At Least I Didn’t Kill Nobody

Skewed-grades

Grading on a curve always seemed like legalized cheating when I was a child. In school we were held to an absolute standard and you sank or swam with your grade. Every now and then we’d hear about this strange practice of curving your grade but it seemed like a strange custom from a primitive culture in some remote part of the world. Soon enough the practice would become as common as standing in line to buy coffee.

If curving the grade was a frequent occurrence in the past it has become an essential feature of the academic life. It’s no longer a matter of if the professor will curve but how. Often students will raise this question on the first day to find out the professor’s particular style of curving. It isn’t a corrective measure used sparingly but a routine part of massaging the numbers to make them look better.

You wonder why they haven’t already ditched grades and moved to a percentile scale where you’re just graded against other students in the class. That’s what curving really is. You’re being compared to everyone else rather than against a uniform standard. Most people seem to think this way when they judge themselves in spiritual terms.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

James 2: 10-11

The gospel offends people so much because it directly challenges the universal belief that we are just fine the way we are, no need for improvement. If you measure up to your own standards then you’re simply lying to yourself and your standards are worthless. You are “curving” the moral grade far enough so that you can pass the test.

When you have an encounter with the living God in all His holiness all the excuses fall apart and you can’t help but realize that you are tainted and corrupt. Isaiah said as much when he saw the Lord sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6). Peter knew it when Jesus told him to cast the net on the other side of the boat (Luke 5). You cannot have such an experience and continue to believe the lie that you are righteous.

When you face God on His judgment seat you will either appeal to your righteousness or the righteousness of Christ. Only the latter will suffice to avert the wrath of God. No one will be able to claim ignorance because no one will have an excuse. And I can certainly guarantee you that no one will be asking God how He will curve the grade.

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The Crisis In Syria: A Biblical Perspective

Boys walk along a damaged street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor

Nahum is one of the minor prophets and was called to send God’s message of Nineveh’s fall. It was an astonishing message given that the city was the largest in the world at the time. Nahum’s message was that God is a savior to those who trust in Him and a terrible judge to His wicked. The Lord explains why He is bringing judgment to the city:

Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.

Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.

The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:

Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.

And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?

Nahum 2:13-3:7

It is important to keep in mind that this message is for a pagan empire. We can clearly see that God still has expectations of them and holds them accountable to those standards. He is concerned about the idolatry, violence, and oppression that ran rampant in the city. I believe we can also conclude that the people had the opportunity to repent and put their trust in the Lord.

Daniel tells us in chapter 4 that God sets rulers over the kingdoms of men as He pleases. God allowed Bashar al-Assad to take over and will remove him when He desires. We should ask ourselves: “What does God think of this nation and what is He doing with them?”

As we follow the events that occur in Syria we should remember that the Lord knows what is happening there and He is intimately involved. This was not an accident or a surprise for Him. In fact, this may be a sign of His judgment of the current regime and its downfall, if that should happen.

God cared enough for Nineveh to send Nahum there and preserve his prophecy as part of His special revelation to us. I believe that this means that Christians should also be concerned about a nation’s spiritual condition. We should pray for justice, peace, deliverance from oppression, the proclamation of the gospel, and the salvation of the kingdom. For those who are in or near those regions they should resist the evil being promulgated through those societies.

Believers should not lose heart at the tragedies that occur in Syria but look to God to manifest His power and glory. He is faithful and just and has all wisdom and understanding. Who else would you want in charge of the world?

Under The Feet Of Jesus Christ

footstool

We are working our way through Ephesians on Sundays and I want to focus on verse twenty-two of the first chapter which reads,

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church…

It represents the exalted place that Christ now holds at the right hand of the Father, having triumphed over death.

In the Garden of Eden a spiritual war begins between Satan and man when God says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Christ fulfills this prophecy through His death and resurrection.

Psalm 110:1 tells us:

The Lord (Jehovah) said to my lord (adonai), sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Then in Hebrews 2:8 we read:

For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

I think these two verses together show that, in one sense, the image of everything being placed under the feet of Christ refers to the fulfillment of time when Jesus returns in judgment. I believe it can also mean that even though it may not look like Christ reigns triumphant and supreme when we look with our eyes we can know, by faith, that He is victorious-and we also, as His co-heirs.

Paul writes in Romans 16:20:

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.

This means we partake of Jesus’ victory over Satan when trampled him underfoot. Jesus has made the way for us and He is the way. We are indeed co-heirs with Christ.