Saturday, February 23, 2008
The flesh is the perpetrator of all our sins – things of a sexual nature, or sins of the mind such as greed (Galatians 5:19-21). It even implies to be some sort of object, like a tumour within, that is responsible for stirring us up to do wicked things.
But this is just another example of over-spiritualizing and complicating simple things. The flesh is simply the body, being fashioned like an animal to have eyes for nothing more than feeding and multiplying itself. In length, I explained that the present state of our bodies as humans is a fall from the original form in my posts: Who Was Adam? Who Are We? The Profound Mystery and What Then is Salvation?
Because we live as fallen beings, as spirits within animal bodies, the redemption includes a change/regeneration of our bodies to the original form. In the meantime, we battle this ‘flesh’ or at least suffer its insistence, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in our hearts (2 Peter 1:19). The flesh is simply our body, our nature, our instincts. Whenever Paul refers to our nature, in his distaste for it, he labels it sinful every time – our sinful nature.
It’s simple – the flesh is our bodies. Our instinctual, bestial bodies.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5
Friday, February 22, 2008
One church was born of Christ and his crew 2000 years ago, and the power was largely centralized (thanks to an uneducated laity) for most of those millennia. It was when the power shifted to the people, in terms of literacy, government, and agitation, that the head(s) of the church lost their consolidation of power, and the church began to splinter and splinter and splinter and splinter....... Across the world now, we have more than 30,000 denominations. 30,000 denominations within Protestantism. 30,000!!
This is a problem. The implications are that absolute truth has been lost, pride leads to a fall (aka a church plant) and pride is rampant, and that there is a massive greed for power or prestige. Gone are the days of submission to leadership, once believed to be appointed by Christ Himself. Instead, if the disagreement on theology (or whatever) gets hot enough, the head of dissidents takes his flock away and sets up shop in a school gymnasium, builds a following, and can grow himself into a nice little denomination, latch onto another one, or become 'non-denominational'.
Outside of a denomination (which is the ‘new’ form of church government, I presume), what sort of accountability is there? Who, apart from the guy at the top, dictates theology and policy? Who is ‘the man’ accountable to, but ‘Christ by faith’? He doesn’t answer to the Pope – most of them don’t even believe the Pope is Christian! We have 30,000 popes!
The empowerment of people [to rebel] was the downfall of the church. Results of this absolute mess are absolute confusion, bitterness between the sects, superiority complexes, inferiority complexes, the inability to determine if you’re getting yourself into a cult, and the incredibly intimidating façade of the church to the public (ie. if I want to go to church, which one do I go to? Where do I begin? How is this one different than that one, or that one, or that one?).
How does churchianity stay afloat? Teaching tithe theology. Whatever your beliefs on tithing, the church system is money-based. Money-based because they’re building-based, because they’re salary-based. In fact, earmarks of a ‘successful’ church (whatever that is) are that they have a building and are able to pay their pastor enough so he doesn’t have to work elsewhere.
However, a pastor whose concern is the bottom line will often be influenced by it in his interaction with his followers. For example, if a church is struggling financially, a sermon series could be launched about tithing, or the blessing of giving, or prosperity. To be a little more stealth, preach about evangelism and get everyone fired up to bring their friends to church, maybe launch Alpha. More people equals higher revenue (to use a business term), equals a church that doesn’t sink. Aha! That’s why there’s no substance in church anymore! They want to tickle our ears to keep us coming. It takes faith to offend!
When money is affecting theology and content, something is terribly wrong. This whole system we’ve created is based on falsities and human-nature. It’s not God’s doing, and He’ll not come back to marry 30,000 brides. He’ll restore Truth and destroy this ambitious, animal nature in us that causes us to do these things. Thank God!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Further to my last post about ‘The Greatest Sin’, in which I wrote about the possible cause for the brutal exile of Israel in 70 AD, I want to go on to explain my thoughts on the infamous antichrist. It’s really hard to do this without being labeled, but I’m not all that concerned.
If Christ came to fulfill the Law by his most awesome sacrifices (Lk 24:44, Rom 3:21), the greatest sin after this would be to continue the practice of the law (Rom 9:30), particularly in regards to sin sacrifices (Paul calls it 'the law of sin and death' in Rom. 8:2). If you sit and think of the implications of slaughtering a lamb after the Lamb had already faced this slaughter, you’d understand the rage of the Almighty 40 years after his ascension. Jesus predicted it in Matthew 24: ‘not one stone here will be left on another’. I have often heard that the original ‘antichrist’ language refers to a ‘Christ-instead’ or an ‘in-place-of Christ’ scenario, rather than an outright adversary “I am your god now!”. How fitting that the spirit of antichrist would be rooted or blatantly founded on the Law of Moses. This is the law given, which is not able to be perfectly kept, which is the only law on earth which gets closest to what life is all about. Paul calls it 'the embodiment of knowledge and truth' in Romans 2:20. Perfect following of this law bypasses the need for Christ – it is the ‘in-place-of Christ’.
What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" Romans 9:22-26
I nearly fell off my chair a few years ago when I clued in to what this ‘mark of the beast’ is all about. Revelation says it is either located on the forehead or the palm/wrist. The best practitioners of the Law of Moses, the Pharisees, wear what are called Phylacteries, which are tiny leather boxes containing baby scrolls with the words of certain verses written on them to serve ‘as reminders of God and of the obligation to keep the Law during daily life’ (see Encyclopedia Britannica). I’m not saying the mark of the beast is a phylactery, but the prophecy/fulfillment could be rooted in this concept/belief.
Jesus was constantly mocking the Pharisees for their obsession with outward appearances and their inward desolation. Every time I feel like being shocked, I read Matthew 23, which is called ‘The Seven Woes’ where Jesus goes nuts and rips into the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites, sons of hell (v. 15), blind fools (v. 16), snakes and vipers (v. 33), and exclaims ‘how will you escape being condemned to hell?’ (v. 33).
Of this ‘mark’, the phylactery, Jesus says in 23:5: ‘Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long…’. The tirade ends with a brutal declaration that is fulfilled 40 years later. He says in verse 35:
“…upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.”
‘This generation’ certainly did not escape the judgment Jesus foretold. Strange how Jesus puts the blood of every righteous person who was ever killed on Israel and its leaders. Then again, who was responsible for plotting and scheming the death of Christ? Who hunted down all the very first Christians? Did not Paul, the Christian-killer, call himself ‘chief of sinners’?
(It’s hard to write about this without sounding racist, but I’m really not. I’m the last person to be racist. I think Jesus is fairly clear about who/what the ‘antichrist’ is, or at least where it is rooted.)
Questions, then, are begged of modern times, where we have seen the nation of Israel reborn out of nowhere in one day (May 14, 1948), and the nation reformed. Is there any coincidence in the 6-pointed star (inverted triangles) on the nation’s flag being a blatantly pagan symbol? We even have a modern-day clan of Pharisees - the New Sanhedrin - plotting to install pharisaical rule in the land, appointing kings in the bloodline of David, training up a priesthood of Levites, drawing up plans for a third Temple (where sacrifices will commence), and even trying to bring back the lost species of the red heifer through genetic manipulation (also see the Temple Institute).
It is a widely-held belief that a Temple will be completely functional at the return of Christ. Ever wonder where all the rage is coming from in Heaven? Ever wonder what all the revenge is for? We get all this ‘wrath of God’ stuff, but He’s not going to be mad just because we’re sinners – we already know what His response to our sin is. He’s angry because He paid the way for us, and His sacrifice is being ignored, hidden, and disbelieved.
Many end-times preachers use Matthew 24:32 as a proof that we are living as the curtains are closing. It reads: ‘Now learn this lesson from the fig tree (Israel): as soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.’ They say this refers to the rebirth of the nation of Israel, the blossoming and filling in of the nation, which leads to the return of Christ. After all, the nation must exist in order to have the last Temple rebuilt, which must exist for the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ to occur. This reference, however, brings a different perspective to the ‘fig tree’ that Christ mentions. While it ushers in the return of Christ, it may be in a more negative way than positive. We’re all lovey dovey with Israel as a Church, but really, we could be assisting the rise of the antichrist system we’ve all been trained to fear and… maybe even come under its reign when we don’t recognize what’s going on.
It’s bad that we have fairy tale ideas – they could lead us to our own end!
Monday, February 18, 2008
The most offensive sin has always been unbelief – in fact it is the root of disobedience. This became especially true after the work of Christ on earth. If the purpose of human life on earth is to be an object of love for the One who is Love, and disbelief in this love caused the fall, and salvation is the belief in the love of God as expressed through the person Jesus, then the greatest sin is disbelief. Really, the arrival and work of Christ on earth was the proof, the exposé of the depth, width, height, and breadth of the Love of God.
It’s funny, in today’s churches, we don’t really get to find out what it means for salvation to be found in belief in Jesus. Growing up, I was always under the impression that we just had to believe that He exists or existed. In a round about way, that’s true, but it’s missing the point.
I suppose the most vile smell in the nostrils of the Almighty after the payment for all sin by His Son was the sacrifice of animals to pay for paid-for sins. A largely-downsized feeling of the same nature would be buying a subway sandwich for a homeless person, giving it to them, at which point they throw it in the garbage can, muster up their change, and walk into subway to buy the exact same sandwich. You just wasted your money! They totally ignored your gift to them! In our case, it was a life - and not just any life. This may explain why the nation of Israel was brutally exiled in 70AD, and the Temple, the enabler of these vile sacrifices, was overturned, so that ‘not one stone [was] left on another’ (you should definitely click to: Matt 24:2). They were given 40 years to recognize the Christ, and when they didn’t, they were expelled to every corner of the planet… for 2000 persecution- and treachery-filled years! (kinda makes you wonder what’s going on now, eh?).
I had always been baffled by a few things that Jesus said, but they’re starting to make more sense to me now as I’ve come to find out the true nature of my faith. An example is Matthew 22:14: For many are invited, but few are chosen. Another is Matthew 8:12: ‘but the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’. Another is Matthew 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'.
These texts were always a little unnerving for me, seeing as they all had to do with safety of salvation and people of faith being sent to judgment. How horrifying to think you are going the right way, and when it's finally too late, to find out that you aren’t! These texts fly in the face of all our thoughts on the universal nature of salvation, and the assurance aspect as well. If they who, in their life of faith, got to the point where they were driving out demons and healing the sick, did not actually have salvation, then what about the rest of the laity?! What kind of cruel dictator is this?! The same one who created hell and a burning lake of fire…! Hmmm, that again. My mind must be coming at it wrong. This has got to be born of love.
The greatest offense is unbelief, and actual belief is fruitful! In fact, belief is a magnificent healer. Within the Church, we have each been given the most incredible gifts – spiritually, mentally, and physically – and they have been made available for us by the simplicity of Grace. These gifts are necessary for the continuance of life and freedom from all evil, and they were afforded by great and horrific sacrifices. For us, as Christians, to take the bare minimum, to convert and be on our way, to wallow in the nets and hooks of our bestial bodies, is to blaspheme the sacrifice. It is to offend God. To not carry out our salvation to its completion is vile.
And just as Israel was utterly destroyed for this reason (that they kept wallowing in the Law, even after the sacrifice fulfilled it), so are we, the called but not chosen, the subjects of the kingdom thrown outside (wonder why there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth?), the workers of wonders who are called evildoers.
The imagery is horrendous, but the words that conjure up these images, they are not mine.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
'Remember the Covenant' boxer shorts. Hmmm... you might be best to leave these 'in the closet'.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
If you are in an argument, and you decide to exercise wisdom, and not say the first thing that comes to your mind, when the conversation is over, the absence of saying that thing may have made things work out better in the end (or easier), but the other person has no more (or less) respect for you. They have no idea you’ve acted in wisdom.
The only reward for exercising wisdom is from God – so wisdom is best served with humility and faith. If you go around and say, ‘Did you notice what I didn’t say there??’, all maturity is sucked out of the situation and the reward for using wisdom is lost. This is like the Pharisees who pray with big, theological words, in a booming voice for all to hear. Jesus says they have received their reward in full (the respect of those in earshot), but those who pray in their closet, where no one hears but God, ‘your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’.
Wisdom is like the silence in sound; the stillness in a frenzy. No one even knows, but God.
Take some wisdom from the Tao te Ching:
Thirty spokes converge at the hub
but emptiness completes the wheel
Clay is shaped to make a pot,
and what's useful is its emptiness
Carve fine doors and windows,
but the room is useful in its emptiness
is beneficial, while what is not
also proves useful
Saturday, February 09, 2008
The cure: Love proven, and love believed. God loved us, He gave Himself in ‘flesh and blood’ to save us. As soon as He appeared on the earth, because of this sacrifice, forgiveness of sins was possible. The long-discussed conundrum of the simplicity found in ‘believe in me’ for the saving of one’s life from death, is just that, simple. ‘Believe in me’, the sole expression and final word of the height, depth, width, and length of God’s love for us. Love proven again in death (for payment), and then in resurrection. Becoming one (in 'marriage') with another who has already died and can never die again gives us freedom from death as well.
The regeneration: It is the initial belief in this love that begins the regeneration to the fullness of salvation. It is ‘first sight’ in comparison to the wedding day, for the fullness of salvation is a marriage. A relationship is begun, and love between them grows, as they come to know more and more about each other. Salvation is not only knowing God, but God knowing you, because at the last day, Christ will say to many [Christians]: ‘Away from me– I never knew you!’ (Matthew 7:23). It is the growing knowledge and demonstration of God’s love for us that regenerates the mind to a more solid belief – the life-giving belief. And the duration of that belief is tested, giving life to every atom of our being, until ‘the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your heart’, for this is the redemption of the body.
I Am The Way: this is the path of least question, the only offer in the whole realm of salvation methods which makes sense. It’s the only one with a God who reaches to us, instead of us reaching and striving after Him. Though the people fumble, the Truth remains the same.
The wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Revelation 19:7
Marriage is ‘for this reason’, which I have written out in great detail in Who Was Adam? Who are We? and The Profound Mystery. Because I believe we can learn a lot from the salvation process of the earth, it is fitting then that since the culmination and completion of salvation there is a wedding, a marriage, that this would be the same for us as individuals seeking the fullness of redemption. The marriage would imply a fullness of salvation for the spirit, mind, and body. It was for this hope we were saved (Romans 8:23-24).
The salvation of the body is the final ‘step’ as it were – back to the original form, the same Adam who was created on Day 1. A son of God, he, according to the law of offspring, would’ve become just like God in all His capabilities and endlessness. This, of course, capped by the falls (plural). Ever since Day 1, the light in Adam began to diminish slowly; the life whose foundation was the purest love. One day, it had gone too far, and something was ‘not good’ and needed to be either fixed or accommodated for. Later came the fall we've all learned about; the fall out of love as proven by disobedience.
The salvation of the body is a marriage - a joining of bodies and spirits into one. We had this need born in us after Eve was created out of Adam, so it seems to reverse that, a marriage of another kind is needed.
Christ refers to himself as ‘the bridegroom’ several times in the Gospels, and the church is often called ‘the bride of Christ’. At the last day, Christ returns to earth, and the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven ‘as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband’ (Rev. 21:2). This planet-sized city, the home of the ‘saved’, is merged with earth, and time goes on eternally, happily.
In us as individuals, there is something similar. Peter infers a climax and completion of salvation by this: until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19). Could this be the joining of bodies, the life-force of Christ in us? We need to think of the reference to the morning star (the sun) here – it’s implications of the vitality and utter necessity for life that the sun brings to every single atom and particle in creation. The morning star, some spiritual spark of life and sustenance, in us. Christ, the morning star (Rev 22:16).
Here’s a special note: Peter implies a possibility of this ‘morning star’ rising in this lifetime, as if it’s something to be sought after, as if it’s the whole point (where has this teaching gone?). I am under the strong impression that not only is the whole perfection process something that is completed in heaven, but also that there is no real goal of sorts in this whole faith thing. Just behave so He doesn’t change His mind about you.
For the dead at the last moments of the last days, there is a resurrection. For the dead in Christ, ‘those who are worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection’ (Luke 20:34-36). ‘The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed’ (1 Cor. 15:52).
For those alive now, whether we’re in the last days or not, the fullness of salvation is available and attainable. ‘The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.’ (Romans 8:18)
Consider this: of all the 12 apostles, who walked with Jesus and were intimately shown the way to the fullness of salvation (if they were selling it, they’d better be using it themselves!), 11 were confirmed killed by the hands of others (ie. martyred). None of them died by natural causes. Jesus was also killed this way. The only one who didn’t die by martyrdom (and this isn’t confirmed) was John, who had several attempts at martyrdom on his life. John frustrated his tormentors when they boiled him alive in a giant basin of oil. He couldn’t be killed by it, and was sent to exile in Patmos. It is a presumption he died as an old man, but there is no evidence he even died. This brings a raised eyebrow to Jesus’ statement about John in 21:22, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."’
My point: what the fullness of salvation is (an eternal joining of beings between us and Christ), and the perspective that it is possible before death.
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations … just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:26-29
Sunday, February 03, 2008
In his writing to the Ephesians about marriage (natural and the Christ-marriage), Paul says: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:32) Another reference to this ‘profound mystery’ was made by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6 and Matthew 22:29-30.
The point I was trying to make in my post about the original form of Adam was that he was a perfect copy of God (image and likeness…) prior to the creation of Eve. I made the point about Adam being made ‘good’ (ie. perfect), and for some unspecified reason, one day Adam was ‘not good’, and something had to be done about it. The solution was a change to Adam’s body and a creation of Eve. I gave several quotes from Jacob Boeme about the cause, and also stated that Adam had broken the ‘image’ of God, and had become fashioned after the beasts of the earth (with all their faculties and instincts).
Paul says in Romans 8:23: We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Paul also refers to this mystery in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52: I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-16
Paul clearly states that our bodies, as they are (flesh and blood), cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. Jacob Boeme says that prior to the creation of Eve, Adam was not a beast with a spirit, instead his ‘life fluid was heavenly’. Paul also states that the hope we are saved for is the ‘redemption of our bodies’ and says that at the resurrection ‘we will all be changed’. What needs to be redeemed in our bodies? Why is it part of salvation to have our bodies changed?
You see, salvation lives to bring us back to the fullness of our original form, the original intention for us. That was not to be like animals.
‘The desire of a beast is only to nourish itself and to multiply itself. It hath no understanding of any higher thing. It hath its own spirit, whereby it liveth and growth and consumeth itself. If God had intended that man should live as the beasts, He would have created him in the similitude of, and with the beasts.’ *
There is a ‘profound mystery’ in the declaration that after Eve was created ‘for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’. The mystery is that the ‘one flesh’ was simply whole Adam before! The creation of mankind into sexes was a fall!
‘Adam was given that which he would have, the terrestrial woman, in place of the celestial virgin; for Adam’s treachery toward his heavenly consort, disqualified him for her, and left him only fitted for an ‘Eve’. During his sleep, the woman was made out of Adam, and the image of God was destroyed. The man and the woman were made into creatures of this outer world, fashioned into mortality. Adam and Eve had still a paradisiacal consciousness, but mixed with terrestrial desire. They were ‘naked’ although ‘not ashamed’ until they had eaten of the earthly fruit.’ *
So we know that part of salvation is a redemption of (and change to) our bodies. I’m just trying to prove the reason for that. The consequence of eating from the tree did not bring about any changes to their bodies. The curses that came afterwards did not bring about any changes to their bodies. The only place we see changes to the bodies is when Eve was created. Apparently, this was wrong, because it is reversed by the completion of salvation in us.
It is good for us to learn from the salvation of the world (see ‘Save the World, Save Me!’). Just before an end is brought to all wickedness and 'ungodliness' (ie. being unlike God, as animals, living out the desires of ‘the flesh’, our bodies) on the earth, the one who reigns over every single human being is called 'the beast'. It is 'the beast' that is thrown into the lake of fire along with all his adherents, and this is the culmination of salvation.
‘The Beast’ reigns with the ‘False Prophet’ at his side, the one who deludes and distracts. The ‘false prophet’ is thrown into the lake of fire forever as well.
Let it be in us as well, that a kingdom and reign is given to 'the beast' in us, so that all the parts of us that would belong to it would be destroyed simultaneously. And let everything we believe that is untrue be given over to one head, the ‘false prophet’ in us, which deludes us about God, and also be destroyed in one fell swoop.
The final nail in the coffin for humanity is the destruction of ‘the beast’ and his kingdom. Salvation of the world is just like our own salvation - 'the beast’ in us must die. God gives 'the beast' and ‘the false prophet’ their kingdom, and God destroys that kingdom forever, and brings about his own salvation in us.
* Jacob Boeme: The Image of the Heavenly
Saturday, February 02, 2008
If believing in Jesus is the solution to the whole problem, then defining the problem should help us figure out what part of 'me' He was talking about, right? Well, the problem is ancient, and started with Adam. Adam disobeyed the one rule, and because of it there were consequences. Whenever there is disobedience, we have to consider that there are consequences and punishment - they are 2 separate things. For example, when a child is told not to touch the stove top, but does, the consequence of his action is burns to his hands, and a punishment may be doled out so that this is sure to never happen again (a form of protection). Some of what happened after 'the fall' was consequence, some was punishment (curse), but I gather that the curse was actually an accommodation for the new knowledge in them (but that's another story).
What causes disobedience? In my last post (What then is Salvation?) I said that the root of disobedience is unbelief in God’s love. If there are rules, they are from God, and if we believe that His intentions for us are good and his laws are for our protection, we will not disobey them. Even though we may not know the reasons why we should or shouldn’t do certain things, we should be able to trust that it’s better to follow what He said.
So in the garden, when Adam and Eve had the words of God challenged by the snake, they succumbed to the belief that maybe God had ill-intentions towards them and that He was holding good things back from them. So they fell. Had they continued with the belief that God did not tell them not to eat from that tree because He knew it would destroy them, they wouldn’t have eaten, they wouldn’t have fallen.
The same applies to us today; disobedience is still very possible, and we are constantly choosing the unwise options, and facing the consequences of our choices.
If disbelief in God’s love for us led to ‘the fall’, then salvation, which was provided to reverse everything involved in ‘the fall’, must begin with the opposite. It must begin with belief in God’s love.
Jesus is the ultimate and final word of the length, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love. Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5-7)
Jesus forsook forever his form and his being in heaven, came into a human body, and left earth in that same body, and will remain in that body forever. He died once in it, came back to life, and there is nothing saying He will ever shed that body. He forsook it all for us! That is love.
Jesus went to the cross; that is love.
The belief in God’s love, in God as love, does wonderful things. Naturally, not wildly spiritually and intangibly, it transforms the mind, and brings new life to our beings. Value and worth are treasures given, and the root cause of disobedience is taken away.
"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:14-17
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26
Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me." John 12:44
One who hears of God’s love for them loves Him. It’s love for Him that refuses to disobey.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Romans 8:23-24 says: We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.
Within our faith there lingers an assumption that body, soul, and spirit are easily separable. I have yet to find its source, but I think it’s based on our beliefs about what salvation is, and what we think it produces. Most people say that because they are a Christian they’ll go to heaven when they die, and that this is the whole point. Wrong! The whole point is a complete and full regeneration to our original form, to become the Adam that God created before things went south, and to live on earth where He placed us. His original plan for man was perfect, and it will continue when all is said and done.
As it stands, the glorious salvation we boast of is simply a decree that angels will come get our spirits when our eyes close in death. And in the meantime, behave and try to love one another. Is there no actual action now? Is nothing actually done when we ‘first believe’? Does nothing happen, even in the unseen world?
Adam was created to live forever. He was created immortal, indestructible, and death was not a twinkle in his eye (when this was lost, salvation then became a restoration to 'everlasting life'). For Adam, death wasn’t even a possibility; it didn’t exist anywhere in creation. Since God created Adam to live, He did not design Adam to accommodate for death. This is where our assumption that our ‘parts’ are separable comes in – are they? Is it just as simple as leaving your body when you die, or being pulled from it by angels? Or does it make more sense that we are created whole beings, unable to be torn into different parts? I would think the more logical assumption would be that our spirits, minds, and bodies are fused together into one being, or ‘knitted’ together as the Psalmist says (Psalm 139:13).
My view of hell is a little different than the mainstream view. Instead of God creating a place that is bent on tormenting its inhabitants eternally, I think that hell is simply death. If God created Adam to live eternally, He did not create him to accommodate for death. So the body dies, but the Bible strongly teaches that the spirit does not ever die, whether it is 'saved' or not. With the fusion of all your parts into one inseparable being, imagine your conscious spirit alive in a dead body, buried in the ground… for hundreds and thousands of years. Can I get a witness that this would indeed be ‘hell’?? Does it not make the most sense? Is it any creation of God, this 'hell'? No, it was a choice of ours!
In the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament) the word ‘hell’ doesn’t really ever come up (search ‘hell’ at BibleGateway.com, your hits will start with Matthew – the word is not mentioned in the OT). The prophets and kings spoke only of "the grave" (Sheol), like Jacob, who said "in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son." (Gen. 37:35).
Hell is actually brought to life by the vivid descriptions of a lake of fire in Revelation. Has anybody read about the Lake of Fire? The antichrist and the false prophet, at the end of days, are the first to be thrown in. So where are all the dead now, if not there? The idea of a tormenting hell has been widely used by the church and disgruntled parents alike, trying to get behavior in check. But the lake of fire is almost certainly born of Love; those who have, in life, chosen death, will be kept eternally away from those who have chosen life by a great barrier of fire, which just happens to be the ultimate symbol of life itself. Is that in any way cruel? No, it’s life, it’s good, but those who hate its virtues will be held captive by it (this may be figurative).
I speculate that the first thing to happen when someone gets ‘saved’ is that their spirit is set free from their body, that we are given the ability to avoid the grave should we die before our salvation is complete. This would help make sense of Paul’s assertions that we are currently seated in heavenly places, and would also validate the experiences of some in the Bible who visited the third heaven.
The next ‘part’ of us to face the salvation process (regeneration) would be the mind (see Romans 12:2). There’s much to be said about the salvation of the mind, which could take pages. But briefly, the biggest problem, the biggest cause of sin and wandering and distraction is an ignorance of truth. Whether we call it lies or distraction or laziness, our biggest adversary is un-truth or falsities, and the facilitator of un-truth is the mind. Un-truth was the cause of the first fall, and every fall after that. What we believe will either lead us to life or death, and funny enough, those who ‘believe in Him will have everlasting life’, and those who believe in lies will not see that light at the end of their tunnel. A title for our biggest adversary, not only as Christians but as humans, is the ‘Father of Lies’. His tool is always deceit.
Salvation of the mind is a learning of truth, which is the longest process. I suppose it ends with some monumental ‘ah ha!’ moment, just like for the earth, when Christ is revealed in the sky, and ‘every eye shall see’ (The earth is saved; take a look here). It is at that point that the physical element of salvation takes place; immortality is restored to the earth and all the curses and pains-in-the-ass brought about by sin are removed. The earth is restored to its original glory and the ‘New Jerusalem’ comes and is joined with the earth. No longer does the earth require the light of the sun (no external needs, see Revelation 21:23), because Emmanuel is on the earth. His presence, Christ the Morning Star, provides the sustenance for all life now (Rev. 22:5).
Would there not be a moment like this for us as individuals seeking the fullness of salvation? If a person were to attain this level of perfection, according to Romans, it would be culminated and completed in the salvation of their body. Peter alludes to some climax or great goal in our salvation process here: ‘until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts’ (2 Peter 1:19). Would the arrival of the morning star in our hearts bring about the immortality and regeneration of our bodies? Is it the sustenance we need to go back to solely living on the Love of God and nothing else? Will it dispose of our need for external sustenance, and cease our existence as animals? Would it bring us back to perfect Adam, the image and likeness of God?
John says: ‘we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’ (1 John 3:2). When Christ appears in our hearts after the salvation of the spirit and mind, we will become like Christ in every way. This is the big reveal, the salvation of our body, the completion of salvation. At that point, we’d be Adam again, we’d be the Original Form.
No golden harp and fluffy cloud for me! Salvation is exciting!
Other points to be made:
Jesus talks a lot about the subjects and sons of the kingdom being ‘outside, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt 8:12). Would this be those who only attained the salvation of the spirit, died, and were escorted to heaven’s gate? The ones who are still imperfect in the ‘spirit of the mind’ and cannot be let in to the untainted home of God?
If God did not specifically create a ‘hell’ as we know it, what about demons? We know a third of the angels fell with Satan, but those are the only rebels we know of. Well, if hell is inhabiting your dead body eternally, what happens to the spirits of bodies that are destroyed (maybe by fire). With no body to be attached to, they are free to roam. They wander through ‘arid places’, and their only desire is to inhabit a body, to live again. Is this demon possession?
The human body is largely composed of water, and prophetically speaking, water can symbolize body or bodies (think of a 'sea of people). Jesus was compassionate to the ‘legion’ of demons in Matthew 8:30-32, by sending them into the sea; it seems a demon in a body or in water is at rest. The lake of fire can, with this, be seen as compassion. Spirits held in water (body), by fire, the origin of life. The lake of fire is not cruel, it is love!