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Ever feel baffled by what exactly makes up the Gospel message? How do we describe it, share it, and, most of all, live it?

Paul said the Gospel was so simple, yet it remains "veiled" to the eyes of so many.

What exactly is the Gospel message that is being veiled?

The answer might shock many.

"This is the MESSAGE we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5).

The Gospel is the good news of a good God. Only good and perfect gifts come down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). God never gives us jagged stones of condemnation, serpent bites of affliction, or scorpion stings of sickness. Instead, the Father always and only gives us blessings of daily revelational bread, miraculously multiplying fish, and spiritually nourishing eggs (Luke 11:11-15).

Jesus is the personification of the Father's light, His bright nature, His illuminating character, and His luminescent love. To receive the Gospel Jesus is to receive the indwelling light and love of God.

But, how is this wonderful Gospel veiled to the eyes of so many?

Again, the answer is shocking.

The Gospel is veiled by our own inner wrath which causes us to project our own hate and hostility onto our image of God. We then see God as the fickle dispenser of both good and evil, love and hate, inexhaustible forgiveness and unending wrath. This dualistic image of God makes Him a nullity, and oxymoronic deity that makes no sense. And never will.

Jesus said to see His Father, we need only see His Son.
Jesus explains and models a non-dualistic God. Jesus IS the explanation of His heavenly Father. God NOW makes perfect sense, perfect light, and perfect love.

Jesus IS the Gospel.
All light.
No darkness.
At all.
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God reveals Himself through the rainbow hues of relationship.

A thoroughly relational God. Who would have thought?

Abraham's best friend, Israel's first husband, our beloved Abba-Papa, and Christ the firstborn of many brethren.

And it's not just His relationship to us, but also ours to Him. We are His rescued bride He carries across Heaven's threshold. We are His returning prodigal son He rushes to embrace, enrobe and celebrate. We are His offspring.

Yet, even those relationships don't go far enough. Jesus is one who actually sticks CLOSER than any human brother, any human father, and any human husband. Explore Him interpersonally by actually relating WITH Him, not hypothesizing ABOUT Him.

The only way to relate to Him is........to relate to Him. That is what He longs to have. He loves us so. He loves you so.
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No engagement, no encounter.

Engagement leads to encounter.

Engage the Spirit, encounter God.

Engage the Scripture, encounter Jesus' Emmaus Road explanation (Luke 24:27, 32, 44-45).

Engage your neighbor, encounter connection.

Engage your enemy with blessing, encounter the Kingdom of God.
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What is the "everlasting destruction" mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9?

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power...."

Is this passage talking about "evil people" or is it talking about "evil qualities?" The word translated as "who" in verse 9 can either mean "whatever" or "whoever."

Thus, we need to refer to other Pauline passages regarding the postmortem fire, such as 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, to clarify Paul's thinking in this area. In this passage, the man "suffers loss" but "he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." Thus, this passage suggests that what gets punished is a "whatever" and not a "whoever." God punishes with eternal destructions evil notions, not evil nations. Remember, the ancient writers, especially Paul, used personification to describe both virtue and evil all the time.

In other words, when ancient writers used a "who," they often meant a "what."

The Bible authors pervasively used a literary technique called "personification." The ancient writers personified most everything. Personification is the representation of an object, concept, trait, or quality AS IF it were a person. Again, wicked nations become wicked notions. External giants become internal strongholds of fear. Wisdom and foolishness, in the Book of Proverbs, are both personified as women lifting up their voices in the street. Consider Paul's personification of sin ruling as a king in his body, and the "old man" and "new man" as personifications of two warring persons in the new creature after baptism.

So, for Paul to say that the personification of all the dark dynamics within us will be destroyed is a wonderful thing, not a fearful thing.

Let me propose a thought experiment to highlight this dynamic.

Assume for moment that we each have a cancerous brain tumor which is impacting our mental perceptions, morality, and moods by causing us to act erratically, selfishly, violently, and destructively. The cancer has altered our personality and created a false identity, a villainous personae with hostile intent, fearful delusions, toxic traits and unhealthy values.

Now, further assume our father is the world's best surgeon. He has tried to treat us from our youth onward with a healthy diet, cleansing habits, and other non-invasive techniques. But, we simply have not invested in treatment. We refuse to believe we are really sick and have refused to cooperate. We have become more and more codependent towards our cancerous and false-selves. We have returned again and again to carcinogenic habits, carcinogenic thoughts, and carcinogenic actions which have so warped our perceptions.

Our brain sickness worsens over the many decades of our life. We eventually become bed ridden. We have gotten to the point where we can't even remember who our father is. We still vaguely recognize his kind face when he comes to our bedside, but we can't place him. Now that we have finally become totally immobile, our father enters the room. He tenderly strokes our foreheads and confidently tells us it is now time. We are too weak to resist his treatment any longer. He informs us he is going to perform surgery on us and remove and destroy the cancer within us.

When we awake from surgery, we instantly know we are different. We feel a thousand pounds lighter. Our personality has changed. No, that's too mild a word-- our personalities have been transformed into something brighter and better. An appalling appendage has been removed. We don't recognize ourselves anymore. The memory of who we were has now been revealed as a delusion, a malignancy now removed. The old fears, the old lusts, the old hostilities, are all gone.

We now see things, everything, differently. The old "carcinogenic self," corrupted with a thousand dark distortions, is gone. Our father-surgeon enters our recovery room with a jar in his right hand. Inside the jar is the removed tumor which has diseased our lives. He briefly jiggles the jar to show us the tumor, and then makes this statement: "This cancerous-identity will never afflict you again. I am casting him/her/it into a medical incinerator. The angelic nurses have nicknamed this incinerator 'the lake of fire.' This is because the sickness will be forever drowned in flames, forever submerged and contained by a wise firewall, never more to afflict any living thing."

As we consider his words, we ask ourselves, "Wht did father refer to the tumor as a he, she, or it?" Then the answer comes. It DID have a personality. It DID have a mindset. It DID have emotions. It DID seem alive. It DID have a voice other than my own, although it was …

As we consider his words, we ask ourselves, "Wht did father refer to the tumor as a he, she, or it?" Then the answer comes. It DID have a personality. It DID have a mindset. It DID have emotions. It DID seem alive. It DID have a voice other than my own, although it was often disguised as my own. So, even it was ultimately revealed as an "it," it also seemed to be some sort of living personage, albeit an inauthentic one.

End of the thought experiment.

So, the Thessalonians passage is simply saying that that whatever carcinogenic carnality (i.e. the wood-hay-stubble) needs to be destroyed by the Lord's "wise fire" will, in fact, be destroyed per the 1 Corinthinan 3 passage. Again, to repeat, there the man "suffers [destructive] LOSS, but is himself saved, yet so as by fire." This is so similar to the verse where an unrepentant sinner is "turned over to Satan for the DESTRUCTION of his flesh THAT His spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord." 1 Corinthian 5:5. This is the EXACT same principle of "partial" or "piecemeal" destruction so that the spirit of the man himself may be saved. The word for "destruction" in 1 Corinthians 5:5 is the exact same Greek word used in this Thessalonians passage.

What is it the man loses, what is destroyed, what is it the man suffers? Here is the answer: the wrenching away of a false, carnal, carcinogenic, fleshly identity. It is certain we take nothing with us to the judgement flames, except the identities we have built for ourselves. What ELSE could we suffer and lose, if its not that portion of our soul NOT built on the rock of Christ. Jesus allegorically taught that poisonous appendages of our being could be severed from us and cast into postmortem flames SO THAT our CORE remaining self could fully embrace heaven. "And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire." Matthew 18:9. This passage is just Jesus informing us of the postmortem surgery to come. He will remove all malicious content from our souls.

So the text simply says that for a surgical period known only by God, His presence (what the church fathers called His "wise fire") will purge all people with a kind of partial and remedial destruction, the exact same thing 1 Corinthians 3 and 5:5 claim above. But the only thing severed and destroyed are our sick appendages, the false and carcinogenic sin masks which we allowed to be grafted onto our souls, BUT NOT our essential selves, the authentic selves we were created to be.

Jesus IS the great physician. He makes all things new, including us. Especially us. He desires to treat, purge, and heal us NOW with our cooperation. This is better in every way. But, if not now, then the crisis heightens in the postmortem age to come. But, either way, the heavenly Father will ULTIMATELY see all men healed, restored, and reconciled so that Christ "may be all in all." 1 Corinthians 15:22-29.

Let me address one last grammatical point to about the term translated "everlasting destruction" in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.

"Eternal Punishment" and "eternal destruction" is the term used in the English translation of the Bible on which most people base their view of eternal conscious torment in Hell. The former term in the Greek is "kolasis aionios," while the latter is "olethros aionios." Both use aionios. Let's examine each.

So let's start with kolasis aionios. If this term does indeed mean eternal punishment, then Hell would seem to be foreverrrrrrrrrr.

But, such is not the case. lets first consider the opinion of the great Greek scholar William Barclay, who was professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at Glasgow University and the author of many commentaries and books, including a translation of the New Testament and the very popular Daily Study Bible Series. Barclay discusses this point regarding Matthew 25:46 in his well-known autobiography:

"One of the key passages is Matthew 25:46 where it is said that the rejected go away to eternal punishment, and the righteous to eternal life. The Greek word for punishment is 'kolasis,' which was not originally an ethical word at all. It originally meant the pruning of trees to make them grow better. I think it is true to say that in all Greek secular literature 'kolasis' is never used of anything but 'remedial punishment.' The word for 'eternal' is aionios. It means more than everlasting, for Plato - who may have invented the word - plainly says that a thing may be everlasting and still not be aionios. The simplest way to put it is that aionios cannot be used properly of anyone but God; it is the word uniquely, as Plato saw it, of God. Eternal punishment is then literally that kind of remedial punishment which it befits God to give and which only God can give."

To summarize then, Greek word "Aionios," which is sometimes translated as "everlasting" in Scripture (as in "everlasting punishment"), does NOT in fact mean "unending or everlasting in quantity of time." Rather, "Aionios" speaks to an "indeterminate age set by God alone." The word refers to a certain quality (not quantity) of being - - whether it be "aionios life" or "aionios remedial-punishment." Aionios is always qualified by what it is describing.

For instance, the word "great," when applied to a merciful sentence imposed by a kind-hearted judge, might refer to a small amount of time in jail. Conversely, "great," when applied to an atrocious crime, for which the judge throws the book at the defendant, might refer to a life-sentence in jail.

Similarly, the duration and quality of aionios when applied to the life of God is entirely different than when it is applied to the chastening or punishment of God. "Great life" in God is certainly unending, since death will have been completely defeated, but the unending length is not the primary essence of that "Great life." Rather, the limitless quality of being totally at one with the Lord is the key aspect of this "Great life." On the other hand, "Great punishment" by God will not be unending since He punishes to correct and rehabilitate and He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Pet. 3:9.

Life in God is not everlasting because it is aionios, but rather aionios is everlasting because it is referring to life in God. Conversely, aionios punishment is not temporary because aionios means temporary, but rather aionios is temporary in this context since God's chastening is curative and incapable of being eternally resisted. "For his anger is but for a moment; His favor is for a life-time: Weeping may tarry for the night, But joy 'cometh' in the morning." Psalm 30:5.

Aionios then, by itself, means an "indeterminate age," not an "unending age." Only the context of the passage provides guidance as to the actual quality and duration of the age.

Now to couple the same word "aionios" to the word "olethros"(destruction) in the Thessalonians passage, we need to see that it likewise mistranslates the word aionios as eternal. Plus, the sense in which "destruction" here is used is the same sense as described in 1 Corinthians 3:15 to refer to the fiery destruction of our wood, hay and stubble "false and carnal identities", though we ourselves will be saved, yet as by fire.

The Thessalonians passage is simply saying that that whatever carnal wood-hay-stubble carnality needs to be destroyed by the Lord's "wise fire" will , in fact, be destroyed per the 1 Corinthinan 3 passage, where, to repeat, the man "suffers [destructive] LOSS, but is himself saved, yet so as by fire." This is so similar to the verse where a unrepentant sinner is "turned over to Satan for the DESTRUCTION of his flesh THAT His spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord." 1 Corinthian 5:5. This is the EXACT same principle of "partial" or "piecemeal" destruction so that the spirit of the man himself may be saved. The word for "destruction" in 1 Corinthians 5:5, is in fact the exact same Greek word used in this Thessalonians passage. So again this "aionios destruction" refers to an age of purging in God's purging fire of correction.

What is it the man loses, what is destroyed, what is it He suffers? The wrenching away of a false, carnal, fleshly identity. It is certain we take nothing with us to the judgement flames, except the identities we have built for ourselves. What ELSE could we suffer and lose, if its not that portion of our soul NOT built on the rock of Christ.

So the text just says that for a punishment period known only by God, His presence (what I call His wise fire) will punish believers with some kind of partial and remedial destruction, the exact same thing 1 Corinthians 3 and 5:5 claims above. But he only thing destroyed here is our evil identities, the false sin masks we she behind, BUT NOT our essential selves who we were created to be.

The Rotterham Emphasized Bible translates “kolasis aionios” in Matthew 25:46 as “age abiding correction.”

Young’s Literal Translation translates “kolasis aionios” in Matthew 25:46 as “punishment age.”

The Concordant Literal Translation translates “kolasis aionios” in Matthew 25:46 as “chastening eonian," or "chastening age" in other words. Our English word “eon” derives from the Greek word “aionios.” Eon, as we use the word, speaks of ages or cycles of indeterminate amounts of time. The term is often used in the plural form, such as “It’s been eons since we’ve talked,” or “Eons ago the universe was formed.” The point is that we don’t even use the term today to refer to “everlasting” in the sense of never ending. Think how silly it sounds to pluralize “everlasting” into “everlastings," yet "eon" is pluralized into "eons" all the time.
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Yes. All that is false will be "burned away" and only love will remain in our hearts. Jesus destroys false IDEAS, not the people who believe them.

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Reading comic books is easy because we see thought bubbles telling us what the characters are thinking and feeling.

However, reading scripts (and by extension Scriptures) is different. We have to penetrate the text and discover the characters' motivations and internal states for ourselves.

We do this by extending our empathetic intuition into the narrative. This, along with analyzing the other contextual clues, can help us find "what" the characters are doing and "why" they are doing it.

This latter type of reading demands more of us, but it is far more rewarding. It allows us to invest ourselves into the narrative in deeper and more organic ways.
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"CSI" JERUSALEM: WHO MURDERED ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA?

Were Ananias and Sapphira killed by the Holy Spirit as many claim (Acts 5:1-11)? Well, the passage doesn't even "literally" say that God killed them, so we have to look closer at the passage's subtext to do a fair CSI investigation as to the true cause of their deaths.

Peter asked Sapphira in the literal Greek of verse 9, "Why did the two of you agree to pressure the Spirit?" (Word Study Greek-English New Testament, Paul R. McReynolds, Tyndall, pp. 441 (1999). In other words, why did you two push away the protective presence of God? The implication is clear then that Satan, not God, is the culprit here. Satan "filled their hearts" to lie, then Ananias and Sapphira pushed and quenched away God's protective presence with their sin, then Satan filled the vacuum in their hearts with his oppressive condemnation, and they both died.

McReynolds' interlinear translation of 1 Corinthians 10:9 describes this same dynamic. "But not we might PRESSURE OUT the Christ, just as some of them PRESSURED and by the snakes were destroyed." Interlinear translations can be a little awkward to our ear, but they often give us the gold of better understanding Scripture-texts.

We can now better see what this Acts passage now describes. Ananias and Sapphira's rampant neglect and disbelief toward God, combined with their fear toward their circumstances, further combined with a lack of merciful interceders on their behalf, all combined to do the following. THEY PRESSURED OUT THE PROTECTIVE PRESENCE OF CHRIST AND WERE DESTROYED BY SATAN. And just how did Satan kill them? Below, we will see that Satan used his favorite weapons-- fear and condemnation-- to kill these two people.

But, how do we know God didn't kill them? Because Hebrews 2:14-15 says Satan has the power of death, not God. John 10:10 says Satan kills men, not God. 1 Corinthians 5:5 says Satan destroys the flesh of men, not God. And actually, the passage doesn't say anybody killed them, but that they themselves "gave up the ghost" (spirit) AFTER hearing Peter's words of condemnation. It may well be that they feared Peter's words so much that they just surrendered their will to live.

We all know, or have heard of, people who give up on life in despair, some gradually, others in an instant in time. Some "give up their spirit" because of a broken heart, or impending sickness or disaster. Perhaps they were so worried about their sin because it was one of the first of the church age, and they thought it was perhaps unforgivable.

In other words, it appears Annanias and Sapphira were condemned to death. But was this God's will? Was it God's best? Did Peter show them the same grace he himself received when he betrayed the Lord three times in one night? What if somebody in apostolic authority, James or John for instance, told Peter to essentially "drop dead" in the wake of his sin, might he also have given up the ghost?

Did Peter extend God's grace to them to NOT hold this sin to their account, as Jesus did, as the martyr Stephen did, or did he even try to minister repentance to them, to counsel them, to pray for them, to intercede for them, to lay hands on them to be forgiven and healed, or any of the other things Scripture and later Church practice advised?

What about this passage? "Brethren , if a man be overtaken in a fault , ye which are spiritual , restore such an one in the spirit of meekness ; considering thyself , lest thou also be tempted ." Galatians 6:1.

Why, in Jesus' name, was the space to repent NOT offered to Ananias and Sapphira in this situation by Peter?

Matthew 18:15-17 instructs us how to FIRST go privately to one caught up in a trespass, THEN to go with other witnesses if the private correction is not received by the person, and only THEN to bring public confrontation if the person remains unrepentant. And even then, the worse punishment is excommunication, NOT murder.

God's way is to confront a sin WITH the goal of restoration and repentance of the sinner, NOT summary execution. Why wasn't this gracious dynamic followed?

Was the spirit of these merciful passages just cited above followed by Peter? No, Peter appeared to quickly and immediately condemn them, after which he basically just stepped out of the way and let the Devil have them. If lying to the Holy Spirit by holding back some of our resources REALLY mandated immediate Holy Ghost execution, then how many of us would still be standing? How many of us would not have been executed long ago? Perhaps the morale of this passage is more about Peter's mercy-deficit than it is about Annaias and Sapphira's faith-deficit.

Peter was not perfect. He had a well known quick trigger when it came to anger or frustration. He was quick to use the physical sword to cut an ear off an approaching soldier. He was also quick to use the verbal sword, such as when he told Simon the sorcerer to perish on the spot along with his money. Perhaps, Peter was also quick here to likewise thrust a murderous impulse here to Ananias and Sapphira.

If Paul had the guts to "withstand Peter to his face" (Galatians 2:11) for possible spiritual error, shouldn't we too have the guts if, of course, the Holy Spirit so leads?

But, didn't great fear come on the church in the wake of these deaths? It can be argued that the "great fear" that came on the church in the wake of this event, and the subsequent healing of the sick from Peter's cast shadow, came more from men wrongly, excessively and fearfully elevating Peter rather than through the exercising of pure faith in Christ.

If we, as part of a young and inexperienced church body, saw a revered leader such as Peter appear to instill such fear that people dropped dead, literally scared and condemned to death, then we too might start to idolize his "shadow." His presence, word and opinion might supplant or displace our faith in Jesus. We might turn Peter into an earthly Pope, kiss his ring, worship his shadow, etc. If people got legitimately healed from Peter's ministry, it was despite Peter's anger, not because of it.

And here is another thought. If the common interpretation is correct that God had Peter denounce Ananias and Sapphira to death for withholding truth and resources from the Holy Spirit, then Church history should be full of famous Christians who likewise verbally struck down and assassinated all the millions upon millions who have, at one time or another, withheld truth or resources from God ever since Ananias and Sapphira. In fact, we should still be seeing people regularly executed as a normal part of Church meetings and discipline.

But, that is not the case.

So, again, when Peter appears a little too quick on the trigger to tell people to "drop dead" for their transgressions (Sapphira and Simon in Acts 5 and 8), should we willing to withstand his actions if our conscience compels us?

Do we follow the Holy Spirit or Peter? Jesus or Peter? I honestly can't see Jesus telling anybody to drop dead on the spot. That is simply not the way He rolled. Jesus might rattle their religious cage, but He never cursed someone to die on the spot. Be merciful seven times seventy, overcome evil with good, bless your enemy and pray for them that despitefully use you. Don't see "curse them to die or perish on the spot" on that list in Matthew 5:38-48.

And don't get me wrong, I love Peter, but are we to assume he was flawless in his every dealing? Paul sure didn't.

None of us are yet flawless in ministering the mercies of God. After telling Simon to "perish" along with his money, Simon asks Peter to pray for him that the things Peter spoke not happen to him. But, Scripture is silent as to whether Peter then prayed for him. I sure hope he did. I would definitely withstand Peter to his face if he didn't on that issue. Jesus is our model, not Peter.

These are all questions the Holy Spirit wants to minister to us. It is understandable that the infant Church might have less tolerance and patience than a more mature and experienced group of believers. I know when I was newly converted and freshly fervent in the Spirit, my tolerance level for others' unbelief was small. I would have been just as firm and ferocious as Peter. But, with time and maturity, and after suffering through many of my own grievous failures, my patience for people's shortcomings, sins, and failures has exponentially increased. I am not nearly as quick to pull the condemnation trigger as I used to be.

Paul had the courage to "withstand Peter to his face" when Peter was wrong (Galatians 2:11). Perhaps WE should "withstand Peter to his face" in this passage as well. But regardless, one thing is certain. God did not kill Ananias and Sapphira. Satan did. Satan was certainly working lies and crippling condemnation in their hearts, and possibly in the hardening Peter's heart toward them as well which kept him from ministering protective mercy. But, Satan was the true assassin here any way you look at it.

Below are some quality audio teachings on this subject. There was great participation in these sessions. I think you will be blessed.
www.thegoodnessofgod.com/goodness-of-god-audio/

Part one begins at the 7:50 mark of this recording of session 5 part 2.

Part two begins immediately on this recording in session 6, part 1.
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Asking "WHY does God allow evil?" is the wrong question.

Why?

Because it presumes that He DOES allow evil. I propose a higher and worthier view of Him.

Asking instead, "DOES God allow evil in the first place?" is the fairer question. It challenges the premise itself.

Here is the key to approaching this question with new eyes. The way a non-coercive God "disallows evil" might look far different than does the way a Zeus-like god of coercion would forcefully "disallow" it.

The latter god uses ALL forms of control, violence, and coercion, and, in so doing, uses evil to stop evil, becoming a different form of the very evil he sought to disallow. The former God, however, doesn't coerce, never coerces, but instead uses gentle persuasion and relentless patience to ultimately overcome and disallow evil. It may take longer that way but it's a deeper and far more qualitative work.

Jesus IS God's disallowance of all evil. Once we understand this, the following verse comes into focus.

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire lacking nothing. " James 1:2-4.

Consider the four "P" virtues of God below, virtues which Jesus personifies.

Jesus is the PATIENCE of God. He will outlast all our deception and defiance and convince us all to voluntarily enter His kingdom.

Jesus is the PERSUASION of God to to whom all will ultimately yield. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, from a fully persuaded heart and mouth, that Jesus is the Lord of love and light. His wisdom, beauty, and truth is ultimately irresistible. Lies and deception simply lack the strength of eternity. They will wither eventually.

Jesus is the PERSPECTIVE of God. He is God's wisdom, through whose interpretive eyes God perceives us, our world, our inherent worth, our life situations, and all the beneficial meanings of Scripture. Most importantly, Jesus is God's perspective on the issue of good and evil. What He considered important we consider important. What He considered unimportant we consider unimportant. We have been given His wisdom, the very mind of Christ, to use as our perpetual perspective in all things. This is why Paul tells us to put on the mind of Christ.

Jesus is the POWER of God, a power that does not move in the coercion "of" man but rather in cooperation "with" man. His power doesn't return evil for evil, but rather acts in the opposite Spirit by returning good for evil, love for hate, and mercy for wrath. And by this all evil shall be overcome by all good. All men WILL be persuaded to turn to the Lord. And Christ will be all-in-all.
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Since we are NOT patient, God's "disavowing" of evil (as you describe it here) looks like "ALLOWING". We are fast-food minded. We want it now, and we're OK with using a bit of strong-arming to get it done. God is fine to wait evil out, knowing that in the end, love will be proven to be the "better way".

Well said Ken.

Good word!!! Still thinking about your words the other day..."there is no right answer to a wrong question." No one can experience the salvation that comes from Christ without embracing his truth and love that comes through his grace. And without the renewal of our minds through his truth and love, it seems quite difficult if not impossible to understand many of the "why's" in regards to suffering. Truth is amazing! And it always leads us into a greater and greater spaciousness in his love!

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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

THE BIBLE

There once was a book called the Bible,
Inspired by God most reliable.

Its pages reveal both problem and cure,
Old and New Testaments have different allure.

The wrath of the Old is hard to endure,
But the love in the New so perfect and sure.

Hastily read by men much deceived,
Through lens of opinions so ill-conceived.

Brows furrowed with hate throttle words which they need,
To justify anger to make others bleed.

Division and hardness use words to condemn,
To keep men deluded, "It's us against them."

But some men who read it see not the dark,
For they read by the light of a born again heart.

The bright in their eyes on the truth rightly shine,
Revealing the treasures of awe now aligned.

All the riches of Christ in the name of the Son,
Reveal the wrath in our path is forever undone.

The Spirit of love trains the eye how to read,
It looks not at words but the space in-between.

The Spirit of prayer slides the symbols around,
To form bright ideas of meanings profound.

Tender the tone is the pen that writes clear,
Human hearts are the parchment on which it appears.

So don't read the Bible in the usual way,
As a rulebook of laws to get your own way.

Instead, dare to mine the jewels there imbedded,
Exceeding great promises to your heart become wedded.

Resolve NOT read it by precept or letter,
But instead by the Spirit of New Covenant better!
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Here is a primer of the ten key truths of God's goodness. This provides a theological template we can use to teach ourselves and our kids how to weave together a seamless and flawless image of God's epic goodness.

THE TEN TRUTHS OF GOD'S GOODNESS

1) GOD IS LIGHT AND IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS (I John 1:5). ONLY good and perfect gifts come down from the "shadowless" Father of lights (Ja 1:16-20). Let no man say God tempts, tests, tries, proves, disciplines or entices any person with evil (James 1:13-17). NO evil shall befall us and His angels shall keep us in all our ways (Psalm 91). NO deadly thing shall harm us (Mark 16:17-18). God's armor quenches ALL the missiles of Satan (Ephesians 6:10-17). Jesus has ALREADY conquered and stripped ALL principalities and powers (Col. 2:15).

2) GOD DOES NOT ALLOW EVIL, HE DISALLOWS IT. Jesus Christ is God's total disallowance of evil. In fact, Jesus has ALREADY disallowed all evil. Be of good cheer, Jesus has ALREADY overcome ALL the things of the world: the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (Jn 16:33; 1 John 2:16). Jesus tells us that whatever we bind on Earth has “already” been bound in Heaven.

The original Greek of Matthew 18:18 and 16:19 both say that we have the authority to bind on Earth that which is already bound in Heaven. Interlinear translations agree that these verses convey the idea that, “whatever you might bind on the Earth will be, having been bound in the Heavens already.” It gets even better. Not only has the demonic been demolished, but we have also already been completely healed of all our sins, sorrows and sicknesses. Jesus again completed this healing long ago through His Cross and Resurrection: “Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Pet. 2:24.

But, if all the principalities and powers are defeated and all our sins and sicknesses healed, then why don’t we see this “always already” victory right now? “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those that heard him; . . . You HAVE [already] put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But NOW WE DON'T YET SEE all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Heb. 2:3, 8-9.

This passage reveals that all things have already been put under Jesus, but we don’t yet see them put under Jesus. The reason? Because of our individual and corporate “neglect” of “so great a salvation.” Both Satan and Evil have no gasoline left in their tank because Jesus drained it all away at the Cross. They are functioning today solely off of the fumes of our neglect of Jesus’ so great a salvation. What makes this salvation so great is its “always already” aspect. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convince us of the accomplished benefits of this great salvation. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.” 1 Cor. 2:12.

3) GOD NEVER OPERATES IN THE POWER OF DEATH, SATAN DOES (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus said Satan is the murderer and liar from the beginning (John 8:44). Satan steals, kills and destroys, while God gives life (John 10:10). Death is an enemy of God, NOT a friend (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

4) GOD ONLY OPERATES IN FORMS OF LIFE-- THE GIVING, PROTECTION, AND HEALING OF IT. The dividing line is revealed in John 10:10: Satan steals, kills and destroys, while Jesus ONLY operates in bestowing various forms of abundant life. Jesus came to expose and destroy the death-works of Satan by imparting the life-works of God (1 John 3:8).

Here is God's dilemma in communicating with fallen man. How can a God who thinks and speaks only life communicate effectively to a people who have chosen to think and hear only death? Every "life offer" given by God is heard by man as a "death threat." Every "exhortation" by God is processed by man as a "condemnation." Every "praise party" from God degenerates into a "pity party" by man.

The renewing of the mind is God "retooling" our souls to learn a new language--the language of LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS so that we may discover the good, perfect, and acceptable will of God in every area of our being. This language speaks only in terms of light and NO darkness. This language speaks only in terms of life and NO death. This language speaks only in terms of love and NO wrath. Ready to learn it? Fluently? Fully? If so, we must renounce death as our first and primary language. No death spoken here! Death is now a dead language. We will not speak death. We will not think death. We will not honor death. Death is an enemy language we no longer accept as our native tongue. L' Chaim! To Life!

5) SCRIPTURES MUST BE READ BY THE SPIRIT AND NOT BY THE LETTER. ----the letter kills but the spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6).

The Holy Spirit doesn't test us on Bible knowledge, but the Bible certainly tests us on Holy Spirit knowledge. We must let the character of God define Scripture RATHER than allowing the Scripture to define God's character. Scripture is the launching pad of truth, not the landing strip.

God is slumming when He uses human language: Does God communicate WITH language or does He communicate DESPITE our language? Does human language carry the actual communication of God, or does it, at its best, merely point us to seek a deeper realm where God speaks to us without using language? Could it be that human language, the very thing we use to describe our interactions with God, ends up being the very thing that hinders us from better communicating with Him?

Saint Augustine said that the even the person who "says" the most about God is still but "dumb." His point was that human language is woefully inadequate to impart the knowledge of God. And yet we often hold language as the highest expression of God, when in fact it is one of the lowest.

The more I hear God, the less I hear language. God speaks primarily by "tone." That tone is love, not language. Language can describe it. Language can polish it. Language can explain aspects of it. Language can even enhance it on occasion. BUT language by itself cannot contain or deliver the essence of God's love. In a word, language can't ARTICULATE the Kingdom of God. Isn't this the very reason Jesus never ARTICULATED what God's Kingdom WAS, only what it was LIKE? He knew human language could not convey God's Kingdom, so He used parables of comparison rather than language of definition.

We must be beware the idolatry of language. We are no longer slaves to language. The Spirit sings all meaning to us through the quality, character and strength of God's goodness. I can read something literally when the Spirit sings to me that it expresses God's true character. I will not read literally when the Spirit "sounds" a different meaning to me. GOD'S TONE ALONE DEFINES ALL SCRIPTURE.

We must loosen our grip on human language. The tower of Babel proved human communication was cursed. In contrast, Pentecost proved how divine communication was blessed. Wasn't that the purpose of the gift of tongues at Pentecost--- to show that heavenly language unites and blesses? God was telling all men to loosen their grip on their own natural understanding, to stop idolizing language, to stop worshipping the letter, and to stop loving the literal. Instead, there is a non-verbal land of milk and honey waiting for us. This land flows with unspoken unctions, transcendent tingles, virtuous vibes, inner illuminations, incomprehensible utterances, and groanings beyond words. When we think of God, words will no longer initially come to mind. Rather, a "tone," a "vibe," a "sensation," a "knowing" fills the heart with divine recognition.

6) GOD IS ONLY ALL-POWERFUL WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF HIS CHARACTER. It is impossible for God to lie, coerce, kill, etc. (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

Consider this quote from Saint Anselm: "How can you be omnipotent, O God, if you cannot do all things? How can you do all things if you cannot sin - - if you cannot lie, if you cannot make false what is true? If you are unable to sin, you cannot claim to be able to do all things. Or is it that sin stems not from power, but from powerlessness? For those who commit sin have so little power over their own natures that they actually harm themselves. They are at the mercy of forces which they cannot oppose . . . .The more people have power to commit sin, the more they are powerless. So, Lord God, you are in fact more truly omnipotent because you cannot act through powerlessness." Proslogion, Chapter 7.

BOTTOM LINE: God is NOT all-powerfully cruel, coercive, destructive and deceptive. God IS all-powerfully patient, merciful, protective and healing.

7) THE OLD TESTAMENT HAD AN UNDIFFERENTIATED VIEW OF GOD AND SATAN. Moses and the other Old Testament saints had developmental limitations which affected their ability to process the divine impulses sent by God. Moses in the rock could only partially see God's goodness (Ex.33:17-23). Moses striking the rock misrepresented God's character (Numbers 20) and kept him out of the promised land.

Both ancient and modern Judaism wrongly saw Satan as God's angry voice, an obedient servant angel, God's official minister of wrath, His left hand, His death angel, the executor of His temptations, trials and judgments.

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWISH CONCEPTS, by Philip Birnbaum, confirms this dynamic: "Satan...is...identified with the angel of death. He leads astray, then he brings accusations against man, whom he slays eventually. His chief functions are those of temptation, accusation and punishment. Under the control of God, he acts solely with the divine permission to carry out his plots." (Sanhedrin Press, page 594). Rabbi Benjamin Blech similarly writes, "Judaism sees Satan as a servant of God whose function is to set up choices between good and evil so that we can exercise our free will.... [His] apparent harshness is merely camouflage for divine concern and love." IF GOD IS SO GOOD, WHY IS THE WORLD SO BAD? Simcha Press, pages 7-9.

The renowned INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA is in full agreement with this in its entry on Satan: "The Old Testament does not contain the fully developed doctrine of Satan found in the New Testament. It does not portray him as at the head of a kingdom, ruling over kindred natures and an apostate from the family of God.... It is a significant fact that the statements concerning Satan become numerous and definite only in the New Testament. The daylight of the Christian revelation was necessary in order to uncover the lurking foe, dimly disclosed but by no means fully known in the earlier revelation.... In the early states of religious thinking it would seem to be difficult, if not impossible, to hold the sovereignty of God without attributing to His agency those evils in the world which are more or less directly connected with judgment and punishment.... The progressive revelation of God's character and purpose, which more and more imperatively demands that the origin of moral evil, and consequently natural evil, must be traced to the created will in opposition to the Divine, leads to the the ultimate declaration that Satan is a morally fallen being to whose conquest the Divine Power in history is pledged."

Author Stephen Harris likewise notes that the Old Testament Satan is not the same entity as the New Testament Satan. In the Old Testament, "The Satan figure acts as Yahweh's spy and prosecuting attorney whose job is to bring human misconduct to the deity's attention and, if possible, persuade Yahweh to punish it. Throughout the Old Testament the Satan remains among the divine 'sons,' serves as God's administrative agent, and thus reveals a facet of the divine personality.... At the outset, some Bible writers saw all things, good and evil alike, as emanating from a single source-- Yahweh. Israel's strict monotheistic credo decreed that Yahweh alone caused both joys and sorrows, prosperity and punishment (Deut. 28).... The canonical Hebrew Bible grants the Satan scant space and little power. Whereas the Old Testament Satan can nothing without Yahweh's express permission, in the New Testament he behaves as an independent force who competes with the Creator for human souls.... According to Mark's Gospel, one of Jesus' major goals is to break up Satan's kingdom and the hold that he and lesser evil spirits exercise on the people. Hence, Mark stresses Jesus' works of exorcising devils and dispossessing the victims of demonic control. The New Testament, then-- in sharp contrast to the Old-- shows Satan and the devil as one, a focus of cosmic evil totally opposed to the Creator God. This 'evil one' is the origin of lies, sin, suffering, sickness and death." UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE: A READER'S INTRODUCTION, pages 26-28.

8) THE OLD TESTAMENT "WRATH OF GOD" IS THE MISLABELED DESTRUCTION OF SATAN. Here is the perfect Scriptural example:

"And again THE ANGER OF THE LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah." 2 Sam. 24:1.

"And SATAN stood up against Israel, and PROVOKED David to number Israel..." 1 Chr. 21:1.

The above passages describe the same event where David sinned by numbering Israel. Same event. Same David. Same sin. Same result: 70,000 dead Israelites, but a different cause of evil. The Samuel passage attributes it to the anger of the Lord while the Chronicles passage attributes it to Satan. If the Old Testament viewed "the wrath of God" as the exact same thing as "the oppression of Satan," where does that leave us in the New Testament?

Much of today's confusion in reading the Bible comes this same Old Testament dynamic of NOT accurately separating Satan from God in our understanding. Jesus came to reveal the Father, to "cull out" Satan from our image of God. We judge Satan by removing him from our image of God. Until Jesus came, nobody knew the true heart of the Father in the Old Testament (John 1:18; 5:37).

9) GOD'S JUDGMENTS ARE PURGING AND RESTORATIVE, NOT PUNITIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE.

The Greek "kolasis" is the only word in the Gospels for "punishment" with regard to God punishing evildoers. Aristotle, who knew Greek word meanings better than anybody who ever walked the planet, said that "kolasis" is the kind of punishment which "is inflicted in the interest of the sufferer," which means it is for the betterment or improvement of the person being punished. This is contrasted with "timoria," which Aristotle said is the kind of punishment which is "inflicted in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction." (Rhet. 1369b13).

The Gospels reveal a God who never punishes to gratify Himself, but rather punishes to heal and help the evildoers improve and be restored. William Barclay, who was professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at Glasgow University and the author of many Christian commentaries and books, including a translation of the New Testament and the very popular Daily Study Bible Series, traces the word "kolasis" back, through Plato, to an original term used to describe the pruning of trees back to allow fuller and healthier growth. Revenge motives are "timoria," and only gratify the lust for an eye for an eye payback. But "kolasis" motives are always looking for a way to restore and repair that which is lost and broken.

1 Corinthians 3:16 explains God's "wise fire," where the man whose life is NOT built on Christ is nonetheless "saved," even though he himself "suffers loss, yet so as by fire."

APOCTASTASIS is the restitution of all things so that Christ is all in all. What is APOCATASTASIS? The Apostle Peter was the first to use the term in the following passage: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of RESTITUTION (Greek "APOCATASTASIS") of ALL THINGS, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 19-21.

APOCATASTASIS was one of the great Church Father Origen's favorite topics. "When the Son is said to be subject to the Father, the PERFECT RESTORATION OF THE WHOLE CREATION is signified, so also, when enemies are said to be subjected to the Son of God, the SALVATION OF THE CONQUERED and the RESTORATION OF THE LOST is in that understood to consist." Origen, De Principiis, Book III, Chapter 5, Section 7, Anf, Vol. 4.

Jesus is "He that descended [and] is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens , that he might FILL ALL THINGS ." Ephesians 4:10.

"For it is written , As I live , saith the Lord, EVERY KNEE shall bow to me , and EVERY TONGUE shall confess to God." Romans 14:11.

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him , and given him a name which is above every name : That at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE should bow , of things in heaven , and things in earth , and things under the earth ; And that EVERY TONGUE should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord , to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11.

"And EVERY creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever." Revelation 5:13.

"For Jesus must reign , till he hath put all enemies under his feet . The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death . For he hath put all things under his feet . But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted , which did put all things under him . And when all things shall be subdued unto him , then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him , that God may be ALL IN ALL." 1 Corinthians 15:25-28.

10) CHRISTUS VICTOR! Your atonement theory REALLY matters. It either sees the Father as wrathfully killing Jesus in our place, OR it views Satan as our kidnapper to whom Jesus gave Himself as "a ransom" to free us from the devil's bondage.

Jesus didn't come to change the Father's mind but reveal it! Alexander the Great used to sleep with a copy of Homer's Iliad under his pillow. This was because he so revered the tales of courage and heroism it contained. He wanted to absorb the spirit of courage by osmosis during his sleep.

We too should all figuratively put a copy of the Christus Victor story under our pillow. It tells the epic tale of what Jesus did for us during the three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Sleep on it, wake on it, dream on it, dwell on it. You might be surprised at what you absorb by osmosis--- divine courage, a gladiator's resolve, and an epic revelation of the hero-God we serve.

Below is a small portion of a recent post that highlights the Christus Victor view of the atonement. Follow the Scriptures cited and you will fall in love with Jesus again, but this time as your personal hero and champion.

Christus Victor unveils the cosmic drama of Eater weekend. It reveals how Satanic forces smote Jesus on the cross and in His subsequent three day descent into Hell. Every fallen principality, fallen power, fallen throne, fallen ruler, fallen angel, as well as Satan himself ALL rushed to crush, torture and destroy Jesus when they saw Him nailed to the cross.

At the cross, for the first time, Satan's kingdom had full access to attack and afflict Jesus unhindered by His righteous hedge of protection. Jesus willingly laid His soul on the chopping block for Satan to seize, incarcerate and torment in Hell. In return, Satan had to release mankind from the covenant of death we willingly entered into with him.

But things did not go as planned. The principalities and powers could NOT take Jesus down and out. They thought they could corrupt, crush and destroy Jesus totally--- "operation annihilation" in other words. But they failed. They took their best shot, and couldn't do it. They shot their wad, and lost. They expended every bit of their their murderous power, but it was not enough.

For Jesus to descend into this enemy lair not only unarmed with His Spirit hedge, but also chained with all our soul-sins, is almost too horrible to contemplate. Jesus’ suffering in Hell for these three days is unimaginable, yet it is captured in the Messianic images of Psalms 18, 22, 31 and 69 (and several others). These Psalms portray Jesus’ suffering for our sins in Hell, particularly when these passages all describe various aspects of the crucifixion. The Gospels in fact quote many of these verses as fulfilled prophecy. Psalm 22:1 and Mark 15:34; Psalm 22:13,16, 18 and Luke 23:34 and John 19:23-24; Psalm 31:5 and Luke 23:46; Psalm 69:21 and Matthew 27:34 are four such references, but there are many more. Psalm 18 in particular describes on its face Jesus’ battle as the “sorrows of death and hell” and “the floods of ungodly men” compassed Him (verses 3 and 4).

C. H. Spurgeon commented on Psalm 18 as follows: “In poetical language, the psalmist describes experiencing Jehovah’s delivering power. Poetry has in her treasures no gem more lustrous than this sonnet. The sorrow, the cries, the descent of the Divine One, and the rescue of the afflicted are set to music worthy of the golden harps. The Messiah our Savior is, over and beyond David or any other believer, the main and chief subject of this Psalm. We have grown more certain that every line has its deepest and profoundest fulfillment in Him.” Treasury of David, p. 110 (Nelson). After having been literally flooded and attacked by all our sins for all time; after being tortured by demonic powers known as the “strong bulls of Bashan” (Ps. 22:12; Col. 2:15); after paying the penalty for every sin committed past, present and future; after all this, the price had been paid without Jesus sinning Himself.

We must see this crucial point. When Jesus was sinless upon the earth during His thirty three years of natural life, no harvest of demonic destruction or sinful oppression was able to enter into His body gate to afflict Him. “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” Jn. 14:30.

Yet, when He descended into Hell, His gates were voluntarily opened wide allowing all sinful destruction and demonic oppression to come into His soul like a flood. Yet, like a champion boxer, He would not go down! With His hands tied behind His back by our cords of sin, punch after demonic punch, claw after demonic claw buffeted His defenseless soul. Millions, billions, trillions of blows struck, gored and mauled Him. Yet, He would not go down! He took the full brunt of punishment past, punishment present and punishment future. Yet, He would not go down! He kept His focus during this hellish torment on two things – His covenant love for His Father and His covenant love for us.

When the price had been paid for all sins for all time, the cords started to loosen. “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:24. Strength started to return - - covenant strength. The ransom had been paid! Now it was time for resurrection!

This transaction is described in the following passages: "And it shall be, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man...whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David saith concerning him...THOU WILT NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HADES, NETHER WILT THOU GIVE THY HOLY ONE TO SEE CORRUPTION....Brethren, I may say unto you freely of the patriarch David... he foreseeing 'this' spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that NEITHER WAS HE LEFT UNTO HADES , NOR DID HIS FLESH SEE CORRUPTION. This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses." Acts 2:21-36.

"Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men. Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS." Ephesians 4:8-10.

"And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. HE DISARMED THE PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him." Colossians 2:13-15.

Jesus paid the blood "ransom" for us. Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6. "Ransoms" are paid to hostile kidnappers, not to loving Fathers. The Ransom Theory of the Atonement, which the early church favored, says Jesus paid the ransom to Satan to free us from the devil's evil clutches.

Do you see? The Ransom was paid BY the Father, not TO the Father. We are worth everything to Him. He was willing to pay anything to win us back, even the precious blood of His flawless son. John 3:16.

Christus Victor!
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Gulp! Does this verse mean God destroys any man who defiles himself or another?

"Know you not that you are the temple of God , and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If ANY man defiles the temple of God, HIM shall God DESTROY ; for the temple of God is holy, whose temple you are." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

No. This passage must be read in the context of the previous several verses. The whole passage is referring to the post-mortem judgment of every man's works. Wood, hay and stubble is WHAT shall be destroyed in this passage.

Below, I put down alternate Lexicon translations for the words "man" (whatever) and "him" (this) below so that you can see what God is destroying here is that PART of our soul which is wood hay and stubble, though we ourselves, our essential selves, shall be saved. It is not referring to the destruction of OTHER men, but rather to that sinful part of our unrenewed soul.

With this better understanding, let's now read the WHOLE passage in context.

"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid , which is Jesus Christ . Now if any man build upon this foundation gold , silver , precious stones , wood , hay , stubble ; Every man’s work shall be made manifest : for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire ; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is . If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward . If any man’s work shall be burned , he shall suffer loss : BUT HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; YET SO AS BY FIRE. Know you not that ye are the temple of God , and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ? If any man ( 'whatever' Strong's Lexicon 1536) defiles the temple of God , him ('this' 5126 Strong's Lexicon)
shall God destroy ; for the temple of God is holy , which temple ye are ." 3:11-17.

In context then, the "wood, hay and stubble" comprise the "whatever" and the "this" which corporately defile our temple/body. Paul is simply saying these contaminants will be destroyed by the Lord's wise fire of purging judgment.

Consider the following quote by Origen on this very
topic of postmortem curative judgment. ORIGEN ON THERAPEUTIC PUNISHMENT

"10.6. There are many other matters, too, which are hidden from us, and are known only to him who is the physician of our souls. For if in regard to bodily health we occasionally find it necessary to take some very unpleasant and bitter medicine as a cure for the ills we have brought on through eating and drinking, and sometimes, if the character of the ill demands it, we need the severe treatment of the knife and a painful operation, yes, and should the disease have extended beyond the reach even of these remedies, in the last resort the ill is burnt out by fire, how much more should we realise that God our physician, in his desire to wash away the ills of our souls, which they have brought on themselves through a variety of sins and crimes, makes use of penal remedies of a similar sort, even to the infliction of a punishment of fire on those who have lost their soul’s health."

LATIN TEXT FROM Origen, De Principiis, ed. H. Crouzel and M. Simonetti, Sources Chréteinnes 252 (Paris:Cerf, 1978) 68-413. English: Origen, De principiis, tr. G. W. Butterworth, Origen on First Principles, (London:SPCK, 1936), pp.1-328 (pp. 142-146).
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

The greatest thing I ever realized about God did not from a seminary class. It did not come from a pulpit-sermon or teaching-forum. It didn't come from reading an awesome book, not even THE Good Book. It didn't come from nature. All these things have conveyed great things about God to me, but not the greatest thing.

The greatest thing I ever realized about God came from a simple metaphor. Let me share it with you. But, first a little background is needed to put it in context.

I was born again in 1989. A year later I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. My life dramatically changed as God saved my marriage, delivered me from addictions to alcohol, lust and pornography and opened my eyes to understand the scriptures. I felt God's hand on my life continually and experienced touches of His love on numerous occasions.

Yet, I can't really say I truly knew the depth of the Father's heart for me until I experienced it at a renewal service in Toronto in 1994. While there, I swooned while being prayed for, and spent the next hour laid out on the carpet. During this time, I experienced an intimate vision of God which forever changed and elevated my knowledge and love of God. From this moment of contact, I began to walk in the awe of God, the fear of the Lord, overwhelming wonder and respect for Him.

First, let me share the background of this vision with you. As I grew up, I had very little success at anything. My elementary grades were horrible. I continually stood in my brother's huge academic shadow. I had a speech impediment which caused me enormous frustration. I was continually mocked in elementary school because of my speech and because I was overweight.

Making myself or my parents proud of me was an unknown feeling, but then in the eighth grade something happened. I slimmed down and became athletic almost overnight. I played football and caught on quick. However, wrestling was my first passion. The reason was my wrestling coach. He saw my athletic promise and continually encouraged me to excel. He taught me. He pushed me to my limits. He laughed with me. He had me over at his house to be with his family. He made me feel special for the first time in my life. I knew that he genuinely loved me and wanted me to succeed. I began to see myself as a champion in the making. I wanted to please my coach and make him proud of me. He coached me for two years and turned me into a warrior.

Our high school closed when I was in the ninth grade and my coach and I were separated. Two years later, I was wrestling in the finals of what at that time was the biggest tournament of my life. As I walked to the center of the mat, my new coach was sitting in a chair at the corner of the mat behind me. The opposing coach was sitting at the opposite corner.

As I shook hands with my opponent, I glanced around at the third corner of the mat. My jaw dropped at what I saw. My old coach had appeared from nowhere, pulled up a chair and was sitting there clapping and exhorting me to victory. I grinned as I looked in his eyes and I knew I would wrestle my best. My coach who loved me was on the mat with me.

As I laid on the carpet at the Toronto church, the Holy Spirit quickened this long-forgotten image to my heart by showing me that my heavenly Father was my wrestling coach, that he had always been in my corner, and that he was training me to be a champion wrestler in the spirit.

Everything my wrestling coach had been in the physical, God had been for me in the spiritual. I began to see that God was in my corner through every pain, failure and rejection I had experienced growing up. Even though I didn't have the spiritual eyes to see Him at the earlier times, God was now repairing my memories and showing me that He was right there my whole life and that nothing had been wasted.

I laid there on the Toronto church's carpet sobbing from the depths of my being. I thought I would explode as I basked in the Lord's loving presence. The Father's heart was revealed to me in my own emotional language -- as my wrestling coach.

The Lord topped off this experience with great humor. As I attempted to get up off the carpet, I could not sit up because of pressure on my chest and head. As I wondered what was wrong, the Lord showed me He had put a playful half-nelson around my neck. He then spoke to my spirit, "You thought you could get up, huh?" I then laughed as I saw a fun side of the heavenly Father I never knew existed. This touched me even more. My inhibitions to enjoying the Lord were being removed by these visions of God's love.

Ever since that night, I have never questioned my present or future salvation. The question as to whether I could lose my salvation became irrelevant for me because I knew my Father's heart. I was eternally secure because I had been touched by His pure love. Whether I could hypothetically lose my salvation was now a wrong question. There is no right answer to a wrong question. I knew the Father's purpose for my life precluded us from ever being apart. How could I now even contemplate the failure of His plan for my life? My knowledge of God didn't come from abstract mental analysis. My knowledge of God came from and through our mutual relationship.

My point is that the knowledge of God I received from my Toronto experience was not just a mental knowledge. It was a gut-knowledge, a deep knowing, a wonderful certainty. Adam knew Eve physically and conceived children. God knew me spiritually and conceived sonhood in me. I knew I was His son forevermore. My heart aches as I see believers agonize over whether they have, might or will lose their salvation. Such an insecurity reveals a lack of true knowledge of God. I had such doubts for the first few years after my salvation, but my Toronto experience forever changed that.

Truly experiencing God fortifies the heart, secures the soul, strengthens the spirit and revives the body. The absolute focus of having the single eye Jesus mentions in Mathew 6:22 must be one thing and one thing only - - the intimate knowledge of God. This magnificent obsession for the knowledge of God will guarantee the victory of His love in every area of our lives.

The power of a spirit-quickened metaphor can change your life--- forever! Be on the lookout for one!
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Wao. Thanks for sharing this very deep intimacy between you and Abba.

Beautiful.

So beautiful! I also lived most of my Christian life in low self-esteem and uncertainty of God's approval until truth ushered me in to encounter his personal joy of loving me. You had me in tears because of my own longing for all to experience this powerful and beautiful life changing love! Thank you for sharing! Your playful half-nelson story reminded me of when I heard a speaker share about when he would come home from work and how he would play wrestle with his little children on the floor, they so enjoyed it! Holy Spirit showed me right then, that's the new covenant revelation of wrestling with God 😊

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Before you "concrete" yourself on the issue of whether we have ANY freewill when it comes to receiving or rejecting God, I want to implore you to consider what I am about to share. I want to quickly describe two kinds of Calvinism, "front-door" Calvinism and "back-door" Calvinism.

John Calvin himself practiced "front-door" Calvinism, which says God controls everything 24/7. We have NO freewill at all. No creaturely freedom. No power of consent. As it pertains to rejecting or receiving God, Calvin believed that there was a double-decree (what has often been called "that most terrible decree") whereby God predestines some to RECEIVE Him in this life and others to be REJECTED by Him in this life.

Thus, some, if not most, humans have no chance to EVER know God in this lifetime no matter what they pray, think, say, feel, or seek. From their birth they are hopelessly and helplessly lost and doomed to NEVER know God in this life. Indeed it IS a terrible decree. But, others, who the Lord takes over and controls their minds and hearts, are programmed to come to Him regardless of their cooperation, consent or desire.

Simply put, some get the phone call and some don't. And nothing any of us can do to change or alter it. It's already set in cement.

But, for many, "front-door" Calvinism is too pungent and cruel. So, to soften the idea, they use "back door" Calvinism, which disposes of "the terrible decree" by just ignoring it--- without any explanation or any comment. They, like "front door" Calvinists, still believe we have no freewill at all, and have absolutely nothing to do with believing or receiving the Lord, but that we are only doing what God is lovingly coercing us to do. God takes us over, makes us believe, and starts talking to Himself though us. He offers the new birth to us from heaven, then switches hats, takes us over, and then responds affirmatively to His own invitation. He says "come" to us, then responds "yes" for us, regardless or our previous willingness or spiritual state.

The single biggest flaw in theological thinking which I have both encountered in others, and committed myself on multiple occasions, is this--- someone takes a staunch position without first considering "the reverse implications." An organic thinker will always flip the script and consider ALL the implications of a theological position. Some thinkers today pick a position they want to be true, but without diligently considering the reverse implications.

Calvin, to his credit, was intellectually honest. He didn't ignore the implications of what he believed. He owned them, and for that at least I respect him.

Because he was a through thinker, he came up with the terrible decree of "double predestination" (some are predestined to be born of God and some are predestined to rejection by God during this lifetime). Calvin did this BECAUSE it's a necessary and mandatory implication of there being a world with no creaturely freedom---- everything is at God's express command and plan, while we all just do what we are preprogrammed to do. He considered the "reverse implications"of his position and simply owned them. If we only come to God when, if, and as He commands, THEN those who DON'T receive God in this lifetime were NEVER commanded by God to come during their entire lives. God necessarily ignored, rejected, or simply abandoned them. God either forgot to call these cursed souls and coerce them with the offer of life, or He just outright refused.

This lack of considering "reverse implications" is especially prevalent in the question of of those who deny we have freewill when it comes to seeing and entering the kingdom of God. Many have declared freewill, any freewill, all freewill, any creaturely freedom at all--- to be an illusion. God alone, these thinkers say, determines, decrees, ordains, and appoints WHEN we come to Him, HOW we come to Him, and THAT we come to Him, and IF we come to Him at all in this lifetime. They assert for ANY of us have ANY level of freewill is somehow an insult to God and some kind of works-based "glory grab" by us. God thus essentially commands us, and even coerces us if need be, into receiving and believing in Him. It's ALL Him with no free assent by us. We cooperate in nothing, we consent to nothing, we allow nothing. God just inserts/forces His will into ours whenever He feels like it, no matter our spiritual receptivity, spiritual hunger, or spiritual willingness.

I want to challenge all who practice "back-door" Calvinism to close that door and move to another house. Calvinism's house is untenable and inhabitable no matter which door we go through. It is a fire hazard, a condemned house ready to collapse.

Here is why.

If we believe that God gives us the gift of renewal, reconciliation, awakening, new birth, seeing and entering the kingdom, or WHATEVER we choose to call it---- and that therefore we have NOTHING, NADA, ZIP to do with it---- and that we are forced to receive it with or without our consent or willingness, THEN a Pandora's box of horrible accusations about God is opened.

So, if God, under back-door Calvinism, coerces us to be reconciled to Him without ANY regard to our present state of willingness, hunger, or creaturely freedom, then my conscience compels me to challenge this with a few questions.

If our awakening to God is all in God's hands apart from ANY human receptivity, then why did God not command Hitler to come to the Lord before WW 2 so that millions and millions could be saved from death? Or Stalin, serial killers, murderers, molesters, rapists, etc.? If it was ALL solely in the Lord's hands, then by allowing so much unregenerate suffering to go on for thousands, if not millions of years, all with God's full consent (remember, we have no free will but are merely doing what He commands or denies us to do), then how can God NOT be a monster?

Sadly, under either "front-door" Calvinism or "back-door" Calvinism, God is a cruel puppeteer who deprives so many of kingdom life HERE and NOW because He simply refuses to command/appoint/ordain their renewal. He sounds like the little boy who tears the wings off butterflies just to watch them suffer. He loves some but not others. He appoints some to be born of God and others to be aborted with hopelessness.

If back-door Calvinism is true, why would God not just command all His children to receive Him at their earliest age of awareness? Why deny and program some to fail and die because He doesn't feel inclined to love and appoint them to life here and now by simply circumventing their free will just like He does with so many others who He has commanded to be awakened to the kingdom of God.

Instead, toward these tortured souls, God turns away His mind-control and heart-control powers from helping His lost slaves who NEVER get His call of salvation in this lifetime. The same God, however, happily commands others to be born of God, live and flourish. What an arbitrary despot! That's unimaginably cruel. This is where Calvin's double predestination takes us, regardless of whether we realize it or not. If there is NO creaturely freedom, then we are all, as C.S. Lewis famously said, "automatons" who simply follow our programming. Under this view, when we consider "the reverse implications" of a world with no creaturely freedom, then evil gets absolutely and irrevocably tossed back into God's causative lap.

So, we can either say God only calls some men to be born of God and others to live cursed and clueless lives, OR we can say that ALL men are called to God, appointed by God, ordained by God to see and enter into the kingdom of God as soon as they freely consent. When they consent their appointed time appears, whether it's in this age or the postmortem age to come.

Again, if we believe God forces some to see and enter the kingdom, that becomes a perilous precedent. Why doesn't He force others to come into the kingdom, especially those who are about to kill or harm innocents? Or why allow so many people to endlessly anguish in unbelief and hardness of heart, never finding God, especially when He could improve their condition instantly with the merest wave of His wand of coercion and mind control? Why prolong and extend so much pain? Again, He becomes he author of evil if there is no creaturely freedom AT ALL.

I think C. S. Lewis wrote the most cogently on this subject. Some amount of free response is need to oxygenate the possibility of love existing. I have absolutely no problem saying God helps our "yes," but He won't/can't coerce us from saying "no." If He could/would, then the whole earth could robotically come to the Lord tomorrow.

That's just not feasible to me. Not now, not ever.

Jesus seemed to stress again and again the need to believe and receive. That requires some slight level of assent or willingness on our part. I think we can distinguish between "willingness" (what the German theologians called "lassening") and "willfulness" (willpower). The later can't accomplish the new birth, while the former merely consents to it. Jesus knocks at the door of all men every day. Only some open. And once they consent to move toward and open their hearts door, Jesus pushes from His side to help the floodgate fully open.

I challenge any proposed spirituality which claims:
--what you believe doesn't matter
--you have no freedom to believe or disbelieve anything
--you have no responsibility toward God
--you have no power
--you have no spiritual enemy working against you
--God expects nothing of you
--whatever happens is God's will and from His causative hand
--the fight of faith is a fiction
--the armor of God is unneeded
--prayer accomplishes nothing

This mindset is attractive, and tickles many ears, because it puts everything in God's lap and absolutely nothing in our lap, not even our lap. This lets us all chill out and just relax until God decides to act. Until then, there's nothing we can do or should do, except shrug our shoulders and call whatever happens God's grace. We are just bumps on a log, reclining in an inert cosmic holding pattern. Agnostics and atheists basically believe or default to of all the above listed propositions. I don't see their lives spiritually enriched because of this same basic mindset.

My problem with this view is that it's pretty much against everything Jesus taught us in the Gospels, what the apostles taught us in their epistles, and what the Spirit taught the early church fathers. In a word, well two words actually, it's lazy and lukewarm.

Jesus modeled and taught us faith in action-- the need to believe, and the need to act on our faith. Faith is an act. Love is an act. "Faith works through love," Paul said in Galatians. As Henri Bergson said, "Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought."

And, here is the thing...

...if NOT believing or attempting anything spiritual WAS the way to go,
...if NOT believing in the menacing reality of Satanic powers WAS the way to go,
...if NOT believing it's vital to love God wholeheartedly WAS the way to go,
...if NOT believing that OUR faith matters at all anymore, but ONLY His grace,
...if all faith-related considerations are really just carnal works of the flesh,

...then why, oh why, hasn't evil, sickness, plagues, disasters, wars, and crimes all been ALREADY eradicated from our senses by the sovereign grace of God?

I mean, it's beyond dispute that the majority of the world's population doesn't give any of the above condemned considerations the time of day. The majority of the world's population spends no sustained time or effort seeking to love the Father wholeheartedly, believe Jesus wholeheartedly, follow the Holy Spirit wholeheartedly, or wholeheartedly rebuke evil powers by prayers of faith.

Sure, some may attempt do these things, but only a tiny minority. Why then hasn't God had His sovereign way and transformed the vast majority of all those who have just tried to enjoy the ride of life without expending any carnal spiritual effort?

If our energy of effort and focus don't matter, and in fact only hurts things, then the whole world should ALREADY be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. Preaching a wholehearted focus of energy and effort from, toward, and with God is NOT a popular message, and never has been. It is not the majority message.

For 29 years I made no such "carnal" attempts at wholeheartedness, faith, or devotional focus toward, with, and in Jesus. I tried to just enjoy the ride and leave it all to whatever God there was. And it almost killed me. I was full of despair, doubt, and downcast disposition. Only when the faith of Christ became active in my life did I then effectively stand and contend for righteous changes to occur in my life.

So, we really need to be careful not to preach grace to the exclusion of a hearty faith. Jesus certainly was grace personified, but nowhere in the Gospels does He explicitly teach grace. He never even mentions the word "grace" in the Gospels. Jesus, rather, preached faith and ardent belief with, in, and toward God. And, sure, as Paul writes, grace is the operating dynamo of all things divine, including even faith itself, but we need to maintain a more nuanced understanding of the proper places of grace, faith, and devotional focus.

If we are telling people that it's ALL God and that we play NO part whatsoever in believing, endorsing and executing God's will, we might want to slow down a bit and look down the road to see where that thinking ends up.

It ends up at hyper-Calvinism. This is an ugly place that says God ordains evil events, all according to his sovereign will. Child-rapes, slit throats, cancer, tsunamis, world wide depression, rampant teen suicide, wars, all of it happens regardless of what we believe, rebuke, pray or resist. Our faith is just an illusion. All that happens comes from God's sovereign "stamp of approval." Nothing we can do can impact it, stop it, frustrate it or change it.

There are two opposing mindsets that determine everything in this regard. They are called by theologians "monergism"and "synergism." Choose your mindset carefully. It will determine what you ultimately think about God.

Monergism says that everything that happens is God's sovereign will and bears His stamp of approval. We, as a contributing factor, are inert. We do nothing, believe nothing, allow nothing, accomplish nothing, affect nothing, and impact nothing. It's all Him. None of it is us. And while that sounds God-honoring at first, it ultimately defames Him by laying evil events on His doorstep.

Synergism, in contrast, says its God AND us co-operating together in a fluid dance where we elect to yield (or not) to fervently follow where God passionately leads. When He speaks in grace, we can elect (or not) to hear in faith. When He offers grace, we can elect (or not) to act on it. When He calls with grace, we can respond (or not) with faith. Seen from this angle, God is non-coercive and will never force our will to DO anything. He will woo our will, empower it, enhance it, energize it, but He will never coerce it.

Under synergism, we CAN inhibit the grace of God, never totally, and never permanently, but in the short run we can delay and diminish its full manifestation in the here and now. This happened to Jesus in Mark 6:5-6 where He could do no mighty works because of their toxic unbelief.

Because God's nature is non-coercive, He has equipped us with a limited ability to say NO to Him, at least during this earth age. Love can only be received, never coerced. We have the power of consent, and even though this power may may only be the width of a gossamer wing, the slightest of contributions in other words, it still is vital. We are God's assigned agents of awe on this earth which elect (or not) to consent, allow, enforce and endorse the Lord's will.

If we don't choose synergism as our mindset, we will end up assigning all good AND all evil to God's monergism. Under monergism's view, we all are just paraplegically reclined in some thickly-pillowed cosmic "opium-den" of grace where God does EVERYTHING while we just lay there puffing ourselves high on visions of grace.

Monergism is a road we dare not take.

We are called to be the active, energetic, and synergistic sons of God upon the earth. The whole earth is waiting for these champion sons of God to manifest. Monergism will never get us there. If it did, we would already be there. Synergism WILL get us there. Jesus is waiting for US to put His enemies under OUR foot here on earth---fear, wrath, sin and death--- just as these enemies have already been put under Jesus' foot in Heaven. All we need do is endorse, enforce and execute Jesus' already-accomplished victory to MANIFESTLY conform this realm to His reign. He awaits our consent.

The freedom of angels and men often combine to form interference patterns of resistant force with which we must diligently deal. The Lord is always willing to manifest to all men, but He often needs our synergistic cooperation to fully penetrate the situation at hand. He won't (and can't) coercively rape reality with His interventions. He travels on the yielded faith of men. This allows Him the consent He needs, the cosmic elbow room to deliver the situation by catalyzing it with the delivering energies of Christ.

I think where we sometimes err is in thinking that there either IS freewill or there ISN'T.

It's not so black and white.

There is a third option-- we have a measure of freedom, not complete but partial, just enough to oxygenate the possibility of love.

If we say that there is no freewill at all, then God becomes omni-causative (the sole and immediate cause of everything that happens 24/7. He immediately becomes the author of cancer, child molestations, rape, and a thousand other perversions, destructions, and devastations. "Back-door" Calvinism needs to be shown "the back door."
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I think a BIG reason for the "it's all God and not you" movement is that it's trying to undermine the view that OUR faith "saves" us. The evangelical call is to "decide for Christ" which then gets you a heaven pass. Therefore, these grace proponents reason, if YOUR faith gets you into heaven, then you are you own savior. They see arrogant thousands in heaven talking about how they are there because they "accepted Christ". I understand these views. I used to hold them, first the "evangelical" view and then the "grace camp" pushback against that. But I think all of that is driven by a false idea of what "salvation" IS. If the whole point of being "saved" is to get to heaven rather than Hell, then all of this has logical merit. It's important HOW people get there, of God's will or of their OWN will. Basically, because of the heaven/hell dynamic, these issues MUST be decided. But if we take heaven and hell OUT of the picture, and make "salvation" all about embracing a way of living that Jesus spoke and modeled and encouraged us to follow, then this CHANGES the whole dynamic. We aren't saved JUST because of God, though we needed the person of Jesus and the act of the cross to show us the truth about God and ourselves. Without God's stepping into history in the person of Christ, we would remain lost. We are "saved" because we accept (what you call 'consent') to the truths that Jesus taught/lived/modeled. We repent (change our minds), turning from the lie of who we THOUGHT we were and who we BELIEVED God was, to the truth of what Jesus revealed. And doing this and LIVING this (because just believing it does NOTHING) "saves" us, right here, right now, giving us "aeonis" life NOW. As to what comes next, that's in God's hands. But if He chooses to physically raise us and give us a "utopia" to live in, great. It certainly wouldn't be OUR will that got us there, but the combination of us WITH God (for we ARE one) that would ALLOW us to be part of that reality.

Well written Ken. Very insightful. Totally agree.

Richard, you point to a mindset that “call[s] whatever happens God's grace.” Then, in his comment, Ken equates an “it's all God and not you" movement with the “grace camp.” I don’t know of anyone in the “grace camp” who espouses such ideas, having followed the teachings of Joseph Prince, Steve McVey, and Paul Ellis, among others. You also say, “we really need to be careful not to preach grace to the exclusion of a hearty faith,” but I just don’t see how that could be possible: our faith is a free gift received by grace. We must get the focus off of ourselves--and OUR “faith,” and keep it on Jesus--and HIS faith. Mark 9:23 says, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” But as Joseph Prince indicates, this verse is often misunderstood to be putting the focus on us, and OUR faith: “Mark 9:23 has been traditionally taught to mean that you can have your miracle if YOU can believe. If you can’t believe, then Jesus isn’t going to give you your miracle. But if you study the Greek structure of the verse, it’s actually saying, ‘Can you believe that all things are possible to him [Jesus] who is always believing?’ That makes a world of difference! It’s not about how well or how much you can believe, but WHO you believe. Jesus is the only one whose faith is always constant and never wavers. His faith never fails! And if you can believe that all things are possible for Jesus who never doubts, never wavers, then you are on your way to receiving your miracle! Beloved, have faith not in your faith, but in Him who always believes and always wants to do good to you!” [End quote] Action is important, but of what kind? Religious action involves ’running aimlessly,’ and ‘beating the air.’ TRUE grace (unmerited favor) is transformative; it cannot possibly lead to monergism or fatalism. If genuinely received, it must eventually lead to right action, with hard work. Paul said, “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” We can either resist grace, or we can receive it with thanksgiving. But I honestly don’t see how TRUE grace can possibly be OVERemphasized, because Jesus cannot be overemphasized. Love, Hermano Cisco

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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Before you "concrete" yourself on the issue of whether we have ANY freewill when it comes to receiving or rejecting God, I want to implore you to consider what I am about to share. I want to quickly describe two kinds of Calvinism, "front-door" Calvinism and "back-door" Calvinism.

John Calvin himself practiced "front-door" Calvinism, which says God controls everything 24/7. We have NO freewill at all. No creaturely freedom. No power of consent. As it pertains to rejecting or receiving God, Calvin believed that there was a double-decree (what has often been called "that most terrible decree") whereby God predestines some to RECEIVE Him in this life and others to be REJECTED by Him in this life.

Thus, some, if not most, humans have no chance to EVER know God in this lifetime no matter what they pray, think, say, feel, or seek. From their birth they are hopelessly and helplessly lost and doomed to NEVER know God in this life. Indeed it IS a terrible decree. But, others, who the Lord takes over and controls their minds and hearts, are programmed to come to Him regardless of their cooperation, consent or desire.

Simply put, some get the phone call and some don't. And nothing any of us can do to change or alter it. It's already set in cement.

But, for many, "front-door" Calvinism is too pungent and cruel. So, to soften the idea, they use "back door" Calvinism, which disposes of "the terrible decree" by just ignoring it--- without any explanation or any comment. They, like "front door" Calvinists, still believe we have no freewill at all, and have absolutely nothing to do with believing or receiving the Lord, but that we are only doing what God is lovingly coercing us to do. God takes us over, makes us believe, and starts talking to Himself though us. He offers the new birth to us from heaven, then switches hats, takes us over, and then responds affirmatively to His own invitation. He says "come" to us, then responds "yes" for us, regardless or our previous willingness or spiritual state.

The single biggest flaw in theological thinking which I have both encountered in others, and committed myself on multiple occasions, is this--- someone takes a staunch position without first considering "the reverse implications." An organic thinker will always flip the script and consider ALL the implications of a theological position. Some thinkers today pick a position they want to be true, but without diligently considering the reverse implications.

Calvin, to his credit, was intellectually honest. He didn't ignore the implications of what he believed. He owned them, and for that at least I respect him.

Because he was a through thinker, he came up with the terrible decree of "double predestination" (some are predestined to be born of God and some are predestined to rejection by God during this lifetime). Calvin did this BECAUSE it's a necessary and mandatory implication of there being a world with no creaturely freedom--- God despondent and owes everything, while we all just just do what we are preprogrammed to do. He considered the "reverse implications"of his position and simply owned them. If we only come to God when, if, and as He commands, THEN those who DON'T receive God in this lifetime were NEVER commanded by God to come during their entire lives. God necessarily ignored, rejected, or simply abandoned them. God either forgot to call these cursed souls and coerce them with the offer of life, or He just outright refused.

This lack of considering "reverse implications" is especially prevalent in the question of of those who deny we have freewill when it comes to seeing and entering the kingdom of God. Many have declared freewill, any freewill, all freewill, any creaturely freedom at all--- to be an illusion. God alone, these thinkers say, determines, decrees, ordains, and appoints WHEN we come to Him, HOW we come to Him, and THAT we come to Him, and IF we come to Him at all in this lifetime. They assert for ANY of us have ANY level of freewill is somehow an insult to God and some kind of works-based "glory grab" by us. God thus essentially commands us, and even coerces us if need be, into receiving and believing in Him. It's ALL Him with no free assent by us. We cooperate in nothing, we consent to nothing, we allow nothing. God just inserts/forces His will into ours whenever He feels like it, no matter our spiritual receptivity, spiritual hunger, or spiritual willingness.

I want to challenge all who practice "back-door" Calvinism to close that door and move to another house. Calvinism's house is untenable and inhabitable no matter which door we go through. It is a fire hazard, a condemned house ready to collapse.

Here is why.

If we believe that God gives us the gift of renewal, reconciliation, awakening, new birth, seeing and entering the kingdom, or WHATEVER we choose to call it---- and that therefore we have NOTHING, NADA, ZIP to do with it---- and that we are forced to receive it with or without our consent or willingness, THEN a Pandora's box of horrible accusations about God is opened.

So, if God, under back-door Calvinism, coerces us to be reconciled to Him without ANY regard to our present state of willingness, hunger, or creaturely freedom, then my conscience compels me to challenge this with a few questions.

If our awakening to God is all in God's hands apart from ANY human receptivity, then why did God not command Hitler to come to the Lord before WW 2 so that millions and millions could be saved from death? Or Stalin, serial killers, murderers, molesters, rapists, etc.? If it was ALL solely in the Lord's hands, then by allowing so much unregenerate suffering to go on for thousands, if not millions of years, all with God's full consent (remember, we have no free will but are merely doing what He commands or denies us to do), then how can God NOT be a monster?

Sadly, under either "front-door" Calvinism or "back-door" Calvinism, God is a cruel puppeteer who deprives so many of kingdom life HERE and NOW because He simply refuses to command/appoint/ordain their renewal. He sounds like the little boy who tears the wings off butterflies just to watch them suffer. He loves some but not others. He appoints some to be born of God and others to be aborted with hopelessness.

If back-door Calvinism is true, why would God not just command all His children to receive Him at their earliest age of awareness? Why deny and program some to fail and die because He doesn't feel inclined to love and appoint them to life here and now by simply circumventing their free will just like He does with so many others who He has commanded to be awakened to the kingdom of God.

Instead, toward these tortured souls, God turns away His mind-control and heart-control powers from helping His lost slaves who NEVER get His call of salvation in this lifetime. The same God, however, happily commands others to be born of God, live and flourish. What an arbitrary despot! That's unimaginably cruel. This is where Calvin's double predestination takes us, regardless of whether we realize it or not. If there is NO creaturely freedom, then we are all, as C.S. Lewis famously said, "automatons" who simply follow our programming. Under this view, when we consider "the reverse implications" of a world with no creaturely freedom, then evil gets absolutely and irrevocably tossed back into God's causative lap.

So, we can either say God only calls some men to be born of God and others to live cursed and clueless lives, OR we can say that ALL men are called to God, appointed by God, ordained by God to see and enter into the kingdom of God as soon as they freely consent. When they consent their appointed time appears, whether it's in this age or the postmortem age to come.

Again, if we believe God forces some to see and enter the kingdom, that becomes a perilous precedent. Why doesn't He force others to come into the kingdom, especially those who are about to kill or harm innocents? Or why allow so many people to endlessly anguish in unbelief and hardness of heart, never finding God, especially when He could improve their condition instantly with the merest wave of His wand of coercion and mind control? Why prolong and extend so much pain? Again, He becomes he author of evil if there is no creaturely freedom AT ALL.

I think C. S. Lewis wrote the most cogently on this subject. Some amount of free response is need to oxygenate the possibility of love existing. I have absolutely no problem saying God helps our "yes," but He won't/can't coerce us from saying "no." If He could/would, then the whole earth could robotically come to the Lord tomorrow.

That's just not feasible to me. Not now, not ever.

Jesus seemed to stress again and again the need to believe and receive. That requires some slight level of assent or willingness on our part. I think we can distinguish between "willingness" (what the German theologians called "lassening") and "willfulness" (willpower). The later can't accomplish the new birth, while the former merely consents to it. Jesus knocks at the door of all men every day. Only some open. And once they consent to move toward and open their hearts door, Jesus pushes from His side to help the floodgate fully open.

I challenge any proposed spirituality which claims:
--what you believe doesn't matter
--you have no freedom to believe or disbelieve anything
--you have no responsibility toward God
--you have no power
--you have no spiritual enemy working against you
--God expects nothing of you
--whatever happens is God's will and from His causative hand
--the fight of faith is a fiction
--the armor of God is unneeded
--prayer accomplishes nothing

This mindset is attractive, and tickles many ears, because it puts everything in God's lap and absolutely nothing in our lap, not even our lap. This lets us all chill out and just relax until God decides to act. Until then, there's nothing we can do or should do, except shrug our shoulders and call whatever happens God's grace. We are just bumps on a log, reclining in an inert cosmic holding pattern. Agnostics and atheists basically believe or default to of all the above listed propositions. I don't see their lives spiritually enriched because of this same basic mindset.

My problem with this view is that it's pretty much against everything Jesus taught us in the Gospels, what the apostles taught us in their epistles, and what the Spirit taught the early church fathers. In a word, well two words actually, it's lazy and lukewarm.

Jesus modeled and taught us faith in action-- the need to believe, and the need to act on our faith. Faith is an act. Love is an act. "Faith works through love," Paul said in Galatians. As Henri Bergson said, "Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought."

And, here is the thing...

...if NOT believing or attempting anything spiritual WAS the way to go,
...if NOT believing in the menacing reality of Satanic powers WAS the way to go,
...if NOT believing it's vital to love God wholeheartedly WAS the way to go,
...if NOT believing that OUR faith matters at all anymore, but ONLY His grace,
...if all faith-related considerations are really just carnal works of the flesh,

...then why, oh why, hasn't evil, sickness, plagues, disasters, wars, and crimes all been ALREADY eradicated from our senses by the sovereign grace of God?

I mean, it's beyond dispute that the majority of the world's population doesn't give any of the above condemned considerations the time of day. The majority of the world's population spends no sustained time or effort seeking to love the Father wholeheartedly, believe Jesus wholeheartedly, follow the Holy Spirit wholeheartedly, or wholeheartedly rebuke evil powers by prayers of faith.

Sure, some may attempt do these things, but only a tiny minority. Why then hasn't God had His sovereign way and transformed the vast majority of all those who have just tried to enjoy the ride of life without expending any carnal spiritual effort?

If our energy of effort and focus don't matter, and in fact only hurts things, then the whole world should ALREADY be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. Preaching a wholehearted focus of energy and effort from, toward, and with God is NOT a popular message, and never has been. It is not the majority message.

For 29 years I made no such "carnal" attempts at wholeheartedness, faith, or devotional focus toward, with, and in Jesus. I tried to just enjoy the ride and leave it all to whatever God there was. And it almost killed me. I was full of despair, doubt, and downcast disposition. Only when the faith of Christ became active in my life did I then effectively stand and contend for righteous changes to occur in my life.

So, we really need to be careful not to preach grace to the exclusion of a hearty faith. Jesus certainly was grace personified, but nowhere in the Gospels does He explicitly teach grace. He never even mentions the word "grace" in the Gospels. Jesus, rather, preached faith and ardent belief with, in, and toward God. And, sure, as Paul writes, grace is the operating dynamo of all things divine, including even faith itself, but we need to maintain a more nuanced understanding of the proper places of grace, faith, and devotional focus.

If we are telling people that it's ALL God and that we play NO part whatsoever in believing, endorsing and executing God's will, we might want to slow down a bit and look down the road to see where that thinking ends up.

It ends up at hyper-Calvinism. This is an ugly place that says God ordains evil events, all according to his sovereign will. Child-rapes, slit throats, cancer, tsunamis, world wide depression, rampant teen suicide, wars, all of it happens regardless of what we believe, rebuke, pray or resist. Our faith is just an illusion. All that happens comes from God's sovereign "stamp of approval." Nothing we can do can impact it, stop it, frustrate it or change it.

There are two opposing mindsets that determine everything in this regard. They are called by theologians "monergism"and "synergism." Choose your mindset carefully. It will determine what you ultimately think about God.

Monergism says that everything that happens is God's sovereign will and bears His stamp of approval. We, as a contributing factor, are inert. We do nothing, believe nothing, allow nothing, accomplish nothing, affect nothing, and impact nothing. It's all Him. None of it is us. And while that sounds God-honoring at first, it ultimately defames Him by laying evil events on His doorstep.

Synergism, in contrast, says its God AND us co-operating together in a fluid dance where we elect to yield (or not) to fervently follow where God passionately leads. When He speaks in grace, we can elect (or not) to hear in faith. When He offers grace, we can elect (or not) to act on it. When He calls with grace, we can respond (or not) with faith. Seen from this angle, God is non-coercive and will never force our will to DO anything. He will woo our will, empower it, enhance it, energize it, but He will never coerce it.

Under synergism, we CAN inhibit the grace of God, never totally, and never permanently, but in the short run we can delay and diminish its full manifestation in the here and now. This happened to Jesus in Mark 6:5-6 where He could do no mighty works because of their toxic unbelief.

Because God's nature is non-coercive, He has equipped us with a limited ability to say NO to Him, at least during this earth age. Love can only be received, never coerced. We have the power of consent, and even though this power may may only be the width of a gossamer wing, the slightest of contributions in other words, it still is vital. We are God's assigned agents of awe on this earth which elect (or not) to consent, allow, enforce and endorse the Lord's will.

If we don't choose synergism as our mindset, we will end up assigning all good AND all evil to God's monergism. Under monergism's view, we all are just paraplegically reclined in some thickly-pillowed cosmic "opium-den" of grace where God does EVERYTHING while we just lay there puffing ourselves high on visions of grace.

Monergism is a road we dare not take.

We are called to be the active, energetic, and synergistic sons of God upon the earth. The whole earth is waiting for these champion sons of God to manifest. Monergism will never get us there. If it did, we would already be there. Synergism WILL get us there. Jesus is waiting for US to put His enemies under OUR foot here on earth---fear, wrath, sin and death--- just as these enemies have already been put under Jesus' foot in Heaven. All we need do is endorse, enforce and execute Jesus' already-accomplished victory to MANIFESTLY conform this realm to His reign. He awaits our consent.

The freedom of angels and men often combine to form interference patterns of resistant force with which we must diligently deal. The Lord is always willing to manifest to all men, but He often needs our synergistic cooperation to fully penetrate the situation at hand. He won't (and can't) coercively rape reality with His interventions. He travels on the yielded faith of men. This allows Him the consent He needs, the cosmic elbow room to deliver the situation by catalyzing it with the delivering energies of Christ.

I think where we sometimes err is in thinking that there either IS freewill or there ISN'T.

Its not so black and white.

There is a third option-- we have a measure of freedom, not complete but partial, just enough to oxygenate the possibility of love.

If we say that there is no freewill at all, then God becomes omni-causative (the sole and immediate cause of everything that happens 24/7. He immediately becomes the author of cancer, child molestations, rape, and a thousand other perversions, destructions, and devastations. "Back-door" Calvinism needs to be shown "the back door."
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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

We all need help to read the Bible. The Holy Spirit is that help. "These things have I spoken unto you , being yet present with you. But the Comforter , who is the Holy Spirit , whom the Father will send in my name , he shall teach you all things" John 14:25-26.

But, the crucial question we all want to know is, "How?" In what specific ways does the Spirit help us read and rightly understand Scripture?

I propose that the Holy Spirit helps quicken the Scripture to us in THREE dynamic ways:

1) intellectually (the inquisitive mind)
2) intuitively (the imaginative gut)
3) interpersonally (the devotional heart)

"Intellectuals" and "intuitionists" and "interpersonalists" each need to embrace the differing hermeneutical approaches of the other two, just as did the Jewish exegetes of Jesus' day, and just as did the early church exegetes and fathers. Let's summarize these three dynamics in more detail.

1) Does the Holy Spirit HELP to energize and elucidate our INTELLECTUAL thought processes? Yes, sure. I've personally experienced this countless times. Does the Holy Spirit always and automatically help maximize our thought processes? No, unfortunately, I've experienced spiritless, cloudy and confused thinking as well which left me either dryly dogmatic or mentally muddled. Thankfully, our mind's abilities can be heightened and sharpened through intentional prayer, faith-focus, heart-yielding, and devotional awe, all of which give the Holy Spirit enlarged elbow room to guide and nourish our thinking. This is what putting on the mind of Christ is all about (1Corinthians 2:16; Romans 13:14). Paul called this "the spirit of power, love and a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

2) Does the Holy Spirit likewise HELP our INTUITION to hear the promptings of the Spirit regarding various Biblical subtexts which may be non-apparent to the naked eye? Yes. The Emmaus-road disciples did not understand how ALL the law, ALL the prophets, and ALL the writings of the Old Testament always spoke primarily of Jesus (Luke 24:27, 32, 44-45). It was non-apparent to the naked and literal eye of these disciples just HOW Jesus was somehow imbedded in every OT Scripture. That is, until Jesus took them on an intuitive journey of discovery through the Scriptures where He revealed Himself to them EVERYWHERE. Both Paul, the early Jewish exegetes, and early church fathers called this reading style ALLEGORICAL. Here the text may mean "more than what the text literally says" or "other than what the text literally says," but will always lend itself to a Christological reading. Galatians 4 is the clearest example where Paul allegorizes Sarah and Hagar as types of the New and Old covenants Galatians (4:22-31). Nothing could have been less apparent on its Old Testament literal face than was this Pauline reading, but Paul intuited this application with great clarity and certainty.

3) Does the Holy Spirit also commission us to occasionally receive INTERPERSONAL and subjective interpretations of Scripture which are applicable to us TODAY, HERE and NOW? Can the Spirit subjectify Scripture in order to specifically help US in our current circumstances, even though such reading was not originally intended by the human author? Jesus said we are to live by every interpersonal rhema word that proceeds FROM God's mouth TO our heart. Matthew 4:4. The three gifts of the Spirit, "the word of knowledge, "the word of wisdom" and "the word of prophecy" (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) cumulatively support this rhema-reading style where God inter-personalizes Scripture to minister subjective "words" of truth to us now. Some call this dynamic midrash, some eisegesis, some rhema-reception, and some homiletical embellishment. But, however you slice it, this is a highly personal and deeply subjective way of reading Scripture.
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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

The real Armageddon is the final battle for the image of God which is taking place on the Megiddo plains of our minds and hearts. Don't ever give in or up. God is good-- only good, always good, only light and in Him no darkness. He gives only good gifts to His children and in Him is no shadow of turning. He is the Father of lights, love, and lightness of being. Enjoy Him! ...

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Amen! I wonder if those who have been taught that Armageddon is a literal battle between good and evil also believe in literal frog-like spirits coming out of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet too?? 😬 I don't want to be around for that!! 😄

Haha, me neither!

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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

If our theology doesn't teach us to better relate to the immediate presence of God, then our theology needs to be immediately absent.

The people wanted Moses to go up the mountain to talk to God FOR them because they didn't WANT the responsibility of being in God's immediate presence themselves. They wanted to delegate to another, namely Moses, their personal responsibility to hear God's voice for themselves. Deuteronomy 5:23-27; Exodus 19:10-20.

"Moses, you go up the mountain for us and tell us what God wants and we will do it."

I wonder if that dynamic still troubles us today, but in different ways.

Do we moderns still want somebody ELSE to go to God FOR us and then tell us what God wants FROM us? At the outset, let me be clear that NOTHING is wrong with seeking counsel from the wise and the learned. But IF, in our heart of hearts, we are delegating or defaulting to another our OWN responsibility to seek, hear, and discern God's inner voice, the we are repeating the same dynamic which the Israelites displayed in the passage above.

There is an old saying, "There is nothing wrong with biting the hand that feeds you, IF it is keeping you from feeding yourself." When John the beloved tells us that we have no need of a "human teacher" because we have "an anointing from the Holy One" (i.e. the indwelling mind of Christ) resident within us to "teach us all things," isn't he just exhorting us to stay personally responsible and vigilant to hear God for ourselves. 1 John 2:20,27.

Sure, we listen to teachers, but the best teachers are those whose ultimate goal is to teach us that we don't need teachers when it comes to hearing the personal promptings of the Spirit. Teachers should eventually teach themselves "out of the way." Jesus' way of "communicating with" and "learning from" His Abba can be described by three words: SIMPLICITY, FREEDOM and DIRECTNESS. He wants and promises the same unmediated interactions for us.
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I think an "inerrant Bible" might fall into this role, as well. When certainty in a "perfect text" becomes a substitute for the "heart teacher", there's a problem.

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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Think of God as a sentence.

The Father is the noun of God --- the subject and ground of all love, light and goodness, and IN whom we live, and move, and have our being.

Jesus is the verb of God --- what He does, God's nature in action. He heals, delivers, rescues, protects, enlivens, reconciles, and resurrects. He DOES His Father's will, He EXPRESSES His Father's nature, and He PERFORMS His Father's wonders!

The Holy Spirt is the adverb of God. Adverbs typically add information about time (now, constantly, frequently, simultaneously), manner (quickly, willingly), or place (here, there, everywhere) in addition to a wide range of other meanings.

Grammar can be fun!
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That's brilliant Richard Murray! God is a SENTENCE and Jesus is The WORD!

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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Is the New Birth still necessary? Or is it an antiquated term we need to discard as meaningless religious jargon?

Let me answer that question with another question.

How many times did Jesus use the "M" word?

I searched through the Gospels with this question in mind: How many times did Jesus tell us that there was something WE "must" do?

I found only two such uses of the word "must" by Jesus:

1) in order to see and enter the Kingdom of God, we MUST be born again of the Spirit (John 3:7-8)

2) we who worship God we MUST worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24)

Jesus often said that there were many things HE "must" do, and many events that "must" happen, but in terms of what WE "must" do, Jesus only mentioned the two above.

So, MUST we be born again to both see and enter the kingdom of God?

I have recently heard a couple of well known progressive authors with postmodern leanings deny the legitimacy of the NEW BIRTH as a necessary event of Christian conversion. One author called it an artificial and unneeded fruit of "Pop Christianity." He denies the New Birth as being any kind of foundational "honeymoon" experience of "true Christianity."

These writers claim Jesus NEVER taught it, despite the fact that He seemed to strongly emphasize it in John 3:1-17. These writers claim that you were born just fine the first time, that there is nothing wrong with you, and that Jesus did not preach the need for "spiritual rebirth." They then say that the original Greek of John 3:3 and 7 allows for the term to be translated "born from above" rather than "born again." Their bottom line is that the NEW BIRTH is not required of anybody at any time.

Here is my response.

At the outset, I acknowledge that some NON-spirtual zealots have hijacked the term "born again Christian" to refer more to a political or cultural point of view than to a supernatural conversion into the Kingdom of God. This is unfortunate and troublesome, but that does not negate the reality or necessity of the New Birth which Jesus exhorted us to experience.

Jesus did say, "You must be born again." John 3:7 in what is arguably the most famous extended passage in the Bible, a passage punctuated by the incredible epiphany of John 3:16.

Now, regardless of which way the term can be translated ("born again" versus "born from above"), a REBIRTH is clearly contemplated, exhorted, and even commanded by Jesus under EITHER reading.

Moreover, even if the term can be translated two ways, then, for clarity's sake, we need to look at the VERBAL context of the conversation before making our decision. After Jesus used the term, Nicodemus obviously interpreted it to mean being "born again." He asks Jesus how is it possible to go BACK into the womb when you are old in order to be REBORN. Jesus did not say, "No, no Nicodemus, I don't mean it that way. We are just born one time, and that is all, and we we are born just fine and don't need any kind of spiritual rebirth." Jesus did not correct Nicodemus' grammatical understanding of His words, but responsively just explained that the rebirth He was talking about was not a physical one but a spiritual one.

Jesus did NOT correct Nicodemus’ understanding of the phrase, but instead affirmed that two births were needed, one of the water (of the womb) and the second by the spirit (of God). Jesus clearly distinguished TWO separate births in this passage, stating that that which was "born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." The first birth of the flesh was required to enter the kingdom of man. The second birth of the spirit is what was required to enter the kingdom of God. This is pretty apparent under any fair reading of this passage.

This isn't "pop Christianity," it's "Poppa's Christianity." Jesus didn't come to tell us we were born perfect and that everything we do or believe was flawless in His eyes. He came to tell it wasn't, but that He came to set things right. The first Adam brought us all death, but Jesus as the second Adam brought us the opportunity of REBIRTH. But, for us to experience and enter into the fulness of His rescue and salvation, we first need to repent/renew our thinking, be born again/born from above/reborn of the Spirit--- so that we can see and enter the kingdom of God. To read the need for the NEW BIRTH "out"of Christianity altogether isn't just massaging the Scriptures, it's removing one of only two MUSTS Jesus ever taught us to apply.

Lastly, Paul certainly taught the concept of spiritual rebirth. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done , but according to his mercy he saved us , by the washing of REGENERATION, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" Titus 3:5. The word regeneration in this passage is PALINGENESIA and literally means: "(spiritual) rebirth (the state or the act), i.e. (figuratively) spiritual renovation; specially, Messianic restoration:--regeneration."

In summary, I have no problem saying that all men are pregnant with Jesus. He lights every man who comes into the world as John 1 says. I believe that every man's destiny is to be born again, whether in this life or the next. Sooner or later all will experientially be born again, the sooner the better though.

I am even willing to believe that all men might be "provisionally" born again but not "experientially." We believe in the physical world the baby lives in the womb, but is not birthed until she leaves the mother's body. I think that is an apt comparison. Everybody has a new Christ man alive in their spiritual womb, but the birth of that Christ man is not completed until that new man is manifest upward and outward in our re-created heart, renewed mind and enlivened consciousness.

As for being "born again," I do think it is referenced many more times than just the once many claim. Peter uses the same phrase "born again" referring to believers, while Paul uses synonyms like "regeneration" and "renewal" and "new creation" and "our new man created in righteousness and true holiness." These terms are all related to the new birth dynamic. Can it happen only during sinner's prayer. No, of course not. It can happen anytime and anywhere. A responsive heart wooed BY the Spirit and crying FOR Jesus will be born again and will both see and enter the kingdom of God.
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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Batman or Superman?

I think that there are two basic postures we can take toward spiritual reality. Theologians, leaders, believers, and personality types can each pitch themselves in either one of these two camps. Allegorically speaking, these two postures resemble the comic archetypes of Batman and Superman (at least as their personas have developed over the last decades). They are different but still can be congenial toward each another.

Batman relates to the darkness. He moves in and out of the shadows as the circumstances demand. He does not move in supernatural powers, but rather in human ability and savvy. He moves in the shadows of suspicion and is skeptical toward "others'" motives and naïveté. Superman rubs him against the grain because of his supernatural power, his transcendent attitudes, and his relentless optimism. Batman is a pessimist who is abrasive, earthy, and no-nonsense. He takes shortcuts and is jaded and often caustic toward the ideal. But his heart is to doggedly defeat the greater evils with all his might, even to his last breath. Batman won't kill, but he will otherwise do anything and everything it takes to win the battle against the immediate and greater evils which confront us. If the villain loses a few teeth on the process, that is an acceptable loss.

Superman, by contrast, orients himself to the light. He soars in the brightness of the Sun, from where he draws his incredible supernatural powers. He is irrepressibly hopeful, confident, and idealistic. He is not caustic or sarcastic about virtue, but wears them unapologetically, like a badge. For instance, "In the Name of Gog" storyline, despite being tortured, Superman refuses to ever kill anybody, even the worst villain, despite the fact that his beloved Lois will die, as well as himself. The story concludes with the villain being converted by Superman's uncompromising virtue. Ascribing to the core value of the martial art of aikido, Superman seeks to protect the wrongdoer from himself and the full consequences of his evil. He won't break teeth in other words. Superman's virtue is truly otherworldly.

Superman and Batman are both heroic. And both admirable. Maybe we can better understand these types of personalities when we are dealing with each other. There is a natural friction between Superman and Batman, but they overcome their differences to become and remain the best of friends. If they can give each other the elbow room to be true to their natures, then so too can we.

So, which archetype do you more closely relate to, Batman or Superman?
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Batman or Superman?
I think that there are two basic postures we can take toward spiritual reality. Theologians, leaders, believers, and personality types can each pitch themselves in either one of these two camps. Allegorically speaking, these two postures resemble the comic archetypes of Batman and Superman (at least as their personas have developed over the last decades). They are different but still can be congenial toward each another. 
Batman relates to the darkness. He moves in and out of the shadows as the circumstances demand. He does not move in supernatural powers, but rather in human ability and savvy. He moves in the shadows of suspicion and is skeptical toward others motives and naïveté. Superman rubs him against the grain because of his supernatural power, his transcendent attitudes, and his relentless optimism. Batman is a pessimist who is abrasive, earthy, and no-nonsense. He takes shortcuts and is jaded and often caustic toward the ideal. But his heart is to doggedly defeat the greater evils with all his might, even to his last breath. Batman wont kill, but he will otherwise do anything and everything it takes to win the battle against the immediate and greater evils which confront us. If the villain loses a few teeth on the process, that is an acceptable loss. 
Superman, by contrast, orients himself to the light. He soars in the brightness of the Sun, from where he draws his incredible supernatural powers. He is irrepressibly hopeful, confident, and idealistic. He is not caustic or sarcastic about virtue, but wears them unapologetically, like a badge. For instance, In the Name of Gog storyline, despite being tortured, Superman refuses to ever kill anybody, even the worst villain, despite the fact that his beloved Lois will die, as well as himself. The story concludes with the villain being converted by Supermans uncompromising virtue. Ascribing to the core value of the martial art of aikido, Superman seeks to protect the wrongdoer from himself and the full consequences of his evil. He wont break teeth in other words. Supermans virtue is truly otherworldly. 
Superman and Batman are both heroic. And both admirable. Maybe we can better understand these types of personalities when we are dealing with each other. There is a natural friction between Superman and Batman, but they overcome their differences to become and remain the best of friends. If they can give each other the elbow room to be true to their natures, then so too can we. 
So, which archetype do you more closely relate to, Batman or Superman?

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I've always preferred Superman to Batman. I don't go in for the dark personality. Overall, I'm an optimist, though my wife wouldn't say that. I'm an opti-realist. LOL I HOPE for the best, especially in people, but realize that crap happens and is likely to happen when you least expect it.

I agree Ken Nichols. I spoke with someone yesterday and thoigh they meant well, it was still a guilt trip of trying to believe the right things.

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3 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Here is the "Special K" breakfast with the Lord.

These three "K" words from Hebrew/Greek are to be consumed the first thing each day. NEVER FAST FROM THESE THREE NUTRIENTS.

1) Kavanah, a Hebrew word meaning wholehearted focus on the Lord's immediate presence, a directed heart toward the divine Spirit. Just as geysers need to be occasionally uncapped so that they will spew forth superheated resources, we need to uncap the Divine Nature the first thing every day by intentional prayer and heart focus. The Hebrew word for this is "Kavanah," which essentially means "passionate concentration" on the Lord's "immediate presence." This superheats the divine nature to spew out the daily deliverances of God up and out of our being--- rivers of living water flowing out our deep places into this spiritually parched world.

2) Kainos, a Greek word meaning newness of life, the thrilling perception of all things being made new in Christ Jesus! Behold, all things are made brand new!

3) Kairos, a Greek word meaning a fulfilled time with the Lord, a quality divine appointment kept, being fully present in the moment, where potential divine energy becomes powerful kinetic reality. The Lord measures time by relational events, not by ticks on the clock.

Kavanah focuses on engaging the Lord's nearness, being lip-locked with God's immediate presence. Kainos focuses on embracing the Lord's newness, being renewed in heart, mind and body. Kairos focuses on entering the "now"ness of God, being fully alert, appreciative and available TODAY, HERE and NOW.

Nearness, newness and "now"ness in the Lord! This is the breakfast of champions.
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Nearness Newness and Nowness in the Lord are the breakfast of champions. Thanks for sharing this awesome revelation Oluwamuyiwa Adebola Adedeji

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