Thursday, March 31, 2005

Jawbones Created Equal

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." (Declaration of Independence, approved July 4, 1776)

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." (Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, Nov. 19, 1863)

"...all men are created equal..." This phrase seems to inspire many high-minded thoughts and discussions, both concerning the intrinsic worth of all men and rationalization for the more enlightened to enforce politically correct religion upon society.

As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. (Eccles. 5:15, ESV)

"...all men are created equal..." Zero. Some philosophize... a blank slate.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
(Psalm 51:5, ESV)

Or... somewhat less than zero. The slate is badly smudged.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it
? (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV)

The slate is mired in its inherent entropy.

You felt secure in your wickedness,
you said, "No one sees me";
your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray,
and you said in your heart,
"I am, and there is no one besides me."
(Isaiah 47:10, ESV)

Man is not only born with a fallen nature, but also chooses sin willingly.

"Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
'Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?'
(Isaiah 58:1-3a, ESV)

Man-made religion in attempt to assuage his latent guilt before God.

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
(Isaiah 58: 3b-4, ESV)

Man's works of self-righteousness only serve to multiply sin, "yet you refuse to come to me that you might have life." (Jesus, in John 5:40, ESV)

Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
"Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
(Isaiah 58: 5-8, ESV)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Of Jesus, Acts 4:12, ESV)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Jesus, in John 15:4-5, ESV)

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:2-5, ESV)

After receiving salvation by grace through faith and beginning to live more and more in this grace, one cannot expect his life to be anywhere near heaven on earth. One does not hope for what he already has, but only for that which he is waiting. While living this life we pass through as pilgrims in that portion of creation subject to decay, among a mass of humanity that are in total rebellion to God's authority, among Satan and his minions that hate God and his people, and even in constant battle with our own old natures as they continue convulsing in their death throes. Often circumstances will seem to the natural eye and mind that there exists no reasonable expectation for which to hope. But, God...

"Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, "The Lord will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria." Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, "The Lord will deliver us." Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?' " (Rabshakeh on behalf of Sennacherib, King of Assyria, in Isaiah 36:15-20, ESV)

There are countless situations such as this by which the only obvious hope of deliverance was not by the wisdom, strength, and works of man, but by special providence. It is no difference for each of us. Our earthly life is constantly surrounded by powerful enemies that boastfully predict our doom, in circumstances large and small. But, God...

Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins behind your back.
(Isaiah 38:17, ESV)

For the glory of His own Name.

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