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Making Christianity Relevant
by author
 Samuel Pestes 


I have always felt that Christianity was intended to be a hands-on, practical way of life. As a young man,I had tired of going to church only to follow a pre-set pattern of activities designed by a few appointed leaders who were dedicated to not deviating from the prescribed program. That usually consisted of singing two or three songs, followed by one or two prayers that sounded like takes from last year’s menu. Then the climax, as expected, was capped by a sermon that was a re-do of last year’s copy of the same theme. Singing one more hymn and then going home feeling a little better was passed on as worship.

 

I believe that pretty well describes the church atmosphere that causes the sincere seeker for light to turn away wondering if more could be accomplished by going for a walk in God’s outdoor theatre of nature, where you can hear the birds sing a fresh impromptu melody, listen to the sweet sounds of a babbling brook, or to the wind sighing in the tree tops. Where is the call of the Spirit challenging us to new heights with Jesus many ask?

Young people who go to church to find fresh inspiration are often bored by meaningless repetitions. Where is the challenge to draw them out of themselves? Many even wonder if that is all there is to the God we pretend to worship. What is worship anyway? Is it what we do, or is it a vital and living relationship with our Creator? These are some of the questions that drew me away from ritual and led me to see Scripture in a new light.

 

The books and articles that come from my pen in this website are the echo of a cry deep within my spirit, reaching out beyond the forms of religion. I long for the reality that introduces us all to the living God in a practical way.

 

This web site is merely the introduction to a practical relationship with our Creator. No two people walk an identical path, but even though our paths start at different points, they can converge to meet at the feet of the same Saviour. This is intended as a nudging to get you started.  I firmly believe that if you begin at the right place, with your focus not primarily on facts but on the Person who created those facts we will all meet in the unity that spells JESUS.

My life began to take form in what was known in the 1930’s as the dust bowl of western Canada.  Talk of basic essentials for living? That centered on what could be raised in the “dust bowl of the Prairies” which usually was not much of anything. My parents were devout God worshippers and we learned to look to “our heavenly Father” with thanksgiving even when we felt we did not have much of temporal goods left to thank Him for. Those experiences prompted us six siblings to put our trust in a living God.

As we started attending school, which was in a one room building housing grades one to eight, I learned to read and with encouragement from my parents started studying my Bible. I soon realized that the early Christians did not have a Bible to read. How did they experience such a living practical relationship with God? That was a subject often looked at but never delved into to any degree. At church we were taught that reading my Bible was the only way to God. To me that did not compute. How did the early Christians who had no Bibles (and most could not read anyway), learn to have such personal relationships with Him? That set me to thinking. Later I discovered that it could be dangerous to think. It would be easier to simply follow the crowd even though most of them did not have a clear picture as to where they were going, but they all knew that they were on the way. In all my years of studying theology the subject of a living, personal connection with God was never even considered. Just follow the official church teaching, do not ask too many questions and you will get there was the idea. Even today, the thought that Christians living today may enjoy personal communion with our Saviour scares many modern theologians. “Why”?

 

The thought that we, living today, may experience a personal relationship with God was not a subject for study or even for consideration in theology classes. I could not accept that idea and as a result when I did experience what appeared to be direct miraculous interventions in my life I was barred from the ministry.  Rather than give those experiences some consideration, the church leaders threw “cold water” on them and forbade me to even discuss such matters with other Christians.  “Too dangerous,” they said. My first book, published by Tyndale House Publishers in 1981 under the title, CHRISTIAN BE FREE carries my introduction to the practical miracle workings of God in my life.

 

In an age that is knowledge bent, true wisdom has been pushed so far into the background that any idea or experience that cannot be verified empirically is automatically suspect.  The modern Christian church has fallen into this trap to the degree that if Jesus Christ were here today in person, He would have difficulty finding a spot where He could place a foot. The first thing the modern church would demand is empirical proof that miracles such as  walking on water, or healing a paralytic were not merely phantom or slight of hand tricks. Most of us have created for ourselves a god that we can manipulate to serve us at our human level. The supernatural has all but vanished into the fog of intellectualism.

 

The early church was warned that there would come a day, our day, when faith in God will have been all but wiped off the face of the earth. Men will have created their own gods, not of wood and stone, but out of their own ideas as was the case when the ancients presumed to replace the Creator with them selves at the tower of Babel. Modern day experiments into what is called “alternate realities” through mind bending processes are not new. In Genesis chapter eleven we have the record of a human experiment that aroused the God of all creation to personally terminate, or to put an end to a project that was on the verge of seeming to give validity to Satan’s boast that humankind could perpetuate its own life forever. God directly intervened lest humankind reach into the “heavens” and create an “alternate reality” that would deceive humankind into thinking that through logic and reason the Creator of the universe could be supplanted and man need not die. Let’s quote from Genesis chapter eleven verses 5 and 6.

             “But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were    building. The Lord said, ‘if as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.’”

 

What was it that drove those ancients to aspire to such levels? And what was it that caused the God of all creation to intervene so urgently to terminate a plan that threatened His plan for the creation He planted on earth? What was it that men were striving to reach or grasp and take under their control? The “tower” they were trying to build was not a literal tower, but an intellectual one that would give credence to Satan’s promise to Eve in the Garden of Eden that he could teach her how to avoid the penalty for turning her back on God, when he promised that You shall not surely die .Genesis 3: 1-4.

 

Humans were about to find the answer to the puzzle that challenged Eve in the Garden of Eden – the secret to eternal life. Satan lost round #1 in Eden when he told Eve that “you shall not surely die” as God personally intervened.  Now he was out to try and outsmart God by using a different tactic. He would give men the wisdom to find that elusive goal – the secret to everlasting life.

 

It is important to realize that the total Scripture presents one story, the story of the human race from its beginnings to the days of Christ. Often stories recorded in the Old Testament, and especially in the book of beginnings (the book of Genesis), are seen as isolated or unrelated stories. In reality they are parts of one history, the beginnings of the human race with all its challenges. What, then, is the real significance of the story of The Tower of Babel? Why is it there? It is one vital chapter in the story of the human race.  As such it is another chapter of God’s direct involvement with the creation of our first parents, Adam and Eve and their descendents. What could have been so important, and what were people (probably inadvertently) attempting to do by building a “tower” that would result in such an unprecedented intervention by the Creator?

 

 For the answer we must go to the beginning of this scenario. What was the first challenge that Satan threw to Eve in the Garden of Eden? Did God really sayyou must not eat from any tree in the garden’”?...

Satan’s challenge:

“You will not surly die,… for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:2, 3.

In other words, don’t be afraid of death. There is a way around it, and I will teach you how to find it.

 

We see that the very first thing that Satan sought to do from the beginning of humankind’s existence was to drive a wedge between God and His creation. By telling Eve that by disobeying God’s command, not only would she not die, but she could raise herself to the level of godhood through intellectualism and live forever. This idea that humans could by-pass dependence on the Creator in order to live forever, was planted in Eden and was about to become reality when God personally had to intervene to stop its fruition at the episode we know as the Tower of Babel recorded in Genesis chapter eleven. What was the goal of those ancients?

            Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens,…

 

A casual reader thinks that those ancient people were so ignorant that they thought to build a structure of literal bricks and mortar that could reach into the heavens. They were not going to use “stone,” a natural element that God made, even though they knew that the stone was much stronger than man made brick and tar. They determined to use a product of their own ingenuity, and their goal was to reach “the heavens.” What did that mean? Did they think they could actually and literally reach the moon and the stars and beyond into the very presence of the Creator, wherever that was? Enough of that!

Now, notice God’s response: The Lord said,

            “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Genesis 11:6.

 

You may remember a few decades ago before the Russians placed the first human in space, how the most zealous of preachers declared loudly on radio that God would never allow sinful men to spread their sin outside the parameters of this fallen world. “Space travel would never happen. God would not allow sin to go beyond the parameters of this one fallen world,” they proclaimed.  Well, God allowed it, and they did. Man made traditions make little room for truth until it hits them smack in the face. Now what could God have meant in His statement in Genesis 11:6, that unless human ambitions were stopped, “nothing will be impossible for them?”

 

How to avoid death, the natural result of humankind stepping away from God, has been Satan’s goal ever since he challenged God’s authority in Eden. The quest for eternal life has been man’s quest ever since. Satan hoped to neutralize the effect of Christ’s coming as our redeemer before it happened.  It appears from God’s statement recorded in Genesis 11:6 that humankind was at that point in time, about to find an intellectual way to circumvent God’s decree that disobedience to Him would mean death. Notice that God said that if the project were not stopped, then nothing man might imagine to do would be impossible.

The “tower” that men were creating at that time was the tower of intellectualism. It was not a literal or material tower! The God who created the heavens and the earth knew that men could never build a literal tower to reach up into heaven. Satan was determined to prove that his statement to Eve, recorded in Genesis 2, verses 2 and 3, that disobedience to God would not result in death, was the truth.

 

God’s statement in Genesis 11:6 is a continuation of the same story begun in Eden, and the same conflict continues to this day. To discover the secret to eternal life, or how to avoid death, has been uppermost in humankind’s mind ever since. By avoiding natural death the human race would need no Saviour and Satan would have vindicated himself when he told Eve that “you shall not surely die.” The story of the Tower of Babel contains seeds of truth that are vital for us to understand today. Satan’s encounter with Eve in the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel episode are part of the same scenario and both taken together create the picture that continues throughout the entire Bible, past the death of Christ and on to our present day.

 

 Ever since Eden, Satan has been gradually using the intelligence of human beings to discover the underlying principles of the universe and of life itself. Knowledge of itself is not evil but in the minds of evil men, it can become deadly. In view of the state of the world today, it is most central to our very existence that we learn what Jesus meant when He warned His followers that the key to life is not found in the product of the mind, or even through study of the Scriptures alone, but in a living, personal and living relationship with our Creator who gave us those Scriptures.

            You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39, 40.

 

Modern man has intellectualized the Scriptures to where they no longer present a God who is beyond all creation yet able to live individually within each of us. When He does penetrate the darkness He is either ignored or through human reasoning brought down to our human level. The articles on this site present evidence that not only is God alive today, but He is still the Creator and Redeemer who longs to guide us to that place that is beyond all reason. The short studies that you may visit on this web site are simply intended to invite you to look higher and over the inventions of a creation that has lost its way. Our living God is calling us to a home that is beyond words, a home where peace and harmony are real – a home that is anchored in pure love.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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