Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Angel of God

In Hebrew malak is transliterated "angel". The grammatical articles which address "angel" were added by the translators in context to the subject matter. Sometimes the angel's identity is obvious. At other times, the translators helps us to understand who the angel is by punctuation as well as the articles. In general, a messenger of God are referred to as "an angel". "The" Messenger of God is generally referred to as "the angel of God".

Keep in mind that Messiah and Christ both mean "the anointed one" in Hebrew and Greek, respectively. Jews tend to favor Messiah for obvious reasons. It's their original language. We tend to think of the Messiah as coming and Christ as come, but we can just as easily say Jesus the Messiah as Jesus the Christ. There are only three places in the Bible where the title "Messiah" is used. Two are in the Book of Daniel describing the second coming of Christ. The other one follows:
John 4:25 The woman (at the well) saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. (Messias is Greek for Messiah).
This sinful woman knew what the Pharisees did not; that the Messiah would be called Christ, and was the source of all truth. She believed that Christ was coming but did not know that he had... until he came to the well to give her living water.

Jesus came incognito. Then he identified himself as "the one who cometh" (John 4:26). This is typical Jesus. God is without Name but is "called Jesus" (Luke 2:21). His identity is the Word (John 1:1, 14). Man was created without flesh. Whatever covered Adam and Eve at their creation was divine - this being clothed in glory. Flesh was apparently provided for mankind to exist in the environment of the world according to sacred writings. Hence, the flesh is of and for the world. God put on flesh to empathize with his creature. He needed flesh for three reasons: (1) to feel temptation, (2) to suffer, and (3) for a sacrifice by dying. His flesh was the receptor for all the sins of mankind which he took onto his own Spirit when he died in our place. 
Isa 53:5 But he (the Messiah) was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
This was written thousands of years before it happened, as if it had already happened! This makes it clear that God died in our place for our sins - all of them!

How did Isaiah know the Messiah so intimately? Because the Word spoke to him. The Word -  Jesus, spoke to many of the biblical patriarchs. He even wrestled with Jacob (Gen 43:34). He was "the angel of God" who wrestled with God! Why was Jesus "the angel" before he was carnate?
1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator (mesites; go-between) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus...
The mediator between God and man is the ultimate messenger - "the Messenger" or "the Angel of God"!

The subject verses today are about the miraculous birth of Samson:
Jud 13:2 ...there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. 3 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son... 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name... 8 Then Manoah intreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born. 9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day. 11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am. 12 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him? 13 And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. 14  She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe. 15 And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee. 16 And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the Lord. 17 And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour? 18  And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret? 19 So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord: and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. 20  For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. 21 But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God ...24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Like Elizabeth who bore the obvious Nazerite (Luke 7:33), John the Baptist, Hazelelponi (not named above), the wife of Manoah, was barren as well. The Holy Spirit was with her, and the Nazerite Samson was born to this barren woman. Nazerites were set apart for service to God (see Num 6)

God came to Elizabeth in Spirit. God came to Monoah in person! There is only one nature of God. That is as a man (verses 6, 8 and 11) . His other two substances are supernatural. In these verses, "a man" was mentioned several times as "the angel of God".  To make it clear, look how many times "angel" is used for the man's purpose - to bring a message to the couple. That message was how to beget a Nazarite judge!

In a couple of instances, rather than "the angel", it is written "an angel". For consistency, the translators probably should have kept it "the". 

Guess who is the man of God? The Son of Man.
Ezek 33:2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people...
This was written before the Son of Man was made flesh... long before!
Mat 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 
Jesus referred to himself as "the Son of Man". He is "the man" who appeared to Manoah and his wife.

Verse 6 expounds on this further, referring to Him as "the man of God'. We know also from scripture that Jesus is the Son of God (Mat 8:29).  Thus, Jesus as "Son of Man" and "Son of God" was "the Man of God".

Hazelelponi said, "his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God" (verse 6)." Jesus showed his true self on the Mount of Transfiguration. Since Moses apparently saw Jesus transformed to his Old Testament appearance, it seems that Jesus's transfigured presence was what Hazelelponi saw as well! Also in verse 6 she said "neither told me his name". Why would that be? God is without Name. He just Is! When he was transformed to the Son of Man, he was called Jesus (Luke 2:21).

In verse 11 Manoah asked, "Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am." Who did "the man" claim to be? God who just Is!
Exod 3:13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.
How clear can scripture be? What is your name? "I am"! - I AM God. This man who appeared to them was God. When God appears, His apparition is always the Word - Jesus Christ. The man who was the angel of God was not flesh but his countenance was glorified; whatever kind of covering that is.

In verse 12 Manoah said, "Now let thy words come to pass." Again as the Mediator between man and God, Jesus was the Words which would come to pass (John 1:1,14).

In verse 14 the Man said, "all that I commanded her let her observe." In scripture, neither men nor angels have the authority to command. Commands belong to God, and God alone. He commands His Will using the Word.

In verse 16 the pair was to offer a burnt offering unto the Lord. He was there, and needed their love. Because of their gratitude to the Lord, they provided a sacrfice to Him. It was symbolic of themselves. If the man was a mere angel, they are not to be revered. That's for God and God alone!

In verse 17 the angel of the Lord said, "Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?" His Name had yet to be revealed. That did not come until Jesus birth when he was "called Jesus". Paul referred to the "mystery of God"/ "the mystery of Christ". The mystery or secret is that salvation, and thus the Old Testament, was always about Jesus and His grace.
Rev 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
Ephes 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit...
In verse 20 it says, "the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar."  The man ascended. Where did we read that before? 
Acts 1:9 And when he (Jesus) had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
"In the flame of the altar?" That is how Jesus's Holy Ghost descended (Acts 2:3)

In verse 20, the two fell on their faces to the ground. Why? They were in the presence of God! He disappeared from their view just as he had when he ascended as Jesus.

The clearest passage is verse 22, "We shall surely die, because we have seen God." Scripture says that no man can see God face to face or he would die (Exod 33:20). Jesus came so that mankind could see God face to face. They didn't die because they saw Jesus! 

Verse 25 says, "the Spirit of the Lord began to move him." God in person left by ascending. However, in His absence, His Holy Spirit descended and remained on Samson. This is straight out of Acts 1 and 2! Scripture as well have said, "People, this is Jesus! Worship Him!"

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ego and Superego and the Christian

The "ego" is a psychoanalytical term which fairly accurately identifies the "I" in us - our individuality. Superego fairly well describes the "as god" perception of ourselves. Self-actualization is the accomplishment of the drive to realize one's potential. The peak experience is the enlightenment that one has that is has been reached.

Face it: Sigmund Freud understood the soul, albeit the "soul" he designed was not the way we were created. In the beginning, our soul was filled with God's Holy Spirit; all the way full! With the first sin, the human soul became filled with "us". Adam's was filled with his "I', and Eve's with her "I". Thus, the ego and superego were born. Bad mistake ancient parents!

Let's focus on the superego for a moment. It's our set of moral principles. It governs the rules within which we operate. It's entity, so to speak, is the conscience. That is the part of the mind which directs our desires and impulses.  Originally, mankind's superego wasn't there. The soul was subject to God's will. After the fall of mankind, the superego became our will.

Adam and Eve were born pure. Sin created a dualism in the minds of our antecedents. Our superego is somewhat confused. Jesus identified that dualism and inner conflict:
Mat 26:40 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Within the superego are two governors of two very different laws: one, the law of sin, and the other the Law of God. Our conscious, or superego looks at the choice each and every time, and evaluates the possible outcomes: self-gratification or divine reverence. The superego has a built-in bias. Because of original sin, and Adam's DNA, even infants have a propensity to sin.

The superego is the messenger to the ego. The gloomy part is that there are two types of messengers with opposing messages. The ego is our flesh. It thinks "me" important! The id is the nature put in us which enjoys the flesh. Of course, Freud would say that is our foundation, but it is better considered and add-on from sin.

The superego appeases the flesh, or if righteous, controls the flesh. The "flesh' is much more than skin; it's the receptor of pleasure and consists of all the senses and emotions.

We were created with a soul enclosed with some type of divine covering which scripture merely describes: just as Jesus became glorious, we were created with the same glory. We don't know of its substance, but it is beautiful, pure, and immortal. This glory covered the soul and housed the mind. Thus, we were created in the image of God. There was not originally a need for a superego because there were no opposition to morality in the conscience. That came with eating of the tree of knowledge.The superego didn't exist because man was created totally innocent.

The superego came with the forbidden fruit. A new moral code came into effect. It went from purity and innocence to uncleanness and confusion. Satan tampered with the superego, exchanging God's moral code with his own.

The ego (better called a container for love) was created differently as well. It was all about God in the beginning, mankind being created in the image of God. With sin, mankind esteemed himself rather than God. Psychobabblers call this self-esteem, and it's a layer on the way to the peak experience. As one self-actualizes, they come to think they are gods, thus fulfilling Satan's accusation (Gen 3:5).

It should be obvious that Freud knew about God, but he also knew his subjects. His model for mankind was the juxtaposition of the Designers intent with Satan's scheme. They look the same side-by-side on the outside but the contents are opposites!

There are peak experiences for everyone. That's when everyone is enlightened. One side is duped by deception. They come to believe that they will die, and adjust their mind to the finality of death. Those are they who have no hope for eternal life because of their self-exultation.

On the other hand, the peak experience of those persuaded that there is more is called "the second birth" (the born-again experience). They realize that their ego has no power, and their superego is confused - they are not gods and cannot save themselves but possibly Jesus can! If that realization is strong enough, it is called faith. The superego is no longer super, it becomes servile, and instead of doing our will, the new desire is to do God's will. The enlightened righteous one loses the superego in favor of super-reverence.  The ego is hung on the cross as a living sacrfice, and the soul is filled with Christ's Spiritual Existence. Mankind's nature changes from self-esteem to Christ-esteem ( see my commentary at; "Christ Esteem: The Answer to Self-Esteem")

There is much going on which we can't see, and this is how I see it.

A New Countenance

Daniel was offered the king's (Nebuchadnezzar's) meat (Daniel 1) to restore him that he might stand before the king to be taught wisdom and the Chaldean language. The restoration was after utter defeat, being carried away to a foreign land, and half-starving to death. The Hebrews had been defeated in battle, and lost all God's treasures. Daniel refused the kings' meat because God supplied. 
Daniel 1:8  But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
Daniel requested only "pulse" - some type of vegetable, perhaps grain, to eat and water to drink, after refusing the king's meat. He ate only those things for ten days. After the days had ended, there was a change: 

Dan 1:15  And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat. 16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. 17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Daniel (and his friends: Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego) ate of God's "bread" and drank of his water (perhaps symbolic of living water) for ten calendar days, and their countenances were restored. "Countenance" is in general, their appearance. However, a deeper meaning is that all aspects of their existence changed. They appeared more healthy and robust, and also God "gave them knowledge and skill in learning and wisdom". With the change in countenance, they were able to understand the unseen through visions and dreams. Just as John the Beloved, Daniel, we find later, saw into the future!
It seems that John spoke of a similar tribulation in which the Hebrew people experienced, being comparable to the Babylonian one. Let's take a look at what John said about the Church at Smyrna:
Rev 2:10  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Think of the ten days in which Daniel fasted. Hunger usually weakens. In the case of Daniel, it strengthened him, not only physically but spiritually. He became more healthy and acquired more wisdom, and apparently an ability to know God's thoughts!

Just as Jesus hungered for forty days, and still withstood the temptations of Satan, Daniel fasted ten days, and withstood the temptation of the king's meat, and along with that, resisted comfort and pleasure. Rather than the kings' meat, Daniel ate the bread of life. Sacrifice gave him strength to overcome temptation. 

Afterwards, when Daniel saw visions, it was after he fasted:
Dan 10:1 ...a word was revealed to Daniel... And the word was true, and it was a great conflict.[a] And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision. 
Then Daniel saw God in the vision. It was Jesus he saw! Daniel's countenance aligned with God's because he saw the vision of Jesus just as John did in Revelation 1. Think of Daniel's ten days of fasting, and the turmoil as he fought the desire to eat the bountiful food of the king, but consumed only the food of the real King! Basically, Daniel chose the king's prison to freedom. Nebuchadnezzer was symbolic of Satan -  both destroy God's people. Daniel's tribulation (temptation) for ten days was his fasting when he could have had meat. 

Daniel challenged the king by his disobedience. The king could have killed him immediately. Daniel was faithful to God in the face of death. His "crown of life" was a new countenance. The weakened and distraught Daniel was rejuvenated, and made even more healthy and wise than before! Daniel's experience in tribulation was symbolic of the Church of Smyrna, and subsequently ours!

The crown of life was an Olympic-type of wreath for those who ran the race. It represents the prize of winning - perseverance until the race is finished! The prize, of course, is life! We find the type of life in Rev 2:11 - "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." The prize is eternal life!

Daniel's ten days were ten calender days. However, God's time is not our time:

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Ten calendar days for the Church at Smyrna is a very short time, even to face tribulation. Is it ten-thousand years? Ten Church ages? No one knows the secret to that. Sacred scripture does relate that mankind's existence shall be for "twelve days", or twelve-thousand years. Is that relevant? We just don't know!

Another possibility is the solar cycle of twelve months to which sacred literature often refers. In that case, Smyrna's tribulation might be for ten calendar months.

How does the "ten days" relate to the Church age? The earth's precessional rotation lasts for 2,160 years with twelve signs. Perhaps "ten days" of the "twelve signs" is 1,800 years. Regardless, most theologians apply the "ten days" as at the end of time. After that time elapses we see, that as with Daniel, the Smyrna-type Church will take on a new countenance. That Church will be glorified with the "crown of life". 

Perhaps, the ten days is related to the "Great Awakening" of the western world in the 1730's and 1740's, not exactly 1,800 years but of the same range. I like to think that because the "awakening" was the Church taking on a new countenance. Rather than religious heritage and tradition, the Church at that time returned to a personal God, just as in the beginning!

We can speculate all we want, and the later seems reasonable, but still we just don't know!

I would say, however, that the Church at Smyrna, after a period of testing, was born-again. That should be obvious that that parallels with a change in our own "countenance" - the new person, when we're born-again. The prize for us will also be "the crown of life". We can't go wrong if we compare ourselves to the Church at Smyrna. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Diversity and Christianity

Cultural diversity is in vogue at this moment. That would be a great idea except for one thing: society considers it intolerant to transform diverse peoples into nationals. For instance, the United States heretofore, had been a bastion of western European ideas. The religion of western Europe, the British Isles, Canada, and South America was the same as ours. At some point in history, we were considered to be a Christian nation. Even those from Russia and the Mediterranean area fit in. Not by choice, but the black race readily accepted Christianity even as they were enslaved.

For a moment, let me defend acceptance of the institution of slavery. Slavery had been known throughout history. It was always unjust but it was always how the victor took the spoils of the defeated. Jews and Christians had often been enslaved. Hence, they enslaved others as well. Was it God's will? Yes. God is in charge. Jesus could have ended slavery with one thought. He didn't. Neither did he end poverty, disease, ignorance, nor war. Jesus was not, however, hateful. Mankind, by disobedience brought maladies on themselves, as we see from Gen 3.

It's easy to see the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery from the present. It was harder at the time. We condemn misled people so easily, even when nearly everyone has persecuted someone whether they admit it our not! I ask that you consider the institution of abortion. In my childhood, nearly everyone would have considered it reprehensible but now it is institutionalized and rationalized as good and right. Someday in the future, civilized people will look back on abortion as barbarian, as it is, I might add.

Christianity is often criticized as intolerant. In reality, God has tolerated the iniquity of everyone because he loves us so. He never came to heal the nations but to heal the spiritually sick:
1 Tim 1:15 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners...
The "sickness" is sinful behaviors, and Jesus came to save from that disease. That's his purpose. He did not come for "social justice" or anything of the sort. That is secular humanism - leaving Christ out of kindness. It seems noble and right but when Christ is left out, it can be used for evil.

"Social justice" is the banner under which cultural diversity waves. It is in conflict with "divine justice" because although much of it is good, it accepts ideas which are unchristian. It would seem that helping ones fellow man is righteous, but not if it's at the expense of the One Who Is righteous.

Social justice is excellent if it is fairness and equity for those who are different in nationality or appearance. People cannot help where they are born or from whom their genes were derived. For those of different religions, there exists an opportunity if social justice worked right. God planned for that occasion as with everything else:
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you... 
We are to go out into the world to teach people about Christ. That's why the churches have missionaries. Isn't it much better if "the world" comes to us? Immigration is quite convenient for the Great Commission except for one thing: society has tied the hands of Christians. We aren't allowed, because of their rules, to teach them to observe the things Jesus commanded. The progressives foment division by making bad rules!

Who made the rules of social justice? Because it is not allowable to convert the heathen and pagans to Christianity, or even call them that, social justice cannot and is not of God. In this dualistic world, if it is not for God, it is against Him (Mat 12:30).

Social justice is the ideology of Unitarian-Universalism (UU)- that everyone is good and deserve reward, and that all gods are the same by different names. If you will note, UU's are always part of social justice causes. Depending which room in their "church" in which you walk, there is a different god who they all consider to be Divine. UU's doctrine is aligned well with the "law of sin" (Rom 7:25) because their doctrine is "of the flesh". They do what is right in their own eyes. They deny that only Jesus can save:
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name (than Jesus) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Not only do UU's accept the notion that other gods can save, but that human kindness has merit to save! I'm saying it: UU is the Church of Satan, doing good things in the wrong name.

God objects to His Church communing with heretical pagans:
Deut 13:6 (if anyone says) ...Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth...
UU is the eclectic serving of any and all gods. I won't write the physical penalty here, but the spiritual punishment is eternal death. We cannot serve God and man (Luk 16:13). "Social justice" and cultural diversity is serving mankind's doctrine. God's will is that there be one Church:
Ephes 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
That passage seems to support Unitarianism. It doesn't! Scripture identifies the One True God. He is the One who came in the flesh - Jesus Christ. That notion is seen by society as intolerant of those who have other gods. Indeed it is! God will show just how intolerant He is at the Great White Throne Judgment where Jesus will mediate and the Father will sentence:
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Social justice is from those who work iniquity. Even "wonderful works". Divine justice are those who do wonderful works for right reasons - to please God, not themselves or other gods.
Of course there are often mainstream churches which are involved with social justice, and much of the time with UU's and Moslems.  Sure, everybody can do "good" things but obtuse people have ulterior motives. For Moslems, it is to appear to be a peaceful religion whose Allah is the same existence as JHVH. He is not! For UU's it is to gain acceptability as part of the universal Church, but it is not!
It's strange that UU's have taken the name of the Universal Church as their own but are far out of the realm of the one true Church! Naive and sinful Christians even accept their false teachings, unwary of their deception.

Just a half-century ago, the United States was praised as "the melting pot" where everyone came to be Americans. Christianity grew as we became monocultural. As people arrived, they adopted the culture which became America: democracy, republicanism, capitalism, liberalism, and Christianity. (In those days liberalism had yet to be distorted by Marxism.)  "Cultural diversity" is being among us but not part of us! The desire of multiculturalists is for immigrants to keep their culture and religion as they live among us. Rather than an opportunity to assimilate as "one nation under God" cultural diversity is divisive - many nations denying God.
Why are there so much division and hatred in the world today? Because people are encouraged to hang onto their differences! The more we are alike, the more unity there will be. I'm not writing about changing sex, color, or nationality. I'm referring to one culture, one American idea, and One True God. Christians are not to mix in unity with pagans,  but to teach them the tenets of God. Social "judges" prohibit that as an "intrusive, intolerant, and hateful ministry".
Cultural diversity has incorporated sinful behaviors. The list of abominations continue to grow from LGBT to LBGT to the nth. As each diverse abnormality gains power and acceptance, it is added to the acceptance alphabet. Contrary to popular opinion LBGT's were not "born this way" but came to be that way because of sinful desires. It's not popular but they can change! It's not for my benefit that I suggest that but God says "Whosoever believes in me shall be saved". What is to believe about God? He is the only One who will ever administer true justice. Until then, social justice is a farce dreamed up by Satanic influences to remold the nations from God.
Progressives are fuming as they read this! They are thinking: Larry is propagating hatred. However, it's not hatred I spew but tough-love. It's hard to criticize our loved ones, but I ask the question: "Is it worse to offend them or allow them to burn?" I suggest that God's will is "that none should perish".  God wills that in spite of cultural diversity and their wily language of "correct speech". That language is the same as the "wily serpents" from Gen 3. He perverted truth to deceive mankind. He continues to create chaos in the same manner. Satan is the author of division, and ironically, cultural and religious diversity is divisive! 
True Christians will be charitable but in the Name and love of Jesus. We are to love our neighbors, even different ones, but with the goal of ultimate love - propagating the Way of Jesus so that they shall be saved!  We don't need UU's or Moslems to lead us in that initiative. Neither do we need the Marxists whose idea cultural diversity is. We only need Jesus. His will is that we quit fornicating with other gods, ourselves included!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Infinite and Timeless Grace

Grace - such a positive word! The archaic definition of grace is best: it's mercy - divine intervention on the behalf of mankind, by being lenient when the creature deserves punishment. Grace cannot be bought for if it was, it would be indulgences. Those are the things which sinners do, or money which can be paid to reduce the penalties. The ultimate grace is divine pardon for crimes against God.

In the world there are two laws: the Law of God and the law of sin (Rom 7:25). We serve one or the other. There are no "laws of apathy or unconcern"! The two laws boil down to complying with the will of God, or the will of Satan. God is satisfied with our willingness to do his will. We are free agents to do God's will or not, but by default, if we don't desire to do that, we do Satan's will. 

Mankind's desires are from the heart. We can do God's will because of God's Laws, or we can obey the same Laws because that is the heart's desire. If we desire natural things such as pleasure, wealth, or beauty more than God's will, that is sin - choosing Satan's will rather than God's.

Satan is content with undermining God. Although by disobeying God, we obey Satan, who is content if we worship ourselves. He prefers that we think of ourselves "as gods" (Gen 3:5). God didn't really think that we would "be as gods". That was deception on the part of the Serpent. God did know, though, that mankind would consider ourselves as gods. 

Deception is perversion of the truth. Truth is absolute; there are not different versions. Anything less are versions of falsehoods which are manners toward deception. It matters not how mankind comes to sin, it is sinful regardless, be it of our own conscience or by deception. We have an obligation to test everything and compare it to the will of God (1 Thes 5:1). We are to "test everything and hold onto what is good."

The test is whether it's our will be done or God's. If it's our will, the obedience is to the law of sin. If it's God's will, then conversely, it is the Law of God. God's grace is demonstrated by not having to meet the letter of the law but be willing to submit to his Law (Rom 7:6). Therein Paul spoke of the Christian's "new spirit".  The "new spirit" comes with the help of God's Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit was not new on the day of Pentecost. David had the Holy Spirit (1 Sam 16:13). David was willing to do God's will rather than his own and Satan's will. David was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22).  As such, David was willing to follow the Law of God, but instead, he followed the law of sin with fornication with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. Jesus spoke on this dualism:
Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
God came in the flesh to empathize with mankind. He was tempted by Satan just as we are. His Spirit was willing, and his flesh weak. However, Jesus's Holy Spirit overcame the law of sin. He demonstrated that if he can overcome temptation, we can as well!

David wrote Psalm 51 after he failed God so miserably.  Look what David asked of God:
Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Paul sought God's mercy. He knew of God's grace thousands of years before God became flesh. He besought God to "Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:2). David not only understood the concept of grace, realized it was from God, but also knew it was by the blood of Jesus because he described the propitiation for sin (Rom 3:25).

The grace David asked for and received was because he repented, and foretold of God's grace:
Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Note that David didn't come to God with an excuse of how he always tried to obey. He came to God and confessed. He didn't say he would work off  his sins or start obeying commands better. He asked for God's mercy, and indicated it was by grace with his words "lovingkindness" and "mercy"!

Grace was there for David, but was there even before that! If we study Gen 3, we find the first offenders of the Law of God. Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command. Afterward, they were ashamed and attempted to cover their own sin with fig leaves. God accepted their guiltiness, and replaced the ineffective fig leaves with effective skins, available by the blood and death of an innocent animal. This was the first act of divine grace to cover sin. Adam and Eve didn't have to work it off. They were, however, willing to please God. Their making of their own covering displayed that willingness, and God provided the redemption - paid for with a life. That was grace then, and the same grace as in the New Testament.

Later on, Abraham received God's grace. For the sins of mankind, Abraham in obedience to God, was willing to sacrfice his son Isaac to God. He gathered the wood and prepared the sacrifice but after his willingness to do so, God provided the sacrifice. An innocent ram paid the price of the sin but it was really God's grace (Gen 22)!

Therefore, throughout the Old Testament, the Word had grace at the creation. We should always remember that "the Word" is God who later became flesh (John 1). The Old Testament was not a different God with different Laws. In fact Paul testified to that:
Rom 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Jesus himself said the same thing about his purpose:
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 
The Law is the metrics on how to love God and others. "The Law" to which this referred was not the rules and regulations called Mosaic Law but the Ten Laws written on stone for a reason - to be everlasting. It's not the letter of the Law which is pertinent but the willingness to please God in an attempt to obey the Law.  David coveted, deceived, and murdered to get his will. Because he repented, although he failed on keeping the Law, he demonstrated by contrition that he was willing to do God's will. His willingness, just as Abraham's, was accounted to him as faith. 
Rom 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
How did Abraham believe God? By obeying his request to sacrifice Isaac. He trusted God - faith. That faith was of the same efficacy as our own, if not more. Scripture compares everyone's faith to Abraham's who had great faith:
Rom 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all...
Paul told of God's grace with Abraham! If the Old Testament was not all about faith, why would Paul even say so? In fact, grace for all times were "the mystery of God"/"the mystery of Christ".
Rom 16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith...
The preaching of Jesus Christ was the mystery, "kept secret since the world began". Paul relayed that mystery with verse 24: "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ". Salvation was always by grace, and "to all nations". It was never only a Jewish thing but for all mankind. Adam wasn't Jewish, and grace was for him too. Abraham wasn't Jewish, and it was for him as well!

I rest my case! God has one covenant - that of grace. There were never and are no other covenants. Neither did God govern differently in different ages. Hence, there was only the dispensation of grace. Sure, others thought there was another way but there was only salvation through Jesus:
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name (Jesus)under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
We know Abraham was saved because Lazarus was in his bosom (Luk 16:22) which is in heaven. How did Abraham get to heaven? By faith. Faith in whom? In Jesus's name! Hence, salvation was always through, and by, the grace of Jesus. Some believed before he died, and others afterward. Greater faith is accepting Jesus's grace before it happened than afterward.

The doctrine of a covenant of works and grace is from the deception of Calvinism. For them sola gratia is misapplied as only for the New Testament. It was always, and only, by grace, The Law was for conviction - so that we know that we're not blameless. Never was anyone saved by works. It was always by grace. To know it is by grace, we need the Law. Hence, Jesus fulfills the Law since his sacrifice was by grace!