Sunday, July 30, 2017

Running the Race of Life

My apologies to Calvinists, but I must write how I understand scripture without regard to doctrines which came before me. From the early 1600s the Quinquarticular Controversy was debated between the followers of Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin. The controversy was never settled, and still exists. Time has proven that those two diverse doctrines separate true Christians on either side. Anger erupts when one is confronted by another. As for myself, since my belief is mine, I have no strong motive for others to accept my beliefs. Indeed Herrinism would be heresy because I know that I'm not right all the time. However, whether I am right or not, I shall present my case.

Others have done so better than I ever will, but dissension still exists. One may argue this, but I find that in general, Calvinists are more dogmatic about it than are Arminians. This is proven by the response of the Calvinists during the Controversy.

There is much more in the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism. The doctrinal division on the issue of apostasy has much bearing on how one lives their life. Arminians generally believe that obedience to the will of God is imperative, and that daily reading and living the word grows faith. This side has the belief that faith is for the duration of life, and that obedience fortifies and grows faith. On the other hand, the other side believes it takes faith to believe, but faith is part of grace. It can never be relinquished. Those beliefs come from a different understanding of will. Arminians see life as a test of faith, that one cannot lose their safety, but can relinquish it. As such that belief is that "salvation" comes at the end of life, and until then converts into "safety".

Calvinists believe that with predestination, Christians were elected by God before they were ever born. This is coined as "deterministic" by Arminians who would fear having no decision in their own eternal life. Arminians believe that although they can't save themselves, they can and must accept Jesus's sacrifice. Calvinists see the exercise of free will as a human "work". You see, we are a long way from each other in doctrine. One is wrong!

Both groups insist that God's way is their way. I won't put God in Herrin's little box. My contention is that God can do as He wills in a different manner with each person. There is no formulae. It seems that most of us are not born-again in the same manner as was Paul. He was a special case. It looks as if Paul's purpose was part of God's plan, and it had to be that way! Paul was pre-destined to minister! We likely did not receive Christ as he did - blinded and led!

On the other hand,  those who had faith made a choice. It seems that choice is part of the picture. Even so, some believe in eternal security. With that free choice ends at the moment of being born-again. I see no place in scripture where choice is canceled. In fact, throughout life, with Satan chasing after us, each step is a choice. When we cease choosing God, and follow the Son of Perdition, we become Satan's servant. God tests our faith throughout life. Job is a story of testing the faith of a faithful follower. God only kept Job from harm (safety), not from death (saved). Job could have failed the test! It took effort on his part to remain faithful. Job is all about that long race to defy Satan.
Romans 13:11 "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."


The graphic above is for those who are unclear about life itself. Conception is included because God knew you in the womb (Jer 1:5) and that you were a sinner before you were ever born (Isa 48:8). As such, you needed to be born again before you were ever born. That is profound!  Thus, during your own gestation, you were doomed to die because of original sin - mankind's nature since Adam.

Because God loved you even in the womb, His desire was that you would live eternally. By grace he provided the Way. The cross represents life. God gave His only Son that you should live. Therefore, even before you were born you were predestined, not that God elected you, but that His desire was that all should be saved. (The plan for your salvation from eternal death was in place before you were ever born).

Although you transgressed, even in the womb, you are innocent. You were called "transgressor" but you had yet to transgress. Because you were born in sin, as a result of animal passions, you were guilty merely because you are human. Jesus was born of a virgin for a reason. There could not be original sin, and apparently, it is passed on by human conception.

For a time, children are innocent even in their transgressions. Yes, even infants sin by deception, anger, and manipulation. They are born selfish because nourishment is all that they know. They rule the mother, and to some extent the father, to get their little gods appeased. Parents dutifully bow to the demanding little gods! However, they are not accountable. That happens as they develop and mentally grow. That time is different for all, but there is an innocence about infants. Jesus admonished adults to be as little children, accepting things without proof (Mat 19:4).

It is not marked on the graphic, but innocence is over early on. Children must have the mental capacity to understand the concept of sin, and that Jesus died to save them. The Holy Spirit calls them to that knowledge (John 6:44). Children learn by scripture. Parents have an obligation to teach them about salvation so that they can be saved. I use the word "saved" as an idea. Those who are certain that they will be saved in effect already accept their prize although it's not yet in hand. Their eye is on the prize at the end of life, and they are certain that is theirs! Satan's job is to test the hope of Christians and weaken their faith until they live entirely for themselves. Those who accept the cross are "safe" just as Job was safe with the hedge God put around him because of his faith.

It is noted here that the phrase "shall be saved" (Acts 2:21 and elsewhere) is sozo or "safe" in the Greek. On top of that "shall be", "should be", or even "will be" is not in the Greek. The translators do the best they can, but in all cases, it is sometimes in the future - from now until death. Having the "hope of salvation" as Paul put it (1 The 5:8) also puts salvation in the future. Paul elaborates on that in today's key scripture above (Rom 13:11): "now is our salvation nearer than when we believed". Salvation is nearer as life proceeds than it was at the time one first believed, thus indicating that salvation is something of which Christians get closer to with time. When is that? At death is when we are saved!

We need to examine "the hope of salvation". Hope is the anticipation that something we desire will be fulfilled. Hope is that we shall have eternal life, and its flip-side, not die eternally. One cannot forgo eternal death until the time they die, hence salvation must be when we're saved from eternal death. A better way to look at eternal death - or hell, is that it's not an instantaneous death, but dying forever. Eternal death starts at physical death, but the process never ends. On the other hand, eternal life actually starts at the time one first believed, but becomes reality at the time of death. Until there, hope suffices because of God's hedge of safety.

Faith is that hedge. It is a free gift of God (Eph 2:8), but like any hedge, it takes work to make it grown (1 Thes 1:3). Hope is proportional to faith. Doubt is less than perfect faith. We all have some doubt. Satan puts it in our heads. We must disbelief him when he says: "You surely will not die!" He reinforces that all the time at the expense of faith. Hope is less when doubt is great. "Do not doubt" is our calling by God. (Luk 24:38). Doubt does arise even in the hearts of the faithful.  Christians are troubled by it. That's Satan's way. One can say, I know without a shadow of  a doubt, but they profess their faith to be greater than even the apostles!

We don't hope that we're saved, but we have faith that at death, when the race is over, that we shall be saved.(Heb 12:11). If we look forward with hope, that prize is ours if we keep our eyes on it (1 Cor 9:24). The "hope of salvation" is that we expect to obtain the prize, but to obtain one must run. Running the faith race begins at the time we first believed. That is when we Christians are born-again.

Since all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) as soon as they are accountable, then they are not saved. This is the status of all people from birth to the second birth. At the second birth which Philip called "born-again", a new person is created.
John 3:3 "Jesus answered and said unto him (Nicodemus), Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
To be born-again one must "cometh to the light" (Joh 3:21). What is that enlightenment? That no one can save themselves, but Jesus can. Then whosoever accepts that truth, "believeth on him", shall be saved. As such, being born again is having a revelation: God and only God has the power to save, and I trust Him to do that! Being born-again is when God's Light is accepted as divine truth. At that time, if the faith is real, a new creature is made from the old, and that is testified to by baptism!

Safety and faith is of the same duration. Faith can waver as can doubt, but in the end as long as one has faith that person is safe. The faith can be so great that the born-again person is so sure that with "safety" the hope is so real that it is certain! Don't be so certain of salvation when you are born-again, because only then does the test of faith begin.

Imagine, if you will, being placed on a block with your head under a guillotine. It is demanded that you denounce Jesus Christ. Is your faith great enough that you will die for Jesus? That may happen someday. It has happened to Christians before! Peter denied Christ thrice. We may not be that blessed. Your self-proclaimed "great faith" may not be as great as one thinks.  We have hope that in the end we will be saved, but we can't be certain until we die and are taken into paradise by God. Paradise with its eternal life is the prize. We must keep our eyes on the prize to maintain hope. Hope is an outcome of faith. Finishing the race is accepting persecution as one looks at the great prize ahead. Satan can buy one's soul by an offer of another prize - pleasure, and right now! That is our test.

Dying is the easy part of living! Keeping the faith in the face of the adversary is the difficult part. Faith is a variable. It takes only a little faith to be born-again, but much faith to persevere under temptation. Satan offers so much pleasure, knowledge, and wealth that we can be bought. Jesus will never sell us out - "leave or forsake" (Heb 13:5)., but we will always have the freedom to leave Him. If that is done, we are reprobate - damned. That too is everlasting, but it is death.

Finally, after we die, then we're saved. God will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Mat 25:21), as he takes us to a secure place - our room in His mansion in the kingdom of God (Joh 14:2). In that room, we are finally saved! Death takes us from safety to saved because we have run the race - persevered until the end (Mat 24:13). Our standing firm is until death, and then the race is over!

Obedience takes on new meaning with Arminianism. That's the way Christians demonstrate to God their love! (Joh 14:15). If Christians obey, that is our assurance that we shall be saved. Our hope is based on whether our faith is real. That is known by obedience. Faith without works is dead. (Jam 2:20). Those who expect salvation are expected to be grateful enough to obey the will of the Savior. Hope is less when obedience is lacking. If one wants more hope, then that person should obey more willingly. It is that willingness to obey which is the hallmark of a Christian, not the "have to". If a Christian is willing to obey, the heart is right with God. That s steadfast faith. It can waver but it's always there!

It is time to speak on pride. I believe my own belief is scriptural because I have cited much scripture to support it! On the other hand, there is scripture which seems to support the other doctrine. One set of readers are right and the other wrong, or could it be that God can do what he wants to whom he wants? If we cling to the absolute value of our own doctrine without any thought that we may be mistaken, that's pride. I don't take pride in what I believe, but I believe it is the truth. It's not for my sake that I proclaim it truthful but because I believe it is God's truth.

My position is the safe position. It never hurts to obey God as if your very eternal existence depends on it! It can hurt if you believe that doing good things earns heaven. It doesn't. Being willing to obey is all that God asks. Are you willing to be faithful to God until you die? It may get difficult! That is steadfast faith and is what God expects! Did I mention love? If we are truly grateful for our hope of salvation, then we are commanded to love God and others, even our enemies. How's your love today?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Democracies and Republics

People must have laws. Anarchy results when people are without government. In scripture, anarchy has occurred many times. One notable occasion was the Jewish people before they had a king:
Judges 21:25 "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
The Hebrew people failed to drive out the other religions in Canaan as directed by God. He gave them fair warning but the Hebrews were so influenced by the pagans that they accepted their gods. Because of the disobedience of His people, God refused to deliver them time and again, and left the pagans there to test the Hebrews. The other religions became thorns in the sides of the Hebrews.

Judges ruled at that time, but the people would not listen to the warnings of those who were wise. In effect, the only law that the Hebrew people had were not to have other gods besides God. They couldn't seem to even obey one law, let alone all of them. Because of the influence of other religions, the Hebrews did what was right in their own eyes! They were the earliest people who claimed to follow God, but were libertarian by nature!

Anarchy is the government of libertarians. Imagine all those Hebrew people with unfettered freedom doing as they pleased. There were no boundaries which they accepted to control their own desires. Think of this age: without laws: what would keep people sober, honest, civil, and obedient? Indeed laws are necessary because one person's will may be to conclude the will of another. Since Adam, the nature of man is corrupt. Anarchy became so rampant in the days of Noah, that God destroyed those early libertarians:
Genesis 6:5 "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
Left to our own devices, mankind is inherently evil! We need laws for our own safety and well-being. What better law than the Law of God - divine law? Natural law comes from the will of man. Divine Law comes from the will of God. When man does their own will, other men are in trouble.  When men do God's will then love prevails. Natural law is the love and goodness of men. Divine Law is love and goodness of God, and the beneficiaries are others. Civilized nations do relatively well with natural law, but those less civil fail miserably. What civilizes the world is divine law. As such, civil natural law parallels divine law fairly well. However, it is men which govern,  not God.

Whenever God is removed from the world, chaos ensues. History reveals the truth about godless nations. Even those which had another god besides God failed miserably. In western civilization most kings believed in God, but ultimately their own god was themselves. Terror reigned in most of those kingships because kings bowed to themselves. They prayed to God above but knelt to god below. Even Peter the Great prayed to God, but followed Bacchus as well. He served two masters, and as a cruel "king", the Tsar was vindictive and a tyrant.

Israel and Judah produced kings after God's own heart, and others who did what was right in their own eyes. The worst kings were those who had other gods besides God. They were evil. Man was wicked without rulers, but most of the rulers were as evil as the people. History shows that without God's will, mankind's will is on evil continually!  Thus, evil became associated with the church because orthodox, catholic, and protestant kings brought forth evil. Every nation with a king sought expansion for their own edification, and the people suffered horribly from it. In many nations, the church received the blame because injustice was done in the Name of the Just!

The early Greeks toyed with democracy and republics. Without God, they were the enlightened ones. The thoughts of a democracy comes from Athens before 500 B.C. The Greek word transliterated dēmokratía means "the rule of the people". That sounds like a good thing, but enlightened people even know that people are inherently bad. Sparta, Athens, and even Rome had republics or res publica in the Latin. Republics are nations not the property of rulers, but a public concern. With that notion, republics ruled with representatives who sought the good of the people.  

In the United States, democracy was the "rule of the people" in contrast to a king. However, so that even the less would have a say, we became a republic. Even insignificant states were granted a say in national affairs through elections of representatives which balanced the power.

We like to think that our nation was founded by religious people. Perhaps they were in their own way, but the God of many of the founders was not a personal God who they sought to please, but a Creator God who they mimicked in a secular way. Republics came about because of the Enlightenment - the Age of Reason. Rather than divine will, reason became the authority for legitimacy. Reason brought forth ideas such as liberty, tolerance, brotherhood, and progress. To be truthful, scripture is the auhtoriy on all these things but men turned to government to do what men would not do. Reason stole God's will right from under his nose! Of course he permitted it to test us.

Although scripture taught those things, the established church did not! Early on the church fought scientific discoveries as heresy. Some were but some were not. As such, the church was not on the side of truth oftentimes. That caused thinkers to dismiss the church along with the kings who bowed to it, in favor of doing things right in their own eyes. Thus reason became god in the eyes of those who rebeled against church and state. Because church and state were often the same, our own republic has made that relationship an entanglement.

In the western world, republics, even monarchies, rule according to the representatives. As such, the church has no part in governing. God has been thrown out of civil affairs. It is no longer God's will, which is good, but man's will which is terribly flawed! JHVH (Jehovah) is minimized while Reason is glorified. In enlightened nations such as ours, even the Ten Commandments are discarded, while the goddess of Reason - Liberty stands tall in our New York harbor, enkightening the nation. We are not a Christian nation, but a nation of deceived Christians. We thought, even with Thomas Paines's writings, that we were getting a nation of God, but it was a nation whose God would be Reason!

We have been fooled. We ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and evil. We became "as gods" - enlightened ones, and now we are paying the price. Who would have thought when Eve took of the fruit, that it was herself that she worshipped? The sinful evil person was enlightened. She did what was right in her own eyes. A statute to her stands in our New York Harbor. Is it really in commemoration to Eve? Not hardly, but to the Angel of Light himself - Lucifer. We have been fooled again! Reason is the thorn in the sides of Christian people. We now take the lies of science as fact when they are mere theories requiring much faith! How enlightened we have become, never realizing that God would be stolen from us by reasonable people. We have accepted the pagan god!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Law and Its Purpose

Many Calvinists of any points contend that Christians are not bound by the Law. That makes sense to them because salvation is by grace, and grace alone. However, the proof of salvation is in obedience because those who fail to obey should rightly question the efficacy of their born-again experience.

First off, there are two sets of Laws: those originally given orally with their regulation, and those written in stone for all posterity. The Ten Commandments are an everlasting list of commands written by "the finger of God" (Exo 31:18). They were written on stone to endure forever because they were forever (Matt 5:17-18).  They consist of two parts: (1) those directed toward loving God, and (2) those directed toward loving others - the Greatest Commandment "and the one like unto it." Let us look at how we know that:
Romans 13:8 "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
Add to these five commandments:  honoring thy father and mother, and  therein we have the last six commandments which Paul specifies as to be comprehended "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself". Then it stands to reason that the first four commandments are the Greatest Commandment - love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

As such, the Ten Commandments are not optional. Indeed they are the metrics to demonstrate love. If we truly love God, we obey His commandments (John 14:15). Obedience is works. Grace is gifts. Faith is given to us as a gift (Eph 2:8) but faith in action is works (1 Thes 1:3).  Faith works out of love (Gal 5:6). Just as there can be no time without a clock, there can be no faith without love! The Commandments are the what makes the clock tick, and are the sounds of love from the ticking!

If love is not there, the clock fails to tick. Indeed:
James 2:17 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
We must keep the Ten Commandments! Those are not optional. The keeping of those are a witness to love, and love is what powers faith. It is love that powers the faith clock. Jesus did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it (Mat 5;17).  Let it tick on!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Sober Look at Ourselves

Who will be the greatest in heaven? Who is greatest in the Church?  Mankind always wants to know their place. Why? We are so important to ourselves that the worth of others is weighed against how much we love ourselves. (Matt 22:39). Each has their own measure of faith, but it is not of himself, but a gift of God. What faith we have is because of God's grace. Paul pointed this out:
Romans 12:3 "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."
Essentially, Paul in verse 5 likens the church as if it is a great gear which should drive Christ. The Church is many, and each Christian is a cog. However, one cog is no greater than another, albeit each cog is important. I use this analogy so that each reader thinks soberly about his own position in the Church as Paul implored. For myself, I value each of you cogs, recognize the importance of my own existence, but understand that I am not great in the Church, although I am in God's eyes. What makes one great to God? Recognizing their own status.

I am presently writing a book called The Autobiography of a Nobody. As the title implies, it's about me. I am a nobody and take comfort that I am not great. Whatever legacy that I leave, my desire is that it point to Christ. If I was to write a true autobiography, it would not point to my humble life, but toward my many sins. That book would be massive!  Rest assured, I know that you know that you know that I am a sinner. God does too. I don't deny it. Why? I look at my own life soberly, nd realize it is only by grace that I shall be saved.

Whatever it is that I do for the Lord, must be for Him. Of course, I desire remembrance after I die, but recognize that it is of no importance for my own esteem, but of great importance for later generations to know Christ as taught by the Bible. I'm glad that my gift is understanding - the discernment of truth. Truth knouts at my back continually with the most swift lashes. I do know the face of Truth, and He convicts me of my wrongdoing. Rather than Truth espousing my greatness, He points to the icon of my lowness - to the dust will I return!

I know my place. My value is little, for as I came from the dust, to the dust is my destiny. Of course, I'm speaking of my body. However, any greatness that I have was bestowed upon me by my Creator. My soul has value. That's is why the sub-title to my book is: The Biography of Somebody. As I tell my own story, I am nobody. I know my value. But as God tells it, I am somebody because he made me that way! Only because I am a spiritual being is why I have value. My calling is to remember that. That is a chilling, but sober look at my own worth.

My own spiritual worth is no more than my fellow Christians. All our faith was a gift of God. If I got any more faith than another, it was because God was more generous with me.  Why would He do that? Although faith is a gift, look at it as a seed. God planted that seed in all his followers. All of us together are to make a beautiful garden, if you follow, in the manner of the one in Eden. Each of us are to work to make our faith grow such that the Garden of God, the Church, is beautiful for God. In effect, none are better than others. All mankind was created to tend the Garden:
Genesis 2:15 "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."
This passage makes sense only of one looks at the subject at hand. From the preceding passages in Genesis 2, the Tree of Life was at the center of the Garden. That Tree is God, and the portion that Adam saw was the Messiah. Adam was one of the other trees, not in the center of the Garden, but around the Tree of Life. He and Eve were human representatives of those peripheral trees, and with multiplication, there would soon be more!

The Tree in the midst of the Garden and the outlying trees were God and his people. As such, "to dress it and keep it" was the Greatest Commandment and the one like unto it: love others as thyself.

Adam loved his Creator. God is his Father. When he sinned, he disappointed his Father, and was ashamed. By sinning, Adam loved himself more than God. He failed to tend the Tree in the midst of the Garden by eating the fruit of the other tree. Adam failed to tend the Garden because he shirked his responsibility to others as he failed to teach Eve obedience to God. God had assigned him dominion over the serpent (Gen. 1:26), yet there was Eve attempting to have that dominion.

Now, if we move forward again to Roman times, Paul warns the Romans to not be as the Jews nor as Adam and Eve. The Jews had degrees of importance. They always had! It was inherited from Adam. However, it should be clear by now that each person has the same role in the Church. We all are to attend God in the center of it, and be servants to others! This look at Adam and Eve was looking at ourselves soberly. In the Garden, it was God and others who were of importance, and not man himself, although God created man with self-love.

Self-love was endowed so that mankind would desire eternal life. In order to obtain eternal longevity, we all needed a metric to create that desire. God gave us each the love of self by grace, but it was to be put in perspective. We could love ourselves, limited by how much we love others, but never more than how much we love God. Since God is in the midst of the Garden, it is He Who deserves our love. The love that we can have for ourselves must be with a sober mind - we are dust to the world but gold to God. We are nobodies in the world but somebodies in the kingdom of God. Why then, should we place our selves over others when we all are the same in God's eyes? We all need to take that sober look at our own worth - we are only what we are by grace!

As a postlude, we should soberly examine why we seek salvation. Because we love ourselves so much, we seek eternal life so that our other god can live forever. Ironically, our god of self can only be saved by the One True God, and being born-gain is when we submit our own godhood for God.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Don't Get Mad - Get Even?

Romans 12:10 "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another... 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
In the past, I have had a temper, even road rage. If anyone crossed me, heaven forbid my anger. Most people who know me have the impression that I am mild-mannered. I am fairly well contained now, but it wasn't always that way. I hate to admit it, but I apparently hated people who crossed me. What is worse, is that I only had the perception of being wronged!

For instance, in my Jeep, I made a driving error. I was in the wrong but a young male passenger in the other car made and obscene gesture. I actually abandoned my Jeep at the light in heavy traffic and confronted him in anger. The Lord symbolically grabbed me by the collar, and I cooled down but not until my self-centered nature had been exposed as if my soul was naked! Being a Christian, regardless of his attitude, I was in the wrong. I had not "kindly affection" for this young man, and it was even my fault!

On the other hand, a lady at my church made the same mistake with a driving error. A young man made and obscene gesture. Her response was, "Forgive me Lord for making that young man sin." She didn't get mad or get even. I did! She did not recompense to no man evil for evil but I did!

My relationship with my fellow man was without peace. I was itching for recompense, and God called me for it. I don't react that way anymore. Any feeling of satisfaction with getting even is of Satan. Here I was, in the wrong, disciplining this unruly young man with unrulingness. Guess what God must have thought: you hypocrite - in reference to me!

This young man was going to face discipline because of his obscene gesture. However, It's not my job to be the disciplinarian. Vengeance, or justice, is not mine -  it's the Lord's. Here I was playing God again, as people tend to do. I needed to get into my head - I'm not God. I'm not even a god!  When people obstruct our superior image, most people strike back. That is not the Christian thing to do! 

I have had people who I have hurt. We all have. Their attitude was: don't get mad - get even!  This is a tad better than my own: get mad and get even!  First off, we all make mistakes. My life is riddled by them, and so is yours. We all sin. You do too! Albeit, my sin is always greater than your sin in your own eyes, and vice-versa. People react to the sins of another by isolation, if not anger. The attitude of the wronged person is that the other is never to be trusted again. If we all behaved that way against Christians who sinned, there would never be an Christian communion nor brotherly love. 

All Christians are sinners. We are to ask for forgiveness from God, and those who we have offended. The response from God is forgiveness and forgetting, but from the wronged person we seem to get neither. Why? Because if it's not put behind one, it's not truly forgiveness.  What if Jesus forgave but quit being our friend? That would not be forgiveness. That would be holding a grudge. Jesus doesn't forgive that way, and neither should we!

Discord within a church keeps the Holy Spirit from comforting. In order to be in the Spirit, we must be of one accord. That requires that Christians be kind and affectionate to each other. In stress, let their be amicability. When wrong is done, let God resolve it. Punishing another Christian by isolation and ostracizing is meting out vengeance on one's own. That's God's job. Ours is to love one another, and that is without condition!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Falling Prey

We are gullible people on the whole. The first act of deception to mankind was - you won't surely die. Mankind right then died spiritually, but also lost their immortality. God didn't say when man would die, but that he would! Since man is both physical and spiritual, both died that day. Spiritual death was conditional. Physical death was sure!

We all are only to die once physically, but by grace we never have to die spiritually. Physical death was a consequence of sin, and spiritual death was the penalty. The latter can be pardoned but the former is inevitable. We all will die and most of us know about when, yet we still fall prey to the lie! In most people's minds is that death is a long way off, and God is too good to allow people to go to hell. Death is certain. Hell is real.

Right now MLM's are the in-thing.  That is multi-level marketing. It's a get rich scheme, and some do get rich. However, it is at the expense of others because most people lose. About 1% do well, and about 4% make some, but 95% lose. They fall prey to false promises. Not only is it unlikely that they will get rich but that the product is inferior as well. MLM's are as bad as the snake oil salesman - the products are never a cure-all.  Many of these are pyramid schemes, and would be illegal if it wasn't for an actual useful product. However, there is no guarantee that the product is even good!

Behind many of these schemes are identifiable victims of prey. Yoga participants are often victims because Yoga, a practice of eastern religions, profess holistic and wholistic health. One must only balance the forces within and a long life is inevitable. This is the "YWSD Syndrome" - my acronym for You Won't Surely Die. Strangely, Christians, especially Christian women, are gullible to both yoga and wholistic care. Yoga is just part of this, but herbal remedies are another.

We are certain to die, and people are convinced that yoga will make them more healthy. Of course, any physical activity will, but yoga has six components and is essentially religious worship. Likewise, having faith in the magical treatment of chemicals is falling prey to those who will make money off the scheme. Dr. Oz' practices are questionable, even by his colleagues, who claim that 46% of his recommendations are ineffective or harmful. At the moment, innocent people fall prey to the false hope of various Oz's out there. You will not live forever, and likely not for long! We must be prepared that today may be the day.

The western world has suffered a vast invasion of eastern religions brought to us in the form of science and self-improvement. These types of programs kill people slowly but surely. They disappoint God and place dependence on pagan practices. We are not to do things as the pagans do!

Even death is all about money! When a Christian dies, many get cremated - just as the pagans do! Sure, it saves money and our ashes can be re-assembled, but what about honoring God? Judeo-Christian practice is to let the bones rest. As the skeletons arose in the Old Testament, we too shall rise. I'm sure that God will never allow Christians to suffer eternal death for they know not what they do. On the other hand, are they honoring God?

Psychology is one of the most influential devices for prey. Although most of their eclectic treatments contradict each other, emotional people become their guinea pigs. I've seen many become even more messed up than before! Even the suicide rate among these professionals are one of the highest if not the highest. Psychology is the "study of the soul", but that is theology's place. Jesus is the doctor of my soul. Other Christians fall prey to their false promises!

You might say that all these things have good in them, and that is true. Satan uses good to peddle evil. Man has some degree of intelligence, and for Christians, one mention of a "higher power" is enough to have them fall prey. Notice that even the wily serpent quoted God when he deceived Eve.

We have become to dependent on things foreign to God, and for the love of money. We seek better health by kneeling on a mat in honor of the Yoga Sutras. How we honor God is doing his will. If we follow His commands, we will live a long life if it is His will. We all seek longevity in living, but fail to worry about eternal longevity. Our goal in life should be to please God. He is forgiving as He knows how easily we fall prey, but people must never test his mercy,

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Afraid of Truth

People are afraid of truth. How many read about the latest entertainer compared to some truth from God? Those elite are merely idols. I bet that only a few of them will be in heaven, although my wish is that they would seek truth as well. People occupy their minds in order to avoid truth. It's as if truth is not valid if it is ignored!

If I was to say to you that tomorrow is not guaranteed - because it is not, what would you do? Some would seek truth and hope this late information would be enough to avoid hell. It's unlikely that even if you were hanging on the cross beside Jesus that you would change. People get acclimated to certain things. They may even want to change, but time has taken its toll.

Truth is reality. Reality is in beliefing. Philosophers have you wonder if you are real or are a mere shadow of reality. Those who find truth know that they are real. Some don't think about the inevitability of death. That is truth. You are going to die shortly whether you ever think about it or not! Ironically, if you never heed the prospect of death, your heart becomes calloused, and the chances that you are enlightened become slimmer each day. If you are in too much denial, God dusts His divine feet at your threshold and moves on. Time is short even though we have a patient God! Your clock quits ticking when he's through with your procrastination - why do today what I can put off until my time is up? God isn't a gamer. He knows the hearts of people.

The truth is that you will someday die. Your heart will cease beating and the mind will go a few seconds later. As you die, you will witness consciously your own death. Imagine how afraid you will be in those last seconds, knowing that you will cease to be, at least in a physical sense. Being afraid of the truth right now will pale in comparison to how afraid you will be of truth as you breath your last breath. That moment is what everyone always fear if they fail to face the truth.

The truth is that there are three reasonable alternatives for after-life: (1) The first is deterministic - you will rot in your grave if you have no soul for reward or punishment, (2) Your soul will go to heaven and your body will join it later, or (3) You will burn forever in eternal torment which is laughingly called "hell" by some. The truth is that God didn't plan for you to lie in the grave. Adam was created with an eternal soul and so were we!

The truth is that God wants that none should perish because of his divine love for us. If we have faith in Jesus Christ, that he died for our sins in our place, then we won't perish. The only things we have to do is to accept that truth and repent. Being afraid of truth, people turn away from it. What will people think if I fall for an invisible God? A better question is: What will God think if you gamble your eternal life on the fear of others.

Pride prevents people from accepting truth, but avoidance is a greater enemy of truth. People won't face the prospect of eternal damnation because that isn't a good thought. If only we don't think about it, it will not be real. Satan smiles: "You surely won't die!" he continues to say. He means that in a spiritual way because he knows that you know that you will die, but just fail to think about the after effects.

Important people sometimes get the key to the city. They look forward to the welcome, and the authorities there provide a big key in a welcoming ceremony. Usually the key is for a week or so, but people look forward to having that symbolic key. It means that they are important.

Meek people get the key to the kingdom of God. They are the important ones. Meek people realize their place in life - without God they are nobodies. God hugs them and holds the key in their hands and those meek enter the gates of heaven. It won't be a key to the  City of God for a week. The Authority there hands the key over forever, and New Jerusalem is his or hers!

If we seek truth, it shall make us free. We no longer will be held in bondage in our sinful realm, but our minds will be freed to explore the unseen. Truth cannot be seen, but it is manifested. Suddenly, with truth, men face reality. That is to say that they can't save themselves, but only Jesus can. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life! What is so fearsome about that? But people still fear that truth!

There are reasons for fearing Jesus. The truth in that matter is that Jesus interferes with our way of life. We do our will. If we are born-again, we are to do God's will. People don't want to make that choice. They may want to serve both Masters - themselves and God, but they know the truth is that God wants them to serve only Him. We are expected to crucify the old self symbolically on the cross beside Jesus without looking back at what we love.

People fear turning their backs to pleasure. Essentially, people place temporal fun over eternal happiness. Fun and happiness aren't the same. Happiness is being content with just existing. Fun is appeasing the self with pleasures which allow you to delay truth.  Sure, sin is fun, but fun makes people fear truth.

Satan smiles because you who are not Christians at heart, fail to face the truth. Repentance is right now! Don't be afraid because all men and women have sinned and disappointed God. A real man or woman faces truth. Be brave in trusting God because He is the only way to salvation. Your "friends" in hell will hate you unless you face truth. Don't fear their isolation here - fear their eternal hate there.  We never need wait for Sunday because each day is the Lord's Day. You don't even need to dress for the occasion. The truth is that God takes you as you are. There is no need to clean up your act before going to Him. Satan will say, "You need to clean up your life before God accepts you!" Jesus, however, will take your unclean sacrifice, and he will clean you up with His own blood!

Never be afraid of joy because there is joy in the Lord. After awhile a Christian learns that true "fun" is delighting the Lord. I know: you hate the idea of being righteous. We all have hated that! That is another lie. Christians desire change, and with faith it is Jesus who will change you. You'll be happy, happy, happy with little effort at all! You won't need to hold a beer bottle or cocktail glass to feel accepted. You can go to God empty handed, or perhaps a cross on your back. Never fear when Jesus is near!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Change: Who Me?

There are two mantras yelled by the people: (1) I will do whatever I want to do, and (2) I won't change for anybody. Even Christians announce these thoughts sometimes in word, but at other times by how they live. There is a crisis in these modern times, much like the crisis God had with His chosen people. Romans 11 was about the Hebrew people being cut off because they bowed to Baal.

Ba'al in Judaism was a title of the One True God Yahweh meaning merely "Lord" just as Adonai was. However, with time, Ba'al became the name specifically for false gods throughout most of the Old Testament. One specific title was Baʿal Zebub (Beelzebub) who was introduced in II Kings. In Christianity, Beelzebub is king of the demons (aka, Satan). (Wikipdia; "Baal"). Regardless of the use of Ba'al in any form, all false gods are baals. Since Beelzebub could fly, that name means "lord of the flies" or more specifically "lord of the demons".

Let us look at what Jesus says about Beelzebub (Beelsebul):
Matthew 12:25 "And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27  And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Jesus defined Beelzebub as Satan, and he even knew the thoughts of the people! He asked them a rhetorical question: "By whom do you cast devils out?" As such,  you say you worship me, but who is the object of your affection. Many of those people who followed Jesus, lived like the devil. Paul, grabbing on that false worship, warned the Romans not to be as the Hebrews were:
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The world (aka called "the people" in Matt 12) knew that the kingdom of God was divided against itself. Just as the Jews seemed to have other gods throughout scripture, so did the Romans. In fact, the pagan Gentiles had a pantheon of false gods, acceptable to them. The early Roman church actually incorporated pagan worship into Christianity to make it more acceptable to the people. One profound comment about Beelzebub: He was "lord of the demons" yet any ba'al is a demon. By whatever name the gentiles had for their gods, it was always Satan who was worshipped as "lord of the demons".

Now back to Romans 12, the Bible passages for today. Paul was pointing out that the people claimed to be Christians, yet they lived as if their god was Satan. Essentially, they were believers who had not changed. Scripture tells us that we can't serve two masters (Matt 6:24) because one will fall. That is the division referred to in Matthew 12:26.

Paul was warning the Christians in Rome, that their own "reasonable service" was to make themselves "a living sacrifice"; becoming "holy, acceptable to God". They were to put away their own baals and fully live for Jesus. They were to quit living for Satan by whatever name, and live for Jesus: Lord of lords.

Other gods don't really exist. They are truly mythology, but people have always worshiped mythological gods. Those gods only exist in the hearts and minds of the people. As such, the problem lies not with Baal, for he is merely the prince of the world, but in the souls of the people. This obscure vessel called "the soul" becomes imbued with evil. When the person is born-again, and truly so, the blood of Jesus cleanses this unrighteousness from the soul for the purpose of receiving the Holy Spirit.  As always, like the Hebrews, the people seemed to make room for both Baal and Yahweh in their hearts. The Romans were no different. Paul knew what happened before, and he saw it happening again.

Paul said, basically: you Christians need to change, then he told them how to change:  "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

That is to say: throw away your worldly god - yourself, to prove that you are indeed in the will of God. Then, how to do that was given: become a changed person by renewing your mind.

As Christians, we are to become new creatures in Christ. The evidence for that is a transformed person. For those who are a little slow, that means you are expected to change, and rather than not change for anyone, you are expected to change for God. He says that is your reasonable service, yet stubborn people refuse to change for anyone!

The renewal of your mind is making the transition from doing what you will, to do what God wills: "the perfect will of God." You sacrifice your self-god for God, and put yourself up there on the cross beside Jesus's cross!
Galatians 5:24 "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
We usually think of lusts as sexual. However lusts are the things of the world which are important to you and me. It's those things of the world that are pleasurable to you. These are how the flesh - our idols appease our self-gods.  We must hang that self on that cross by Jesus.

People don't have the assurance of their own salvation because their works don't match their claim to Christ. Baal still influences their life because they continue to serve two masters. That reasonable service is crucifying the Baal within you, by whatever name you call your self-god. God calls them all "selfish" and "prideful"!

Crucifying the self is work - hard work.
Matthew 7:21 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
This should be frightening to those who profess Christ but live for their own pleasures. "Believing" is trusting, and trust is demonstrated by doing.  We must remember that the Ten Commandments are written in stone for eternity. Jesus didn't come to replace the Law but to fulfill it.
Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

The Ten Commandments are the "how to" love God and others: The Greatest Commandment and the one like unto it.

If one examines the Law of which Jesus speaks, it includes loving God and others. The command is not to love yourself. God knows very well, that you are your own god. He only asks that you love others that much! How much is that? You don't want to perish for eternity, and your love must be so great that you are to wish that none shall perish. That is hanging the self on the cross and becoming a servant to God and others.

As Christians, we all worry about ourselves, but fail to worry about others. Our job assignment as Christians is to tell the world about Jesus. Christians no longer do that! It's still all about me. All about your me. If you have truly transformed your mind, then it's the lost souls of others which you take pleasure in telling about salvation. Christians don't do that. Baal still lives, but by transforming he can die with the old you on Calvary, right alongside Jesus who already has for your Baal.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Funnier Than Hell

I noticed what someone had hand-written on a book: "Funnier than hell!" That would be merely slang, but the person who wrote it doesn't believe in hell. That person, indeed, thought the comedy therein was funnier than hell. There is much in scripture which describes hell as a place of torment, but for the moment, let's just say that hell doesn't exist. If it doesn't, what is it that people are saved from? You see, the entire concept of salvation is destroyed by that naïve belief, and consequently, if there is no hell, there is no need for Jesus, since he is the Savior.

If that person doesn't believe in hell, that false belief doesn't nullify its existence. Likewise, if one doesn't believe in God, that doesn't mean that He is non-existent. Some believe in only a Creator God. That lack of believe in a personal God is Deism. Miracles don't exist, Jesus can't heal, and Jesus can't save. They are lost in their unbelief.

On the other side of the coin are those who believe in Jesus, but not the Creator God. It would appear that their God can save from hell, and prepare an eternal home in paradise, but He is too weak to create the world. If they deny the Creator, they deny the Savior. The Savior says that he is the Son of the Creator, and if he's not, then Jesus is a liar. I submit that he is not!

Others deny the existence of God. They are atheists and believe that existence just happened spontaneously and evolved over time. For them, there is no heaven or hell because without a Creator, there is no need for a Savior. Because of their unbelief, hell is for them as well.

Others belief that Jesus was good, but he was just a man. They do good to emulate him, but they are confused about who he is. For them heaven and hell are in the world, and both exist right now, but again, Jesus didn't come to save us from the world, but from hell!

Others need fire insurance. They don't believe in God nor heaven or hell, but since they are unsure, they seek the bare minimum - they have a weak belief just as the demons do, but they don't trust God.  God says he created it all, and have prepared for them a place in heaven. They fail to belief that, but not being gamblers, they say they believe. Their belief is riddled with doubt. They doubt God more than trust Him, and are walking on thin ice on the road to hell.

Then there is the one who believe that hell is funny. Essentially, a good God would never send his children to eternal punishment, so there is no need for hell. First off, God never sends anyone to hell. People know their choices and choose eternal damnation. For one, she thinks God is a comedian. He only threatens with hell, but in the end because she is good, in her own eyes of course, that she will be saved. That is even though there is nothing for her to be saved from!  That would be funny, but damned people aren't funny; they are pitiful. One day they will bow to God and apologize in the hereafter with real tears and anguish. Hell won't be funny on that day. It will be the great for some, but terrible for most:
Joel 2:31 "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."
Let's not focus here on the destruction of the creation, but the great and terrible day. That is after the destruction of what people love so much - the creation. Some have great times ahead, and others a terrible time. Some will be rewarded with heaven, and the other punished in hell. Any good works are as filthy rags to God (Isa 64:6). He laughs at them because without being born-again, it's those whose Jesus is a fiction of their minds who will go to hell. The social gospel isn't why Jesus came, but to save the world from eternal destruction. Jesus, with a mere thought, could have ended poverty but he said, "You will always have the poor." (Matt 26:11).

I can prove hell with scripture, but for those who deny that scripture is the inspired word of God, that effort would be a waste of time. Just as we must accept God by faith, we must accept heaven and hell by faith. Our faith elects for us heaven, but the lack of faith leads to eternal death - in hell by the way. Scientists can't disprove the existence of hell, and if you accept their unbelief, you are a gambler. God isn't dead, and the fires of hell still burns. Prove otherwise!

Some say that a hot hell is too extreme a punishment. It does seem extreme, but unforgiven sinners actually make the choice. God says it's hot; you should believe Him! Some say that Hell is just a place of isolation. So be it. They can take their chances with what they believe! My bet is that Hell is hotter than hell, and is not funny at all. If I'm wrong, I lose nothing. If I'm right, I will never go there!

Isolation will exist in Hell. There everyone hates the other and Satan. He laughs at them! He says, "Hell is funnier than hell!" -  to him. You see, it takes love to get to heaven and those who don't love God and others go to Hell. In God's system of justice that is fair. He desires that we all love, but we dare God by not loving. Right this instant,  there are even some "Christians" who surely hate me. In scripture hate is equivalent to murder (1 John 3:15). Even some Christians murder me. For them, their hate is funnier than hell because they don't take love seriously. One can still go to heaven for stealing, lying, and so forth, but if one is a hater, heaven is not the place for them! Hell is.

Let us suppose that God lied, and Hell is just eternal isolation. It has been shown numerous times that people suffer insanity by isolation from others. Eternal isolation would be eternal deprivation, and that's not funny either. Nothing is funny about Hell - the one which exists nor the one you have made up or destroyed in your minds by false teachings.

Let us say there is a Hell where you're not isolated, but are surrounded only by haters. That is worse than isolation. We can't even stand it here with one hater. What if everyone is a hater? You would despise your fellow unbelievers. If you ever thought that things are funnier than hell, they will hate you for misleading them. It seems to me that hell will be heavily populated because the way is wide which leads to destruction (Matt 7:13). There will be billions of haters there, and you will hate them all. They will torture you but you will never die. Each day, if you can even sleep, will begin again with chaos and hatred. Numerous Charles Manson and Adolph Hitler-types will laugh at you as they slice and dice you, only to be sliced and diced again tomorrow. That's on top of the atmosphere of Hell!

If you are a sinner in the eyes of an angry God, then Hell is not funny. You delude yourself. You fail to recognize truth because you want it your way. I assure you, that when God designed the system, he had you at heart, but to do it His Way, not your way. Why then do people keep doing what is right in their own eyes? (Deut 12:8). Because they just don't believe God is serious! Hell is serious business, and there is nothing funny about it. If you care little for your own destiny, how about those who you love? My desire is that everyone be saved from Hell, but that's not going to happen. Why? In their own eyes, people are smarter than God. They laugh at His plan even though God so loved the world that anyone who believes in him, His desire is that none of them should perish. (paraphrase John 3:16).

There are some stipulations here: Everyone has an equal chance except those who disbelieve. Heaven isn't for them. They shall indeed perish; not that they will every die, but will suffer death forever. Hell is not funny!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Soul: Part 2

Adam was created with spirit because he was holy as God is holy (i.e., in the image of God). When the spirit imbued Adam, it went somewhere. Just as void was the container for the universe, an Adam-shaped void became the container for the soul. Jesus referred to this container as his cup. Many times in the New Testament, the cup is mentioned.
Matthew 23:25 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence."
This statement was symbolic but clear. As the plate holds the cup, the body holds the soul. In other places, Jesus asked his followers to drink of his cup. He is sharing his spirit with them, that spirit represented by his own blood.

The spirit and the soul are not the same thing. Paul mentioned both in the same sentence:
1 Thessalonians 5:23 "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Spirit" is pneuma in the Greek and the "soul" is psyche. Wikipedia erroneously equates the psyche  as the spirit or soul. You can see from Paul's writings that they are not the same. If the soul is filled with God's Holy Spirit, as Paul implies to be sanctified, the Christian must keep both blameless.

Psychology - the study of the soul, is another religion. We cannot use the definition from false teachings but their definition is that the psyche is the human mind both the conscious and the sub-conscious, then go back and use the word "spirit" to define it in more detail. (Wikipedia; "psyche"). We know that the mind is a faculty separate from the body and soul. However, both interact with it.

We know that the soul is incorporeal because it cannot be excised by dissecting. The blade of the surgeon will never pass through the soul because it is not material. To find the shape of the soul, we should look toward Jesus in whose image we were created.
Matthew 17: 5 (ESV)"...he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified."
What happened on the mountain top? That is where the Son of Man became fully the Son of God. Apparently, his soul was made manifest in that it was revealed in his clothes as a bright light came over them. Luke, in his gospel,  referred to this bright light as "glory" which is the presence of God.  Luke also said that Jesus's countenance was altered.

Divine countenance is when God is manifested rather than just his immanence. There on that mountain top what had been hidden before - the Holy Spirit, was revealed for the first time to the apostles. The Holy Spirit had been in Jesus all the time, but on that mountaintop three of the apostles saw the cup which held the Holy Spirit. It was a Jesus-shaped cup! The pure white light which dazzled on Jesus made his soul appear!

Why was Moses there to witness this? Why Elijah? Let's consider Elijah first. He was taken to heaven in a whirlwind without dying. As such, he was the only mortal who had seen God yet lived. Also, he explained the need for the fifth cup, rather than four, as a celebration of future redemption in celebrating the Passover feast. Here he was, witnessing the fifth cup with its contents revealed! Elijah announced the future redeemer centuries before, and John the Baptist did so as well. The Baptizer was a type of Elijah.

Moses witnessing God was nothing new either. He saw God on Mt. Sinai as a burning bush, or at least that was the description. It was no coincidence that God appeared as a dazzling white light on the mountaintop to see immanence change into glory just as he had seen before. Some suggest that the mountain of transfiguration was the same Mt. Sinai where Jesus appeared to Moses long before.

I said that Jesus had appeared to Moses there. The immanence of the burning bush was God's glory -  his presence. The Word spoke from the burning bush. The Voice was the immanence of Jesus. The burning bush wrote the commandments in stone. That power was the Holy Spirit. God in his three substances appeared on Mt. Sinai to Moses, and here he was again seeing much the same thing happen! Jesus was there in body, God the Father was there as a dazzling cloud, and the Holy Spirit was revealed in Jesus! The transfiguration was basically, in my view, revealing the Holy Spirit in Jesus's soul.

Our own body is the plate, and our own soul is the cup. As Jesus's cup was Jesus-shaped, ours is Adam-shaped. Since Adam was made in God's image, our spirit is God's and our soul is as Jesus's.

That describes the shape of our soul and it's existence. Being immanent, It can't be seen, just as Jesus's could not before he was transformed from immanence into manifestation. When we die and are glorified, our Adam-shaped soul will glow as well, I believe, since we too will be in the presence of God - glorified.

What is in the soul. God's Holy Spirit. We need only "look" at the attributes of the Holy Spirit to see the contents of an imbued soul. I say "imbued" because rather than be "filled" Greek pletho in Acts 2:4 means "imbued". I believe that Jesus, being pure, was totally imbued with the Holy Spirit, which is to permeate of tinge deeply. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). I liken that to a sponge soaked with water. People have the things of the world still inside after they sin, but God doesn't take his spirit away. Christians still sin, but the spirit is still in the soul. We must always repent to keep our temple (the soul) clean so as to be more fully imbued with God's Holy Spirit.

Thus the contents of the soul is purity tinged with sin. As Christians we will never be perfect as he is perfect (Matt 5:48), but we are to work to be perfect. I specifically say work because perfection is a command and is hard work!

Since our soul is imbued with God's Holy Spirit, what is its contents? The fruits of the spirit are twelve (Rev 22:2). Nine are mentioned:
Galatians 5:22 (ESV) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. "
Because we are not yet perfect until we are glorified, some contamination is still within the soul:
 Galatians 5:18  (ESV) "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions..."
In order for the soul to remain pure as can be, we must repent of all these works of the flesh. We must keep our cup clean by keeping our plate clean.

I wish that I could say that Christians don't have these works of the flesh. We do, but when they are repented of, God washes the cup clean, and we start all over again. If one never repents of sin, and their soul becomes imbued with sin,  then the temple of Christ becomes dirtied. We become less imbued, and are headed for trouble!

We will never fully understand the soul. I certainly don't, but from scripture I have an idea of what it is, and how sin and holiness interact within it. Regardless of the shape of the soul, we must guard against its contents being dirtied. If we claim Christ but live for Satan, we serve two masters. (Matt 6:24). One must prevail. Which one is up to you!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Body

We were created in the image of God. As such He said man was created in our image. (Gen 1:26). To be precise, our wasn't in the original text; it was put there in context to agree with Elohim, which is, in this case, the plural of "God". Since we know that Elohim is also singular, but specifically El is used with "one": "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?" (Mal 2:10). From the Old Testament, we see the Holy Trinity: One God with three substances.

But mankind was created in our image, or reflection, but God was not natural substance. Obviously he was speaking according to His foreknowledge (1 Pet 1:2). He knew with what image Jesus would be created. At the creation the body of God was planned:
1 Corinthians 15:37 (ESV)  "And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39  For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish."
Jesus's body was to be made to the template God drew back in the beginning. "The Word" was a kernel from which Immanuel sprang. God promised Abraham that through that seed all his offspring would be blessed. Incidentally that was Jew and Gentile through Isaac and Ishmael. Who would be the person that blessed? Jesus Christ (Acts 3:25). When God made the deal with Abraham, His seed - Jesus had already been planted. Paul, in his letter above, spoke of the kernel and what it would become. The kernel was the Word who grew into Immanuel, and was of human flesh. I accept that God knew how He would make Jesus, and made our bodies in the image of Jesus's. It would be prideful to think of the reverse!

Therefore, our bodies were created in the image of Jesus, and as such we resemble Jesus. That is fitting because when Jesus' Spirit comes into our bodies, as Christians, we come to look like Jesus in Spirit. Then Paul said:
1 Thessalonians 5:23 "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Blameless is in the image of Christ. Actually, mankind cannot be separated body from the spirit as Jesus was, but with us, it's always the entire package, until death that is! God's supernatural birth combined His Spirit and Mind with His Body, but with us, that is done at our second birth. Essentially, being born again is when our bodies and minds come home to the Spirit: just as Adam's was in the beginning. Perhaps that is why Jesus is the second Adam. They were alike in substances.

When Jesus was born, the Holy Spirit hovered over Mary, and He was given a body. Not mentioned there was God's Mind, but that was what He willed. Jesus's birth was by the will of God. He sacrificed a virgin, so to speak, that God could be with us. He was called that - Immanuel, and Jesus - Deliverer.

When we were born there was no virgin sacrificed because the act of carnal knowledge disallowed that. Jesus was born totally pure. We were not. Sure, sexual knowledge is the will of God, but it's better to not have that knowledge if one can remain abstinent. Mary did so, and she was blessed. Jesus was born without sin - we were not. Indeed, we are the seed of Adam on our paternal side, but Jesus was not!

Being specific, Mary was the surrogate mother for Jesus. She didn't engage in intercourse to conceive the Savior, but it was Mary's faith which gestated Jesus. God merely took the dust from her and made Jesus with his own spirit. Jesus' body was from the elements just as Adam's were! Likewise, his nature was as God's because Adam's was as well.

On the other hand, in order for our own birth, it took the work of women and men to conceive us. Our own bodies were created because of lust. We don't think of human intercourse as work, but indeed it is - God commanded our forebears to multiply. Obedience to that command is work.

Before Jesus was born He was Mind and Spirit. God added natural ingredients to the supernatural substances, and Jesus was born. Likewise, mankind is mind and body until we are reborn. Then the supernatural substance is added to the natural. Notice that the mind is both natural and supernatural since it is always there from conception through eternity, but changes at the second birth. The impurities are cleansed, and the mind becomes a new world, at least it should, just as the world did in the days of Noah. The dirt on our skin is not what is cleansed but the filth in our minds!

Natural life is from conception until death. Death occurs when our spirit removes itself.  We know this from the death and revival of Jairus' daughter:
Luke 8:54 (ESV) "But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once."
Essentially, just as God breathed life into the dust of the ground and Adam became a living creature, this little girl had life breathed back into her body - her spirit returned to her. She wasn't dead, but merely spiritually asleep (Luke 8:52) as her spirit evacuated her body. As such, at our own deaths, we are spiritually asleep until our spirit returns to heaven, and then we are alive again in a temporary body until ours returns to the dust and we are glorified - in the presence of God. (That is not soul sleep but the flesh does).

Death is the sting we feel when our body gives up its spirit. Paul spoke of both soul and spirit in the same breath (1 Thes 5:23 above). In the Greek, he spoke of the spirit (pneuma) and of the soul (psyche).  That difference will be discussed tomorrow.

Throughout life, mankind suffers the flesh. Sometimes it's for pleasure, and at other times pain. The flesh is more than our skin, or even our bodies; it's the mind's interaction with our body and soul. The representative organ of the body is the heart. It's more than an organ though; it announces the state of the soul. For instance, when our soul is empty, the heart is sullen. When the soul is filled with evil, it thumps with the excitement felt and thought. When we are at peace our heart is still. The body and mind are reflected in the body's organ of life - the heart. When we are truly saved, our hearts are circumcised. It's foreskin is cut off! (Jer 4:4).

It's not the heart that we circumcise as men once did their foreskins of their manhood. It's the mind which is the dirty skin which needs removed. The new creature has the same body, but a different mind. Unlike Abraham, our part of the deal is more than surgical removal of the foreskin, but a change of how we think. For instance, lust is conceiving sin. If we quit lusting, we cease sinning. Hence, lust is circumcised from our minds. Why do we lust? To satisfy or appease our idol - the body signified by the flesh.

In order to cleanse our bodies, we must hang the mind on the cross with Jesus.
Galatians 5:24 (ESV) "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
To crucify the body is murder. We're not to do that. However, the flesh we must. It's the component of the body which we call the mind. It's what has the passions and desires. Our crucifixion is presenting our bodies a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1) but it's not our bodies which we hang on the cross; it's our minds! It's not that we kill our brain, but change our minds - of what and how we think.

God sacrificed His own body in our stead so that we didn't have to: 

Deuteronomy 21:22 (ESV)  “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance."
I go back to the Old Testament for this passage. Jesus hung on a tree but died fairly quickly. He must do so, because if he didn't die on the same day, he would be accursed. The bodily death of Jesus had to be on the same day that he was hung from the cross! Because he died that same day, and died for us, we are no longer accursed. Of course there are considerations - we must be born again. Jesus's body died so that ours will live, and forever.

Our life is all about one thing: all men strive to live forever. We all desire eternal life with its promise of  prosperity, health, and happiness. As such mankind's desire is for our bodies to eternally exist. People can lie about that and deny it, but no man hates his own body! (Eph 5:29). We believe, not so much that we love Jesus, but we trust him enough to save our idolatrous bodies. Life is all about preserving our bodies, but with our intuition, humans know that we're more than an amoeba or an ape - we are us - living creatures with a spirit which the soul contains.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Mind: Part 2

We discussed the Holy Trinity and it's likeness - mankind's trinity the other day. God the Father is called Father because he is not only Jesus' Patriarch, but ours as well since he is Creator.

In the beginning there was nothing. There was not even darkness, because God first created it: "I form light and create darkness." (Isa 45:7). Then after darkness was created, Light eliminated it, for darkness is the absence of light. In darkness is where God placed the creation before he lighted it. His process of creating was three: thought, speech, and power. Those three abilities came from his three traits - Mind, Voice, and Spirit. He thought it, spoke it, and then made it happen!  The Father planned it, the Word spoke it, and the Holy Spirit consummated it, just as He consummated the Son with the Virgin Mary.

God's plan, because he so loved the world, is that none should perish (from John 3:16). In the beginning He set that plan into motion. We know that from the following verse:
Romans 1:20 (ESV) "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."
His invisible attributes are his Power and Nature which are His Holy Spirit and His Mind, as the Father. His visible attribute is the Word which became flesh. The Power and Nature, God's invisible aspects, bear witness to the visible - Jesus Christ.

The Creation was for the very purpose of saving mankind from eternal damnation. Who did God plan on using to save the world from destruction - Himself. To do that, He made Himself flesh, and had Joseph and Mary call him Jesus (Deliverer) and Immanuel (God With Us). In other words, it is God who Delivers mankind from eternal death unto eternal life, just as He intended at the Creation before Satan deceived mankind.

In order to save mankind, basically from ourselves, God created one plan. Since he is Almighty God, and All-knowing, only one plan was necessary, but it was thought through precisely with the right timing. Jesus was the Plan from the time of the Creation because he was there, speaking life into existence. If Jesus can speak us into the natural world, he can surely speak us into the supernatural. The first is the first birth, and the second is when we are born again. You see, Jesus was there to demonstrate his ability. He is able to birth and rebirth!

Planning requires formulating a plan of action. It requires thought to formulate. Formulating requires the mind to do its thing. First off, God's Mind decided that He wanted mankind to have eternal life, not by design but by choice. Man was created just like God, with a will. It was formed in the image of God, but our will was free from God's will. God put that in His plan!

All the steps of the creation were part of God's plan. He formulated the plan with detailed strategies: Create, provide, test, listen, forgive, restore, build, punish, protect, die, save, recreate, and finally endure. There were many other strategies, and God developed them in the beginning. The accumulation of these strategies are history, the present, and the future.
Psalm 139:17 "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!"
The sum of God's thought are the accumulation of His many strategies in His detailed plan for mankind. The Mind thought them all through, surely in an instant, and here we are today - looking at the beginning strategies which are visible to anyone who will think on the Creation. God is All-knowing - He knows the number of hairs of our heads and the grains of sand. He knows them because he Created them. All these minute details were part of His plan which His Mind thought.

"That's silly!" you remark. "Why would God care to know the hairs of your head?" He has the capacity to know that because he cares about each of His creatures. For those with male pattern baldness, it's in your genes. God created the genes so that you are today still in the image of God. Your very existence existed in Adam because he is the DNA donor for us all. DNA is more numerous than the hairs of the head, and he made and knows that as well. Is it ironic that geneticists have developed a system for finding our own DNA Adam, but can only go back so far because of mutations in antecedent generations?

In the beginning our thoughts were as God's thoughts, because mankind walked in harmony with God. With original sin, the thoughts of others were imbued into our own minds. The serpent shared the thoughts of the evil ones, and here we are - our thoughts are not as intended?
Isaiah 55:8 (ESV) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."
What is it that we think about that God doesn't? How to do our own will and not His! Our plan is how to find the loop holes in His Plan. God used his Mind to Create. Mankind uses his mind to deviate. God's mind is perfect faith which he knows is His truth. Mankind's mind is filled with doubt. Mankind believes the Creation was impossible, but God knows it was possible, and it was the beginning of His Plan for us!
Matthew 19:26 (ESV) "But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
It is possible for God to give us eternal life! How do we know that? His Mind thought into existence everything which we see! If God is too weak to provide life, he certainly is too weak to provide eternal life.

There is a television program called Family Feud. Before the program, the audience is asked to provide answers to questions which will later be asked of contestant families. The goal is to determine which family answers the same way the audience does. Each family's answer is compared to the audience's answers. The host always responds, "You say _____, survey says _____."

In life, this is akin to saying, "You say _____, God says _____." What you say is tempered by your own mind, and is against God's Mind. The difference is introduced by those powers in the spiritual realm. Just as the audience on Family Feud, some yelling one thing, and others yelling something else, righteous spirits and evil spirits speak to you. Those spirits are the voices of the survey. While the majority of those surveyed have an interest in your family or the other family winning, evil spiritual voices want both families to lose. If we listen to the wrong voices, our minds deceive us because our minds are inferior to God's. Discernment is when by understanding God's Mind, our own mind harmonizes with God's. His will becomes our will, and our thoughts become as His thoughts.

Our mind is important. It determines whether we live or die by what we believe. Eternal life is simple. We ignore most of those "surveyed" (i.e., the world), and the flesh (i.e., the rewards for believing the lies), but listen to God alone. His Word still directs our mind on what is truth. We don't need a survey, nor should we care what the world says: "God didn't create it... it just happened." Survey says that, but what does God say? "I created it all!" Do we go with the survey or with God. Survey says that God is a liar. What do you say?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Slothfulness: The Unmotivated

I run around the neighborhood every day either running or bicycling. Even when the weather is perfect, few young people are outside. What is every few feet is a yard service charging big bucks. We realize that to be a mighty oak, there needs to be strong saplings. In the case of youth, it's not physical strength which is necessary but strong motivation. Why aren't young people motivated? Because their parents unmotivated them. Rather than a strong dose of yard work it's always entertainment in some form or another. Many children are not even motivated to read to develop mentally.

I told a child that he needed to start mowing the yard. He is ten years old. His response was, "I'm just a kid. I don't need to work." I asked him, "Are there not things which you want?" He looked puzzled as he responded, "No. I don't need anything very often." Why? Because every desire is supplied to him. He lacks any motivation to work because he is in sloth training.

Sloths are friendly little creatures. They seem to smile as they slowly shimmy across the ground. Sloths conserve their energy, and do it very well! However, when they are excited, such as escaping harm, they burst forth at high speeds even though they are metabolically, well, slothful. Even though they are very strong animals, they just don't use their strength. Why should they? There is no need to exert their strength! Their food source comes to them. Being creatures who crawl on their bellies, food is always in their face.

You can see the analogy. The youth of today are sloths. They are such because parents attempt to demonstrate love by giving them their every whim. Just as a sloth, enabling parents just bring their lazy sloth food, entertainment, and more entertainment. These kids do get bursts of energy sometimes: they demand things very forcefully when the parents take a short respite. As in the Transference commentary yesterday, kids take out their anger on the hand that feeds them when the hand, for a few seconds, fails to feed them.

The seven deadly sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. (Aquinas, Thomas (2013-08-20). Summa Theologica (All Complete & Unabridged 3 Parts + Supplement & Appendix + interactive links and annotations). e-artnow. ISBN 9788074842924). These sins are all abuses of one's own self. They all go against the virtues which are best for the individual. All these are hurtful to the person who sins in those manners. Slothfulness is the sin of failing to provide for one's own existence. It's not reaching out for what is there, but waiting for it to come to you!

Guess what little sloths grow into? Adult sloths! Slothfulness is their very nature. What do young sloths grown into? Adult sloths! These children hovered inside with their video games and movies will be adults who prefer to hover inside with their video games and movies.  

Parents would never wait until a child is an adult to start the learning process. The child would be unprepared for real life: a job, a family, or even to be a balanced well-rounded person. Why then, do parents wait until children are adults to teach them the work ethic? Work is the vocation of every person, outside of professional welfare frauds. Why should they not be trained for their vocation?

Kids learn to sing and dance, and spend much time focusing on dancing and singing. Add to that sports and movies. The reality is that most adults are not singers, dancers, professional athletes nor movie stars. They waste their idle time by studying to be what most of them will never be! If nightclubs need all those singers, who would be left to sit at the table and listen? Youth who expect the nourishment to come to them are badly mistaken. Even if they are sloths, unmotivated sloths only reach out for the minimum requirements for their metabolism. Since the days of Adam, man must provide by "the sweat of his brow". 

The malady of slothfulness has taken over our young. Work makes a person content, believe it or not!
1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV) "And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. "
Be ye motivated! Parents must condition their children to enjoy work and understand that work is  necessary for survival. Can you imagine, dog lovers, if you waited until your dog was mature to do the training? Your dog would be worthless as a pup, and as a full-grown dog. Dogs must be conditioned or they become worthless dogs, which are not even good company! Slothful adults don't make good company either, and neither do slothful kids! Who wants to pick up after their children all the time? Fools!

For instance, at times my own daughter would snack before bedtime, then leave her soiled dishes in the family room. Too tired to clean up  after herself, she would go on to bed thinking that dad or mom would do the cleaning up. On those few occasions I didn't clean up her mess - I went upstairs, awoke her from a deep sleep, and escorted her down the stairs to clean up her own mess. That was hard work for me, but conditioning for her. It took two occasions, and she was trained and responsible. Now her own house is immaculate, and there is never a dirty dish in her house. She washes them as they are used.

I always made my children work for what they had. If they wanted expensive shoes, I paid for the amount the cheap ones would cost. That was my responsibility as a parent. If they wanted any more, they earned their own money, and upgraded. Guess what? After working hard for their money, they often re-evaluated how they would spend it! Frugality comes with hard work; it's a bonus.

Heather not only is a great housekeeper but she is a motivated salesperson. She is the leading home salesperson almost every year to the extent that her former boss told her to back off because it discourages those who can't compete with her. Maybe my trips up the stairs contributed to that! Maybe she was self-motivated. Either way, she was a hard worker from her youth.

We will never make America great again unless two things change: how we educate our children, and what we allow them to consume. We must educate them toward greatness, and keep drugs from them. Children are slothful enough without chemically inducing them to slothfulness. Marijuana and the like have to go. I believe that even sloths would not be stupid enough to inhale stupid weed! It demotivates, and unmotivated youth proves that!
Colossians 3:23 (ESV) "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men..."
And train and train and train! If you don't who will? The world? Train them young and they are trained for life:
 Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."