Jesus is many things to me. He is a teacher and a leader. Jesus is Lord and the Messiah. Most importantly, Jesus is my savior.
Jesus suffered and died for sin. It is through Jesus I find forgiveness for my sins. Jesus also understands suffering. I find great comfort in knowing that.
The other day, I was reading Matthew 15:21-28.
21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyreand Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (ESV)
I started thinking about the Jewish society of that time. It was extremely prejudicial, and a person’s worth or cleanliness was largely based on race and ethnic origin. As a Canaanite and a woman, she would have been viewed with disdain. Also, the statement made by Jesus echoes that sentiment.
However, the woman trusted Jesus. She believed him to be fair and loving. She trusted him to not judge her based on superficial things. Her trust in the love of Jesus was not misplaced. Jesus healed her daughter and commented on her great faith.
Screwtape is a demon and he is writing letters to his nephew, Wormwood. The letters are meant to help Wormwood, who is fresh out of Tempter’s College, in his endeavors to prevent people from becoming Christians. In the end Wormwood fails and is eaten by the more successful demons.
The advice given by Screwtape was potentially effective, but it was also subtle.
- Church members can be used to keep people away from the Gospel, especially if they behave rudely or practice immorality.
- Family discord, lack of self-examination, and critical thoughts toward others will promote a self-righteous attitude.
- Keep people away from prayer or have them use memorized superficial prayers that can be repeated without meaning.
- Keep people focused on themselves and their own problems to promote selfishness and prevent charitable behavior.
- Keep people focused on personal feelings.
- Teach people to reverence religious objects, so the object replaces God.
- Teach people to view the past as happy and peaceful. Teach them to view the future with dread and hopelessness, so they will believe not even God can save them from certain destruction.
- Create anxiety to prevent people from focusing on God.
- Promote hatred for those who are different from them and hatred for enemies.
- Promote malice towards the people around them and keep benevolence out of their minds.
- Increase temptation during times of struggle, so sin appears to be the best way to elevate depression and inner turmoil.
- If people desire to attend church, help them find one that focuses solely on friendship and self-help topics.
- Teach people to live two parallel lives. Sunday is for church, but during the rest of the week there is no thought of God. This will allow them to live in sin, but still feel self-righteous.
- Lull people into the path of wickedness, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
- Don’t allow people to be rooted in a church, “if a man can’t be cured of church going, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.”
- Promote discord in the church, so the members are arguing over petty things, then they will be unable to teach the gospel with any effectiveness.
- Encourage false spirituality among the people.
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matthew 12:30-31 (ESV))
What is the unforgivable sin? What does “blasphemy against the Spirit” really mean?
The first word in Matthew 12:31 is “Therefore.” That word is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “for that reason” or “because of that.” It’s an extremely important word in this verse of Scripture. It tells us the unforgivable sin is because of what is being described in the previous verse.
In the previous verse, Jesus is talking about people that are against him. He is talking about people that are not followers.
Therefore, the unforgivable sin is to reject Jesus and refuse to follow him.
Today is Easter Sunday. Christians from all over the world will take time to reflect on the resurrection of Jesus and what that means for their salvation. They will also celebrate, because God is not dead and lives are still being transformed by Jesus.
I just finished reading “The Walk” by Stephen Smallman. The book was easy read, yet full of valuable information. It is designed to help people learn how to be a disciple of Christ.
A few of the main points:
- A disciple is a follower of Jesus, not just in word, but in action as well.
- The local church is essential for spiritual support, education, and direction for serving others.
- Salvation comes when we repent and have faith in Jesus. We turn away from our sin and turn toward Jesus.
- We are justified or declared righteous by God and our sins are forgiven.
- Sanctification is the work of God in us. We are renewed in the image of God and strive to reject sin in favor of righteousness.
This book is a great resources for new believers or those who want to know more about Christianity.