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Yeshua is telling us the saving truth
The film 'The Da Vinci Code' was what the old media like to call a box office hit. The film contains a scene in which two actors, both paid to play self-confident educated men, talk about early Christianity. Their dialogue has a sequence of violent scenes for a background, and those scenes leave the viewer with a bitter taste in the mouth about Christianity. At one point, one of the actors says: 'No idea killed more people than the idea of a single God'. The combination of that statement and those images inimically suggests that a Christian who is taking his faith seriously, is moving towards a dangerous way of thinking.
This subtext message is just one example of a tremendous problem: today's opinion climate in the West. From official side, we are being prescribed that no religion can be allowed to feel itself elevated above the others. "Tolerance, diversity, pluriformity, equality" is the 'gospel' of that pseudo-religion, which in the course of the past 50 years has pushed aside Christianity as the predominant religion of the Western countries.
In opposition of that opinion climate stands the truth that Christianity is the sublime and ultimate teaching about good and evil. Even angry people of other faiths will have to agree with me on one important issue. All those religions with their own god or gods, and all those philosophies circumlocuting or denying the existence of God, and all the different views on good and evil all these religions and philosophies originate, can't possibly all be right. Or, as I once heard a cardinal say: if everything is true, then nothing is true.
How did it all begin, with Christianity? Well, everything begins with God. God does exist, and He has created everything, the universe, life and all human beings. Just go figure, when you think about this in terms of chaos and order. The chaotic energy immediately after the Big Bang got ordered, over a period of billions of years, into the origination of a multitude of life forms on the planet we know the most about, life forms harbouring a sophistication that continues to baffle medical researchers and biologists. Contrarily, coincidence usually turns order into chaos, as anyone can confirm who emptied a box of matches above the floor ten thousand times, hoping the fallen matches would once form a 'drawing' of the Eifel Tower. The period from the Big Bang till our times shows the reverse of that. It shows the transition from chaos to order. In my view, that rules out the option that coincidence originated everything, so there must be an Orderer, a Creator.
As from the earliest beginnings, mankind has thought about the great questions of life. Where are we from? Why are we on earth? What is good and what is evil? How should we humans relate to one another? Is there an afterlife? What will the future bring? I am speedwalking through all of these questions now, but it is clear that every single one of them can occupy a man's mind for a long time. Fortunately, a tremendous lot of brainwork has already been done. The Jews are the world's most intelligent people and so it is simply the smart thing to do to take their thinking and writing about these issues very seriously. We can do that by taking the Bible very seriously, for that collection of texts was produced by Jewish writers, in the period from about 1,500 before Christ till about 100 after Christ. The Bible consists of two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament, and their respective teachings show differences of essential importance. I am going extensively into this in
my main text. Suffice to say here is to acknowledge that the New Testament would never have originated without the Old Testament.
The New Testament holds four resembling accounts about the man called Yeshua from the town of Nazareth, who is better known by his latinized name Jesus. In the following, I will call Him Yeshua as well as Christ. He turned out to be an exceptionally gifted child, who was studying the ancient Jewish writings so well, he was soon able to ask exacting questions about them. Gradually, the pupil became a teacher, a man who, by what he did and said, attracted multitudes of people. About the miraculous healings attributed to him, even his foes acknowledged they were indeed miraculous.
Yeshua embroidered on the already existing idea that there was only one God, and that towards God the greatest respect and humility were due. Like the Jewish thinkers before him, he taught that the wisdom about life should be acquired and minded. Firstly, a sensible lifestyle enlarges the chance of a happy life, secondly, it is greatly satisfying to pass on the wisdom about life to the next generation, so that they don't have to invent all the wheels again.
Yeshua however also brought innovating, revolutionary ideas forward. He suddenly brought God much closer to the people by calling Him 'Father'. Yeshua despised materialism, even considered greed to be the root of all evil, and let it clearly be known he felt a profound aversion to hypocrisy. Furthermore, he found that all the nations should share in the wisdom about God and life, not the Jews only. His words landed him in a conflict with Israel's religious elite, and that conflict ended with his death on the cross.
Yet his physical passing away didn't mean the end of his significance. On the contrary, it just turned into something awesome, for, as the gospel tells, he rose from the grave on the third day. Even the cynical disciple Thomas had to admit that Christ had somehow managed to survive his own death, and from then and there in Jerusalem onwards, the story of Christ has been going into the world. His disciples travelled around to spread the Word, Peter for instance went to Rome, and a number of letters these apostles wrote to the first Christian communities also found a permanent place in the New Testament.
What's making this so awesome, is the fact that Christ's teachings became a formidable success against all odds. He had no political power, no money, no army and no TV channel. He only had words and the most altruistic of deeds he wanted to share. That alone stood at the basis of the religion that despite bloody persecutions, in the course of a few centuries, captivated the whole of Europe, besides large areas in the Middle East and in Russia, and that later spread to all parts of the world, as the Spaniards and the other maritime nations went out to sail the great seas. Yeshua's message is so powerful, that many European countries incorporated the symbol of the cross in their flags. Making an undoubtedly incomplete list by heart: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain, Austria, Switzerland and Greece. In that way, these peoples showed the world on what foundation their spiritual life was mounted. And Michelangelo, Bach and Rembrandt are the first names to come to my mind when I think of the inspiration that the biblical stories gave to mankind's greatest artists.
Throughout our entire continent, in countless villages and cities, churches and cathedrals are testifying of the great meaning of the Christian faith for the European peoples, although we are now living in an era, since the 1960s, of increasing godlessness, temporarily I hope and expect. Yet on the whole, our part of the world experienced prosperity and adversity, enjoyed great wealth but also suffered devastating epidemics and wars, Europe lived through the rise and fall of empires and dictatorships, but (nearly) always there was the church where people could gather and reflect on passages in the bible that were so appropriate, it almost seemed as if they were written for contemplation of the events of that particular time.
The gospel has an expressiveness that transcends eras and cultural borders. For many decades, Russia was ruled by a ruthless dictatorship that did everything in its power to distance the population from Christ, but today's Russia is counting very many believers again. Once demolished by Stalin, Moscow's splendid Christ the Saviour cathedral was rebuilt in the 1990s, thus impressively symbolizing the comeback of Christ in that country. During his visit to India, Pope John Paul II attracted millions of people in a country with a culture that's not Christian whatsoever. I believe there are now over a billion Christians worldwide. The reason behind this 2,000-year-old success can simply be summarized in two words: Christianity works.
Yeshua himself comprised his teachings in two commandments: love God and love your neighbour. 'Love your neighbour' makes one initially think of family and friends, but Yeshua meant it for all the relations we have with other people. Some examples. The university professor has an important relation with his students; he has a great influence on them. It's predominantly a one-way information traffic: they listen and write down what he is saying. So the Christian thing for him to do is to teach them what he knows, and how to think independently and logicly as well, and not fashionable untruths or twisted reasonings. The garage owner who wants to do the Christian thing thinks of the old lady with her broken-down car 'she could have been my mother' and lets her pay a fair bill. The politician on TV who solemnly tells his watching fellow countrymen he is busy looking after the national interest, should indeed do so, and not underhandedly act as a useful puppet for just one particular group of people in that country.
When all of us try to put the interest of those around us above our own self-interest, Yeshua taught, then in the long run, all of us will be better off for it, paradoxically as it may sound. In a country that converts to Christianity, slowly but surely a flourishing nation will arise, where constructive concepts will get the prominent place they deserve, like the respect for love, life and facts, sincerity, honesty, clarity, moderacy, fairness, chastity, honour, dignity, trustworthiness, sense of duty, responsibility, solidarity, forgiveness and the pursuit of peace, peace within the nation, and peace with other nations.
Such a society will feel less and less the need to bother the people with 1,001 protocols and regulations. The Romans knew: 'Multae leges, mali mores' ('many laws, bad morale'). The Romans fairly often, um, visited other peoples and that's perhaps what originated that saying. After all, their empire-building enabled them to compare other people's societies mutually and to their own. They therefore observed that nations with low-level ethics had rulers who needed to pass many laws to keep things going minimally well at least. In a society with a high-level ethics, people behave decently of their own accord, so that the humiliating pressure of protocols and regulations is far less necessary.
Yeshua even goes as far as teaching man to love his enemies. It is a surprising commandment, and it's unique to Christianity. Yeshua's call is not meant to turn us into naive fools, consenting to everything that malevolent forces are bringing about, or are trying to. Even Christ calls an enemy an enemy. Yet this commandment fits entirely in Yeshua's insight that God wants to see man go beyond his primitive instincts. Loving your friends, yes, that's what we all can do. No, also trying to love your enemies, for instance, by trying to find out what's the cause of the enmity, hoping that that discovery will lead to the beginning of mutual understanding and finally to a peaceful solution, that's the extraordinary thing to do.
We´ve arrived at the core of Yeshua´s importance. Repeatedly, God saw the crown of His creation, man, fall back to a sinful life, in spite of all the valuable stories and wise admonitions already on paper. And because man falls back to sin time and again, he brings the misery down on his own and other people's heads. That goes for the lifes of individuals, but also for the life of a nation. In a society that was once virtuous, a pleasure to live in, evil can almost casually root and sprout, in all manner. That can even grow so bad that such a society will slowly destroy itself. Evil has then begun as destructive ideas in the treacherous shape of fancy talk, of pseudo-civilized eloquence, and it could only spread because people in great numbers were allowing themselves to get seduced by it. The sinfulness of man angers God, and arguably the most wellknown example of God punishing man is the story about the Flood, that was only survived by Noah and his ark's passengers. The survivors are initially taking God’s punishment to heart, they behave accordingly, but after a while, new generations will forget all about it and tend to massively sin again.
To break that vicious circle once and for all, God did something exceptional in the interest of all future generations. He let a man be born - Yeshua - who was purely good himself, but who was prepared to pay the price for the sins and wickedness of all the other people. So stunningly, God let Yeshua, a good man through and through, already undergo the punishment for the future (!) sins of others. That punishment by proxy is Christ's humiliation and crucifixion. Anyone who believes that Christ went through this ordeal for him or her too, will feel the inner duty towards Christ to do something in return, to show his or her gratitude. And he or she can do that, by trying to live in the way that Christ has taught. If the believer succeeds in that, in the judgement of God exclusively, the believer gains in three ways:
In the first place, he pays off his debt to Yeshua, the one who did penance in his stead - and paying off one's debt always feels good.
In the second place, the believer turns his existence into a blessing, because the Christian lifestyle makes him discover what really matters in life. He learns to make the distinction between good and evil, he learns to recognize unhealthy temptations and to shun them as well as he can, temptations that maybe in the short term may provide for brief pleasures, but that in the long run may damage or even ruin his physical and psychic health, or indeed his life.
In the third place, having faith in Yeshua holds a God-given promise that is as astonishing as irresistible. Every human being who knows the story about Yeshua, who believes that Yeshua sacrificed his own life for him or her too, and who tries to live according to Yeshua's teachings, may hope that earthly death is nothing more than a threshold, over which he or she enters the eternal life in heaven. The soul of that human being will then be saved.
That doesn't mean that Heaven is the place of destiny for practising Christians exclusively. In Romans 10:13 it says that whoever calls on Yeshua’s name will be saved. Even one of the two other convicts who were crucified next to Yeshua, saw the Light in his last moments and died reassured that Yeshua and he would meet again in heaven. In the final analysis, who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, is up to God to decide. There are, and there always have been, phoneys among Christians, and there are, and there always have been, good people outside Christianity.
That the hereafter is existing, beyond our comprehension and unobservable for our senses, and that the hereafter consists of the heaven and the hell, that too was an innovative element in Yeshua's message to the other Jews, and to all the nations - and it makes sense. After all, people don't know everything of one another. There are those whose goodness is only seldom noticed. There are those whose malice is only seldom noticed, or too late. People seriously misunderstand one another sometimes. We can't always be sure of other people's intentions. Some people have the best intentions, yet come across negatively. Some negative souls seem to think they can get away with just about everything forever. The notion then, that everyone, king and beggar alike, is heading for a moment of truth at which God, who saw and understood everything, will judge what you have done with your life and then, as the Supreme Judge, will reward or punish you accordingly, is arguably the height of justice.
People who know the story about Yeshua, can of course reject it. People may persist to believe in other gods, or in no god at all, or in selfhelp booklets, or in this or that philosophy. People can view the amassing of money, power, popularity or an easy life full of excitement as the true gods. Yet whoever wants to lead a life here on Earth without God, shouldn’t complain if he ends up in that part of the hereafter where God isn’t present either. We should absolutely forget about the notion that there is no afterlife, and that we can lead our lifes in whatever way we like without any consequences for that afterlife.
In chapter 6.5.3 of my main text, I wrote in my comment on Mark 5:22 that I didn’t believe in the existence of hell, but now I think I was mistaken.
I don't see a conflict between faith and science. Man has come to know incredibly much, especially since the last couple of centuries knowledge grew exponentially, and particle research and astronomy are only two fields of science the new discoveries in which capture the imagination of many. Finding ways to apply the newly gained knowledge led to today's unprecedented state of technology, to which we now owe our smartphones and to which Mars owes the visits of research robots. All new scientific insight however will always originate new questions. Unstoppable as the border between knowledge and the unknown may shift in favour of knowledge, there will always remain a mystery behind that border. A part of that mystery is the currently unknown as yet. Science will only be able to clarify that in the future - and the other part, the part behind that currently unknown, that's the Divine mystery.
Believers in God are among the most renowned scientists. I like the following exchange Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr once had, in the first halve of the 20th century. They were talking about quantum theory, if I'm not mistaken, and at one point they discussed the role of coincidence. Einstein said: 'God doesn't throw dice', to which Bohr replied: 'Don't tell God what to do with his dice'.
Although there may not be a real conflict between the Christian faith and science, throughout history faith clashed many a time with the sort of rulers fanaticly bent on making the people to embrace their ideas instead of Christianity's. And since rulers of any kind will always view the country's students as the future managers of the society under their leadership, it are especially students who should be aware of the following. As science is always dependent on the rulers, these rulers are, if they are malevolent, capable of corrupting science. Such rulers are by definition in a position in which they can order that a certain matter is not allowed to be viewed as a problem. So scientists will not be able to investigate that matter, let alone publish about it and thus help solve the matter that everyone else than the rulers would definitely consider a problem.
6. SEARCHING FAITH
The New Testament tells the story of a man of distinction who was a fanatic persecutor of Christians, but who on the road to Damascus got struck by celestial light; he was spoken to by God and subsequently became a Christian. So man can become a Christian by direct intervention from God, but it would be unwise to wait for that passively. Man in search of faith is already halfway there, when he tries to live in a way as if he is already a believer. That begins with self-knowledge and with learning what's good and what's evil.
Self-knowledge begins with realizing that you, me, everyone can know what the good choices in life are, but that you, me, everyone remain prone to giving in to the wrong desires.
Learning about good and evil can begin with reading the Ten Commandments, 3,500-years-old texts that originated from in-depth discussions by consecutive generations of Jews.
In the margin: I once visited a silver store in the diamond district of Antwerp. Of the many large and small beautifully ornamented objects they had on offer, I can especially remember the showcases with silver plates that had the Ten Commandments engraved in Hebrew in them. Realizing that plates like those found their way to the homes of wealthy Jews over thousands of years, the spiritual might of this people almost automaticly filled me with awe, notwithstanding my awareness of the mistake of Moses, the founder of that older yet unwiser Jewish religion.
The knowledge about good and evil can begin with learning to distinguish the different manifestations of the two, the classical virtues and sins, as worded by early Christianity. The classical virtues man should try to make his own, are: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. In opposition thereof are the main sins: wrath, avarice, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. The Unilever brand Magnum once launched a series of icecreams, 'inspired' by the cardinal sins, promoted by 'naughty' commercials and so on, but that's wrongly doing giggly about a very serious matter, in my opinion.
The source to study the Christian vision on good and evil is the New Testament of course. Not always easy to understand, and therefore unfit for readers in a hurry, or for those who tend to quickly laugh at everything, but more than worth the trouble of studying, as it is the compass for the ideal walk of life.
So if you want to find faith, then that will require some reading and it will also require to become aware of what's going on in your thoughts and feelings. It's important to listen well to the silent conversation you are having with yourself, like everyone is having, and to learn to monitor that conversation critically, for it's certainly not a chain of merely nice and friendly impulses. Teach yourself to see how your thoughts relate to the classical virtues and sins, and muster the selfdisciplin, the honesty, to admonish yourself not to give in to those impulses that you've learnt are wrong. Not only is this important because God is watching you, it has also a great social importance, because people influence each other, people take one another's behaviour for an example, either for an inspiring or for a deterrent example. Being a light for others will light up your own life as well.
All of this will take some trouble, but you will reap the rewards of your efforts sooner or later, for it will increase your chances of finding God, and then you are heading for a life that pleases God.
People in search of faith can of course always pray to God to help him or her find it. The simple acts of finding a quiet place, closing your eyes, folding your hands and trying to speak to God, even if you absolutely can't imagine it's any use, are already bringing you halfway there.
Difficult as it may perhaps seem to find faith, the trouble stands in no proportion to what faith will give you. Faith gives joy, comfort, courage, forgiveness, strength, resolvedness and hope in abundance. A man of faith never stands alone, even if the waves washed him ashore on an unhabited island, be it literally or as a figure of speech. The faith cleanses your spirit and it fills your heart, it has the power to complete every human life. Yes, the believer remains a sinner, and in his prayers, he will often have to ask God for forgiveness, but he is definitely heading for a better life. Yes, imperfect life on earth will continue to inflict illnesses and grief on man, and questions he is not likely to find an answer to during his lifetime, but the believer finds comfort and strength. You'll never have the feeling (anymore) you are missing something important in your life, and you'll know you owe that to God's proximity. People may perhaps let each other down every now and then, but God never fails those who believe in Him. And finally, there is the chance, after one's heart stops beating, that the spiritual core of one's being will live eternally in the celestial paradise.
7. AMONGST US
The Amish in America once put billboards next to the roads with this text:
Does God seem further away than ever?
Guess who moved.
I find that a powerful and beautiful way of expressing that God is eternally present, and that it is up to us to decide, by the way we live our lifes, whether we want to move towards Him, or away from Him. Above us - not only sky, like John Lennon and the Liverpool airport directors were thinking, no, above us is God. God is above us, us, with all our talents, our mediocrities and weaknesses. Above us, with all our hopes and despair, our love and hatred, our emotions and indifferences, our knowledge and ignorance, our shining moments and our stupidities. God is above the rulers and the nations. He is above great people who inspire, who give hope. Above good and courageous people who not always think twice before they speak. Above knowledgeable men who recognize the significance of unprecedented events. Above admirable personalities who stand their ground against the hunger of the insatiable. God is above the healthy and the afflicted, above the brave and the fearful, above the intelligent and the fools.
And the way to find Him is taking the message to heart from the One who was once amongst us.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (Yeshua in John 14:6).
Firstly publicized 31st May 2014, improved 9th June 2014
Britain, The Netherlands, Europe are in very big trouble, in my view. Our countries
urgently need new political parties, Christian Patriotic parties, and it is very important to know what Torahism is. Please read
my main text at www.ibcpp.org.uk
If you come to agree with my views, please always remember that
the only way out is a peaceful and patient way. Not a single foreigner or Jew
can be held responsible for the country's present situation.
confrontations that can easily turn overheated. Don't react to provocations. Please
don't view the avoiding as cowardice. It isn't. Be strong, be calm and calm down others
if their anger may cause them to do foolish things.
Long live the Jews, down with Torahism.
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