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) 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 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.

We are all offenders and offended.

To provide a solution he, who did no wrong and did not deserve it, took all of this and deliberately put it on himself instead of onto us, who did. He sent Jesus. 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 and being untrusting (unbelieving) are not the same. 

A key aspect of unbelief is refusing to recognize the reality of our limitations or that of the worlds. 

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, 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 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. In his image.

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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* 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 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 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. 

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 (begets eternally) 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 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 (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 and therefore not perfectly clear) version of the beatific vision. I Cor 13:12, I John 3:2
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.
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.
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 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. 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 characterize beauty.

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 unit [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. 

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 God solves problems is by 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...

here and 

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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.