Saturday, December 31, 2011

The significance of 70AD and the destruction of the temple: Part II

1Corinthians 15:54-57  “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."  (55)  "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"  (56)  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  (57)  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In part one of this series we looked into humanities problem because of the first Adam. We also saw that from the very beginning, God’s plan, was to dwell among humanity. He wanted to be loved and praised by mankind from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4-6 .) Whenever you see the phrase* from before the foundation of the world* you can understand that it means that, whatever was from before the foundation of the world, was the prime consideration for creation. Paul explains in Ephesians chapter one that God chose us in Christ, that is, he chose to redeem us, from before the foundation of the world, and it was to the praise of his glorious grace! Therefore, God created the earth with redemption as the first purpose of creation and it was to glorify his grace and bring praise to him for it. This is the catalyst for true love for God. God’s plan to gain true love was amazing… it was to be gained through his glorious grace. Glorious grace means a grace that metaphorically shines forth brightly.

The first question to ask is this; what is meant by the clause *the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law?* It is really quite simple when you think about it. The power that sin has on humanity is put forth in the law. The Old Covenant established ones righteousness by obedience to the law (Lev 18:5.) Obedience = life and disobedience = death.  Therefore, 1Corinthians 15:56 is equating death with the law. The last enemy death is in fact the law with its ordinances. When Paul speaks of Christ’s enemies being put under his feet what does he mean exactly? Who were Jesus enemies? The answer is first and foremost it was the Sanhedrin, the rulers of the Jews. Where did they get their power? The answer is from the Old Covenant, from Moses, and the Mosaic system. The destruction of the temple was to be the final act of God to show that he accepted Jesus sacrifice and that he was moving forward solely with the New Covenant. When you look at Jesus statements about the destruction of the temple, and the end of the age (*Not World,)* in light of the final transition from Old Covenant to New Covenant… then and *only then* does it begin to make real sense.

The question for this post is this; when does/did the perishable put on the imperishable and the mortal put on immortality? The clear answer is that this was accomplished in Christ. It is not something that awaits accomplishment. It is already a done deal… completely a finished work. If we know that we are immortal in Christ and the scripture promises that we are then, it must be that the perishable (you and I) have already put on the imperishable eternal life. Likewise, it must be that the mortal (again, you and I) have put on immortality or, in other words, we have overcome death and death is swallowed up in victory. What happens at death now? Does one go in the ground awaiting the resurrection? Of course not… most believe Paul when he says that absent from the body is present with the Lord. So then the answer to the above question is that the mortal has already put on immortality… in other words, death *has* been swallowed up in victory. It is a current reality.

We are moving along on this question but still have a lot of ground to cover, but again, the post is getting a little long so we will end it right here. Part III should be following soon.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The significance of 70AD and the destruction of the temple: Part I

1Corinthians 15:54-57  “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."  (55)  "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"  (56)  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  (57)  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The temple was the symbol for the Old Covenant and the Mosaic economy. All of Jewish religious practice was brought to fruition in the temple sacrifices. The purpose was to build a sanctuary so that God could dwell among the people Exodus 25:8. The temple was the symbol of God dwelling among the people. When you look at the scripture as the story of redemption, it tells the story of *the* God who has always desired to dwell among his people… his creation.

In the very beginning, the Garden of Eden was the sanctuary that God had prepared to dwell with his people.  Now then, whether you take Genesis two and three literally or allegorically, the result is the same. It describes humanity in a state of innocence not understanding either good or evil. There was only the assumption that it was good based upon God’s declaration in Genesis 1:31. Therefore, if God declares that it was good how could anyone question the fact? Based upon God’s declaration it must in fact be good. The problem is this; it would only be possible for one to believe this completely if they were in a state of na├»ve innocence. They would have to be oblivious to the knowledge of good and evil.

The minute the knowledge of good and evil is introduced into the equation one would have to ask the questions; am I good, or am I evil? What is good and what is evil? These questions are at enmity with God’s declaration. He has already declared that humanity was very good. Still, one is left with a dilemma. If humanity remained in the innocence they would have no way of truly worshipping God because they would be void of choice. They would simply accept without question his declaration;  their relationship with him would be automatic, similar to that of a robot and its creator. There is no real chance for love. On the other hand, humanity armed with the knowledge of good and evil, would have to question what was good and what was evil especially and most importantly, are they good and acceptable to God?

The result of receiving  the knowledge of good and evil would ultimately lead to judgment. That is, those with the knowledge of good and evil would be capable of  judgment. Judgment is the opposite of faith. Judgment is based upon understanding the difference between good and evil and judging one way or the other. Faith is accepting a declaration or situation as true and acting accordingly. This is why the author of Hebrews said that without faith it is impossible to please God. He goes on to say that one must believe that God exists and that he rewards all who diligently seek him.

Herein lies humanities problem. They have the knowledge of good and evil, and they have the ability to judge. Unfortunately however, they no longer have the innocence of being able to believe God without judgment so their judgment is not based upon faith in God’s declaration. Further, because of mortality, the sentence received for gaining the knowledge of good and evil, humanity usually judges in their own favor when they have the power to do so, and here you have the catalyst of all sin and selfishness. It is a quandary indeed. It is easy to begin to see the result of the fall in real human terms. Therefore, humanity was given the Law that would declare good and evil from God’s perspective. Unfortunately, humanity was not given God’s understanding and perspective, and thereby was unable  to render righteous judgment based upon the Law.

As the story progressed, Jesus, the *last Adam,*  became the new tabernacle for God to dwell among his people. With Jesus on the scene the temple was rendered obsolete. This was the reason that the temple would one day be destroyed. It had served its purp0se as a figure or type. With Jesus on the scene a new and better way was made for God to dwell with his creatures, and, when Jesus returned to the Father, a way was made for God to dwell among his people in their heart. We have a lot of ground to cover here and this is but a good beginning. It is getting longer than I like so I will end it right here.

In this particular post we have taken a look at *the first* Adam and what his/her part was in the story of redemption, and have set the ground for looking at how the story progresses. We will over several posts get to the significance of the destruction of the temple after the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. You may already be putting it together in your mind but get ready for the continuation of the story.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What and when were the last days according to the New Testament writers? Could theologians get it wrong for 1800+ years? Part II

A while back I posed this question; Could theologians get it wrong for 1800+ years?  I would like to continue with a series that will show biblical evidence that they did get it wrong. First off, we should really take into consideration the intended readership… i.e., the audience that the New Testament authors targeted. Who was the New Testament written to and for? It is fairly well accepted that the gospels were written to specific communities and the epistles identify their intended audience.

We all too often just assume that it was written to us in the twenty-first century and this is especially the case when it comes to references to the last days or the end of the age. However, the text does not back that idea up at all. When you look at the epistles to Timothy, Paul distinctly states that he is in fact writing to Timothy (2Tim 1:1-8.) This means that the entire epistle is written to Timothy. While it is true that others can benefit from what Paul wrote to Timothy it is clear that one must acknowledge that Paul wrote the letter to Timothy.

So then, when Paul addresses Timothy in Chapter three warning him that in the last days difficult times will come he is specifically speaking of the last days that will come to pass in the life of Timothy. It is a mistake to push this message out 2000 years beyond Timothy’s life and the occasion for the writing of the letter. In other words, the distortion of the scripture and the selfish messages of the false teachers teaching false doctrine is a phenomenon that Timothy must deal with. You can see this theme throughout both epistles written to Timothy.  It is abundantly clear in 1Tim 1:3-4: “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,  (4)  nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.”  The epistle to Timothy was meant to combat and counteract problems that had already arisen.

When Paul writes “But know this; difficult times will come in the last days” he is telling Timothy that he is going to see the last days of the end of the age. I have written many posts in previous blogs that shows the imminent expectation of the end of the age in all of the New Testament writings. Just search imminence or imminent in the search function of the blog and you will see a plethora of these posts. The imminence began with John the Baptist telling the Pharisees that the axe was already at the root… it was foretold by Jesus reference to the withering fig tree… the end of the age that they were looking forward to was the end of the Mosaic age. It was predicted that it would be concurrent with the destruction of the temple.

I want to show with the next few posts that when one pushes the end of the age… the last days… out two thousand years they end up doing violence to the clear meaning of the text and what was written. Here we take a beginning look at the imminency that is so prevalent in all of the New Testament.  

What will this series of posts do for us? Hopefully it will help us certify the fact that the New Testament writings were transitional while the temple still stood and that the transition between the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law Economy) and the New Covenant (New Heaven and Earth) has completely taken place and that the only covenant in operation today from God’s view is the New Covenant.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

“Able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” ; why the evangelical doctrine of scripture misses the mark!

Most of the people that I see being set free by the Holy Spirit are in a process of taking two steps toward freedom and then one step backward. One of the main reasons for that is the evangelical orthodox doctrine of scripture. When it is viewed as the inerrant word of God then all of its messages tend to have equal value. How many times have you heard some preacher or seen a bumper sticker that essentially says, “God said it--- I believe it --- and that settles it!” … or… the saying… “it’s tight but it’s right!” Both of these statements are way too narrow and quite naive.  There are way too many accepted exceptions to the meaning of certain scripture passages to make either of those catchy sayings true in any sense.

The first question that any thinking saint should ask is this; Is there an overriding theme that one should bring to examining all scripture? What is the overriding theme? Is it that the scripture is the inerrant word of God? One would think so in view of the current evangelical doctrine of scripture. However, that is not the overriding theme that Jesus and his immediate followers brought to the scripture. It is a long, long way from it! As I have shown in so many different posts on this blog… Jesus and the writers of the New Testament redefined the phrases ---word of God ---  word of truth --- Word --- word of his grace to mean either Jesus the living Word or, the *gospel* the message of the living Word. If you do not believe this just go to the search function on this blog and search *word of God* or *word of truth.* The scriptural evidence is overwhelming and 100% indisputable!

Before you get all upset and blow a cork… I believe the following about scripture:
  • It is inspired and given by God
  • It is profitable for teaching
  • It is profitable for correction
  • It is profitable for reproof
  • It is profitable for training in righteousness
  • It will equip the man/woman of God for good works

I believe all of the above bulleted list. I believe it completely. The fact is that I can believe this within the framework of the overriding theme of the bible. The overriding theme of the bible according to Jesus and Paul is redemption.  It is *only* all of the above mentioned things in a redemptive sense. When Paul gave that list in 2Timothy  3:16 & 17 he did not give it until he had stated the overriding theme and purpose in verse 15. The prime, and only purpose of the scripture is “ to make one *wise* unto *salvation* which is in Christ Jesus.” Jesus stated the same thing in John 5:39-40 and Luke 24:27, 44-47. Take the time to read those passages and see for yourself the overriding theme and purpose.

Much of evangelical Christianity has already thrown out the rigid take on scripture by allowing women in the pulpit. If one is to take the *tight but right* approach to the scripture, then, one would have to *not allow* women preachers based upon 1Timothy 2:11&12 and 1Corinthians 14:34-35. One of the passages says that the Law/Torah prohibits it!

We should start viewing scripture the same way that Jesus and the New Testament writers did. When we do, we will be able to concentrate on The love of the Father and begin to allow that to transform us into the image of Jesus.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Perfect love casts out fear!

One of the main traits that is prevalent among many evangelicals is fear; Fear of upsetting God. In fact, many have their entire lives driven by fear. Fear is the catalyst for all that they do and say. They are always metaphorically looking over their shoulder, wondering if they have messed up and if they should quickly repent? And yet, John wrote in his epistle that perfect love cast out fear… what did he mean, and should Christians fear? In my view the answer to the question is that he meant that they should not fear.

Let’s take a closer look at the passage that the clause comes from.
1Jn 4:16-18  “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  (17)  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.  (18)  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
For context one should read the entire passage from 1John 4:7-19 It explains that God is love and, that it is *not* motivated by our love for God but rather, the motivation comes from God’s love for us. That is…  the love that was manifested in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the catalyst for our love.  It is what will make us love God and our sister/brother. Jesus demonstrated Fathers *perfect love.* How you ask? He made him who knew no sin to be made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him! The perfect love that casts out fear then is the redemption purchased by Jesus once for all.

Look again at the above passage of scripture. In verse sixteen John states that he and the saints have come to *know* … and…. *believe* the love God has for each one. If one abides, lives, rests in this love they automatically abide in God and by the same token--- God abides in them. The purpose as stated above is to have confidence in the/a day of judgment…. any judgment. Believers should not be afraid of God! How much plainer can it be? In fact, he goes on to point out that if you fear you have *not* been perfected in love. As I have shown so many times in so many ways on this blog *resting in Jesus* --- *resting in redemption*--- * resting in the Father’s love,* is the very ground, the firm foundation of our relationship with a loving Father who does not condemn. This is what it means to be perfected in love. Resting in Jesus is equal with being perfected in love. I wish that I could make it more plain!

Allow the perfect love of the Father in Jesus to cast out all fear. You do not have to fear punishment… not if you are resting and trusting and clinging to the Father’s love! This is what will bring true love for the Father, true relationship with the Father and a natural desire to please him by loving your sister/brother.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why current evangelical doctrine is off the mark; looking at law and grace; part III

In the last two articles (Part1 & Part 2) I have discussed the roll of grace in the gospel, and specifically, the way that grace is the catalyst for transformation. This entire blog is dedicated to explaining a paradigm shift that I believe will be beneficial for any believer searching for a more consistent view that will help make Christian doctrine seem more congruent and less schizophrenic;  A view, where 1John 4:8 & 16 can make sense without any possible contradiction. One can be confident that God is love without convoluting the definition of love to include torture and various other damnations.

So then, if grace is the catalyst for transformation what roll should law play? To answer this question in the simplest manner I would suggest that it should be used for direction. Not as a legal requirement but as a guide. One of my favorite verses is found in the epistle to the Galatians.  “Gal 6:7-8  Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  (8)  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” I can hear you pausing now and saying *damn Joe* you have written one hundred and forty posts about unconditional grace and this is one of your favorite verses? ;) Yes, it is one of my favorite verses because it explains very succinctly the law of karma… what goes around comes around.

The problem with the cautionary scriptures resides in the view that the Law of God has eternal consequences and punishment. I don’t think that the scripture suggests that at all. I think our understanding of the scripture and the grammatical historical hermeneutic of the Scribes and Pharisees leads one to believe it but, I think that in using Jesus and his followers heremeneutic, redemptive historical hermeneutic that one can come to very different conclusions about the eternal consequences of the law.

If one is not being adjudicated righteous by obedience to the law--- the law, can lose its damning qualities and begin to have instructional, tutorial, guiding qualities. It can be used as an ideal to reach toward instead of a taskmaster that must be met or suffer pain of dire consequences. It can be a reflection of the heart of Father God explaining how he would have us treat one another.

Galatians 6:7-8 is the description of the reality of what will happen especially in this life. Humanity has instituted laws to regulate behavior for the good of the society or group. Murder will be punished by life in prison. These penalties are not eternal they are temporal and they actually work well in deterring unwanted behavior. I know from experience that bad choices, selfish choices will result in bad results. Yet, within God’s grace I have found redemption of my worst failures. This is not just in eternal terms… the redemption for me has been temporal. I am sure that it is that way with many of you.

Eternal consequences are mitigated by grace. There is much more to say on this but I think that it will be better addressed in subsequent posts. What if we treated the law as a guide and not as a yardstick to be met? How would that change things? How would that allow grace to transform us? Especially if the entire ecclesia was on the same page. I can dream can’t I?

Why the gospel is important in the transformation process

Rom 8:6  "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace," A very misunderstood passag...