And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 1 Corinthians 15:49

Sunday, November 20, 2022

What Is The Vengeance Of God?

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."  Romans 12:19

"Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." 
 Romans 12:14-21

In many of the previous posts that I have written, I have talked about context giving us the best understanding of what is being said, and how to apply those Truths to our own lives. I separated Rom. 21:19 to show how it is often only quoted out of context, and how easily it can be taken to mean something other than what it does mean in context to the other verses.

Most times this verse is quoted, it is in response to our personal desire to; "let someone have it", or to payback someone in retaliation for their wrong doing, or to "even the score"! The idea is that God in His wrath and anger and vengeance will even the score and make them pay on our behalf. He will stand up in our defense and then they will regret they ever messed with us as God's servant! However, this reasoning is because of a long believed error about the nature and character and purpose of God held by most non Christians AND Christians!

The long held belief is that God is angry! That God is watching and waiting for man to slip up so that He can let them have it! The wrath of God is believed to be His natural state. It is believed that God is just mad at mankind all of the time, and is just trying to fix what went wrong in the Garden of Eden, so that he can salvage something in the end with a few trusting souls.

Oh, dear reader, that is such a centuries long held error designed to keep people in fear hoping that such fear would prevent people from doing evil things. The truth is that we have been fed and believes such a distorted view of God for such a long time, we think the distorted view is the truth, but nothing could be further from the Truth!

While there are Christians that believe this distorted view of God, they also believe that Jesus came to stand between God and man so that He could mediate God's wrath upon Himself in our place. Even I was taught and believed this error for quite some time, just like I was taught and believed this wrathful God would send the majority of His creation to a fiery torment in hell forever. But oh how much I am grateful to no longer believe such a slander against this merciful God of love and kindness!

In the last couple of years I have listened to about five years of sermons by Brian Zhand, whom I have mentioned in previous posts. A common declaration he makes has also become a mantra of mine. While we think that Jesus is kind and loving in the New Testament appeasing an angry God in the Old Testament, this mantra corrects that false belief. It goes like this: "God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus. We haven't always known this, but now we do!"

  We are told in several places in Scripture:

 "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power" Heb. 1:3

"In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." 2 Cor. 4:4

"I and the Father are one.” John 10:10

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

There are many more verses that confirm what these verses are affirming, which is that God is not schizophrenic Jesus and God are one in the same. Jesus is the visible manifestation of the invisible God! If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. If you see a different image of the Father that is not like Jesus, then the image you are seeing is False!

Okay so what about the: "...Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."  Romans 12:19? That is true of course, but not the vengeance we think. God does not tell us to love our enemies, and He hates His. But rather it is "...not knowing that the goodness of God leads thee to repentance?"  Rom. 2:4.

In the beginning verses of this post, I separated this one verse Romans 12:19 out from the verses before and after in order to show how when separated it has been so easily taken out of context and the meaning distorted, to give an grossly inaccurate portrayal of God. So now read those verses altogether again, and begin to see the more accurate portrayal of God which is one in which God's vengeance against anyone is to Love them with such a perfect Love that they have no choice but to stop resisting that Love which leads them to repentance! God will do what He asks us to do, which is to Overcome evil with Good!

Indeed, the wrath of God is NOT against men as some misquote, but rather  "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness OF men," Rom.1:18. It is against the ungodliness and unrighteousness; not against men. This is not un-similar to to the verse in Psalm 1:6 "For the Lord knows the way of the righteous: but the WAY of the ungodly shall perish."  Notice it does not say the ungodly shall perish, but the WAY of the ungodly perishes. Since the way of the ungodly perishes, then what is left but a Godly way! Evil has been overcome with good.  Now you know the answer to the question asked in the title, What Is The Vengeance Of God?

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Higher Thoughts And Higher Ways.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

This is another one of those very familiar verses in the bible where if you only know this one verse out of the chapter, you do not have enough context to know what is actually being said here. And I have been just as guilty, until lately because I only had a limited understanding before considering this verse for a post. 

We see that God is detailing his thoughts and ways are higher than man's, which lead many to believe that it is God's way of showing how separated He is from us---He is up there, and we are way down here---But nothing could be further from the truth. In no way did God ever indicate that had to be the unchanging position of man, to think with lower thoughts and act with lower ways, but rather it is an invitation to come up higher, and to think with His higher thoughts and to act on His higher ways!

The first obvious point to make is that the verse is not dealing with altitude such as the cloud is higher than the flower, but rather a higher form of a position of attitude and nature. Such as the order of things, like the rank order of: plants, fish, animals, and man. Or also a higher order of learning, such as: elementary, high school, college, and university etc.

God is saying that man is thinking according to his fallen earthly Adamic thoughts and ways. That kind of thinking is what got him into trouble in the first place. But now God is saying that man needs to get his mind into the heavenly realm and inviting us to learn, and to begin to think with heavenly thoughts, and act according to heavenly ways.

So, that much I already understood for a long time. Then something new was pointed out to me, with the question: What ways and thoughts was God referring to? Was it just general thoughts and ways or something specific? Ah. Context! For that we need to consider the conversation from whence this verse started.

"Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon." Isaiah 55:7. This verse is what precedes the higher thoughts and ways verses. The fact that God will abundantly pardon and have mercy on the wicked, is what God is calling us to learn. That is the higher thoughts and ways. The whole story of the bible and God's relationship with man is one of mercy and forgiveness! God has spoken a couple of chapters detailing his blessings to the children of Israel, and now also includes ALL nations because of Israel into those blessings  None is excluded . 

 Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord Speak, saying, “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”; Nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.” Isaiah 56:3 In other words, don't let anybody make any excuses as to them being disqualified from the blessing of God. For the verses continue: "For thus says the Lord:“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off." Isaiah 56:4-5.

I learned recently how perhaps this verse gave hope to a character we were introduced to in Acts 8:26-39, The story of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Perhaps you remember? But it would be good to read the whole story first, so these comments will make sense. It is important to know that in Deuteronomy 23 there are a lot of laws that forbid certain people from entering into the "congregation" of the Lord. Meaning they could not partake in the temple worship etc. It would be like saying that they were forbidden from going to church, or were excommunicated. In 23:1 it says: "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord." It is a polite way of saying that a man was unable to reproduce by force, or accident, or choice. 

Knowing that background, we are introduced to this "Ethiopian eunuch, of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure" who was on his way home after having traveled all the way to Jerusalem to worship at one of the Jewish feasts, where he was not even allowed to participate! He would be kept out in the court of the Gentiles and could only watch from a distance. Still, the difficult journey and isolation was worth even the little he could enjoy. And now, we are told that Phillip was instructed by the Spirit to join himself to the man, and overheard the eunuch reading from a passage in Isaiah 53 where upon Phillip began to explain to him, the meaning of what he was reading. was about Jesus! When they came to some water, the eunuch asked in Acts 8:36 "... See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?"  

This eunuch has been told all of the time he was a eunuch,  that he could not participate in the worship activities in the temple, that he was an outsider, and restricted from any religious activity. And now, while we can know the passage he was reading was from Isaiah 53, but it is also within the realm of probability that Phillip showed him the passage a few pages later where it says "For thus says the Lord:“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off." Isaiah 56:4-5. Indeed there was NOTHING that prevented him from fully participating in the feast and festivals and worship of God! He is no longer an outcast, and excluded from a relationship with God and is now accepted into all the promises of God which are yes and Amen!

God's ways and thoughts are higher than the Adamic, earthly thoughts of man. Earthy thoughts, because it is this lower realm of thinking that keeps us from enjoying a relationship with God, and the lower realm of thoughts and ways is a form of self attainment to a set of rules and laws that you think will make you acceptable to the perfection of God. That is the wide gate found in Matt. 7:13 For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.It misses seeing that "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" Rom. 8:7 Therefore, if it is not about keeping the "law of sin and death", and is instead about living in the higher realm of heavenly thoughts and ways, then we can see that is open to everyone! "Whosoever will may come" Rev. 22:17. And if you can understand that truth, you are indeed now thinking in the heavenly realm of  Higher Thoughts And Higher Ways.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

If I Be Lifted Up

"...Nothing is certain except death and taxes" Benjamin Franklin. Taxes we can live with, but death--that is a different story!

Many people are afraid of death, and why not? It is the end of life as we know it. It is the doorway from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Many have passed from this side of that doorway to the next, but only ONE has passed from the next side unto this side. And it is the One who has passed from the next side back to this side, in whom we put our trust for what life is like on the other side.

Of course, that One I am talking about is the Lord Jesus Christ! It is Jesus who conquered sin and death, and taken away it's sting. 1 Cor. 15:55-57 " O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Every Christian can attest to the reassurance they have when they know in themselves that they are in right standing with God, but even many Christians are not sure about their right standing with God, and are even fearful of their own death as fearing that they don't qualify for a life filled with the joy of all that the heaven they have been taught is available to them.

It is that sense of fear of disqualification that I would like to put at ease in many of these blog posts that I write, including this one. The verse I would like to start with is the very familiar verse found in John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

This verse is so familiar because it is sang in church as a praise song to "Lift Jesus Higher" but the truth of the matter is that to be "lifted up from the earth" is a euphemism for the crucifixion! Rather than saying a person was about to be crucified, they might say he is to be lifted up, to ease the terrible thought of this Roman form of torture reserved for the worst of criminals, that the Romans wanted to make a visual point of cruel torture to make it known what happens to those who threaten Rome. In fact the bible tells us what Jesus meant by what He said in John 12:32 by what He said in the next verse: John 12:33 "This he said, signifying what death he should die."

I am not sure how I think about singing that verse after knowing what I just wrote, but perhaps as it is in our minds as a praise song to His Lordship, and as a form of exaltation, then indeed there is no harm. What I would like to point out in this post is what Jesus said would be the result of His being lifted up. "I will draw all men unto me." which on the surface sounds all nice and gentle and inviting, but I want to focus your attention on a couple words of that verse. The first word is, what is translated as "draw". It is from the Greek word helkĊ which means: to draw, drag off metaph., to draw by inward power, lead, impel. It is the same word used to draw in a net full of fish. In fact just as ALL the fish in a net are impelled to be dragged into the boat, so also are the ALL for whom Jesus is dying on the cross. 

It is the other word in verse 32 I want to also bring your attention to consider, and that is the word ALL. Someone once said about this word, "What don't you understand about the word all: the A or the two L's?" What needs to be understood is the fact that the death of Jesus on the cross and subsequent resurrection was a WORLD CHANGING event! Jesus put to death ALL of those who were born a descendant of the first Adam and began a second creation race a descendant of Himself making all creation past present and future heirs and joint heirs with Christ. And Romans 5:12: "just as by one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" ...5:17 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.... 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." So that you do not confuse the word all for the word many, take note is is the same "many" (all) who were made sinners, that is the many (all) made righteous.

There is no getting away with thinking or believing that some qualify and some do not qualify for a life eternal beyond the mortal door of death, and into that life of God offered to ALL creation right from the very beginning! There is no denying the Lord Jesus Christ any one of the ALL that He died on the cross to save! It is the greatest lie ever to be perpetrated against mankind to say anyone born into God's good creation will ever be separated from Him! Rom. 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Well, you might say, if that is the case, then why not just live in sin, since all will be saved by the death of Jesus on the cross? Funny you should say that, since Paul anticipated that his very argument based on what I just quoted would lead you to that conclusion. Romans 6:1-2 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein" And also in 2 Cor. 5:14 "For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."

The difference between us who have become believers, and those who have not is simply that WE know now, and THEY do not! So, it is up to us who know to tell them who do not that God is not mad at them, and has forgiven them and is not holding their sins against them! They are NOT going to be sent to an endless torture chamber and last day bar-b-que, but rather they too can experience His forgiveness now, and a promised abundant life now. THAT IS THE GOSPEL! That Jesus said He would drag ALL men unto himself : If I Be Lifted Up.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

...The Problem Of Evil continued

On June 15, 2013, Ethan Couch lost control of his family’s pickup truck after he and his friends had played beer pong and drank beer stolen from a Walmart. He veered into a crowd of people helping the driver of a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. The crash fatally injured the stranded motorist, a youth minister who stopped to help her, and a mother and daughter who came out of their nearby home to also help. Couch, 16 at the time of the crash, was found to have a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit for adult drivers after the crash. Investigators estimated his speed was around 70 mph in a 40 mph zone.
A psychologist who evaluated Couch in 2013 introduced the “affluenza” term at trial in reference to Couch being coddled by his wealthy parents. He testified that Couch learned nothing from his first incidents, court records show. The teen didn’t think he had done anything serious, Dr. G. Dick Miller said, and his mother lied to his father about it.

In the last post, in my discussion on the problem of evil, I talked about the difference it would make if this world never experienced the devastating effects of evil. I remembered this story from years ago which made me think of it as an example of the contrast between the teen Ethan Couch, and the death and destruction he caused. He would have no remorse, since he had no experience of consequences for any actions he took; and how anyone even reading this story would feel having known the experience of cause and effect; good and evil; right and wrong; actions and consequences. The example of "knowing" by experience.

I mentioned that I believe that it is vitally important to understand the plan and purpose God had for His creation to begin with. Where I depart with most others is when they say that God gave man free will to choose to obey or not as proof of Adam's love for God; and that I believe the first man Adam was not who God had in mind when He said "Let us make man in our image and likeness." I believe that JESUS who is the LAST ADAM and the SECOND MAN, make US the NEW CREATION MAN, as heirs and joint heirs with Jesus! Otherwise, then Jesus just becomes PLAN B, to God's purpose of creation, which we know that He is not! Jesus has ALWAYS been the plan and purpose of God's good creation!

Since Jesus was the last Adam, He put to death ALL of the Adamic race on the cross, and paid for the sin of the world for ALL time and forever, and was raised up to become the beginning of a whole new Christ man, with Jesus as the head! God was never mad at mankind! In fact if you understand this plan of God then it makes sense what it says in Genesis 6:3 "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." I used to think that was a threat. Like God was saying: "That's it, I am not going to put up with this for long before I finally lose my temper and you are going to get it". But now I see that verse as a promise of redemption!! As if God was saying: "Don't worry, the plan is in motion, YOU are not going to always be at strife with me, it has an ending, even a 120 years, and then the final outcome will be accomplished, and this enmity will come to an end!" Somewhat like a parent who reassures their child before surgery that when they wake up all their pain will come to an end. Psalm 17:15 "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."

I will agree that even understanding this explanation for evil does not make it easier to go through the torment of suffering, especially when it seems so random and without reason. "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Hebrews 12:11 But be assured nothing escapes the loving care and compassionate Heavenly Father! We see that played out in the person of Jesus, who is the full representation of God in the earth!

We also have a long history of countless examples of people who have turned their suffering from evil of many kinds into a testimony of the Grace of God in the midst of their pain, and demonstrate by a living example that indeed Love triumphs over hate; good triumphs over evil; grace and mercy triumphs over unforgiveness! There are many examples throughout history of people like Corrie Ten Boom, who was prisoner in a Nazi prison camp. Or how about Nelson Mandela who spent decades in prison for successfully leading the resistance to South Africa's policy of apartheid in the 20th century. I just recently read an autobiography of a lady named Theresa Gilliam, who wrote a book called Bring My Soul Out Of Prison who suffered much evil at the hands of many people including her husband, and still knew God was with her in the midst of her struggle.

Even suffering that is not the result of evil is also a major complaint from many who are mad at God for their pain and sorrow. Job is about the most well known example of suffering being replaced by restoration. Or Joni Erickson Tada who broke her neck as a teen in a diving accident, and is paralyzed. She was able to display the love and grace of God in her life beyond what anyone can imagine out of her tragic circumstance.

And we can go on to talk about the many who were born or later suffered deformities from accidents. How about war the result of man's inhumanity to man! No matter how long the list of evil and tragedy is, the list of the goodness of God is abundantly greater! "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Rom.8:18

All of these people are in stark contrast to Ethan Couch! The difference between someone who is kept from any bad experiences and whose lawyer argued that, as a reason of his destructive and deadly behavior, and those who like the people in the Faith chapter of Hebrews 11:13 "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

As I said at the start of the previous post, I have no expectations of providing an adequate answer to solve this question to anyone's satisfaction in full in such a sort blog post as this, however I think I can provide some thoughts to provoke more thought in that direction for someone who reads this post. Perhaps, maybe, having read these writings, you have more understanding to give you peace when considering ...The Problem Of Evil

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Problem Of Evil...

There have been countless books written about the subject of this title, and so I have no expectations of providing an adequate answer to solve this question to anyone's satisfaction in full in such a sort blog post as this, however I think I can provide some thoughts to provoke more thought in that direction for someone who reads this post. 

"Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness..." (Gen. 1:26) So here in this verse we see the purpose of God revealed, to make man in His image and likeness. Don't skip by this verse without considering it closely, it sets up the whole story! It is widely believed that it is Adam to whom God is referring to in this verse. Adam can also be interpreted as humankind. And in the broader sense, I believe God purposes the end from the beginning and so He sees the New Creation Man in Christ as the ultimate purpose, and Adam is the beginning of the process.

 So with that in mind consider this verse in Gen 3:22 "Now man has become as one of us, knowing the difference between good and evil."  Well, isn't that the beginnings of the purpose stated in Gen 1:26? I have always been told that it was such a problem for God since God told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or he would surely die. However, was God unaware of what Adam would do? Of course He was aware, in fact God is Sovereign! He knows ALL things, and is fully aware of the end result of His purpose, and that purpose included Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden.  Adam did not mess up God's purpose, Adam fulfilled God's purpose! The plan is in motion.

But why? What kind of plan is that? Didn't Adam freely reject God's love by his disobedience? Adam could not have known the extent of God's love, and couldn't know what he was rejecting, therefore his will was manipulated by the result of Eve being deceived by the serpent who enticed her desire to eat of the (figurative) tree in the center of the Garden, which we are told: "...that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom...   Gen. 3:6.  The truth is that Adam was set up to fall. It was not some kind of test to see if Adam would obey or disobey God like many bible scholars try to explain, it is the kind that gives a purpose to what we call the problem of evil. Let me explain. 

Imagine there was no evil. No killing, no lying no harming others, no sorrow, no pain: just heavenly bliss... like the Garden of Eden non stop forever. Ahh, pretty good eh! How would you know? Not only how would you know there was no evil if you never knew about it, but how would you even know you were experiencing goodness? It's the tree of the knowledge of good AND evil. It is a comparison system. Good and evil. Light and darkness. Need and supply. Desire and fulfillment. 

Adam was innocent like a new born baby, before this plunge into disobedience. So, how was he even to understand what it meant to die, before death entered into this world? For that matter how would Adam understand the Nature and Character of God? Adam just knew God as Creator. How is God to reveal Himself to His creation? Does God just explain to Adam who He is? How far can that go without experiencing examples?

There are different meanings in the bible for the word knowledge. I use the example of being a skydiver. I had knowledge at first that there are skydivers. Then I learned knowledge through training the process of how to skydive, but then there is the experience of actually jumping out of a plane and skydiving for myself! 

In one biblical example of this is in Gen 4:1 "Adam knew Eve, and she conceived and bore a son.." It shows the intimacy of the knowledge. So how are we to have that same intimate knowledge of the creator God? By using that system of contrast. "Now man has become as one of us knowing the difference between good and evil." Man is also learning compassion, and forgiveness, and mercy, and love, and kindness, and patience. Rom. 5:3-4 "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:"

Okay, so this post might offer some explanation of the purpose God had in allowing evil to take place, but hasn't it gotten out of control, and what about all of the suffering it has caused? How can that be a good thing? I will say this before I continue in the next post: There is no question that people can easily cite many, many examples of great evil in the world's history! Unimaginable suffering of innocent victims. One only has to mention the Holocaust to make their point. So how can I say that evil is not out of control? I mean really haven't  things gotten worse? Where is God? And the proof I offer that things are not out of control is this: That the absolute ultimate form of evil ever in history took place more that 2.000 years ago on a cross in Israel in the Deicide (murder) of God in the innocent person of Jesus!

The proof that God has ALL things under control, and evil does NOT have the final say, and evil is not running a muck outside the boundaries of God's purpose is that the ULTIMATE evil has already been perpetrated on God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, as part of the plan and has used that which was meant for evil to overcome evil and death and to redeem mankind from the curse. In the Sovereign Love and purpose of God, Jesus suffered and was crucified FROM the FOUNDATION of the world. The plan was finished before it was started and put in motion. God has proven that to not repay evil for evil, but rather that evil is overcome by LOVE is the solution which we will explore further in the next post, to The Problem Of Evil...


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Bring The Kingdom Of Heaven To Earth

 I shared in earlier posts how when the results of the election took place, that I was done being so involved with politics. I was no longer willing to listen to the news anywhere near as much, or follow the events of the president as in the past. As one pastor said this past week at a conference, that he was on a "political fast" and so am I.

Anytime there are two points of view or more, there is a divide between those that hold those opinions. It seems that now more than ever there is such a hostile political divide. And while I recognize that fact, and I too have strong opinions, and even though I did not become a hermit and live in a cave, I determined to have only a casual interest in what is going on in the political world. I have tried to muffle my political opinion, and focus more on Spiritual matters, the results of which have been the subjects of the many recent posts.

As a Jesus follower, I have been trying to figure out what is my role is in light of the great emphasis on the division of political sides in the country. I recently began to work some of it out in my thinking, and shared some of my thoughts during breakfast at the hotel we were staying at during a church conference last week. 

My point was never to bring up politics except as a reference point, and yet my point was taken out of context and it upset someone to the point they left the table, not even knowing that I agreed with him politically. But I did not tell him that, because I was focused on trying to explain that I was working out a thought that perhaps Christians are called to spread the Gospel of another Kingdom that is not of this world, rather than trying to influence the kingdom of this world. 

I began wondering what would Jesus tell us to do in light of this volatile political climate... and I was going to say if He were here, (but really isn't He here... in us)? And don't we have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, who will lead us into all truth? Of course, that's true, so then does that mean it is our calling to become a weapon of political power to change who holds the Executive, and Legislative branches in Washington? That has been a huge part of the controversy over Christians ignoring the moral actions of the previous president, in order to enact his policies. Enough said. So what is the role of a follower of Christ?

 I have thought a lot about the time of Jesus when the Jewish nation was under rule of the Roman government! There was great political divide even then! There were the Herodians, the Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots, and Essenes, and yet Jesus did not focus on the political, but rather the personal. Though He did say "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's."  That should be all we need to know about our political involvement. We are to be in this world, but not OF this world.

Of course during the time of Jesus, the Jews main focus was on the Messiah coming to set them free from the Romans! For the Messiah to rule like King David. That was even the main focus of the disciples during their three years, with Jesus trying to tell them differently. "My kingdom is not of this world..." said Jesus. What if Jesus told us the same thing, would that change our views on politics?  Being free from the Roman's was Judas' main reason for betraying Jesus. He was thinking to force Jesus' hand to start the battle and not to let Himself get captured! Is God wanting to use political power to enact His Kingdom in the earth? I think the answer is an obvious no, both then and now.

Before the Resurrection, the main focus of the disciples was to usurp the political power that held them in captivity, so what about AFTER the Resurrection? What did the disciples do after the Resurrection? What was their focus now? What was their mission now? What was their calling now? You see, the Romans were still in power from the time before the Crucifixion and for several years after the upper room experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But what DID change was the mission of the disciples to now spread the news that Jesus is Lord, and Caesar is not! They were not called to fight the kingdoms of this world, but rather to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth! The good news wasn't then, and it isn't now to escape this world and go to heaven, but rather it is "Thy will be done IN EARTH as it is in Heaven." What makes us think we have a different message?

So what if we as believers, and followers of Jesus were to do the same thing? What if we as believers put much less focus on the earthly kingdom in Washington and more emphasis on our Heavenly Father's Kingdom in the earth?  I realized I had no influence on the election results. I am Canadian, and cannot even vote, and all we can really do as citizens is to vote the one into power that we think might be the best candidate, and in reality, it is our Heavenly Father who has the final say as to who is in the seat in Washington. Can someone steal an election and God not know about it?  And that was my point at the breakfast table.  And since that is the case, why not just trust Him to worry about that while we focus our attention on our mission to Bring the Kingdom of Heaven To Earth. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Now That You Know

 You don't know what you don't know. Seems obvious, But since you don't know what you don't know, then how is it that you can be held responsible for not knowing, unless it is reasonable to expect you should know. Such as the saying "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." But even if ignorance is no excuse, you still don't know what you don't know. 

Case in point: Yesterday I was trying to build a cement pad behind the shed. I had done all of the prep work, building a form, laying down a base of stone etc. I bought 10 bags of pre-mix concrete, I watched a dozen videos on how to make a concrete pad. So I was prepared. I was really anticipating doing a professional type job. But I didn't know what I didn't know, and while I knew it was going to be very labor intensive, I was not prepared for how labor intensive it would be. Also I did not make the mix wet enough, for fear of making it too wet, which was the major mistake. I did not find out that was the problem until I texted a friend this picture, who then called to tell me the mix was too dry! By then it was too late to fix. And so, it will serve it's purpose, but I am really disappointed with all the work I put into it, just that little extra information would have made all the difference in the results. 

So why am I telling you this? Because it got me thinking of how Christians especially think that when someone hears about how Jesus died on the cross to save them, and they need to love Him and trust him with their whole life like they did. They think that person is now responsible for accepting what they are told without question.  But in both cases, you don't know what you don't know. The person witnessing, and the one being witnessed to, are often both missing key information. Is the one witnessing giving the right information, and does the one being witnessed to have to trust they are being told the truth; and to believe in a God they know nothing about? Obvious room for doubt. Yet we are also informed that ignorance of the Truth is no excuse, and you will be held accountable for going to hell! But is that true?

I used to deliver gasoline to stations, and some customers needed to pay cash before we delivered, because if they did not have the money, it goes one way through the hose, and can't be taken back. I had customers that told me to trust them, and another driver remarked: "Trust you? I don't even know you!" And so when Christians ask us to trust God, many peoples response is the same, Trust Him, I don't even know Him. 

When I first became a Christian and began to think about it, I often wondered how it is that God could hide himself from people, and yet hold them responsible to believe and trust in Him, AND love Him, when they don't even know Him? I thought how unfair it was that Jesus would appear to the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, and convince him beyond doubt that He was real, and yet hold everyone else to the same standard of belief without the same proof. Several times in Scripture, an angel would appear, and people would fall on their faces and believe, and yet, have you had an angel appear to you? Neither have I. 

If you are to believe that after death comes the judgment, and those who believed and said the "sinner's prayer" go to heaven, and those who did not, go to everlasting torture, (which I did for decades). The only reason I could explain that was that my faith and trust in God was an inside work of the Holy Spirit, which went beyond just brain power, and right into the heart of knowing without proof. but I also believed what I was being told, about God by those who I trusted without having the revelation of the restoration of all things.  

And that is the key information to understand and trust in God. That it doesn't come about by getting enough head knowledge, but only through the revelation of the Holy Spirit in everyone's lives. No exceptions. "You are saved by Grace, through faith and THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES, it is a GIFT of God. NOT of WORKS, lest any man should boast." The gift of God IS the faith to believe, which is given by Grace. So that you cannot even boast about your faith to believe. How do you think THAT would change the way you witness to others?

 The great part is that even if you don't accept what I am saying is the truth, and you think people are responsible for their own believing and trusting God, the truth does not depend on your believing me for it to be true. Truth is truth even if you believe it or not. The truth was I needed more water in the concrete mix, whether I believed I was right or not. Just truth alone does not set you free, but it is knowing the truth that sets you free. 

So now, since salvation depends on the work of the Holy Spirit, and not on your own knowledge: That it depends on the gift of faith from God to believe: That it will bypass your own understanding: Then even if you don't know what you don't know, your salvation is guaranteed, because it still depends on God, and not on what you know or what you don't know. So then, what about the Scriptures that tell us to believe? Simple. You will believe the same way everyone believes, by the gift of faith through the grace of God. What do you think about that truth Now That You Know?