he was supposed to be protecting him as a bodyguard. Qadri later told authorities he acted because of Taseer's vocal opposition to blasphemy laws that order death for those who insult Islam.

Without getting into anything else about Islam , there's an interesting point here about who gets credit as well.

Islam has blasphemy laws for people that insult it - with the punishment carried out by man.

Christianity also has a guide as to what to do with people who refuse to believe in it. One of them comes from Jesus Himself - from Matthew 10:1-16 --

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Mt 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

Mt 10:2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Mt 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

Mt 10:11 “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.


Jesus says "shake the dust off your feet when you leave". That's it. Don't yell at them - don't argue with them and get mad - don't swear at them - and certainly don't kill them.

Why just this simple command - leave?

Well - I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

It would seem that the all powerful God of the Bible already has a plan - and He will deal with people on His own. As it is written in the OT in Deuteronomy 32:34-43 --

Dt 32:34 “Have I not kept this in reserve

and sealed it in my vaults?

Dt 32:35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay.

In due time their foot will slip;

their day of disaster is near

and their doom rushes upon them.”

Dt 32:36 The LORD will judge his people

and have compassion on his servants

when he sees their strength is gone

and no one is left, slave or free.

Dt 32:37 He will say: “Now where are their gods,

the rock they took refuge in,

Dt 32:38 the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices

and drank the wine of their drink offerings?

Let them rise up to help you!

Let them give you shelter!

Dt 32:39 “See now that I myself am He!

There is no god besides me.

I put to death and I bring to life,

I have wounded and I will heal,

and no one can deliver out of my hand.

Dt 32:40 I lift my hand to heaven and declare:

As surely as I live forever,

Dt 32:41 when I sharpen my flashing sword

and my hand grasps it in judgment,

I will take vengeance on my adversaries

and repay those who hate me.

Dt 32:42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,

while my sword devours flesh:

the blood of the slain and the captives,

the heads of the enemy leaders.”

Dt 32:43 Rejoice, O nations, with his people,

for he will avenge the blood of his servants;

he will take vengeance on his enemies

and make atonement for his land and people.


I know it's a bit long - but it's for the context.

As for the New Testament - the Apostle Paul refers to these same verses.

No surprise there.

What may be a surprise is that it comes in a section which the NIV titles "Love" - or in the current NIV version on biblegateway.com, called "Love in Action"! It comes in Romans 12:9-21 --

Love

Ro 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Ro 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Ro 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Ro 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Wow - isn't that different?

One says men must kill each other for God's sake.

The other says men must love each other for God's sake - and God will take care of Himself.


So - who should get the credit?

Man - for defending God?

or God - for offering salvation to those who choose to accept it -
and God for taking care of Himself against those who refuse His offer?


The bottom line - for Christians - we try to lead people to God - tell them about Him - and leave it to them to accept or reject Him. The rest is up to them - and to God. It's not up to us to say - believe or we will kill you.

That's what free will is about - and that's what God's love - or revenge - whichever we choose - is about.


So let's give God the credit He is due.

And accept His gift of salvation - His Son Jesus.