Saturday, October 21, 2017

Becoming an author

Hey guys, just a heads up that I hope to pursue writing as my a full time vocation. If you wish to, you can help. The following link will tell you how. Thanks for any support you can offer. Grace to you all.

https://www.youcaring.com/jimdeal-986599 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

the greater the evil the greater the healing

When we hear of an incredibility heinous violation of someone, such as rape, or kidnapping of kids and selling them into sex slavery, what possible good could come out of such horrendous actions? How could God possibly use something of such a destructive and heinous nature for good? (It's actually the same question we can ask about the unjust murder of Christ himself). Can God bring good out of such evil? 

3 Things to consider. Such evil results in...
  • A greater awareness, by anyone paying attention, of how desperately evil man's condition and heart is without God (proving the futility of being disconnected from God and the importance and necessity of knowing Him and being restored to Him).
  • How evil and destructive our rebellious distrust of God can be and is
  • How Christ fully understands the pain evil causes by going through his own at the hands of evil actions i.e. his trial and crucifixion. 

Suffering is not the last word. 

We should also consider the suffering someone goes through, no matter how wicked, does not have to be the end of the story or the ultimate destruction of ones soul (though it certainly has that potential if one becomes embittered and more firmly committed to their distrust of God). God can (and will) truly and fully restore those who go through such overwhelming abuse and suffering (and beyond) if they allow him to. If not in this life certainly in the next. In fact, because Christ fully took on all our pain, the greater the losses we suffer in this life, the greater our *potential gain in the next. 

Also, some of the greatest testimonies of his love and grace are from those who have come out of the most abusive pain and are now brilliant lights for him. 

*(it is a potential gain and not certain, only because our trust in God is uncertain, which determines if we do or do not gain from such events. If and when we fully trust him the gain is certain).

In fact he will use evil to do a healing in them they could not and would have never known without that evil. The extent of the healing is (and can only be) in proportion to the evil experienced i.e. the greater the evil the greater the potential healing and appreciation for it. 

Healing occurs precisely because damage is done and is needed most where the damage is greatest. Without damage no healing is required. Without great damage there is no great healing.

What about the next life?

One of our biggest mistakes is to only view things from a temporary perspective. This is the opposite view taken in scripture (2 Cor 4:16-18). If this life was all there was, these horrendous deeds would only be devastating if not irreversible.

This is precisely why the resurrection is so vital and significant. It shouts that pain and death is not the final word... life is!

As Christ said, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his on soul. Wouldn't the opposite than also be true? What great gain it would be to lose the world with all it's benefits and blessings if it became the means of gaining our eternal soul and ultimate bliss (far greater then any pain that brought us to it)? And if we did, how much greater and more appreciated that gain would be. If the pain, suffering and destruction lead to the saving of our souls, would this not indeed be a great gain beyond all comparison. 

Some may argue the wound is too great and deep. How could God heal it? However because the wound is so deep is exactly why the healing can be so great. Even greater and deeper than the wound. As Paul said, where sin abounds, grace super abounds i.e. the abounding is far in excess of the loss. 

All of this is possible only because Christ took the evil of our brokenness into his own body and let it wound and destroy him in the most painful and humiliating manner. An evil more vile and unjust than any of us could know; a wound and pain far greater than any wound we could experience or ever suffer. Our wounds do not carry the full weight of humanities sin. His did. Part of what also makes it so great and distinguishes it from all our pain is his was a wound he was no more guilty of then those who suffer the kind of abuse mentioned at the beginning.

And because he rose to life after his terrible abuse and wounding, those who are so abused can also be raised to life and will be if they are in Christ. Some have testified of the delivery of knowing Christ's love after coming from such a background. This is the work he has done on our behalf and the promise he offers, if we will receive it.




Thursday, October 5, 2017

"performance" or action by faith

What is the difference between

·        action by faith and
·        performance based action 

First, how they are alike. 

They both require

·        choice 
·        effort/action
·        giving to get

So in the above ways they are exactly the same. And this is also why they are so easily confused with each other. Why? Because understanding the difference is a matter of the heart, not just the mind i.e. knowing the movement/motives of our heart. 

However, they are totally different in other very vital ways; in ways not easily identified because they deal with the ways of the heart; hearts that are often hidden from our full awareness. 

Defining terms

Performance is acting to obtain something missing...a sense of "being right," being forgiven, accepted and valued by and through our efforts/actions. It's about proving ones goodness/worth/value by and through self/flesh driven (vs Spirit/love driven) effort/action. 

Action by faith, on the other hand, is acting because of what you have...you already know you are forgiven, accepted and of great value in the eyes of God. Your dependence/trust in the assessment of God is what you base your value/worth on. In other words, action by faith is based on knowing someone of infinite wisdom, judgement and value sees you as good, right and of infinite value/loved (even though practically we often are not good and certainly never good enough). When you believe and fully embrace this (i.e. by faith), you respond accordingly i.e. you love them back. The more you believe his assessment to be true the greater your action.

To operate by faith is possible only because your value to God was proven by actions someone else *took on your behalf i.e. God doesn't just declare you valuable, he treated you as valuable i.e. he took action in and through Christ to prove how much he values you. Christ took these actions so you might enter into and participate in the same love of the Father the Son now fully participates in (and has from all eternity). He wanted you to have what he has; the unlimited, unobstructed love of his Father. So much so he willingly gave up something of that love, that you might fully have it (2 Corinthians 8:9). This is evidence of how great he values you and has infinite love in his heart for you. He finds great joy and satisfaction in knowing he makes this happen for you. 

What kind of actions did Christ take that prove his love?

He set aside the fullness of his glory and took on human form so he could die to settle the debt of your unfulfilled obligation to love and honor God as 1he deserves and you were designed to. This was necessary because your refusal to live according to his design, alienates you from the Father and his love. 

He did this for two reasons. 

1. Because you could not  
2. So you would no longer have to

Christ also lived to fulfill your obligations to live as you were designed i.e. he lived exclusively to show forth to others the great honor and worth of his Father that you were meant and designed to. 

Why would he do all this? He didn't act out of obligation, guilt, need or any other reason. He created you and therefore values (loves) you. You are in his image. 

What do we get, how do we get it? 

So if we, because of Christalready have God's full, unlimited and complete love, what are we getting when we act by faith?

We are "getting" (entering into or participating in) what we already have. 

To fully experience and benefit from his love already fixed upon us and fully ours in Christ, we must participate in it. 

This is like having the most renown gourmet of all time prepare, cook and set out for you the most delicious and healthy meal possible, with all the experience, resources, skill, thought and effort required to prepare it. A meal that would cost far more then usual (at no cost to you btw) or more than you have. A meal specifically and exclusively prepared for you. A meal that looks and smells exquisite. Clearly an act of care and love. 

Yet, one you won't fully appreciate and enjoy until you sit down and actually eat it. When you do, only then (and afterward) will you completely experience and enjoy the thoughtfulness and care (love) intended for you by this highly regarded gourmet chef who prepared it. 

So how do we eat/participate in the infinite love of the Father?

Christ himself tells us how he did when he said the following…

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." Joh 15:9-11  

First we must understand, we are talking about the perfect, infinite and infinitely loved Son of the eternal Father. Nothing Christ did ever caused the Father to love him. The Father loves the Son because of who he is, not because of what he did (though what Christ did certainly confirmed why the father loves the son with infinite affection). Christ and the Father have a love relationship that is constant and has always existed from all eternity past. There has never been a time when the Father and Son did not love each other. And there was 2nothing Christ could do add to it or take away from this infinite love.

Nevertheless Christ still went out early in the morning seeking his Father in prayer. Why? In doing so, was he trying to earn, through his efforts (performance), what was already fully his? NO!!! He did so to more fully participate in the love that was already there and waiting for him to partake in. 

To fully abide in/experience his fathers love he pursued the father's will i.e. followed his directions/commands. And because he loved and fully trusted his father he found joy in doing so. This wasn't a performance to impress his father. It was a demonstration and display of love and honor for the love (Father) of his heart. And there is something about acting on our affections for another that makes them more real. 

How does anyone experience a love relationship? Do they experience it best when they are miles apart and never interact or speak to the one they love? No, the experience occurs best and most when they are fully present, engaged and participating in that relationship e.g. when apart one flies out to be with the other so they can be together or they get on the phone to talk to each other and see how the other is doing and how they can best show their care/love for each other etc. The greater the participation in the relationship the greater the experience of the love that is already there. 

Who has not been in a relationship with someone near and dear, such as a spouse, only to experience the affection of that relationship wane when time is not spend together. Is it not that way with any love relationship. 

If so, why would it not also be the same with us in our relationship with God? Wouldn't it be exactly the same (i.e. we desire and find love through relationship [time spent together] with God just like with others)? Isn't God a relational being as well, just like any person? We are no less relational beings when it comes to God simply because that relationship is with God instead of another fellow image bearer. 

It all starts with and comes from God.

When we consider personhood comes from God as well as relationship; that God is a person in relationship via the Father, Son and Spirit, this makes relation with God even more significant and powerful. A relationship not with just any person but the very person who is the source of love and relationship himself and has always and only existed in relationship. The key difference is God does not need us, we need him. But he enjoys relationship no less. In fact He delights in relationship. He created us for it and is the source of it. It is who he is and it (i.e. love) drives all he does. 

So how do we participate in this love relationship with God? How do you with any relationship. You cherish the other person in that relationship. Some of the ways you do is find out what they like and then you do all you can to do this for them or give it to them i.e. you seek to discover everything you can about them and how you can best carry out their wishes and show them how much you value and love them. In so doing you are saying (by action, not just words) they are important to you. You value them. The greater your effort to do this the greater the evidence of your value/love of them and the relationship you have together. 

This is just as true (maybe more so) with God as in any relationship. 

Joh 14:15  "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 

For a further discussion on love being something other then just feelings click here

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1Because we fail to carry out this primary design of loving and honor God according to the greatness of his worth, we also fail to carry out our secondary design to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

not to suggest Christ's obedience was robotic, automatic or without real challenge as demonstrated in his wilderness temptation, the garden of Gethsemane and cry to his Father on the cross of feeling abandoned.





Saturday, September 30, 2017

Knowing good and evil

Gen 2:17  but from the tree of the knowledge of goodH2896b and evilH7451b you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

What exactly is "the knowledge of good and evil." Whatever it is, it was not something Adam and Eve originally possessed or experienced.

Possibly an analogy would be helpful.

Just as loving [1]parents bring a child into the world and nurture it, so did God with Adam and Eve. Just like a child has no concept of what it's like to no longer have parents caring for them, Adam and Eve had no concept of what it would be like to no longer be willfully connected to God and under his care and direction. 

The all too common rebellion and [2]pulling away of adolescents from their parents is not unlike what Adam and Eve did in the garden. They rebelled from dependence and trust in God and decided they could to be like God and be their own god i.e. they believed they knew what was better for themselves than God did.

As a child develops and matures, it often begins to take for [3]granted the care of his or her parents, believing they can do a better job of caring for themselves; so it was with Adam and Eve regarding God.

Yet, the reality is, if we have truly loving, wise and caring parents, they always know us in a way we don't know ourselves and in that sense they know us better then we know ourselves. 

They also always have something we want or need. If nothing else, their love and desire for our best. It is simply expressed in a different way as we get older but is always there nevertheless. 

Plus, we will always be their child and they will always be the cause (humanly speaking) of our existence and always desire and seek our best.The story of the prodigal son comes to mind. No matter how rebellious his son was, the love of his father never waned. The father looked for his son's return even after and in his rebellion. 

And lastly, they will often have greater wisdom acquired through life experience. They simply have been around longer and know more about how things work due to the life lessons they have gone through

So why the rebellion?

We know what we know but it's what we don't know that often "eats at us" (we don't like being finite and having to trust. We like being in control and independent). We may be tempted to think, what if I can do things better than God (or my parents in the case of a child) or we may even be convinced we can (even though we have no actual evidence). 

When you stop to consider this regarding God, it is the height of arrogance. How could Adam and Eve ever know all things or be the provider and sustainer of all things (and therefore know what was best for them compared to God?). Wasn't this exactly the question and point God made with Job

Possibly we have an example here of the expression "familiarity breeds contempt." Adam and Eve had regular access to God, so their participation in fellowship with him was a common experience. God was always available. They had never experienced a time he was not involved in their lives. Possibly over time they took him for [3]granted and lost sight of how great he truly was (plus maybe the extent of his greatness could only have been appreciated in contrast to no longer participating in it. Like the brightness of a light is most appreciated and evident the darker it is). 

We are curious creatures in that we do not fully appreciate the good we experience or have until we no longer have it. It's as if we must lose something of value first before we can fully appreciate it or be truly grateful for it (and the [4]greater the value the more significant the loss but also the greater the potential learning opportunity and appreciation for what has been lost). 

What exactly is good and evil?

From the verse at the beginning of this article, here are the definitions found in the original Hebrew. Emphasis my own:

Good - H2896b  טוֹב - tob  (375a); from H2895; a good thing, benefit, welfare: — enjoy *(1), good (66), good thing (3), good things (2), goodness (1), graciously (1), happiness (1), happy (1), pleasant (1), prosperity (8), richer (1), well (1), what is good (1), what is good (4).
H2895  טוֹב - tob (373b); a prim. root; to be pleasing or good: — any (1), did well (2), done well (1), fair (1), go well (1), good (1), good (5), high (1), merry (3), please (2), pleased *(2), pleases (4), pleases *(2), pleasing (1), well (8), well-off (1). 
Evil - H7451b  רַע - ra  (948c); from the same as H7455; evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity: — adversity (7), calamity (4), disaster (2), evil (94), harm (2), harmful (1), hurt (1), ruin (3), surely (1), trouble (2), unpleasant (1), wickedly (1), wickedness (1).
H7455  רע - rôa‛BDB (Brown-Driver-Briggs') Definition:1) badness, evil 1a) badness, bad quality 1b) wilfulness 1c) evil, badness (ethical) 1d) sadness
Based on the context of this verse we could sum these definitions up as follows:

Good - God himself and all the benefits, provision and pleasure that come in knowing him and being with him.

Evil - Injury or harm (e.g. death) that comes due to the absence of God and all the good things he provides. 

Before man's rebellion, it doesn't say they did not know good, it says they did not know good and evil i.e. good in contrast to evil. Adam and Eve obviously experience good because they walked with God and enjoyed the garden. The also enjoyed the companionship and joy of union with [5]each other. 

The bottom line... they only knew good not evil. They only knew of his total care and provision. They had no concept of what it would be like to lose him or his [6]provision. They had nothing to compare and contrast this provision and good to in their personal experience (Possibly Adam's seeing the animals having partners when he did not came close to this. But this wasn't harm or loss but something lacking and appears to be more a concern of God's than Adams). 

All they knew about evil is what they were told i.e. the day they ate they would die. They had no concept of death, loss, distress, misery, injury, calamity, adversity, disaster, harm, hurt, ruin, trouble (knowledge of evil) because they had never seen or experienced any of it. What they did know however was God said it was not a good thing and they were asked to trust and believe this warning (a kind of promise in reverse if you will) from God. 

However they definitely knew what good was (even though they had nothing to contrast it with). It was what they were experiencing. With a little deductive reasoning it could be argued they could have at least concluded evil was certainly not the same as good and possibly the opposite of it. Enough, you would think, to deter them from wanting to know what it was with certainty or through first hand experience. Irregardless, God said do not eat. That should have been (in their eyes) and was (in God's eyes) sufficient. 

What is interesting is when tempted, Eve bought into the promise of being like God verses the promise (warning) they would die if they ate. She (and Adam) definitely chose between these two very contrasting and competing options offering by two completely different sources, God vs the serpent. 

Some might argue that it's unfair for God to expect them to heed his warning without knowing the full meaning of it. However if one fully trusted God, this should and would be sufficient. Trust was unavoidable regardless. They simply wound up trusting the wrong party i.e. they trusted the creature (ultimately themselves, encouraged by the suggestion of the serpent) vs the Creator. 

We can only conclude that the primary point of the instruction by God to not eat of the forbidden tree was to trust (not doubt or question) God in those instructions. It was a warning they were expected to believe and heed regardless of whether they [6]fully understood or experienced first hand what evil was or was not (isn't this often the very case now? We are often called to trust even when we don't always understand). 

But why trust? The fact is man will never know all things apart from God simply because he is finite and God is infinite. To say it another way, man was never intended to be all he was designed to be apart from God and dependence on (trust in) him. 

Man will always need to depend on God for true knowledge simply because God is infinite and we are not...something that sticks in our crawl even today if we are honest. The heart and essence of the desire to "be like God" was (and is) a rejection of this dependence and the necessity to trust. 

It is this very disposition of independence that God is reversing in and through Christ. Ironically, he uses pain and suffering (evil) from our attempts at inappropriate independence to do so. 

God uses evil for good

Now that we experience loss, the ongoing lesson God seeks to instill in all of us (using our loss to aid in this) is all we are and have i.e. all good comes from God. So even though evil is not good, the harmful consequences/loss of our pulling away from God is the means of helping us to understand a vital reality; distrust of (independence from) God is bad and trust of (dependence on) God is good. To say it another way, all good comes from God, all bad is due to the absence of God. Evil is incorporated to aid us in seeing this. Or as I once heard it said, "if God could not use evil for good, evil would not exist"(source unknown).

Knowing that all good is in God alone and only comes from him is the simple reality of how things are and how our world was and is designed to operate. He alone is God, the provider and sustainer of all things. When God calls us to recognize this, he is not on an ego trip, he's seeking our good. It simply is the reality of how things are; what is; how things are designed to operate and how they operate best when adhered to i.e. God is the giver and sustainer of all things, so if you wish to live life fully as intended, live life accordingly. In doing so you will find the greatest meaning purpose and joy simply because this is who we are and who God is. Believe it or not. 

For additional thoughts on what occurred at the fall click here
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[1]Of course the analogy breaks down in that the gap of wisdom and love between God and us is beyond comparing to that of our earthly parents. God is perfect. Our own or any earthly parent is not. God alone is perfect love, wisdom and he alone has total ability (is "all powerful") to put all his other attributes fully into play i.e. he along is able to insure we experience his love and wisdom to the fullest extend possible; human parents are not e.g. a human parent can't absolutely insure a particular outcome or prevent irreparable destruction due to a child's poor choice, or use our bad choices for our good, whereas God can and does use all things to bring about our ultimate good.

[2]Leaving our parents is not a bad thing if we leave in a posture of fullness and not in order to find it i.e. we don't leave to "get away" from our parents but to honor them. When we do, we seek to pass along and multiply what we received from them, thereby bringing them honor. Possibly this would have occurred if Adam and Eve had not rebelled. They were, after all, originally mandated to be fruitful and multiply before the fall. 

I am also aware some who read this may not relate at all to what it's like having loving parents or possibly any parent. 

What if you didn't have such perfect parents growing up? 

If you are his child you have now. 

If you are not his child, he offers to be for you what you never had. 
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. Psalm 27:10 (KJV) 
(CEV)  Even if my father and mother should desert me, you will take care of me.
(ERV)  Even if my mother and father leave me, the LORD will take me in.
(ESV)  For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
(GNB)  My father and mother may abandon me, but the LORD will take care of me.

[3]Taking for granted the goodness of God and the blessings Adam and Eve experienced may have actually been the true "original sin" or at least the soil out of which it sprang. The eating of the fruit was merely the outward evidence of an inward disposition that had developed and already existed, if only for a brief moment before the eating. 
[Though there is no indicated of an extended period of time regarding this decline in disposition, this alone does not mean it didn't exist. The bible is often very concise and only touches on key points in conveying events that may have occurred over a period of time, such as Lot's wife turning to salt. (This is believed by some commentators to be the natural result of exposure to the air of the very salty Dead Sea after she died from the heat of burning sulfur, instead of a sudden event as depicted in the Hollywood version). We also see this in the gospels when one gospel will have a more concise explanation of an event and another a more extended version.
 What we do know is both trees were there from the beginning and were also next to each other in the center of the garden where neither could easily be missed or avoided. It is probably safe to assume they ate from the tree of life and possibly often over a period of time since they were allowed to eat of all tree's except the one. And since the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was right there next to the tree of life, you can be sure they passed by it often and likely could see it often if not continuously being it was in the center next to the tree of life. 
 The fact that Eve said they also could not touch the tree suggests touching it had crossed her mind or possibly Adam added this caution to insure Eve would not even go near it at all. If so, why would Adam give this added instruction, if he did? Maybe he himself had felt the allure of the tree? Since we don't know, we can only speculate and that is all this indented comment is; speculation. But certainly questions worth considering.] 
Gen 3:6  So when (however long that took. It appears to all be within a brief period) the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 

The availability of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was simply the opportunity and means of displaying this taking of God for granted and the resulting distrust and ingratitude.

[4]The reality is complaining about what we do not have or what we lost is to not understand everything we are and have is a gift from God to begin with, not a right or something we are owed, earned or is deserved.   

[5]Possibly they lost sight that the joy of their relationship was a gift from God as well and therefore they thought their relationship would be just as good without Him as it was with him i.e. since they had each other, they didn't need God, not realizing that the actual joy they found in each other was by and from God indirectly. 

[6]God allowed man to continue having access to his creation. What does this say to us about how we handle others in terms of showing kindness and doing good deeds for them in their rebellious independence from God i.e. what can we learn from God who allowed Adam and Eve to continue to participate in the good gifts of life (creation) even in their rebellion? Wouldn't he have been justified in letting them die immediately on the spot? In the earliest records in scripture about humanity we see grace; we see God seeking them out and hinting of a future provision while providing for their immediate need.  

Yet God did not allow access to the garden itself for their own good. God already knew man would abuse the creation and use it to maintain his independence from him. So being put out of the garden [which is the location of the tree of life and where God manifested his earthly presence at that time] and experiencing the curse of thorns and thistles due to Adam's breaking away from God, was actually God working for their ultimate and eventual good.

It appears that knowing evil was a necessary part of more fully appreciating and enjoying good. In truth evil accentuates the beauty of good as long as we do not allow it to embitter us to the point we no longer can trust in good again.  

[6]We see no indication of God explaining evil or death to Adam (Eve found out of God's warning from Adam, since she was created after the caution was given). We simply see him cautioning him of it.

However we must remember God himself knew good and evil (Gen_3:5,22) so this knowing in itself could not be wrong or bad (at least not for God) as there is only goodness in God. This knowing by God was simply an awareness of harm and death as well as the goodness and bliss of love between the Father Son and Spirit. 

The knowing of good and evil may not in itself have been Adam and Eve's problem either but rather how they acquired that knowledge was i.e. they obtained it illegitimately by going against God's warning. 
But we may wonder how and when did God ever have first hand knowledge and experience harm or loss i.e. evil?

The possible explanation is God is everywhere present. This not only addresses the spatial but also the temporal i.e. It applies to time as well as location. 

There is no time with God. Everything is in the present for him i.e. everything simply is for him. This seems to be God's point when Moses asked God what to tell Israel to call him. God simply said tell them "I AM" sent you. God is. There is no "it will be one day" with or for God in the ultimate sense. Everything already is for God, always has been and always will be throughout eternity. Hard to grasp but this is a key difference between the infinite and the finite. All of history and all future events as well as present experience and observation is not something that occurs in a linear progression for God (even though he somehow really and truly stepped into time through creation and the incarnation and now fully and gladly participates in it. But this addresses Gods experiencing time. It does not mean he is limited or constrained in his infinite knowledge by it). 

To say it another way, time is a part of the created order, it is not an inherit part of God. Before God created, God is; there simply is no time for God. God can and certainly does participate in time but it only became so when he created, not before. And it is only because he willingly chose to participate, not because he had to as we do. Once God created, not only the material world came into existence but also time itself, for the first time, became reality. His participation in time reached its pinnacle when he took on flesh and walked among his creatures and creation.

What is intriguing is in a very real sense, once we step into eternity, we too will no longer experience or be restrained by time as we now are. 

To get a little sense of what it might be like to not participate in time, think of the expression "time flies" when we are engaged in something we enjoy. It is the enjoyment itself that is our focus not time. If we had no restraints of the ebb and flow of energy and resources, we would be oblivious to time. This may give us some idea of what things are like for God and will be like for us as well. Once we enter into eternity, time will no longer matter to us in the same way it does now since those things we usually associate with time will no longer exist i.e. it may be an aid but not a burden.




Monday, September 25, 2017

God binds himself to time

Christ honoring his Father by becoming a man, stepping into time and taking on the suffering of the cross allowed him to act on his eternal love for the Father in a way he had never done before. He not only demonstrated his love for us as needy and lost rebels, but also demonstrated his love for his Father in a new way. 

Not because the Father needed proof of his Sons love, but so the Son could demonstrate the greatness of his Father and his love for him by *acting in a way he had not before. 

We get a hint of the uniqueness of this when we are told that Christ "learned obedience through the things he suffered." As John Piper points out, this was not Christ going from disobedience to obedience, but Christ going from untested obedience to tested obedience. Christ's love for the Father was put to task, if you will, for the first time in a new and unique way. 

It was this same love that moved God to create us, then restore us even after we set aside and abandoned our love and trust of him. 

The love of Christ was so great (for both his Father and us), Christ gave up the preciousness of his full glory and communion with his Father and set it aside (for a time) so he might bring others into that same eternal union, communion and glory he knows and has know from all eternity past. 

And in so doing he now also knows the joy of honoring and pleasing his Father in a way he had not before by seeing this love received and rejoiced in by others (others outside of the Father, Son and Spirit). A love drawn out of others for his Father, made possible only because of the sacrifice he made. Christ gave up something of that which was most precious to him (the constant, unobstructed, uninterrupted love of his Father) so others might also have it (John 15:11;17:13; Matthew 25:23). And in giving it, he found (finds) great joy (Hebrews 12:2)

As the Father sends me so I send you
  
In the same way that Christ demonstrated his love for the Father by his actions, our showing love by our actions is the clearest way of expressing our love for him and others. Words are important, but actions give evidence of the love we speak of. This is why Christ asked Peter three times to feed his sheep if Peter truly **loved  him. Don't just say you love me Peter, show me. And also why we are told that if we love Christ, we will keep his commandments


Prior to the actual act of the incarnation, love ***involving sacrifice was only a thought that had not been acted upon and expressed in the way it was. A thought in the mind of God (as Father, Son and Spirit) from all eternity past that actually took place at a specific time in a way it had not occurred  prior to the actual event. There was real action in real time. The timeless God for the first time, somehow limited himself in and by time, entering into and participating in time itself. God for the first and only time, had interjected himself into his creation (and specifically us, his image bearers) through Christ and inextricably bound himself to it (us) in love from that point until now and for the rest of eternity. 

John 17:5  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence (again) with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 

John 17:22  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one

John 17:24  Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 

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*When love is true it moves one to act on behalf of the one(s) loved.  Acting in love is the completion of it i.e. perfect love is not just a feeling or only words, it is more. It is acting out and upon those feelings. If there is no action there is no true (perfect) love. 

**Christ kept asking Peter regarding agape, not phileo, with which Pete kept responding...

Joh 21:15  So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love G25 Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love G5368 You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." 

Jesus asked (3x) "do you agapao me..." 

G25ἀγαπάω - agapaō; of unc. or.; to love: - beloved (8), felt a love for (1), love (1), love (75), loved (38), loves (20).

Peter kept answering (also 3x) "You know that I phileo you..."

G5368φιλέω - phileō; from G5384; to love:

Thayer Definition:
1) to love
1a) to approve of
1b) to like
1c) sanction
1d) to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome, befriend
2) to show signs of love
2a) to kiss
3) to be fond of doing
3a) be wont, use to do

***Possibly this is what is meant by God "knowing good and evil." Because God is not restricted to or by time regarding his knowing of all things, in a very significant way (if not in real actual time) he and the Son also knew of the death of the Son prior to it actually happening, while still really and truly participating in this at that time it occurred. We get a hint of this when we are told that Christ "...was slain before the foundation (i.e. creation) of the earth..."



Sunday, September 17, 2017

Only God is good

We often hear the expression "he is a good person" or "they are good people." But what exactly is a good person; what makes us truly good?

Good people are plugged in people; people plugged in to the Father, the source of all goodness.

We not only know this from scripture in general but the following passage may give us the most striking example.

"And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." Luk 18:18-19 

This is a very curious statement. Christ seems to suggest that he himself has no goodness ("...why do you call me good…"); only his Father ("...God alone..." ) is good. However we are told elsewhere that Christ was without spot or blemish i.e. he had no sin. Christ too is perfect and good. So exactly what is Christ saying here?

Some might argue that this was actually a roundabout way of making a claim to be God himself since we know elsewhere in scripture that he too is good. So when he said God alone is good, since he himself was (and is) God, he was referring to himself. And though he certainly was God the Son, this doesn't seem to be his point since he speaks of God in contrast to himself ("...no one...except God..." who was his Father, distinct from him as the Son). 

I think the essence of what Jesus was suggesting is all goodness, even his own was (is) by virtue of his being in [1]relationship with his Father, the source of all goodness i.e. Christ was not saying he was (is) not good but rather his own goodness was the fruit of his relationship with his Father. To say it another way the goodness of Christ was a genuine and real goodness but also a goodness [1]derived from being in union (one) with his Father who is good. 

Keep in mind we are told Christ was the radiance and only expression of the glory of God, and the exact representation and perfect imprint of His essence... not the other way around i.e. the Son emanates (issues forth) from the Father to put the Father on display. The Father does not emanate from the Son (though he does display himself through the Son). Just as the Spirit issues forth from both the Father and the Son. So in this sense the Father is the source of everything, even the Son i.e. who is [2] the only begotten of (eternally comes from) the Father. 

This is not a matter of Christ being created. He is the co-eternal and co-equal God along with the Father and the Spirit. This is about the nature and dynamics of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. 

If this is an accurate interpretation of this passage (and I think it is), and fit's the rest of scripture, what is Christ telling us? What is his point?

If Christ, who is perfect, was good by virtue of his union and relationship with the Father how can we (who are sinful and imperfect) ever hope of being good without that same union and relationship with the Father. Are we not good only by virtue of being plugged in to God himself, the source of all goodness?

How do we plug in?

If so, how do we plug-in? By receiving the love of the Father through Christ.

How do we receive that love? By God revealing himself to us in Christ through his Spirit. 

Where does God reveal Christ to us? Through his word and people; not just any people but people who are also plugged in to the God of all goodness.

As a man operating solely in the power of the Spirit, Jesus was our example. He showed us not only what to do but how to do it i.e. By abiding in the Father's goodness and love.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you (i.e. not only do I love you with the same love the Father has for me but I love you as I receive it from him i.e. "As the father has loved me, so have I loved you...[in the same way and by means of that love] "). Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just (in the exact same way) as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." - Jesus - John 15:9-10

It should be noted that the Fathers love of his Son was a fixed reality. This verse however suggests the manifestation of that love and Christ's experiencing it was based on his abiding in it through faithfulness (i.e. obedience) to his Father.

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[1]  For a fuller discussion God as a being of relationship click here
[2]  For a fuller discussion on "only begotten" click here