Monday, June 26, 2017

Hard wired for greatness

Reducing people to something 1less than human (such as holding someone as a political or emotional prisoner or hostage) isn't tolerated long by those being abused. 

Why? Because we are image bearers of one who is of infinite worth, we can not remain long in a state of being treated without dignity (unless we have lost hope of finding relief). We will find a way... one way or another to fill the void and pain of worthlessness (being treated as such) and relieve that pain or die trying (if we ever lose complete hope of obtaining a sense of worth/ meaning/purpose, we will end our lives). 


We applaud the human spirit. We love it when someone, against all odds, refuses to give in to the struggles and set backs of life and fights back against being treated as less then they are (and were designed to be). Instead of giving up, they battle back against opposition, defeat and pain to eventually rise and 2overcome it. The greater the struggle, the more we cheer when they overcome it. The sweetest victory is the one that occurs after it seems least likely to happen.

This is why we love an epic battle of 3good vs evil in movies such as Star Wars (box office sales prove the universal appeal) or any movie that depicts an underdog overcoming seemingly overwhelming adversity such as "Rudy", "Hoosiers" or "Shawn Shank Redemption." We love it when these underdogs are in the battle of their life and desperately losing (or considered "losers") than, against all odds they come back and win. Super Bowl LI with the history making come back of Tom Brady and the Patriots also comes to mind. Even if you didn't like the Patriots you still may quietly respect and maybe even admire their "never quit" approach to the game. At a minimum you will at least wish your team had the same focus and determination.

Why does this connect so deeply within us all? Why do we cheer the Rocky's of the world so enthusiastically?  

We desire greatness and we cheer those on who achieve it. We are all wired for infinite worth. To engage it, experience it and live it!

We all look and hope for something more. Even to the point we live it out vicariously through various celebrity types. We worship "successful" people because it makes us feel important. "Check it out! I know this or that about so and so (sharing something about some well know celebrity)!! Wooowhoooo!!"" If we ever lose hope of obtaining some sense of value/importance/worth, we give up and die. 

But why is this? Why such universal appeal? 

We are all hard wired for greatness because we are hard wired for (to engage, participate in and experience) GOD who is greatest

We are all wired for GOD. And not just any god but the only true God who created and sustains everything; who is of infinite worth, greatness and beauty. A God we were designed to fully engage, experience and enjoy. 

Because we were wired to engage and experience greatness i.e. God himself, we long for it (greatness) because he is greatest. 

However we settle for far less than we were designed for. We settle for the finite when we are designed for the Infinite i.e. the things of creation instead of the Creator. We go about life content (but only short term; moment to moment, like a bee constantly seeking pollen) when we experience the slightest little thing that affirms us. 

But only the Infinite will do. Why? Because we were designed for the Infinite, Almighty, All Glorious, Majestic and Beautiful God! Ultimately nothing else can or will do.  

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 1 Who are of great value as God's image bearers (and therefore need to experience/feel and participate in great value)

2 This is why death is so gut wrenching and puzzling. It just feels wrong. We have an innate sense, life should never end (and we only give up on living when we can no longer acquire or enjoy the things of life as easily as we grow older or somehow are unable to enjoy the fruits of this life). Even though death is a common part of our existence, instinctively we know death is an aberration not a normal part of life.  

This is also why resurrection...life overcoming death, is such an exciting and appealing message/reality. This is why the resurrection of Christ is so vital.

3 Note what characterizes good verse evil is rooted in being treated or not treated with value; being loved as we wish to be loved, treated as we wish to be treated. Where does this come from? It goes directly to the infinite worth of God himself. To explore this more click here

Friday, June 23, 2017

Offenders and offended

God abhors evil (wrong doing) because he loves those it harms. He hates precisely because he loves first

This same love moves God to be patient with us in our wrong doing and the harm we cause others. He does not delight in our harm or perishing no more then he delights in our harming and destroying others. He equally values all who are created in his image.

So it appears God has a dilemma. He loves both the offender and the offended.


How did God resolve this?

Because of our brokenness, spiritual bankruptcy and inability to operate (to love others) as we were designed and because of his infinite love for us and complete hatred for the wrongdoing that entangles and destroys us all, he provided the solution himself. God sent someone else (who came willingly out of love for him and love for us) to remedy this dilemma by having this other person (willingly) suffer the consequences in our place. 


*Someone who did no true harm or offense (except calling out others on their arrogance...which of course they found offensive). 

He did this so both those who harm (offend) and those who are harmed (offended) might not have to reap long term destruction for the harm they cause others i.e. so they wouldn't have to take care of their indebtedness to restore the loss/harm they caused others because someone else paid it for them.

We are all offenders and offended.

To provide a solution he, who did no wrong and did not deserve the consequences of wrong doing, took all of this and deliberately put it on himself instead of onto us, who did. He sent Jesus, the eternal, faultless Son of God. He now invites you to accept his gift and experience the fullness of his love that moved him to offer it.


This is why it's call amazing grace!!

Psa_85:10  Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Isa 53:3  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

5  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

*Evil - רַע   (pronounced ra) (948c) in the Old Testament Hebrew; 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).

For a further discussion regarding evil click here.  

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*in order for someone else to credit us with righteousness (God honoring living) and to bear the consequences of our unrighteousness (rebellious unbelief leading to God dishonoring living), they could not have any of their own unrighteousness (rebellious unbelief) and had to live fully for the glory of God (be righteous). The only sacrifice that could meet this was a "lamb without spot and blemish" (no flaws, sins i.e. no unfaithfulness to living for God's honor but total faithfulness. Someone who loved God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves). The only person to do that was the eternal Son of God and Son of man, Jesus Christ. 


Friday, June 16, 2017

Shifting hope

We get frustrated (or angry) with the struggles of life because intuitively we know pain and struggle is not what we were originally created for. We were ultimately created for a relationship of infinite, uninterrupted love, joy and bliss; not merely finite (limited/temporary) relationships or relationships with things finite.

We long for a relationship of *infinite love. When we can not find it we go after anything else we can "get our hands on" to give us that sense of love, glory, meaning, value etc. Yet we never truly find long term what we seek. We only experience tastes of it in fits and starts. 

Even for those blessed enough to be in a healthy relationship(s)... one(s) they are truly grateful for, it still is not enough. We long for more because we were designed for more...far more. 

Until we realize what we long for will not and can not be found in this life, we go through life constantly disappointed and always frustrated. 

Only when we come to a place that we know what we really long for is not here but yet to come, does the frustration subside. Our hope shifts and we enter into a true and lasting hope and begin to pursue all other things in light of this new hope. 

Rom 5:2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Heb 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

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*Once true (perfect, infinite, uninterrupted) love is awakened, we desire more with even greater intensity and ultimately with everything that is in us. 

Usually the closest we come to this is when we "fall in love" for the first time. But it isn't sufficient because perfect, infinite, uninterrupted love is what we are designed for. This is our ultimate and true hope and only this love will do.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Eternal progression

Being finite (limited) and being untrusting (unbelieving) are not the same. 

Being finite is not *bad or wrong, it is simply what we are i.e. we are limited, not unlimited. We have the capacity to participate in the unlimited but only when we are connected with God. 

A key aspect of unbelief (rebellion) is refusing to recognize the reality of our limitations or that of the rest of creation. 

e.g. Adam was told he was not suited to know good and evil **(yet) i.e. He was limited/finite. Yet he bought into the lie he could be his own god (someone with no limits) and no longer needed to be the limited/finite being he actually was; a being dependent on the truly and only infinite, unlimited, self sufficient one (i.e. God), for life, love and all things.

In eternity the means by which we will continue to progress is not by faith as we do presently (since we will then be face to face with God and relate to him by sight) but instead, by an ever increasing expansion of our being in greater union with the infinite source of love and life.

And because God is infinite our expansion/progression will never cease i.e. We will always be increasing in our capacity to experience and enjoy more and more of God throughout eternity. There will never come a point we will "arrive" i.e. stop expanding in our experience, for there is no end to the infinite or our capacity to experience him. 

The reason our capacity will be ever expanding is we are like God i.e. We are in God's image, designed to experience him to the maximum of who he is, without ever becoming God ourselves. 

Love is the common factor in our ongoing transformation/progression both now and in eternity. 

The love of God presently revealed to us by the Spirit through faith is what transforms us now and in eternity. The difference in eternity is that love will be experienced directly and seen face to face and not by faith i.e. No longer through a glass darkly.

* For a fuller discussion click here

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*Being limited is considered bad by many, particularly those more tied into eastern philosophy who advocate man is unlimited. They say the reason for his problems is he has not yet learned to "tap in" to himself as infinite beauty, strength and wisdom. Though we have the capacity to participate and enjoy infinite beauty, strength and wisdom this is not the same as saying we are these things within ourselves i.e. independent of God who is the source of these things. To say it directly God is he source, we are not. 

**Some have speculated that as Adam and Eve matured they might have eventually been allowed to eat of the tree. The reasoning is everything God made (all trees) were good. And knowing good and evil was an attribute of God himself and therefore must have been a good attribute but one that required something Adam and Eve did not yet have but over time might have developed. I am not sure I subscribe to this notion but it is an interesting one.  

Of course the challenge to this view is Christ "was slain before the foundation of the world" i.e. the fall at a minimum was anticipated if not planned. So a scenario that does not include the fall is purely speculation, not to mention an inferior option, otherwise it would have occurred if you believe God is the all wise Creator and Sustainer of all things/events. 



Friday, June 2, 2017

The essence of God's life (and therefore ours)

The below thoughts are inspired by Kyle Strobel's comments from an interview with Tony Reinke as Kyle reflects on insights from Jonathan Edwards. Direct quotes by Kyle Strobel are enclosed by " "

For the full interview click here  

Beatific 


Gods self-knowledge is beatific. It is not a sterile, unattached, impersonal knowing of facts or simple information about Himself, it is personal, affectionate and relational knowledge. It is a knowing that causes the one who knows to desire/long for (it is affectionate) the one beheld/known. This is all due to the beauty of God. In short, God's life is beatific vision. 

Christ is God's perfect self understanding. An understanding so exact and complete it manifests/generates (eternally begets) a completely distinct and separate person (also with his own distinct understanding and will) as the only (eternally) begotten Son. 
The Father delights in the beauty of the Son (the Fathers exact and perfect self understanding [Logos] and perfect image of himself) 

and  

The Son enjoys the Father's delight. 

The Spirit

God's life (Spirit/Love) springs forth from (out of) beatific vision i.e. the beholding of the infinite beauty of the Son (the perfect self understanding/Logos of the Father) and the Son's response of mutual delight/love (Spirit) of his Father flows (overflows) out (as the Spirit) to his creatures/creation (particularly his image bearers [us] who are most able to participate in and enjoy this mutual delight in the beauty of God).
The Father generates the only begotten Son. The Son and Father gazing upon one another in love generates the Spirit as love.

Perfect and infinite knowledge of the beauty of God produces perfect and infinite love/affections as (in the form of) the Spirit.

God's life is religious affection (inward; generated from within between the Father and the Son) and pure act (outward; flowing out to others).

The Son is the perfect (exact) image of God and the Spirit is the illumination of that image.

God's life consists of (is) 

Perfect and infinite knowledge (understanding/Logos) 

and  

Perfect and infinite love/affections (will/Spirit) 

We are like God

All knowledge of God is affectionate knowledge i.e. A kind of knowledge that always produces affections, desires, longings. It is true of God and therefore, as his image bearers, must also be true of us.

"The knowledge he has in his own life governs how we know him as well."
"Religious affection is seeing God in his true beauty and thereby knowing God and having your affections inclined towards him."

"The only way for us to know God is through God's self revealing."

"You can't have true knowledge of God without having your heart inclined towards him because all knowledge of God is affectionate."

"Because this is true in God's life it has to be true in our life."

Partakers of God's very own nature

"The sight of the Father Christ has by nature we are given by grace."

2Pe 1:3-4  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of *sinful desire. 

...His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness..

How? ...through the knowledge of him. i.e. God has given (it is by grace) us everything we need to participate in and experience life and godliness.

...he has granted to us his precious and very great promises... 

How? By his own glory and excellence i.e. By his infinite worth and perfect action/conduct

Why? So that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.
Beholding God by faith is a darkened (dim...because it is not direct but indirect [i.e. by faith] and therefore not perfectly clear) version of the beatific vision. I Cor 13:12, I John 3:2


Beholding God now and in the future

We behold God now by faith (i.e. not directly, face to face) and will behold him in eternity by sight but in both instances the common denominator is beholding him i.e. Being caught up and participating in the beatific vision (the eternal delight of the Father gazing upon his Son and his Sons response of joy/delight). 

In both cases (now by faith and in eternity by sight) this beholding is a progression. As we see God now by faith we are changed as our faith increases. As we see God in eternity by direct sight we will also be changed as our understanding/view/experience of him in all his glory, majesty and beauty grows fuller/clearer. It grows not because we don't have direct sight but because God is infinite and seeing all that he is will never come to an end. 

The process of change in eternity has nothing to do with sinfulness, for Christ himself increased in faithfulness (learned obedience through the things he suffered), yet his learning also had nothing to do with being sinful but with being incarnated as a finite man i.e. as a perfect yet finite man his relationship with his Father progressed/grew. Sin wasn't the reason for change, his being finite (during his incarnation) was.  

As finite creatures, we too will constantly be growing in our relationship and understanding (and joy) of the infinite i.e. God. The reason is because there is no end to the infinite i.e. God. Therefore we will never reach the "end", "bottom" or "top" of God.

God has created us like himself with the capacity to participate in the Infinite. Our beholding him will increase by virtue of him being infinite and our being finite i.e. We will always be expanding since we will never arrive i.e. we will never be infinite in our knowing and seeing since only God is infinite (yet we are eternal).

Beauty

Primary beauty is God's love life i.e. The life of love that transpires between the Father and Son in and by the Spirit. 

All knowledge of God is visual so all knowledge of God is beholding his beauty. Not a physical but a spiritual beauty and beholding. 

Why is it when we see something beautiful it "takes our breath away?" Because beholding God (the most beautiful/glorious) is an affectionate knowledge. All other beholding of beauty is a faint reflection. 

We are draw to (we move/take action toward) and have affections for that which is beautiful. Why?  Because we were ultimately made for God who is infinite and primary beauty, the cause of everything else which is beautiful. Everything else is secondary beauty and a glimmer/manifestation of God, who is the Creator of all things (i.e. secondary beauty) which it meant to point to him who is primary beauty. 

Spiritual vs physical beauty

Since God is not physical, per se, the beauty of God is also not physical but relational (he took on human form in Christ but he is not "human form." It is not the essence of his being (i.e. human form is not part of his essential nature). The beauty of God is not something we physically behold but something we see displayed in relationship i.e. relationally vs physically. 

Harmony is a quality of relationship that characterizes beauty within God.
What is relational beauty? It is harmony within diversity (e.g. Christ is equally God and man. God reveals himself to us most fully as a *man. The diversity of the finite and infinite unite [harmonize] in one being, the God/Man). It is when things which are very different from each other work in harmony (driven by and due to love). Such as the love/harmony between and man and women, who are wired differently, both emotionally and physically. It is also how God exists/relates as the triune God; to himself as Father, Son and Spirit, and to us his image bearers. 

*He does so, because we are human and he values "humanness" i.e. humanity. When he finished creating he proclaimed over his physical creation "it is very good." 

Things you would normally consider not working together, work because of love. This is the essence of beauty and what makes something beautiful.   

Physical beauty is secondary beauty. Relational beauty is primary beauty. 
Primary beauty is God's own life. 

God is beauty, because God is love and life. All of this makes God glorious. 

The way problems are solved is by God being present. Since God is life and all problems are a manifestation of the absence of life, Gods presence is the solution. And this is because the essence of life is love/value/glory. Because we were made for love/value/glory we are most complete when we participate in these i.e. When we participate in God himself and his life...when he is most present with us and we with him.  

A thorough discussion of the ideas that inspired the above comments is discussed extensively in Kyle Strobel's book "Jonathan Edward's Theology:A Reinterpretation"
For related thoughts to the above, starting with the basic and progressing to the more technical...

click here 

here and 

here.

For a thorough discussion by Kyle Strobel of the beatific vision click here

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*How are we freed from sinful desire? By finding a superior desire that is more satisfying then the one we wish to be freed from. If you wish to lose your appetite for cold fast food (which is better then nothing if you are starving and nothing else is available), eat freshly prepared gourmet cooking...or better yet, find a gourmet cook that delights in feeding you.