January 5, 2015

The Church: Mysteries and Prizes

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, The Church, The Dispensations tagged , , , , , at 3:07 PM by E. M.

Arranged MarriageIn the 6th Dispensation, those who choose to accept the gift of Salvation are given a new heart which can be influenced and guided by the Holy Spirit to be always and completely right and just. This influence is called Grace. The group of people who intentionally strive to live by grace are referred to in the Bible as “The Church”.

As we saw in the last post, the Church is unique in all dispensational history as it is a direct conduit to the Meaning of Life.

The term “Church” is first used by Jesus (in the future tense) as something He would build on the “rock” (or foundation) of declared belief in Him as the Redeemer. “Church” is translated from the Greek term “ecclesia”, which means to be “called out” [chosen and separated for a special purpose].

 

The Church is referred to as a “mystery” by the Apostle Paul (who wrote most of the New Testament). But not in the sense in which we currently use the term (something that is unknown). The Greek term used by Paul is “mustérion” which is a reference to something previously hidden that is being divinely revealed.

From the standpoint of the Dispensations, the overarching “mystery” is the seed plot of history – that God literally planted the seed that would result in His plan being fulfilled as a part of the judgments rendered after the failure of the 1st Dispensation. When God said that the “seed of the woman” would be the undoing of Satan’s claim on humanity, He gave the first hints of that mystery which has been carried through the entire Biblical narrative of redemption.

So what specifically is the “mystery” about the Church that was able to be revealed after the Redeemer completed His work? And what is it “called out” to be?

Paul makes it clear in the above referenced verse that the mystery he’s revealing is that marriage is a reflection of the Meaning of Life, and that the Church is the Bride of Christ! This essentially completes the loop I started when I first mentioned that the Meaning of Life is marriage!

The institution of marriage is vitally important to God because it is the divine dress rehearsal for the eternity that He intended for man to have with Him.

Unfortunately, the current process and institution of marriage bears little to no resemblance to the one originally ordained by God (and in some cases, its not even close). As such, it would be extremely useful and revelatory to take a look at the ancient Jewish wedding process and see how it relates to the Church.

The following is an excerpt from the Koinonia House website:

The first step, the Ketubah, or Betrothal, was the establishment of the marriage covenant, usually when the prospective bridegroom took the initiative and negotiated the price (mohair) he must pay to purchase her.

Once the bridegroom paid the purchase price, the marriage covenant was established, and the young man and woman were regarded as husband and wife. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified – set apart – exclusively for her bridegroom. As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the father of the groom arranged gifts to be given to the bride which was symbolic of a promise providing a legal tie between the two.

After the marriage covenant was established, the groom left his bride at her home and returned to his father’s house, where he remained separated from his bride for approximately 12 months. This afforded the bride time to gather her trousseau and prepare for married life.

During this period of separation, the groom prepared a dwelling place in his father’s house to which he would later bring his bride. At the end of the period of separation, the bridegroom came – usually at night – to take his bride to live with him… Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the time of his coming. As a result, the groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, which announced her imminent departure to be gathered with him.

There are several more stages in the wedding process that relate to Christ and the Church on the above referenced web site, and we will explore them as we get closer to a discussion of the 7th Dispensation, but for now, let’s look at how the above relates to the Church.

The “price” Jesus had to pay in order to atone for the curse of Original Sin and make the bride eligible for the Meaning of Life was His sacrificial death on the cross, and the Resurrection.

But like any bride, the populace of the 6th Dispensation must agree to accept the Bridegroom’s “proposal”. (and that proposal is available to EVERYONE).

The Church is referred to as being in a state of sanctification (set aside and being prepared to the Groom). Once salvation is accepted, the Holy Spirit endows every believer with spiritual gifts that are meant to edify the church and further enhance the sanctification (I’m pretty sure my gift is flippancy).

This is the PRIMARY purpose of the Church’s existence in the world – to grow in grace, and become more right and just. Why? Because it is essentially training for what the Church will do for eternity in Heaven, AND it earns us rewards!

This topic is important enough to merit some additional exposition:

If you break it down, Jesus had two primary messages when He addressed people while on earth: salvation and reward. Reward statements are generally in an “if-then” format – If you do this, then that will happen.

The Sermon on the Mount  is Jesus’ first and longest teaching. The sermon is a thorough exposition on the Law – explaining the “whys” behind the commandments. It also addresses all the different types of reward messages. Jesus spoke of how to get good rewards, how to maximize good rewards, how spiritual rewards are better than earthly ones, how to avoid bad rewards, and how not to lose your reward.

If you look as Jesus’ subsequent public teachings (parables etc.) they are all centered on reward (value and profitability), or salvation (life, everlasting life). It’s important to keep in mind that while these two messages are related, they are distinct in very important ways. The good works that you do to earn rewards do NOT save you – Jesus never equates them with salvation/everlasting life, but they increase the amount of value the you will have in heaven.

Why did Jesus focus on these two topics? Because to Him, spiritual inheritance (getting everlasting life in Heaven and the reward when we get there) are far more important than our physical predicaments on earth!

The few decades we spend in these mortal bodies are inconsequential when compared to eternity, so of course Jesus would spend most of His time teaching about them! Thus it also makes sense that people who consider earth to be their main home would interpret Jesus’ message in a way that makes transitory earthly matters of primary importance (love, tolerance, social justice etc). Jesus only concerned Himself with earthly matters to the degree that they increased the value we would have in Heaven (rewards).

Lastly, Jesus made it clear that when He departed for Heaven after the resurrection, He was going to His “Father’s House” to prepare a dwelling place for the Church, and at some point in the future, He will return (unexpectedly) to take his bride with Him. The idea of Christ sudden and unexpected return for His bride comprises perhaps the most controversial (and frankly preposterous) doctrine in Christianity – “the Rapture”. In fact, the only thing it has going for it is that it’s clearly promised in the Bible, so its absolutely true!

Will examine the Rapture when we look at the end of this dispensation, but before we do that, we need to take a more detailed look at the sanctification process. The vast majority of the New Testament (the epistles of Paul and the Apostles) give in-depth teaching to edify and sanctify the Church. But there are seven short and very impactful “epistles” that are often and tragically overlooked. Tragic because they are authored by Jesus Himself AND because they give us an outline of the entire 2000-plus year history of the Church!

Beginning with the next post, we will examine the history of the Church with the “Epistles of Jesus” as our guide.

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December 15, 2014

Dispensation 6: A Change of Heart

Posted in Salvation, Terminology, The Church, The Dispensations tagged , , , , , at 11:48 AM by E. M.

Changed_heartThe dispensations are God’s contrastive way of proving that His plan for man is right, by allowing mankind the opportunity to choose to be Godly on their own. In the first three dispensations God allow men fairly free reign during periods of complete innocence, vast knowledge, and full cooperation. Each time mankind chose themselves over God by thinking comparatively. Furthermore, each dispensation resulted in men becoming more evil!

In the 4th and 5th Dispensations, God provided progressive guidance though earthly representatives and by giving them His Law, culminating in the advent of a divine Redeemer. Again men choose themselves over God by rejecting (and ignoring) the guidance.

Since in the previous two dispensations God gave men guidance through external sources, the next just and logical step would be to make that guidance intimate and internal.

The 6th Dispensation asks the question: What if God’s presence was housed inside us, and gave us day by day guidance on how to be like Him? Would we choose God over ourselves?

Its an intriguing proposition, and its one of the many ways that this dispensation is so special and unique. But how would this work? How does God presence get “inside” us (and how much space does He need?)

It all starts with Salvation.

When a person’s “gets saved”, it’s not a one-way proposition. When the decision to accept the gift of redemption is made, God doesn’t just give a wink and a thumbs-up. God begins the work of actively changing your entire life!

Salvation makes us a new creation. We are given a new heart by God, and His Law is written on our hearts. Why our hearts and not our brain/mind? Because the heart is where your integrity comes from.

Like the brain, the physical heart has neural connections that make it function like a “mini-brain”. Your heart has its own independent nervous system consisting of over 30,000 neurons.. Like the unconscious brain, the heart is part of the body that can respond and make decisions based on intuition and feelings.

But its effects on us are more primal and less influenced by the things that can affect our conscious minds. The heart is much more binary. You can fake all kinds of things with your conscious brain, but you can’t fool the heart. Whatever is true about you flows from your heart. That’s why in salvation, God is much more concerned with what you believe in your heart than in your mind.

The problem is that before salvation, man’s heart is evil! It reflects the fact that man is not always and completely right and just. That heart rejects the Godly thought process (contrastive thinking and growth) and embraces destructive thoughts (comparative thinking and comfort). Fortunately man has free will and can choose to act outside of his nature.

Accepting redemption is an act of free will. But even with that acceptance God knows that is would be a losing battle to try to influence through our old heart, and He certainly can’t dwell there – so He gives us a new one!

Of course I’m not speaking of replacing the physical organ (becoming a Christina does not require major surgery), I’m speaking of the spiritual housing of the heart – the part that affects and is affected by our thought process. This new heart can hear from God and can be influenced by God

This is the definition of grace – the Divine influence on the heart and its reflection in life.

The 6th Dispensation is unique in that it is a direct conduit to the meaning of life. How is it connected to the meaning of life? Remember, in order to be with God, we have to be like God. The only “man” who has ever managed to be like God is Jesus during his earthly incarnation. How? He lived by grace! He ONLY did what God told him to do. This is how he was fully man and fully God. The sixth dispensation gives us all that same opportunity!

The Problem is we get all kinds of inner notions and urges influencing us constantly. Sure we get a new heart through salvation, but the rest of us (specifically our minds) are still under Adam’s curse. We are still not always and completely right and just in our nature. So how do you know if it’s God’s influence that we are hearing?

Unsaved man is influenced by three sources, the “World”, the “Flesh”, and the “Devil. Two are external (world and devil) the other is internal (flesh). All three sources have two things in common – they all oppose God, and they are all “loud” (they all influence us aggressively).

The “voice” of the World focuses you on the pursuit of external things to replace God in your life. The World steers you toward comfort, self-justification, religion, and conformity. The World is the system that wants to deny uniqueness and get you to embrace a Godless Eden.

The Flesh is the enemy within. Is our human nature that is the polar opposite of Godly thinking. The Flesh wants us to be comparative, which is the source of pride, fear, and evil.

The Devil is the demonic influence (“devil” is from the Greek “diabolos” which means “one who hurls thing at you”  In the Biblical context, it is translated as “Accuser”). The Devil’s goal is destruction in long term. The devil works in the opposite manner to God. The Devil is constantly hurling seductive/destructive thoughts at your Flesh (as opposed to the heart), which you must make the moment-by-moment choice to accept or reject. Whenever an evil, destructive thought enters you mind and you think “where did that come from?” It was probably the Devil.

But, when you get saved a fourth influence is added – the Holy Spirit, who Jesus promised would live in the hearts of believers! The influence of the Spirit is focused on growth and faith, through contrastive thinking. The voice of the Spirit is the most difficult to hear. The Spirit speaks in a quiet, still, small voice. If the world pulls at you, the flesh yells at you, and the devil jabs you; the Spirit gives you a gentle nudge.

But why does God, the most powerful force of them all, choose to be so subtle?

Because he wants us to choose him! He wants us to love him – and that takes effort! Unlike the other influences that bombard us constantly and consistently, we have to be intentional to hear from God. We have to actively seek Him and intentionally block out the other voices. We have to pursue God. He wants us to love him enough to sacrifice our comforts, our lusts, and our natural desire to prosper without him.

Why?

1. Its a reasonable response to the sacrifice of redemption. Salvation is offered freely, but it wasn’t free. Jesus paid the price, and to live the redemptive life justly requires effort on our part.

2. The meaning of life requires it! Remember, the meaning of life is marriage. Jesus didn’t just come to save mankind, he came to redeem a bride! And he naturally wants a bride who wants Him and loves Him enough to be conformed to His image. His bride must be like Him – always and completely right and just.

And that’s the whole purpose of the 6th Dispensation, to find a bride for Christ!

This Bride consists of a group of people who are willing to accept His redemption, and intentionally and consistently allow themselves to be conformed to His image by heeding the voice of grace and be transformed into unique individuals who flourish in their individual greatness, adding the value of that greatness to the overall body of believers, thus creating a Bride worthy of God’s Son.

(Grace is personal, the guidance given to each person while always and completely right and just, also guides them to be the royal image bearer that was lost when Adam fell.)

This group of believers who are to be the Bride is called “the Church”.

If the 6th Dispensation were to be a success, the Church would be completely sanctified and conformed to Christ by obeying the voice of the Spirit completely.

However, logically, we know that this dispensation will fail like all the rest. But since we’re still in it, we don’t have the benefit of history to tell us exactly how and when it will end as we had with the other dispensations.

However we have enough knowledge of the dispensational pattern to take a theoretical stab at it. If success is tied to the Church hearing and obeying God’s voice, then failure would be the opposite -to ignore His voice.

But it has to be more than that. Dispensational failure means choosing ourselves over God. So then, in line with that pattern, this dispensation will fail when the Church chooses to be guided by ITS OWN voice instead of God’s!

I’ll address HOW this can happen in an upcoming post. As to WHEN this failure happens. . . I would contend that it ALREADY HAS!

Obviously that is a VERY provocative position that I’ll need to back up, and I will do that in an upcoming post as well.

But before we go there, we need to take a deeper look at this unique and mysterious entity called the Church. What is it? What are its origins? What is its purpose? Why does Jesus consider it his Bride? And what has it been doing the last 2000 years? We begin examining these questions next time.

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November 24, 2014

Kingdom Come…later

Posted in Bible Prophesy, Jesus, The Dispensations tagged , , , , at 4:12 PM by E. M.

THE PHARISEE MESSIANIC FANTASY

THE PHARISEE MESSIANIC FANTASY

The 5th Dispensation failed because the Jewish leadership failed to recognize and accept Jesus as their Messiah, despite the enormous evidence that that proved Jesus was the ONLY person who could be the Redeemer.

As with the previous dispensations, the failure was due to the people choosing themselves over God – specifically, they chose the version of the Messiah that THEY wanted, as opposed to the one God actually sent.

But what if the Jews HAD accepted Jesus? This question is interesting for a couple reasons. First, the aftermath of a successful 5th Dispensation would have been unique due to the promises God made to Israel. And secondly, the end of this dispensation will greatly impact the future, as we’ll see later in this post.

Before we get to the answer, we need to revisit some background information. In the 4th Dispensation, God made an unconditional, unbreakable promise to Abraham (the father of the Jews and Israel) that He would make them a great nation and that all the nations of the world would be blessed through them.

That promise was amplified later in the 5th Dispensation through Old Testament prophets who foretold that the Messiah would set up a world-wide kingdom and would rule the nations from Jerusalem.

But this Kingdom would be preceded by God judging, punishing, and generally going all “Old Testament” on the enemies of Israel (I acknowledge that this may be the first appropriate usage of that term).

And this is what the Pharisees were looking for from their Messiah – a Jewish Super hero who would make all their jingoistic fantasies a reality. And their desires weren’t illegitimate! Just ill timed.

In fact, Jesus began His ministry by quoting this Messianic prophesy from Isaiah 6:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me, To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God;

Except He stopped at the last comma and closed the book. He left off the part about “The day of vengeance of our God”! Or more accurately, He postponed it since the first part of His ministry was to fulfill the law and die unjustly to redeem mankind.

So what would have happened if the Jewish leadership had been contrastive and recognized their Messiah?

First of all, they would have accepted Him as King when He presented Himself as such on the exact day prophesized. His unjust execution would then have likely been initiated by the Romans (who wouldn’t have looked favorably on someone elevating Himself above Caesar) instead of the Jews.

And while they would have been distraught by the brutality of His death, they would have anxiously awaited His resurrection on the third day. The risen Jesus would have presented Himself in the Temple for all of Israel to see (the people would have still been in Jerusalem for spring feasts), and the Jews would have believed on Him and accepted salvation.

Then the entire gentile world would have likely heard this voice coming from heaven. Followed by righteous Judgment raining down upon the enemies of Israel, as well as Satan and his minions for 7 years.

Finally, the long awaited Kingdom would commence with the Jews ruling alongside Jesus.

But as we know, this didn’t happen. Worse, by rejecting their Messiah, the Jews opened themselves up to the curses that God pronounced would occur if they ultimately rejected Him. Jesus cried in despair for His people knowing the horrors and misfortunes that they would have to endure throughout their history as a result of their failure to recognize the Redeemer

Moreover, because they intentionally refused to see the evidence that was staring them in the face for hundreds of years, God justly blinded them to the knowledge they rejected.

[Note: the blindness pronounced by Jesus was a “corporate” curse on national Israel. Individual Jews could obviously be saved since the Jews were almost exclusively the only Christians for several years after Jesus’ resurrection.]

But while the failure of the 5th Dispensation was a tragedy for first-century Israel, it was a boon to the rest of us, because we have the opportunity to fill in the gap. What “gap” you ask?

Allow me to explain:

You see, the aforementioned prophesy in Daniel 9: 24-27 not only gave the exact date of Jesus’ presentation as the Redeemer, it gives timing of the end of the reign of sin and evil in the world!

The prophesy basically said that everything would be wrapped up in 490 years (70 “weeks of years”). As we’ve seen, Jesus presented Himself as Redeemer/Messiah/King after 483 years (69 “weeks of years”). That just leaves 7 years (one week of years) yet to be fulfilled.

But Daniel 9:26 shows that there is an indeterminate gap of time between the 69th week and the 70th week, wherein certain things happened including the crucifixion and resurrection, as well as the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. (so we know the gap was at least 40 years since the 69th week ended around 30 A.D.)

Now, if the 5th Dispensation had been successful, the gap would have been much shorter – primarily encompassing Christ’s death and resurrection (and probably not the destruction of the temple). However because that dispensation failed, God had to move on to the 6th Dispensation.

But what about those final 7 years?

THEY HAVEN’T HAPPENED YET!!

That’s right, the entire 6th Dispensation occurs in the gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s prophesy! That a 2000 year (and counting) gap of time!

This gap of time benefits us because everyone reading this blog was born during the 6th Dispensation and has the opportunity to receive the salvation and redemption offered by Jesus and rejected by first century Israel!

This idea obviously has a ton of implications for us that we will begin to explore in the next post, but before we go there, we need to address a couple of burning questions left over from the end of the 5th Dispensation – namely, what happens with the final 7 years, and what’s to become of Israel?

Here’s the thing, as with all the dispensations, God knew the 5th would fail. But since He is Righteous, He had to be contrastive and give Israel the opportunity to succeed. And since He is Just, He had to judge them with blindness because of their failure.

But remember, the promises God made to Abraham and his descendants are unconditional and unbreakable! Those promises HAVE to be fulfilled. That means that God is NOT done with Israel!

There are still 7 years left to account for and those 7 years WILL happen. In fact, those 7 years are among the most documented periods of time in Bible Prophesy! After the gap (the 6th Dispensation), the 5th Dispensation will come back! The blindness WILL be lifted from the eyes of Israel. God WILL judge their enemies. There WILL be a worldwide Kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital.

We will delve into the 70th week of Daniel later, but in the next post we will begin to explore the Dispensation that is the most meaningful to us (because we currently live in it). What is the 6th Dispensation? Why is it unique? And how (and when) will it end? Next time…

 

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July 6, 2014

The Great Invasion – part 4: Victorious Defeat

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, Satan, Spiritual War, Spiritual Warfare, The Dispensations tagged , , , , , , , at 3:11 PM by E. M.

Victorious DefeatHaving failed to prevent the advent of Jesus as the Redeemer and meeting defeat when he tried physical and spiritual tactics to defeat his enemy, Satan turned to his pet Mystics as a second line of defense against the Great Invasion. But after they were met with utter defeat, Satan and his minions finally turned to the ultimate evil – they sought to kill Jesus.

The narrative of Jesus’ arrest, trials, and execution is a familiar one. First Jesus was betrayed by his disciple Judas -who, despite being an eye witness to three years of the most profound teaching and amazing supernatural feats in history – sold Jesus out for what in today’s money would be the equivalent of an iPad (worst student EVER!). He was then arrested by the temple soldiers, subjected to three illegal Jewish trials, and was finally sentenced by the Roman Governor to a brutal beating and execution by the most torturous method known to man at the time.

All in all it seemed like a very dark time for the good guys, and it appeared that Satan may finally have gotten his long awaited victory.

Yet, as has been the case every time the former light bearer has seemed poised to win, his supposed victory is just the precursor to a devastating defeat.

Even in the narrative of Jesus’ execution, we can already see signs that something’s amiss.

If we do a close examination of the events, it becomes clear that in spite of appearances to the contrary, it’s actually Jesus who is in control of the situation, and He is the one directing everyone’s actions!

Jesus is the one who commands Judas to complete the act of betraying Him! Thus it is Jesus who is in control of when and where He would be arrested.

When the temple soldiers arrived to take Him, Jesus questioned THEM! He made them state their will that they were sent to arrest Him, and when He identified himself, His words made the soldiers fall to the ground! He then commanded them to take Him and leave His disciples alone, and they obeyed!

The Mystics shuffled Jesus around to three different Jewish trials because He kept exposing the fact that they had no valid reason for arresting Him! Jesus forced them to logically defend THEIR rationale for their actions (and there’s nothing brain damaged people hate more than logic and reason).

When the Mystics went to Pilate to try to get Rome to do their dirty work, Jesus let the Governor know who really had the power in that situation.

It’s clear that Jesus was not the helpless victim of Satan’s clever machinations to have him killed.

Moreover, it was Jesus’ mission to be executed for man’s sake. His unjust death wasn’t a cruel surprise, or an unfortunate tragedy. It was the planned end-game that had been strategized by the Trinity from the beginning. Everything that was done to Jesus was according to scripture, down to the exact details of the death process. Among other things,

The Bible states that Jesus would be whipped and beatenfulfilled here

The Bible states that people would gamble for His garmentsfulfilled here

The Bible states that none of his bones would be brokenfulfilled here

(There are a bunch more in this post)

Most incredible of all, the Bible gives a detailed description (in first person) of the crucifixion 200 years before crucifixion was even invented by the Persians! (and 500 years before the Romans perfected it). This is more proof that God transcends time and knows the end from the beginning.

But even with all that said, it doesn’t take anything away from the magnitude of the suffering Jesus endured. Crucifixion is possibly the most agonizing form of execution ever invented. In fact, the Latin word for it, “crux”, is the root from which we get the English work “Excruciating”.

The effects of crucifixion on the human body are truly devastating. The nails in the hands and feet irreparably deform the limbs, and the position that the victim is forced into results in catastrophic system wide organ failures. The cardiac stress of the ordeal eventually causes the victim’s heart muscle to rupture!

Thus as He hung on a cross, being mock and ridiculed by the very people He came to redeem, Jesus of Nazareth literally died of a broken heart.

Jesus’ mission on earth had all lead up to this. As I wrote earlier, His death was part of the end game that had been planned from the beginning. It was a major key to fulfilling the Meaning of Life.

But how did Jesus’ death redeem man? How did His death allow us to have eternal life?

It all comes down to justice!

Of all the men who ever (and would ever) live, Jesus was the only man who NEVER deserved to die!

Like Adam, Jesus was born alive (connected to God). But unlike Adam, He never did anything to lose that connection. Jesus never sinned, thus he should never have lost his life – so His death was unjust!

However since God is always and completely right and just, He had to do several things to balance the scales of righteousness and justice.

  1. Jesus had to be “repaired”. Life is the ability to repair. Jesus’ life was taken unjustly. Justice demanded that His physical life be restored/repaired.
  2. Jesus had to be resurrected in a form that was no longer subject to physical death. Not only did Jesus not sin, he proved that He would NEVER sin. Satan tempted Him at ALL points and He didn’t succumb, so Satan gave up! Then human Mystics gave it their best shot and failed so miserably that they stated their will that they wouldn’t try anymore! Having overcome the worst that His enemies could throw at Him, Jesus showed that He was beyond external influence to sin and since He only did what God told Him to do, He was beyond internal influence all well. So He justly deserved a body beyond physical death.
  3. Jesus had to be given everlasting life. Since Jesus proved that He would never deserve death, He technically should live forever. He has infinite (everlasting) life. Since He possesses an infinite amount of “life”, He could grant it to whomever He wanted without ever running out. He could offer all men everlasting life!

And that is what “Salvation” is all about!

God loved man so much that He sacrificed Himself and died in our place so that we could justly have access to the infinite/everlasting life that He currently possesses, and we could choose to be with Him and take part in the Meaning of Life!

This is how God is able to get what He wants despite the fact that we are not born with His nature. If we choose to accept this gift, we are given a new heart. We become reconnected spiritually to God. We become spiritually alive eternally. And like Jesus, when we die physically, we will be resurrected with incorruptible bodies. But unlike Jesus we don’t have to live a perfect life (He did that for us and any vain attempt to do it on our own is religion). All we have to do is choose this gift ourselves. This is salvation.

When Jesus walked out of His tomb, He had all power over death (infinite life) and all power over evil (infinite repair of destruction).

By Accepting Jesus, we can be free from the power of death and evil. But since it’s a matter of love, it’s a matter of choice.

WE choose whether or not to accept the gift of Salvation. WE choose whether we are going to live or die eternally. WE choose between everlasting life and everlasting destruction. WE choose whether we will be Redeemed or perish.

We are going to examine the ramifications of Redemption when we look at the 6th Dispensation, but we will begin our wrap up of the 5th Dispensation with a series on some of the many myths surrounding Jesus’ life and mission- beginning with the resurrection – next time

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April 10, 2014

The Great Invasion – part 2: Game of Thrones

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, Satan, Spiritual War, Spiritual Warfare, The Dispensations tagged , , , , at 8:24 PM by E. M.

GameOfThronesWe’ve been looking at the advent of the Redeemer from the perspective of His (and our) spiritual enemies. In the last post, we saw that as God revealed more details of how man’s Redeemer would arrive, Satan and his minions focused their war efforts to prevent the invasion. But despite their best efforts, they always met progressive defeat.

Once Jesus was born however, Satan was able to put all of his energy into preventing Christ from completing His redemptive work.

As the time of the Redeemer’s prophesized victory grew closer, Satan worked to lay down a political mine field to keep Him from fulfilling his role as King of the Jews. Since the Babylonian captivity, Israel was occupied by the powerful and demonically energized empires of Persia and Greece. By the time of Jesus’ birth, the most powerful world empire- Rome – held an iron grip on the area. Worse, Israel was a contentious buffer state between Rome and the similarly powerful Parthian empire to the east, filled with disgruntled nationalist Jews. So Christ’s potential kingdom was a backwater political albatross stuck between two hostile super powers.

It was during this low point in national history that God decided to give the Virgin Mary the good news that she’d been chosen to carry the savior of the world (who would be considered a bastard since she got pregnant before she was married).

Now the honorable thing for Satan to do would be to wait until the kid grew into an adult and then take Him on man to man (or Man to Devil). But while Satan can be accused of many things, “honorable and fair” are not on the list. To him, even an infant is fair game.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Roman Caesar got the bright idea to have everyone in the empire travel to their home town for a census. By the time a very pregnant Mary and her betrothed, Joseph arrived in Bethlehem; there was no place for them to stay other than a local stable. Thus the Savior of the world; the Redeemer of man; God in flesh, was born in an animal feeding trough in a barn filled with said fragrant animals.

But as I wrote previously, from the perspective of Satan, the ubiquitous manger scene of Christmas card fodder was nothing less than D-Day; a hostile invasion of his territory by an enemy force. Jesus come to size Satan’s kingdom, and was taking the fight directly to him on his turf.

Satan’s first counter-offensive was to have the local rulership command that all the newly born males in the area be killed. But that tactic failed – just like the last time he tried it. But remember, Satan is incapable of original ideas. All he can do is trot out the same stuff he’s tried before and hope to still get mileage out of it (kind of like a Hollywood movie producer).

Seeing that direct physical force wasn’t an effective way to stop his enemy (Hey, it only took him 3000 years to figure that out. Progress!) Satan move on to his next favorite strategies, manipulation and compromise.

After Jesus reached adulthood and was officially anointed by God to begin his redemptive mission, Satan finally came in for a face to face confrontation with his foe (of course he waited until Jesus was physically and mentally compromised due to starvation because, well, Satan’s an a-hole).

Satan knew he had no chance agonist the Son of God, so he went after the Son of Man – he planned to use his temptations to get Jesus to use His free will to choose Himself over God.

Satan started by appealing to the physical desire by tempting Jesus to sate His extreme hunger supernaturally. But as a man, Jesus ONLY did what God told Him to do, and God did NOT tell Him to turn stones into bread. If Jesus had obeyed Satan, He would have made that decision on His own – as a man – to satisfy His physical desires. He would have made the same mistake as Eve!

Jesus responded to this temptation not with the words of man, but as the Word of God.

Jesus 1, Satan 0

Satan then attacked man’s other major weakness – Pride. Satan challenged Jesus to prove His divinity and position with God.

[Begin dramatic license]

Satan – Oh, so you’re pious huh? Not going to feed yourself because “God’s word didn’t tell you to”? Is that why you claim to be the “Son of God”? Well the Bible also says that if you throw yourself off this building, Angels will rescue you. So go ahead, show me you’re the Son of God!”

Jesus – Seriously? You’re actually going to misquote my own words to me? Try this one – “you are not allowed to test your creator!

Satan – Grrrrrrr!

[End dramatic license]

Jesus 2, Satan 0

Finally, Satan brings out his most effective weapon against man – Compromise. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and told Him that he would bequeath them all if Jesus would give him worship.

Jesus came to earth to conquer Satan and take his kingdom by force (and as we’ll see in an upcoming post, it is a brutal and costly battle). But Satan offered a short cut – no fight, no suffering, no blood, no torturous death on a cross. Just make a simple pledge of fidelity, and the world is yours.

It was a stunningly attractive temptation. One accepted in various forms by otherwise strong and principled men. But not by this one. Jesus chose God’s way over man’s. He did what the first man could not, and thus proved Himself worthy and eligible to redeem Adam’s sin.

Jesus 3, Satan 0. Game over.

Satan lost a major battle, but the war was far from over. Satan took his best shot and came up short. It was time to call in reinforcements. If Satan couldn’t break Jesus, then maybe He could be broken by the people He came to save.

In the next post, Jesus faces the second front in Satan’s army – the mystics!

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November 9, 2013

The Redeemer – part 1: Righteous Resume

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, The Dispensations, The Law tagged , , , , , at 7:09 PM by E. M.

Plan BFrom very early on in this blog (back when I actually had time to publish a post once a week (because I hadn’t yet gotten married or achieved an upper-management position, or adopted an overactive dog), I began to introduce and drop cryptic hints about “The Redeemer”.  This Redeemer would bridge the gap between God’s nature and our own, allowing us to attain the meaning of life through God’s plan.

Of course its rather obvious to the sophisticated reader Who I’m speaking of when I use the term “Redeemer”.  So why have I talked around His identity for so long?  Because the purpose of this blog isn’t to “tell”, its purpose is to “prove” – and to provide that proof in a logical and systematic manner.  I didn’t want to focus who and what He is, until the revelation of His identity and appearance fit the timeline of the dispensations.

With that in mind, it’s now time to focus on who the Redeemer is, by first focusing in on why He’s needed, what He needs to accomplish, and what He needs to do to accomplish it. This post will be a bit of a review and summary of much of what we have already examined.

God wants us to spend eternity with Him.  In order to do that, we need to be like him.  But we are not like him.  However we can choose Him since we have free will.  God set up the Dispensations as a contrastive way to allow man the opportunity to choose Him on our own.

In the First Dispensation, God created the first man and woman with an intimate spiritual connection to Him and gave them complete dominion over the earth. But the first man chose himself over God and broke his (and our) innate connection with Him. That was a pretty severe and high impact mistake.  It cost Adam his kingdom.  But the bigger consequence was death.

That broken connection with God resulted in man losing the ability to repair, which is lifePhysical life is in the blood.  And spiritual life is in our thoughts. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually, and his physical body lost the ability to repair and started to degrade. Furthermore, all Adam’s off spring are born dead (without that connection to life).

But since spending eternity with dead people probably isn’t a terribly attractive proposition to God, it would seem that Adam’s actions put God’s desire in jeopardy.

The problem is, death is a pretty permanent state.  Its kind of hard to get over.  But what if there was a way to reverse the curse?  What if there was a way to undo what Adam did?  How would this work?

What if we had a substitute who was willing to re-take the test Adam failed?  What if He, like Adam, was born with perfect blood and a perfect though process (since He would be intimately connected to God)? He could fulfill the role that Adam could not.  What if He was then willing to switch places with Adam and pay the penalty for his sin?  What if He gave us the opportunity to choose to become His spiritual offspring and inherit His life instead of Adams death?

This person would literally redeem Adam – and us.  The good news; the GREAT news; the GREATEST news ever – is that God anticipated, ordained and promised the advent of this Redeemer!  The Bible speaks volumes (literally) about Him – much of it centuries before His advent so that His coming could be understood and anticipated.  Here are some of His necessary attributes that are detailed in the Bible:

He had to be God. – Had to have the nature of God, to be always and completely right and just.  Thus He’d have a perfect thought process.

Had to be a physical man – so He’d have the free will to choose God.  He’d literally be another Adam.

Had to be seed of a womanborn of a virgin, so that God would be His Father and He’d have perfect blood

Had to choose God over himself

Had to be experience death unjustly – as opposed to Adam who deserved it

Had to accept God’s judgment in Adam’s place

Had to willingly sacrifice himself

Had to bear the burden of our sin and be rejected by God

Had to obey the Law completelybe sinless

Had to be resurrected – given new life that we could access

That’s a pretty lofty set of criteria to fill.  But wait, its gets worse! The Bible also predicts the things that would happen to him by living (and dying) in a world of evil men who would be antagonistic towards Him because His nature was so different from theirs, and by spiritual forces who would hate Him because He is the embodiment of what they rebelled against and His ultimate goal is to usurp their kingdom and punish them for their deeds.

Because of this, He would:

Live a lonely and grief stricken life

Despised and rejected by men

Be considered a bastard (due to the virgin birth, not because He was an a-hole)

Be Rejected by his (half) siblings

A disgrace to the community and a local joke

Have local drunks create bar songs about his alleged illegitimacy

Hunted by the authorities for most of his public life

Be virtually homeless

Nearly drowned at sea

Have multiple attempts on His life

Be betrayed by a longtime companion

Abandoned by His closest friends

Be brutally beaten beyond recognition

Be whipped until most of the skin on His back was gone and his beard torn off

Have the people He came to save reject Him in favor of a known thief and murderer.

Be executed by one of the most excruciating methods known to man.

Good grief!  Why would anyone endure all this to redeem a bunch of people who are naturally antagonistic to Him.  Because He loves us!  Because He wants us to spend eternity with Him!  He literally considers the prospect of eternity with us as His bride a joy worth enduring a wretched life and a torturous death!

This takes a great Man and great love.  A spousal Love beyond understanding.  The Redeemer considers His sacrifice a joy, and I get annoyed if my wife asks me to go across the room to get her a glass of water (in my defense, she always asks during the really good part of a TV show).

So who would and could possibly do all his?  Who is the redeemer?  Well obviously, the Redeemer is God!  Specifically the member of God’s tri-unity known as The Son.  The Son manifested Himself on earth as the man called Jesus of Nazareth.

But as I wrote earlier, this blog doesn’t just tell, it proves.  In the next post we will look at some more of the specific things the Bible says about the Redeemer BEFORE His advent that not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer, but that the Redeemer COULDN’T have been anyone else!  Next time.

October 25, 2013

The Law Myth – part 3: Grumpy Old God

Posted in Religion, Terminology, The Dispensations, The Law tagged , , , , , at 2:57 PM by E. M.

NOT AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF GOD

NOT AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF GOD

We’ve been looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation.  In this final post on the subject we’ll discuss a set of myths that are both pervasive and controversial – the idea that God’s Law is meant to make us feel bad about stuff that makes us feel good.

The myth is that God is a cosmic kill joy who gets perverse pleasure out of telling us “Thou shall not…”    And the perception is that all the stuff God doesn’t want us to do are things we find enjoyable.  It’s almost like He set us up to fail by telling us not to do things we are naturally inclined to do.  But is this true?

We’ve seen over the last two posts that the rules of the Law are not meant to be repressive or religious.   But they actually have positive intentions – namely helping prepare the world for the advent of the Redeemer.

So where does this myth come from?  Frankly, much of it is self-serving.  Because of our nature and our tendency toward pride, we tend to desire things that are evil.  Evil leads to destruction.  God is not being repressive; He’s trying to protect us from destruction by identifying our evil tendencies and steering us away from them.

But since we don’t like anyone telling us that we are wrong, it’s easier to cast God in a negative light than admit that we like being evil.

The myth is also acerbated by religion. Mystics heap up additional religious laws on men in order to stifle uniqueness and retain their power.  But these superfluous rules aren’t from God.  Worse, since people ascribe them to God (because they believe the mystics who claim to speak for Him), they begin to believe that in order to follow God they have to be in constant compliance with innumerable arbitrary rules.

Sometimes well intentioned non-mystics are guilty of this too.  Ever hear your grandmother say things like “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, or “God helps those who help themselves”, or “an idle mind is the devils workshop”?   Being tidy, self-reliant, and focused are nice attributes, but these rules didn’t come from God, and ascribing His name to them doesn’t make them Biblical.

But let’s focus on the area that has been the biggest source of the “God is a big ol’ prude” myth – Sexuality.  The myth is, that generally speaking, God doesn’t like it when we have sex.  It’s a low, dirty desire that we mammals are cursed with and He’d just as soon we not even speak of it.  It should only be done for the express purpose of procreation.  And even then, it should only be done in a locked room.

In the dark.

Missionary style.

Completed as quickly and quietly as possibly.

And we should bath ourselves in bleach afterwards.

Honestly, the source of this myth is rooted in the very detailed sexual morality rules of the Law.  Its clear that God only approves of sex in the marital relationship.  BUT within the confines of marriage, sex is encouraged.

Sadly, well-intentioned (and some not so well-intentioned) people made the myth that “God hates sex” even more pervasive by going overboard in enforcing sexual morality and vilifying the sex act in any form.

So if this is a myth, how does God really feel about sex?  I would contend that God thinks sex is pretty damn awesome!  Why? Well, first of all He created it!  He created it to feel good to us!  And He created us to desire it!

After God created the first man and woman, He told them to “be fruitful and multiply”.  He commanded them to have sex!  He basically said “Adam, here’s your wife.  Eve, here’s your husband.  Now go get some!”

Moreover, the fact that the Song of Songs in even in the Bible proves that God delights in the joy of our sexuality.  The entire book is about a bride and groom who physically desire one another and delight in sex.  Here’s a snippet of the grooms description of his bride’s body.

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince’s daughter!
The curves of your thighs are like jewels,
The work of the hands of a skillful workman.
Your navel is a rounded goblet;
It lacks no blended beverage.
Your waist is a heap of wheat
Set about with lilies. Songs of songs 7: 1-2

To get the full impact of this passage, it’s worth mentioning here that the word “navel” is mistranslated due to the desire of the translators to be polite.  Notice that he’s working his way UP her body in the description.  There is an, ahem, “opening” on the female body between the thighs and the waist. . . but it ain’t her navel.  I’ll just leave it at that.

But if God thinks sex is so awesome, why are we only allowed to do it with the person we’re married to, and them alone?  That’s actually not a valid question.  God doesn’t see sex and marriage separately. The “marriage ceremony” we do today is a man-made tradition.  To God, sex isn’t something you do with the person you’re married to.  The sex act is what makes you married!

Technically there is no such thing as “sex before marriage” because sex IS marriage.  The act of sex is the consummation of the marriage covenant.  So technically, in God’s eyes, you married the first person you had sex with (I’ll give you a moment to recover from the horror).  And you are committing adultery with any person you have sex with subsequently.  So you see why God wants us to take sex seriously?

God is strict about sex because of the tremendous value he places on marriage and what it symbolizes.  The joy and ecstasy of sex is God’s earthly representation of what Heaven is going to be like!  Kind of makes you anxious to get there, doesn’t it?

And as mentioned above, the rules of the Law are God’s way of protecting us from ourselves.  Again our tendency is toward evil so we have strong desires to be sexually immoral.  But the consequences of that immorality is destructive.

Promiscuity, infidelity, and adultery are emotionally devastating.  They break hearts, break up families, and ruin childhoods.  Sexual immorality can also lead to physical damage (disease) and physical dependency – the neurochemicals released during sex are identical to the ones released when addictive drugs are used.  God intended this function to bond you physically and emotionally to your spouse.  But illicit sex leaves you empty and constantly in search of your next “fix”, be it at the local bar or in front of a computer screen.

Lastly, let’s tackle the big controversy (at least in the eyes of contemporary society) – homosexuality.  I’m not going to sugarcoat the subject, because God doesn’t.  God calls it an abomination.  It’s listed as one of the effects of intentionally disregarding God and our inherent knowledge of Him.  Is this because God “hates” homosexuals as some zealots proclaim?

No, it goes back to how important marriage is to God, and how He defines it.  God defines marriage as the sexual covenant between a man and a woman.  Period.  And He considers anyone or anything that intentionally perverts that definition an affront to Him.  I know that’s not politically correct, but I kind of doubt God is terribly concerned about popular opinion.  The question is, should God conform to the whims of His creation, or should His creation conform to Him?

I won’t argue with someone who says they were born with a desire for someone of the same sex, any more than I would argue with someone who says they were born with a bad temper, or a predisposition to substance abuse, or even a desire for heterosexual promiscuity.   The issue is not the desire.  It’s what you choose to do with that desire.  We are creatures with free will – AND the responsibility that goes along with it.

The bottom line is that homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes – like every other sin we all commit.  It has the same source, the same consequences, and the same remedy.  Presenting it as anything more or less than that is misrepresenting God.

Now that we’ve addressed some of the major myths of the Law, it’s time to focus on the major outcome of the Law – the advent of the Redeemer.  Considering the extraordinary and eternal impact of the event, it’s safe to say that the Redemption of man is the most important even in our history.  Understandably, this advent is the most well described event in the bible.  In fact, much of this description was detailed hundreds of years before He even arrived!  We’ll begin to explore all this next time.

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August 7, 2013

The Law Myth – part 1: Generous Oppression

Posted in Religion, Terminology, The Dispensations, The Law tagged , , , , , , , at 12:24 PM by E. M.

A mild over-reaction to the Law

A mild over-reaction to the Law

In the 5th Dispensation, God gave His nation, Israel a volume of commands and instructions collectively called the Law.  The particulars of the Law are very detailed and specific, and Israel’s compliance with them was non-negotiable (they were commands after all).  The Israelites were promised great blessings and prosperity if they obeyed the Law, and severe punishment if they disobeyed.

In the last post we saw that one of the purposes of the Law was to help men understand God’s standards of righteousness and what constitutes sin.  And while there is much in the Law regarding morality, there are also detailed rules on things like personal conduct, property rights, ceremonial procedures, worship instructions, food safely, litigation, hygiene, and medicine.

Many of the commandments of the Law can sound pretty strange and overly restrictive to modern ears, and when filtered through contemporary agnostic perspectives, can lead to misunderstandings about the nature and purpose of the Law.  In this post, I want to address some of the myths that arise from these misunderstandings.

A few years ago, I was having a discussion with an atheist friend about God and the Bible (its funny how atheists claim they don’t believe in God, yet they always want to talk about Him.  I don’t believe in Santa Claus yet I almost never bring him up in casual conversation).

Anyway, as with most discussions I have with atheists, her point was not to gain knowledge, but rather to point out something so illogical or abhorrent about God that it would justify her decision not to believe in Him.  In this case, the discussion veered toward the Law and how “oppressive” it was to women and how it advocated slavery (therefore I must be crazy to believe in God because He’s such an a-hole).

At best, this argument showed that like most atheists, she had barely more than a superficial understanding of the Bible, and was so quick to let her shallow perceptions color her beliefs that she failed to do the due diligence required to truly understand the subject matter (sadly, this is a trait that many Christians share, which is why they have trouble handling these arguments).

Although the Law does have commandments that specifically address women, they are hardly oppressive.  In fact, the Law was revolutionary in the fact that it guaranteed women certain rights that were unheard of in that part of the world during that time.  The Law gave women rights in a divorce, it mandated special care for widows, and allowed women to own land, and it gave women the right to inherit land and property (all without any input from Gloria Steinem).

As for “slavery”, the issue is a matter of contemporary nomenclature.  The slavery mentioned in the Law is not chattel slavery as we think of it today, rather its more like indentured servitude.  For example, if you owed a man a debt that you couldn’t pay, under the Law, you would work for that man and your wages would incrementally relieve the debt.  Once the debt was paid, you’d go free (incidentally, this is the same arrangement you have with your credit card company).

There are many other so called “oppressive” aspects of the Law which, while unprecedented during the era, would be simply considered common sense today.  Under the Law, certain animals are considered “clean” and “unclean”.  This is based on which animals are most likely to carry and cause disease.  God was trying to keep the Israelites healthy, not be a diet Nazi.

People with certain diseases like leprosy or open wounds were considered “unclean”.  The Law requires that they be separated from heath society and sanitized – things that are considered standard procedure for quarantine of communicable diseases and infection treatment to this day.  So if the Law is oppressive, then so is your doctor!

Of course this is all well and good, but all this still begs the question, why did God give the Israelites all these rules as a part of the 5th Dispensation?  If the purpose of the 5th Dispensation is to usher in the advent of the Redeemer, what does Israel get for all their troubles?

Rewards!  If they follow the commandments of the Law, Israel was promised fantastic material prosperity!  Prosperity that would make them the envy of all the other nations in the world.

But again, what does this have to do with the purpose of the 5th Dispensation.  It’s all about Israel’s intended role as God’s ambassador nation.

Here how it was to work, God gave Israel the Law, which gave them the standards to follow that would make them a healthy, equitable, and civilized society.  The Law also gave them ceremonial rules that would memorialize the advent of the Redeemer in advance (more on that in the next post).  As Israel obeyed the Law, they would become wealthy and prosperous.

Other neighboring nations would see their prosperity and say, “hey, how’d you guys manage to get all that stuff?”  This would give Israel the opportunity to tell them about God, the Law, and the Redeemer.

If the neighboring nations submitted to the Law, they too would become prosperous, leading their neighbors to ask about their wealth.  Submission to God’s Law would grow exponentially, and by the time of the advent of the Redeemer, the entire world would be ready for Him, and God could quickly implement His plan.

But there was also a flip side.  You see, God had to set things up so that if Israel disobeyed God’s Law and acted unrighteous and unjustly, they would be cursed as spectacularly as they would have been blessed for obedience.

The reason for the harshness of the curse is they same as the reasoning for the great blessing – They were God’s acknowledged representatives on earth.

If other nations saw Israel acting immorally without any consequence, they would assume that God was ok with their evil behavior.  So God had to punish disobedience severely so that the nations would know that evil was not acceptable to Him.

Sadly, Israel chose the path of disobedience to the Law more often than not.  Thus much of the details of the 5th Dispensation in the Old Testament consists of the sad narrative pattern of Israel screwing up, God punishing them, Israel repenting, God restoring them, and then Israel going right back to screwing up.  Ultimately resulting in the tragic screw-up where they failed to acknowledge the Redeemer and failed the dispensation.

I mentioned before that in addition to the rules regarding health and conduct, the Law contained many commandments that were sacramental in nature – dealing with blood sacrifices, the priesthood, etc.  These rules are often confused for religion, because frankly, they look like religion.  But they actually served a very practical purpose in preparing people for the advent of the Redeemer.  More on this next time.

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June 24, 2013

Dispensation 5 – Layin’ Down the Law

Posted in Jesus, The Dispensations at 6:20 PM by E. M.

AND THIS IS WHY WE NEED THE LAW

AND THIS IS WHY WE NEED THE LAW

The dispensations are God’s contrastive way of proving that His plan for man is right, by allowing mankind the opportunity to choose to be Godly on their own.  So far we’ve examined four dispensations.  In the first, man was in a state of complete innocence.  In the second men were allowed to acquire vast knowledge.  In the third, men had full agreement.  In the fourth, God gave them earthly representatives to guide their choice.  In each dispensation, mankind chose themselves over God by thinking comparatively.  Furthermore, each dispensation resulted in men becoming more evil.

Its obvious that men will not choose God of their own volition.  It would be unjust of God to continue to give man free reign to make that choice if the proven result is increased evil.  The just thing to do would be to begin to lay the ground work for His plan, let men see it, and then allow them the opportunity to choose to be a part of that plan.

And thus we have the Fifth Dispensation (under which over half of the Biblical narrative occurs)

The Fifth Dispensation is commonly referred to as the “Dispensation of the Law”, and while that is technically accurate, I think it would be more appropriate to call it the Dispensation of Redemption.

Although the Law and its fulfillment is a major part of this dispensation, the choice that ultimately decides the success or failure of this dispensation is based on God’s offer of redemption.

God’s plan requires that man be like Him in order to spend eternity with him. The problem is that man’s nature post-Dispensation 1 falls well short of God’s, which is why we need redemption.  As we saw in an earlier post, we are essentially addicts, and the first step in dealing with addicts is to get them to admit they have a problem and need help.  But since our addiction is rooted in pride, admitting that we are in need of spiritual detox is a tall order.

That’s where the law comes in.

After the Israelites were set free from Egypt by Pharaoh (ending the 4th dispensation), Moses led them Mt. Sinai where God wrote His Law on stone tablets.  The most famous are the first ten (known appropriately as the Ten Commandments), but there are actually over 100 commands from God (including the entire book of Leviticus) dealing with everything from holiness and morality, to personal conduct, property rights, ceremonial procedures, worship instructions, food safely, litigation, hygiene, and medicine.  By the time he was done hauling all the stone tablets down, I’m pretty sure Moses wished God had used pen and paper.

The Law served two very important purposes – the first was to show men what sin was!  In the first four dispensations, there was no comprehensive definition for sin.  Men were given their opportunity to choose God or themselves in a very open-ended fashion.  Because of this freedom (and the nature of man) people were free to justify their ungodly actions as good, even though they were evil.

Knowing this, God knew He had to set concrete and objective standards of Holiness (perfection), lest man come to think that he could meet those standards on his own and qualify for Heaven through his own works.

The Law provides that definition for sin.  It shows that what God considers sin is so encompassing that there is no way any mortal man can go an entire day (let alone a lifetime) without committing sin and falling short of God’s requirement for perfection – which is the only way to qualify for Heaven and eternal life.

So then, if its impossible for man to achieve perfection, then aren’t we all doomed to never enter God’s presence if left to our own devices?

The answer is yes! We cannot ever earn Heaven and eternal life on our own.  As I wrote in my earlier posts on life and death, we are born dead.  The only way to gain life is to obtain redemption  from someone with perfect thinking and perfect blood.

That is the second purpose of the Law – to usher in the advent of a redeemer who was qualified to justly offer mankind access to the perfect thinking and perfect blood that would result in eternal life.

How does this happen?  God does this on our behalf by performing the most important, humble, and incomprehensible act in all of history.  God makes Himself into a man without the mark of Original Sin (so He has perfect blood).  Then He lives a life free of sin, in complete obedience to the Law (perfect thinking).  Then He allows Himself to be killed unjustly, thus taking on then penalty and punishment that we all deserve.

However, since He is not deserving of death, He is justly resurrected from the dead. Finally, He offers us the opportunity to accept His sacrifice on our behalf and take possession of His perfection in place of our own depravity.

Again, it is the most incredible act imaginable, and we will spend several upcoming posts examining all aspects of it.

Its also VERY important to understand that the focus of this dispensation is the nation of Israel (remember, after Babel, God only deals with men as national entities). THEY are the ones who make the choice that decides the fate of the fifth dispensation.

After the Law is given in the Book of Exodus (and detailed and repeated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy) the rest of the Old Testament (80% of it!) deals with the history of Israel from the exodus from Egypt to the death and resurrection of the Redeemer (I will make the argument in a later post that the Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John) are technically Old Testament books).

Much that documented history includes very detailed predictions of the life, career, death, and resurrection of the Redeemer.  So much so, that the people of Israel (who were required to read their scriptures dutifully) had absolutely no excuse to not acknowledge the Redeemer when He finally arrived on the scene and choose to accept His gift of redemption when offered.

However, not only did Israel NOT accept their Redeemer, they didn’t even recognize Him when He came, despite all the clearly predicted evidence!  How could this possibly happen?  The same way it happened in previous dispensations – comparative thinking.  Specifically religion.

By the time the Redeemer arrived, Israel had turned the Law into religion.  And the religious leaders had become so brain damaged that they not only rejected the Man they had been expecting for centuries, they were the ones who conspired to have Him unjustly killed!

Thus by rejecting God in favor of their own religious pride, the people of Israel caused the failure of the 5th Dispensation.

Obviously a great deal happened during the 5th Dispensation, and we will spend the next several posts examining them in detail.  We will begin next time by looking at some of the myths of the Law and truth of its actual purpose…

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March 12, 2012

The (Seed) Plot Thickens

Posted in Spiritual Warfare, The Dispensations tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:01 PM by E. M.

If only it was that easy…

Toward the end of our look at the First Dispensation, I mentioned that the curse God pronounced on the serpent in Eden was the seed plot of the entire Biblical narrative.

“…And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” – Genesis 3:15

I also gave my reasons why I believe that the serpent either was Satan, or represented Satan. This promise that the “seed of the woman” would crush the serpent (and his kingdom) represents a spiritual war (we struggle not against flesh) going on in the background of human affairs which greatly affected (and continues to affect) man’s history.  Having a proper perspective of the seed plot and the war is vital to understanding many of the events in the Biblical narrative and the narrative of our own lives.

We took a detour from this important topic during our discussions of the Second and Third Dispensations in order to address faith, organized religion, and mystics. However, the events of the Fourth Dispensation present a good opportunity to address this subject again.

The Fourth Dispensation was defined by the covenant God established with Abraham and the representative nation formed by Abraham’s descendants (Israel).

I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:2-3

The Abrahamic covenant states that the nation comprised of Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to ALL the other nations in the world.  This blessing is due to the fact that the Seed of the Woman; the One who will redeem mankind, reverse Adam’s transgression, pay the penalty for Original Sin, and reclaim rulership of the earth from the serpent – would be a descendant of Abraham!

Knowing this, it would make sense that Satan and his forces would target the fledgling Jewish nation as a part of the war to prevent the advent of the Redeemer.

Now the term “war” may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, especially since we do not have the ability to directly observe much of what goes on in the spiritual realm, but a look at the end of the Fourth Dispensation provides a dramatic example of the scope and impact of the theater of this war.

At face value, the 10 Plagues visited upon Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt was God’s judgment for the failure of the Fourth Dispensation.  But there was more to it than that.  Each of the plague specifically targeted a member (or members) of the pantheon of “gods” that the Egyptians worshipped.

Our first inclination is to believe that these so called “gods” were not real, but made up by mystics.  However there is evidence that there was significant supernatural power behind the Egyptian religion.

The Bible clearly states that mystics in Pharaoh’s court could access supernatural power – to the degree that they could even duplicate the first two plagues God sent through Moses!

It seems that the Egyptian gods were either supernatural beings (fallen angels) or were to some degree associated with these beings via the mystics’ machinations.

Here is a summary of the Plagues and the associated “god(s)”

Plague 1: Nile water into blood – Hapi: god of the Nile

Plague 2: Frogs in the land  – Hekhet, the frog-headed goddess of fertility, water, and renewal

Plague 3: Lice from dust – Geb: Egyptian god of the Earth (Pharoah’s mystics were not able to duplicate this or any of the next seven plagues.  The lice infestation also made them ceremonially unclean and therefore unable to perform rituals to the gods – if only lice could affect all mystics in a similar manner…)

Plague 4: Infestation of Flies – Khepri: Egyptian god of resurrection, creation, movement of the Sun, rebirth; depicted as having the head of a fly or beetle (lovely).

Plague 5: Death of Cattle/livestock – Hathor: cow-headed goddess of love and protection.

Plague 6: Boils on the skin of Egyptians – Isis: goddess of medicine and peace. Im-Hotep: real person turned deity, patron of wisdom and medicine. Sekhmet: lion-headed deity of plagues, believed to bring about or prevent epidemics or pestilence.

Plague 7: Hail and fire rain down – Nut: Sky goddess. Shu: god of air. Tefnut: goddess of water/moisture.

Plague 8: Locusts– Senehem: locust-headed, god of protection from ravages of pests. Seth- Egyptian God of Storms and Disorde

Plague 9: Darkness – Ra or Amon-Ra: god of the sun.  Osirus: sky god; sun was his right eye, moon his left.

Plague 10: Death of the firstborn – Pharaoh himself who was considered Horus (son of Isis and Osiris) in the flesh.  Min: god of reproduction.  Anubis: god of the dead and embalming.

The Plagues not only resulted in freedom for the Jewish nation, they showed that the God of Abraham was superior to the gods of the Egyptians (some of the mystics were even convinced). They also increased the spread of the reverence and respect of God’s power into other nations ahead of the Israelites.

But this brings up a point I touched on earlier.  When we initially studied the mystics a few months ago, I portrayed them as charlatans who attempted to gain power and rule through guile and deception (as well as exploiting human nature).  And in the vast majority of cases, that’s true.

However, I intentionally left something out of the posts on mystics because I wasn’t ready to examine it until now.

The truth is that the fragile house of cards that the mystics built on secrets and lies would be unlikely to allow them to remain in such positions of power and influence through the ages.  They’ve had help.  Supernatural help.

Some of the most powerful and influential mystics through the ages have used (and been used by) spiritual entities that are in fierce opposition to God’s plan.

These beings are intelligent, powerful, immortal, and evil.  They are at war with God and anyone who chooses Him.  We can’t see them or touch them, but they are all around us and they desire our destruction.

If all this sounds a bit disturbing and spooky to you, that’s because IT IS!  We’re extremely uncomfortable with the idea of beings we can’t see influencing our world.  Even Christians who acknowledge the existence evil spiritual beings prefer to ignore them most of the time.

Unfortunately, unlike the monsters that were under our beds as children, pretending they don’t exist won’t make them go away.

I mentioned them briefly when we discussed the origin of the Nephilim in the Second Dispensation but I haven’t gone into a detailed discourse on the subject until now because I wanted make sure we understood the roles of God and man in our historical narrative first.

Now its time we got to know our enemy.   In the next post we will begin our journey into the dark side with a look at the one who started it all; the greatest enemy of man; the first and grandest failure of creation – the being called Satan.

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