Monthly Archives: September 2012

BAPTISM facilitates universal participation–BOTH male AND female, BOTH Jew AND non-Jew–in the New Covenant, by Christ’s CIRCUMCISION at the Cross, which “stripped off” his ENTIRE male, Jewish FLESH

WHO PROPITIATED WHOM?

God Himselfprovided” (Genesis 22:13-14; Hebrew:  “saw [to]”) the sacrifice, not us.  So Hepaid for” the sacrifice for our sins, yet not for the sins themselves, of course (for Scripture never teaches that sins are, or can be, “paid for”).  He bought and paid for us, not for our miserable sins!

Thus God Himself gave the propitiation concerning our sins:  Israel had been taught and commanded to sacrifice in many ways to God, but when the full time came—the time, that is, when all those old shadows would be fulfilled by the Light radiating from the Cross that cast that long shadow across the irregular landscape of antiquity, unclear in form to earth-bound mortals, but clearly visible to the eyes of Heaven—I repeat, when that time came, God sent His very own Son, begotten before all ages of time, before they Two had planned the creation of all else.  The Son, according to plan, was both given by the Father and voluntarily, obediently gave himself to be the coverage, shielding, or protective shelter concerned with our sins as well as those of the entire world.  What a Savior!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujoshua!  Praise Jesus!  [3/17/04]

THE STRIPPING OFF OF THE FLESH = THE CLEANSING OF THE SPIRIT

The New Testament teaching and depiction of immersion suggests that the cleansing of the heart, the spirit, and the inward human entails the stripping off of the entire flesh or outward human.  This was what circumcision pre-figured by the partiality of its symbolism.  But what it only pre-figured, Jesus literally fulfilled by his crucifixion—the off-stripping of his entire body of flesh in death, and his descent, in spirit and soul, into the Unseen, there to herald and proclaim to the dead, preceding his resurrection from that abode, dressed in an immortal body or outward person that fully befitted his wholesomeness of spirit.

Water immersion allows all who believe to participate in Christ’s circumcision at the Cross (Colossians 2:11-15), which was the ultimate cleansing off of human flesh—Adam’s mortal flesh, banned from regenerative fruit for his eating forbidden fruit.  Thus the flesh was not merely “washed off” with water; the flesh itself was “washed off” of the spirit—the body cleaned right off of its soul!  When a person emerges from the water of immersion they are picturing the dressing (“in-slipping”) of their wholesome spirit with a suitably wholesome body, fit for agelong life in the New Earth.  The cleaning must be more thorough than usually supposed.  This body of flesh is much too decayed to survive by any measure short of a full replacement when Christ returns.  [3/23/04]

WHERE GRACIOUSNESS REIGNS, GRACIOUSNESS TRAINS

How is it possible so to misunderstand the graciousness of God as to deny that the age of its superabundant dispensing is attended with a law that expects graciousness from us?!  Dispensationalism is, indeed, well known for this distinctive and perfidious denial.  But this denial, in practice, leads to the tragic stunting of spiritual growth to maturity in the image of God displayed in His own Son—graciousness and truth personified!  For the Law of Messiah—the Law of Liberty that Jesus taught in the “Sermon on the Mount”—is as far beyond the Law of Moses as graciousness itself is beyond indignation.  It requires graciousness from us where Moses required wrath.  This new requirement is clearly a much heavier burden to our decaying flesh than Moses’ requirement.  But the New Covenant supplies a new power for obedience as well as a new example of suffering abuse for the sake of obedience, rewarded with a new expectation of resurrection from the dead!  As a result, Messiah’s yoke is kindly and his load light.

The heavier and more spiritual Law of Messiah is most certainly an inextricable part of the new order of graciousness inaugurated by Jesus; it simply demands that we become as gracious as Jesus, who went the full length of graciousness by sacrificing himself for our misdeeds.  No greater love has any person than to give his soul (that is, earthly existence) for his friends.  [4/8/04]

The Law of Moses demanded righteousness…to a point; the royal Law of Messiah requires graciousness…to a fault!  [4/13/04]

The “Lord’s Prayer” does not authorize us to pardon sins-in-general that others may commit, but precisely to forgive “our debtors” of their debts against us and pardon “those who trespass against us of those specific transgressions.  Clearly, then, blanket, wholesale pardons were not what our Master expected of us, much less the clerical usurping of such an imaginary right.  This strongly suggests that the admonition to “confess your sins to one another” likewise does not refer to a broadside confessional, but to our specific sins against those particular persons.  This is still no small duty, yet is happily attended by graciousness from God.  Let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill.  [4/23/04]

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How the MURDER of Jesus BACKFIRED to the BENEFIT of All Humanity

God was never our enemy, rather, by our own sins against Him, we became His enemies.  This means that we humans never needed to propitiate Him, contrary to the dark imaginations and superstitions of the pagan nations, but rather He took divine measures to propitiate us!  This is why the language of the New Testament is uniformly unilateral in its tendency on this matter.  The Father dispatched His only-born Son as a propitiation concerned with (in other words, a shelter, shielding or protection around) the sins of the world, including the sins of those who trust Him, but not theirs alone.

We cannot be shielded from God’s anger against hardened sinfulness, for it cannot, in principle, be appeased; but He can put a protective covering around our sins so that we are saved from His anger against them.  And, He Himself supplies this sheltering via the blood of His unjustly executed Son, whose innocence and sinlessness cried out to God for His just avenging from his enemies.

God, of course, heard from heaven and raised their blameless Victim from among the dead with great proof, then exalted him on high to the throne of the universe at His own right hand, giving him superabundant overcompensation for his obedience in subjecting himself to suffering abuse from his enemies (though he was never their enemy, but, quite the contrary, went around forgiving sins without compensation and healing sinners from the dread consequences of their misdeeds in conscience and body).

Thus, wherever God sees that innocent blood sprinkled on guilty hearts by faith, He answers by sending down a measure of the rightful award for Jesus’ obedience and wrongful treatment:  the gift of the Wholesome Spirit which, by its vivifying power, actually reverses the degenerative direction of our spirits and testifies to us that we are now immortal newborns in His agelong Kingdom!

The Lord’s Supper is the beautiful sign that we are now actual participants in God’s own nature via the Spirit He has given us.  By this we feed on His agelong life and nourish our souls repeatedly until the resurrection of our bodies.  [2/5/04]

“No good deed will go unpunished,” because there is a Devil, but no undeserved punishment will go unrequited, because there is a God.  [2/8/04]

THE COVENANTAL STRUCTURE OF GOD’S KINGDOM

The covenantal structure of the Kingdom of God was announced in the prophecy of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31, quoted in Hebrews 8 and 10, whereby He would impart His “law to their comprehension” and write it “on their hearts” and, moreover, “be protective toward to their injustices” and “under no circumstances be reminded of their sins and their lawlessnesses.”  These two facets, then, God’s law etched on our hearts and our sins forgotten from God’s heart, constitute the key epicenters of God’s new rule over his people.  These are signified by communion and immersion, respectively.  In both of these, the outpouring of the promised present of God’s Wholesome Spirit plays a decisive new role distinct from that in the Old Covenant (at least in sheer volume and variety of manifestations, not to mention frequency!).  Because of Jesus’ perfect obedience to the Father, He won the prize promised by the Father under the Old Covenant, which none other had ever come near qualifying for.  It is this that ushered in the New Covenant with gratuitous and superabundant blessings and overwhelming graciousness and consequent gifts or donations or favors of Wholesome Spirit.  All in Messiah!  All of this is the gratuity of the Father’s own righteousness or justice by raising the Son from among the dead!  It is the rightful claim or recompense of the wrongful injuries suffered by Jesus!  God pulled off an incredible coup against Satan’s kingdom of darkness!  God raised up Jesusbecause of our justifying,” or on account of our rectifying, as the fruit of Messiah’s obedience even to such a humiliating and undeserved death on a cross.

In Messiah Jesus, the old humanity got destroyed, along with its mortality, corruption, and sin, and a brand new humanity was born above, with citizenship in the New Jerusalem on Mount Zion above!  And now, by the “good seed” of God’s Proclamation of His Kingdom, He begets us into that new or “second Adam” by immersion when we trust the Message.

By this immersion into Messiah’s body of new humanity, by trust, all our past sins, transgressions, offenses, and injustices are washed off, forgiven, not accounted against us, covered over, not remembered, cleansed away, erased!  And all this is done by the vivifying power of the Wholesome Spirit, the very same power that raised Jesus from among the dead, and which now empowers us to start obeying the directives of Messiah, the Master (and, in truth, Jehovah-savior:  Jesus) “from the heart,” that constitutes the second aspect of God’s Kingdom of Heaven over the earth in our age.

This second facet, signified by communion, is the ingestion into our hearts and minds of the declarations, explanations, directives or teaching of Jesus as found recorded by his learners and commissioners in the Gospels.  This is the “law of Messiah,” the true “law of liberty” that sets us free as we continue to “eat and drink” his “flesh and blood,” which are “Spirit and life.”

The exalted Messiah is now the “Tree of Life” from whose fruit, the Wholesome Spirit, we partake regularly at the Master’s Dinner.  There we feed on the milk and meat of his Explanation and grow thereby into wholesomeness and maturity, i.e., into the image, character, and nature of God the Father as we view these in His only-born Son.

The operations of God’s Wholesome Spirit, the very substance and essence of God’s Kingdom newly covenanted in Jesus, the Messiah, can therefore be summarized as washing and nourishing.  These both are accomplished or “applied” as we trust God’s Explanation that He spoke finally and with unequalled authority throughout the career of Jesus, His only-born Son, in the flesh.  Thus God’s revealed Declaration and His commissioned Spirit or Motivation work together to testify by explanation and action to His Reign over the earth during this age (in part), as well as to the nature of its ultimate contents when this age is consummated and we can finally inherit our allotments in it without sin, death, or enemies to oppress us:  the New Heavens and New Earth.  [2/18/04]

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The Holy Spirit–Christ’s RIGHTFUL DUE for enduring the Cross–is filled up in us so we can superabound in RIGHTEOUSNESS

To the question, “Why is there so much evil in the world?” Scripture answers that, in part it’s because God “carries, in much patience, the vessels of indignation, having gotten adapted for destruction.”  This, in turn, serves the higher purpose of “making known the wealth of His credit on the vessels of mercy, which He prepares for credit—us, whom He calls also, not only from Jews, but from nations also” (Romans 9:22-23).  The expression of evils perpetrated by such “vessels of indignation” cannot thwart but only advances God’s overarching purpose to bring “many sons into credit” (Hebrews 2:10), although it brings them abuse of various sorts in the bargain.  [1/17/04]

With only the Sermon on the Mount, the parables, and other miscellaneous teachings of Jesus, even though they occupy the very apex of ethical instruction possessed by the human race, we are no better off than Thomas Jefferson, Leo Tolstoy, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and so many other mere admirers of Jesus the rabbi.  Did I say “mere admirers”?  I should also have included ardent followers of his teaching, for many have assayed to scale these lofty precepts in actual practice only to tumble off the heights and plunge into despair or disillusionment.  For if Moses’ Law was “a yoke…which neither our fathers nor we are strong enough to bear” (Acts 15:10) in the power of deteriorating human flesh, so the “kindly” yoke of Jesus is incomparably more burdensome without the power of his own Wholesome Spirit “sent down from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12) as the rightful award to compensate for his unjust suffering of abuses and degrading execution after a career of miraculous benevolences.  A Jesus without miracles is no Messiah.  He could not save us from the evil consequences of our attempts at such a noble obedience in this present vicious age!  The current age of this world hates and persecutes those who dare to follow Jesus’ upright teaching, not to add his example.  For following his example in truth will necessarily lead us to a cross.  He actually taught as much.

So away with the half-hearted though well-intentioned moves to accept only the ethical teaching of Jesus, full of undeniable marks of divine origin though they are.  For he taught more than that.  He taught the necessity of suffering abuse if we would walk his ethical path, if need be to the death.  He also taught that endurance in such trust to the bitter end would make us worthy of a resurrection into agelong life.  His is no ethic to make us comfortable, rich, and famous in the eyes of our contemporaries.  We have to be able to grasp the vision of our inheritance on a New Earth if we are to survive the buffeting of this current age for our wildly noble lifestyle.  It makes them look bad and they “despise the shame” of it.  Out of envy Jesus was crucified by the Jews, who could neither boast the miraculous deeds nor merit those astonished ascriptions of authority from his audiences wherever he went.

In sum, Jesus’ personal righteousness, not to say sinlessness, and his peerless teaching, plus his powerful healing, as well as his public denunciations of hypocrisy and corruption, heaped humiliation and shame on the leaders of the Jews.  They returned the favor by humiliating him on a cross, but because of the joy of his coming exaltation, glory, and Kingdom, though he “despised the shame” of the injustice, he nevertheless endured it to the end.  [1/24/04]

The “problem” with God’s Proclamation about His Kingdom is that it makes its adherents and practitioners, as a community, “successful”—truly successful.  It heals them up, it makes them happy, it makes they loving toward the brethren, it makes them respectful toward those in authority, it makes them helpful to outsiders, it makes them diligent, thrifty, generous, healthy, wise, creative, and kind even to enemies.  Yet saying no more, those are reasons enough to breed jealousy and hostility against followers of Jesus, the Messiah.

Therefore, although the instructions of Jesus will, other things being equal, generate prosperity among his true followers, that very fact will, during this vicious age of the world, raise up enemies who will move to oppress them, impoverish them, persecute them, scatter them, and otherwise destroy them.  Given these evils that their very goodness sets in motion against them, among the offspring of Satan, they will often seem to be losers and fools.  But things are not what they seem.  The children of darkness now have their day, only to be overturned utterly when Messiah returns as Judge to set the record straight and grant the amenable their just due—an allotment in his agelong Kingdom on the New Earth that is impending and for which they wait with joyful assurance and endurance.  [1/24/04]

Messiah’s career, death, and resurrection fulfilled “every jot and tittle” of the Law of Moses (Matthew 5:17-18), one consequence being “erasing the handwriting of the decrees againstboth Jew (“a yoke…which neither our fathers nor we are strong enough to bearActs 15:10) and the nations (“in nothing discriminat[ing] between us [Jews] and them, cleansing their hearts by faith….But through the graciousness of the Master, Jesus, we are trusting, to be saved in a manner even as they” (Acts 15:9, 11), for it “was hostile to us,” so God “has taken it away out of the midst, nailing it to the Cross, stripping off the sovereignties and authorities, with boldness [God] makes an example of them, triumphing over them in [the Cross]” (Colossians 2:14-15).

After Matthew 5:17, Jesus proceeds to alter Moses’ Law to make room for “a righteousness superabounding more than that of the scribes and Pharisees” (5:20) in the remainder of the Sermon on the Mount.  To fulfill his changes in Moses’ directives requires a greater love, one “spread abroad in our hearts through Wholesome Spirit” (Romans 5:5), the Promise of the Father in the New Covenant, whereby He imparts His laws to our comprehension and inscribes them on our hearts, being protective over our injustices and under no circumstances being reminded of our sins and our lawlessnesses (Hebrews 8:6-13).  Such superabounding love is operative in us to likewise fulfill the Law, “For love is the contents [the “filling”—the “stuffings”!) of Law” (Romans 13:10).

God’s Spirit of promise vivifies us (2 Corinthians 3:6), through our trust in Jesus, the Messiah, so that we can discharge the Royal Law of Freedom, to “Love your associate as yourself” (James 2:8, 12; 1:25; Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:9) and even to “be loving one another” (the brotherhood) just as Jesus loves us (John 13:34)!  For if we “walk in Spirit (Galatians 5:16), “walk according to Spirit” (Romans 8:1, 4) or “get led by God’s Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18), then we walk free, as sons of God, without condemnation, not still under Law, not consummating flesh’s craving, the rightful award of the Law being filled up in us (Romans 8:1, 4, 14; Galatians 5:16, 18)!  [1/27/04]

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The Prince of Peace impartially judges his subjects for avenging themselves

Jews are not in a flattering position who condemn the Christian church for inciting pogroms against them.  It is, in point of fact, only a corrupt church that could do such a thing.  And the evaluation of the church as corrupt requires a higher norm by which to judge it.  That higher norm—the apostolic Scriptures—arrives at a judgment of “apostate” and “corrupt” regarding the church that would sponsor a pogrom (or even just look the other way) by the same criterion as it condemns the Jews as corrupt for crucifying their own Messiah, Jesus.

Thus a judgment against Christians for persecuting Jews, by the same token, implies a judgment of Jews for executing Jesus and the prophets, and for persecuting Christians.  We must ever remind Jews that the early Christians, regardless of suffering persecution by corrupt Judaism, never taught or practiced or justified retaliation of any sort whatever against those Jews.  They loved and prayed for their enemies, giving over to God, exactly as their Master did, a just reprisal, while totally denying this privilege to themselves or their survivors.  [3/19/03]

POGROMS:  THE VIOLENCE OF “CHRISTIANS” WHO WERE NOT CHRISTIANS UPON “JEWS” WHO WERE NOT JEWS

When did Christians start killing Jews?  It never happened in the early church era, because Christians at that time were all non-retaliatory like their Master Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, had directed.  In fact, it typically did not occur until centuries later when Christians, sadly, became mimetically like the Jews who persecuted them!  Pogroms never happened until so-called “Christians” learned how to take up the sword.  But they first fell victim to their own warlikeness when, after Constantine, they battled “heretics” and one other in disgraceful episodes that echo the unspeakable crimes that similarly warlike Jewish zealots perpetrated upon one another within the walls of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., thereby fulfilling the dire prophecies of Jesus against those Jews “after the flesh” who refused to learn the ways of peace by accepting him as the Messiah promised by Jehovah their God.  Internecine warfare was the inevitable conclusion of God’s covenant with a disobedient, stiff-necked people—the dischosen descendants of Abraham who “say they are Jews but are not, but are liars,” a “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9, 3:9) who, like their real father, the Adversary, are man-killers and liars.

How did Christians ever fall so low as to imitate the Jews who persecuted them and killed them?  It is because they were beguiled away from the pure teaching of their Master, who had forbidden them from taking up the sword or resisting the vicious person.  They therefore became non-Christian, anti-Christian (“antichrist,” ironically!) by slaying one another.  It was only a matter of time before they would start in on the Jews.  By this time they were scarcely Christians but were as phony as the Jews themselves, who were “not Jews.”  [1/10/04]

SALVATION FROM SIN, NOT FROM ROMANS

The leaders of the Jews in Jesus’ day were so ignorant of their own Scriptures that they just didn’t “get” the message of their own fifteen-century history!  They should have seen the obvious fact, writ very large indeed from generation to generation ever since Moses had to suffer their whining and idolatry and lawlessness in the wilderness, and in spite of God’s abundant, magnanimous wonders end on end!  Stephen, in his inflammatory speech in Acts 9, only barely got a running start on the enormous subject when he was stoned to death for daring to face them with the grim facts:  Israel always got oppressed by enemies, by famines, by pestilence, by plagues, and even by their own kings (which, however, they themselves had demanded), because of their own sins!  God even demonstrated with them that they could live relatively happy in captivity in a foreign land, Babylon, if they remained faithful to Him.  Think also of the young Israelite maid who became captive to Syria and served in Naaman’s household.  She was a wonderful blessing to others even there!

Ergo:  what Israel needed salvation from was not foreign enemies or alien rulers, but her own native sins.  Her own sins always brought on the oppression.  So to regain peace she needed a Savior from sin. 

However, Israel’s leaders, by Jesus time, had it backwards.  They ignored their own sinfulness while seeking for a Messiah who would drive out foreign oppressive rule.  Had they never read the Book of Judges or the Former Prophets?  Didn’t they, after all, understand their ultimate and fundamental need?  Didn’t they see that they actually, ultimately, and always needed One who could save them from themselves?  If they could become wholesome and righteous and clean from sins, oppression would melt away!  If they could make peace with God, He would stop making war on them by sending them oppressors to enact the covenantal curses on their heads for their sins.  Simple, really.

Please note, however, that this by no means implies that this Kingdom of Heaven is not earthly!  There is no contradiction or paradox or dialectic, much less war, between heaven and earth.  The struggle is between the Kingdom of God, from the heavens (where His throne is), and the Kingdom of darkness, from the world, deceived by Satan.  Both of these kingdoms contend for the earth, but by different rules.  (See Zechariah’s Song, Luke 1:69-79.)

All this implies that, although the Jews rightly expected a Messiah who would make an earthly difference, they didn’t understand the only rules that would really work to bring peace with the Romans, prosperity for themselves, along with true happiness, joy and liberty.  Had they known this, they would never have crucified Jesus—their only hope against the might of Rome and its local puppets and deputies, such as Herod and Pontius Pilate.  This Jesus was their true Messiah.  He had demonstrated in outward, tangible, practical ways, the love, joy, peace, graciousness, mercy, provision, kindness, tolerance and amenableness, not to mention honest-to-goodness healing and miracles, big enough to change the weather, that made for enduring peace.  He showed them, in short, God’s Kingdom and justice in earthly substance.

But, at the last, the Jews wanted none of it!  The majority still wanted to wave swords and spears!  They still yearned for the good old-fashioned blood-and-gore methods of winning over their enemies!  They wanted revenge!  They wanted “respect”!  And so they reaped the “abomination of desolation” and the most horrible internecine warfare of their fifteen-century history—70 A.D.  They did it to themselves.  They even called down a curse on themselves and their children just to get Jesus executed!  They did not know “the day of their visitation” with judgment, their date with their grim destiny.  “They that usurp the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).

For the next 250 years, the Christians around the empire started demonstrating what the Kingdom of Heaven over earth could look like.  It wasn’t a perfect representation—certainly no “utopia”—yet it was good enough.  They would exhibit its community, charity, wholesomeness, unity-in-diversity, generosity, resilience, amity, clemency, concord, compassion, etc., just long enough to make others either jealous enough to get in on it themselves, or envious enough to pursue and oppress them even to the point of death for presuming to teach the nations these odd doctrines of peace with God and reconciliation with each other.

Under such conditions, the leaders, who knew the teaching of Jesus the best, were the first targets, leaving the younger generation somewhat imperfectly taught and trained in this counter-cultural practice and explanation of life and destiny.  Over the decades and centuries, something was bound to get lost from memory and practice, despite the continued existence of the missionary writings of the first generation, which became known as the “New Covenant.”  Even so, the widespread existence of these documents held out the promise of recurrent revivals, renewals, restorations, reformations, reconstructions, etc.  Thus has God’s Explanation continued to race on and get glorified or accredited generation after generation.  And it will never stop until Messiah Jesus’ conquest of the world and its kingdoms is made complete by his actual return from on high to consummate the foregone conclusion of his Resurrection from death-by-crucifixion.  Amen.  [1/10/04]

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The Resurrection in Daniel’s Vision of the “Son of Man”

Why is forgiveness so efficacious?  Why does releasing another person from their damaging actions against us, after we have confronted them with their sin, produce peace, even “satisfaction,” within our own hearts?  Could it be because the infraction is outweighed by the fact that a substantial human relationship has been restored, if even in part, by it?  Does the spiritual solidarity of the relationship possibly count for so much that it eclipses the loss caused by the injury?  Do our hearts, souls, minds, and consciences somehow know, by nature, more about such things than we give them credit for?  [9/22/03]

THE “DEAD” CENTER OF THE GOSPEL:  THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS FROM THE DEAD

Christ’s resurrection from the dead is the still point—the “dead center”—around which everything else pivots, both before and after the event.  What happened 50 days later at Pentecost was the first staggering aftershock of it, following the Lord’s Ascension.  There have been many more since!  Similar aftershocks kicked off the so-called “Radical” or “Anabaptist” Reformation, the Scottish Reformation, the French Huguenot prophets, the Moravians, the Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening and Restorationist movement, the Faith Cure movement, the Swedish Free Church movement, the Pentecostal movement, the Charismatic movement, the Vineyard movement, the Toronto Blessing, the Brownsville Revival…and “nothinsgonnastopit” until Messiah, “the Son of Mankind,” returns!  [10/10/03]

“SON OF MANKIND”—HINTING AT THE RESURRECTION

The title “Son of Mankind,” that Jesus used for himself, was undoubtedly intended to take his listeners back, both to the book of Ezekiel, where the expression is used abundantly to refer simply to Ezekiel as a human being, and to Daniel 7:13-14, which refers to his vision of one who is ascending to God.  It reads:  “Perceiving am I in the visions of the night, and behold, on the clouds of the heavens, one as a son of a mortal is arriving:  Unto the Transferrer of Days he reaches, and they bring him near before Him; to him is granted jurisdiction and esteem and a kingdom, and all the peoples and leagues and language groups shall serve him; his jurisdiction, as an agelong jurisdiction, will not pass away, and his Kingdom shall not be confined [that is, to the land of Israel].”  Here is clear reference to a human being approaching the Most High, face to face,Where he was formerly” (John 6:62).  Here is the Explanation of God, who had been toward God since his origin in the Father’s bosom before all ages—the divine event that inaugurated the ages of time itself—now returning to his Father, but now in a (“mortal”) human body that has gotten glorified!  To any Old Covenant Jewish reader, this would have seemed a staggering mystery!  No wonder Daniel said, “Shuddering is my spirit”!  “The visions of my head are flustering me” (Daniel 7:15)!  For the vision presupposed a Resurrection, and that was imponderable!  What or who must such a human actually be in order to be granted an agelong jurisdiction that “will not pass away,” and a Kingdom absolutely without borders?!

Even so, there is not the slightest intimation that this title is intended to convey the impression of “deity.”  Just the opposite!  It is clearly intended to convey that such resplendent awards are being bestowed on a genuine human being, however incongruous that might seem to their contemporary understanding and assumptions.  It is meant to be paradoxical!  But it is certainly not meant to confuse.  Yet the allegation that “Son of Mankind” conveys a sense of the divine is entirely without foundation.  Ezekiel sets the stage by using the expression in an entirely mundane sense.

For Jesus to employ this expression concerning himself was to confirm that its reference is (and was always meant to be) to a natural human being—himself!  But for him to lay claim to this unique title in the prophecy of Daniel, is to lay claim likewise to what the context asserts about him, namely, that he himself would one day reach unto the Transferrer of Days”!  This is like confronting his listeners with the prophetic anticipation of his Messianic glorification before the fact.  It also entails his kingly honors and rights of agelong jurisdiction and unlimited realm!  That such a humble ascription could say so much, and all without hinting at his deity, is truly a marvel of inscripturation.  Daniel’s vision does not divulge how such an exaltation is possible; it merely declares it unflinchingly.  Nor does Daniel presume to grasp it; he can only shudder and get flustered!

However, elsewhere Jesus goes beyond this scene of ascension to claim his throne with his Father and, in similar language, announces his descent as that same Son of Mankind–after sitting at the right hand of God’s power–coming on the clouds of heaven with much glory (Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26, 14:62, Luke 21:27, 22:69).  [12/8/03]

The Constantinian revolution and its Augustinian justification set the church of God on a downward course of forgetfulness about its apostolic roots.  The result was the vulgarization of Christianity into something, by turns, crude, coarse, boorish, uncivilized, cruel, savage, barbaric, vengeful, tawdry, boastful, debased, and degenerate.  It is with us today in gilt and glitz, pride and prejudice.  The path of righteousness and peace it does not know.  Its grace is cheap, its kiss deceitful, its God a Calvinistic caricature to be appeased by blood.  It knows little of the Resurrection, less of the miraculous, and nothing of the common life.  It can create saints in stained glass, but not in flesh and blood.  It says, “Look how rich we are!  We don’t need anything!”  Yet it is poor and blind and wretched.  Its candlestick is but a puff from extinction.  Wake up!  [12/9/03]

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How do we know that GOD IS NOT EVIL OR ESSENTIALLY WRATHFUL?

How do we know for a certainty that God is not ultimately evil?

Answer:  The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah, God’s own Son.  The very allowance, in fact appointing of the Cross, Messiah’s participating in suffering abuse, like us, in connection with the complete reversal and superabundant overcompensation of that unequalled evil via resurrection from among the dead, proves irrefutably that God is ultimately, in the last analysis…in the Last Judgment, just and good!  He’s on our side!  [3/9/03; 7/27/07]

What’s more, we also know the ultimate love and goodness of God by the Spirit that He has put in our hearts by faith!  (Romans 5:5)  [3/9/03]

Jesus, Messiah, has given us:

  1. God’s precepts to keep, leading us to maturity
  2. God’s power, via His promised Spirit from on high, in order to keep them
  3. God’s pardon for our misdeeds and transgressions of them.

What more do we need to motivate us to advance toward his Kingdom?!  [3/18/03]

There wasn’t enough blood in all the cattle and sheep and doves of ancient Israel to cleanse, in addition to the priests, Levites, and sanctuary with all its furnishings and utensils, also the other eleven tribes plus all their houses, buildings, possessions, storehouses, livestock, orchards, vineyards, etc., etc., much less to do it every daySuch culture-wide wholesomeness is only possible in the New Covenant with the overwhelming pouring out of the Spirit of wholesomeness resulting from Messiah’s sacrifice and pouring out of his own blood for cleansing and life-giving.

The shadowy images of the Old Covenant were but hints of what is now made possible by the indwelling power from on high.  The very inner character and contents of Deity is now on the loose in the earth so that “Wholesome to Jehovah” may be inscribed on every cowbell and ratchet wrench!  [4/6/03]

When Christians confess that “God is one,” they mean “the Father and the Son are one.”  This construction is discernible even in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Father and Son are one Deity—the Son begotten from the Father before all ages.  They are identical in contents—graciousness and truth.

When the Son, further, was begotten as a human being—Jesus of Nazareth—he always submitted to the Father’s desire as that became known to him.  And he learned obedience through the abuses he suffered on earth.  Being therefore sinless, he could qualify to die for our sins because he was eligible to be raised from the dead even if killed, with all the overcompensating gratuity of Wholesome Spirit appertaining thereto.  This he gives away in abundance to any and every sinner who trusts him, thus providing life and pardon to all who wish.  [5/16/03]

Is it possible, when we forgive people of their offenses against us while they remain unrepentant of their offenses, that God will then take up our cause and do the avenging Himself?  His explicit desire is that everyone come to repentance about their sins and start loving innocently, without offense, in purity of motive and behavior.  Those who remain stubborn even after being forgiven by many faithful, obediently forgiving Christians, must necessarily evoke God’s ultimate fury and wrath for continuing to cause harm to others and refusing to change their minds and ways.  [7/2/03]

God did not mind in the least that His dear people asked of Him signs and miracles.  It’s only when He gave them a whole history of them and still they would not trust Him that He ran out of patience.  It was only when He finally sent them His own beloved Son, the one begotten from His own bosom, yet they continued demanding signs, having already murdered him and wiped their mouths from blood, but clamored for still more proof, that God finally said enough is enough, you can go to hell, then, since you insist.

Scan forward to 70 A.D. and desolating abominations.  After 40 years of mercy since they crucified their Messiah, whose resurrection constituted the greatest sign and wonder ever bestowed on mankind—on Jews in particular!—that still calloused, stubborn, hardhearted, stiff-necked generation was wiped out in such a show of internecine murder, torture, and cannibalism as the nation had never before witnessed.

God is generous and kind to give sufficient extraordinary proof in every generation of history, but He wants to see some fruit from it, not petulant whining for more and more, because that’s simply bald unbelief masquerading as a legitimate prayer request. [9/18/03]

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Jesus’ PERFECT SUBMISSION to God won him a rightful award of favor to share with all God’s children

The justly-required-award (δικαιωμα) of the Law is life agelong for Christ, God’s own Son , which was both attested (Romans 3:21) and displayed (Romans 3:25-26) via God’s righteousness/justice in raising him from the dead.  God’s righteousness/justice thus vindicated Christ’s sinlessness by awarding or recompensing him with the promised gratuitythe Wholesome Spirit of lifewhich He also gives to be fulfilled and make its home in us, His sons and heirs by sonship/sonhood/adoption, who are walking in accord with and being led by that Spirit, because of Whose dwelling in us (Romans 8:11) God will likewise vivify and raise us!  Because Jesus Christ was just (1 John 2:1), we may live through Him (1 John 4:9, Romans 7:25) since we are in him (Romans 8:1-2) and he, in Spirit, is in us (Romans 8:11, 9-11), as the contents (πληρωμα) that fills us as it did Christ, by baptism/immersion (Romans 6:2-5).  [9/8/02]

By submitting to Jesus, the Son of God, I lose nothing of my humanity.  By acknowledging his Explanation and directives as supreme I am not in the least diminished as a person, but only exalted and honored.  To bow before Deity is the high meaning of my humanity.  By and because of Jesus’ obedient submission to the humiliating and abusive authority of Satan-inspired human beings, he was exalted to the throne of sovereignty and authority over the whole created universe–constituted Master of all.  [10/9/02]

Islam can only “live and let live” at the cost of its own integrity, for it is inherently militant against all religious divergence and diversity.  It has no ultimate solution, no ultimate weapon…except war or, failing that, terrorism.  In the crunch, all else is regarded as compromise and servitude in principle.  We must understand this if we are to deal wisely and winsomely with devout Muslims.

However, Christians have another solution, another weapon:  the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Explanation of God revealed in Jesus the Messiah and Son of God, our Savior.  It is the Proclamation of Messiah’s self-sacrificial death and multi-corroborated resurrection out of death’s cold grip.  He therewith declares a pardon for sins and agelong life to all who trust and obey him as the exclusive way to God, his Father, Who gives His Spirit of wholesomeness and life to all who follow Jesus, making us His dear children.  This Message conquers the fear of death and thus renders its means, methods, and minions ultimately powerless over us.  [11/5/02]

Jesus Christ did not earn the favor of God, he won it by his obedient submission to Him.  And we are the beneficiaries by faith!  [12/25/02]

THE INCLUSIVE CENTRALITY OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION BOTH IN PROCLAMATION AND IN THEOLOGY

Many Christians hold the incarnation of Jesus to be central in Christianity and speak of “incarnational theology,” etc.  Others hold the centrality of the cross of Christ to best characterize our faith on the whole, and emphasize a “theology of the cross” /”theologia crucis.”  However,  the Incarnation cannot be central because it is not inclusive of either the Crucifixion or the Resurrection.  And the Cross cannot be central because, although it presupposes the Incarnation, it does not necessarily imply the Resurrection from among the dead.

Only the Resurrection is inclusive enough of all the essentials of Messiah’s advent and career to serve as the proper center and axis of Christian Proclamation and theology.  Not only does it presume an actual incarnation (against gnosticism, particularly docetism, and later Islam) and an actual death (which the drawn-out process of arrest, double trial before Herod and Pilate, and public, officially supervised execution by crucifixion absolutely assured), but it also turns out to have been (contrary to Western cross-centered views of atonement) the authentic pivot of Biblical soteriology as well.  In fact only such an all-inclusive event could serve as an adequate focus of saving, redemptive expectations.  This powerful event concentrates the revelation of Jesus’ very name–Jehovah-salvation!  The Cross didn’t save Jesus, it killed him.  The Resurrection saved him for all to see, who were willing to!  The Resurrection openly exhibited God’s power for ransom, rescue, redemption, liberation. regeneration, agelong life, immortality, holiness, conciliation, peacemaking, justification (although alternatively to the cross-centered theories of Catholicism and Protestantism), forgiveness, being begotten above, sonship/adoption, and even glorification–in a word, salvationResurrection says it all!

Moreover, the blood of Jesus, as the central symbol of the apostolic message (being the only word in the New Testament actually associated contextually with virtually every other soteriological category), refers also to the Resurrection of Messiah for its own authenticity.  For it is precisely as the unjustly but divinely retributed shed blood of God’s own Resurrected One that this fluid gains its extraordinary meaning and spiritual power for us even today.  This blood lives!  It is life-giving, and that means wholesomeness and healing and righteousness and wealth, etc. for us–especially in the future when we fully inherit God’s Kingdom, yet even now to a rich degree, as a testimony to the truth of Messiah’s covenant promises to all who endure in trusting him and obeying his voice.  [2/22/03; 9/22/12]

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