June 7, 2008

Climbing Everest

Climbing Mount Everest has always intrigued me. It has always been one of those things that I thought would be such an awesome experience. Given that it is such a monumental challenge, it must truly require such high levels of discipline, both mentally and physically. The amount of training that goes into preparing for such an adventure is truly not for the half-hearted, but only for those who are serious about taking on such a life changing experience.

After reading up on Everest it becomes very clear that no one can really climb it alone (although it has been done, it is very uncommon). Even for the most experienced climbers, Everest requires either an experienced guide or Sherpa. In order to reach the summit, it is essential that you put your full trust in your guide and take their advice as when it is safe to proceed to the summit. It is also very typical to climb with several fellow climbers, in order to maintain safety and to assure no one is left behind or goes off path.

When climbing Everest there are only two paths that one can take to reach the summit. What is amazing about these two trails to the summit is that these paths are extremely narrow - they can be as wide as only a foot in some areas. Guides will tell you never to venture off one of these paths. If one ventures off onto any side of these trails death is almost imminent. There have been many who have ventured off the summit trail and have died within only a few feet from it. It has been recorded that many climbers can plainly see the dead who litter the trail as they pass by. It is a gruesome reminder the need to keep ones eyes on the summit and their feet on the narrow path.

The summit path to Everett reminds me of the verse Jesus said regarding those who will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven:

Matthew 7:13-15 13"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14"For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it"

As a Christ follower we must always be conscience that the path we walk is a narrow one and there is little room that allows us to venture off of this path. Since the path is so narrow, it should become very apparent when we have ventured from it. But just as on Everest, we never climb alone. It is important that we listen to the fellowship of others and heed their warnings when one of us decides to either quit or stop moving along the path or when we have decided to put ourselves in mortal danger by electing to veer from this narrow trail.

The gospel message is much like the narrow path. Try to venture from it or change it a little, and your putting yourselves and possibly others in grave to serious danger. The Apostles speak often about the dangers of those who preach a "different path" or a "different gospel".

2Jn 1:9-11 Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ but goes beyond it does not have God. The person who abides in the teaching of Christ has both the Father and the Son. (10) If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your home or even greet him, (11) for the one who greets him shares in his evil deeds.


Jude 1: 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

As Christ followers how do we know if we are on the right path? What is the marked difference between the wide path of the world versus the narrow path of Christ? Simple - Complete Obedience to God as a result of love and a life that is free from sin. Many claim that we can or must continue to sin in word thought and deed daily and deny man's moral ability to deny sin. To compound matters, some teach that one is "Eternally Secure" and yet can live a life of licentiousness and wickedness and yet still be a citizen of God's Kingdom. But these are distinct patterns of the wide-path and we know from the words of Jesus this path leads not to the "summit", but will lead to death and eternal punishment. Are you walking the narrow path of Jesus Christ? Are you walking according to the Word of God or the Gospel of Jesus? Or are you walking a path that allows you to continue in your sins and yet still be "Saved"? If your on this wide path my friend, turn back and seek the narrow path of Jesus! For the narrow path is the ONLY path that will allow you to reach the summit and reconcile you back to the Father.

2Ti 2:10-13 Therefore I endure all things for the chosens sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (11) Faithful is the saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him: (12) if we endure, we shall also reign with him: if we shall deny him, he also will deny us: (13) if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself.

June 2, 2008

Taking out the Trash!

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to watch a wonderful sermon by Gregory Boyd entitled "Taking Out the Trash". Greg raises up some very good points about problems with strict judicial atonement theories such as the Calvinist - Retributive Substitution Atonement Model.

The main issue any atonement theory must address is not only the removal of the penalty of sin, but more importantly it must reform the sinner from selfishness to loving God supremely (An essential to becoming a citizen of God's Kingdom or moral government). An atonement must pardon us of the "crimes" we have committed, but at the same time ascertain that the criminal (or sinner) has been truly reformed from the heart! To strictly forgive without reforming the heart would be like pardoning a criminal from prison and unleashing them back onto society to reek havoc upon the society. The Retributive Atonement model lacks this essential element as it simply addresses the strict judicial transaction and in no way reforms the sinners heart, but simply takes away the penalty and then "secures" them in their still sinful state.

To make his point Greg uses two wonderful analogies here - the "Truck Driver" and a simple bag of trash. The reality is God does not simply overlook our sinfulness, but he truly desires that we are transformed and we truly become a "new creature in Christ" whereby we are no longer walking according to the flesh, but according to God's Spirit. Again, this plays right into my analogy I provided a couple of weeks ago regarding the steak in the toilet - do you really want to eat any part of that steak? God desires that we have no part of sin as Kingdom citizens!

Although this is not the entire video sermon, you can see the sermon in its entirety here.