December 20, 2013

The Redeemer – part 3: The Best of Both Worlds

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 12:09 PM by E. M.

The meaning of life is to spend eternity with God.  In order to be with God, you have to be like God  – you have to have God’s nature.  The problem of course is that man is NOT like God.  So how do we address than inequality?

HEY, I ADMITTED IT WAS A CRUDE ANALOGY!

HEY, I ADMITTED IT WAS A CRUDE ANALOGY!

Well, there are basically two ways to bridge this gap – either man can become more like God, or God can become more like man.

The possibility for us to “step up” into godhood is technically possible because man has free will and can choose to act outside of his nature by choosing to be always and completely right and just.  God actually gives man that chance through the Dispensations.  However, as we’ve seen so far, each dispensation has ended in failure as man has consistently chosen his own way over God’s way.

Moreover, Adam stacked the deck against man in the subsequent dispensations when he committed Original Sin in the First Dispensation. He died spiritually (severed his connection to God, the source of life), and all of his descendants (us) are born spiritually dead.  Its hard enough to choose to be always and completely right and just when its not your nature, but its nigh impossible when you are also born without a connection to the source of right and just.

The other way to bridge the gap would be for God to “step down” to manhood.  This solution is far less appealing to the practitioner than the first.  After all, to go from being a man to being God is a net gain.  However, for God to become a man involves an incredible amount of loss.

But that has been part of God’s plan from the beginning!  God knew that that the only way to get what He desired was for Him to become a man and do for us that which we could not do for ourselves (live an entire mortal life always and completely right and just), and then offer that life to man as a gift.  This was the mission of Jesus – the Redeemer.

As mentioned previously, in order to accomplish this task, Jesus would have to be both God and a man.  But how could He be fully God AND fully man at the same time?

Some say that Jesus was both God and man because the virgin Mary (a human) was his mother, and God was his father.  But technically, that would only make him half-man and half-God.

Other say that Jesus was born a regular man, but grew into Godhood by doing certain qualifying things (in fact, certain religions believe that is the way Godhood is achieved from the beginning, along with…other interesting stuff). But this would mean that man can become God on his own, and the Dispensations show that is not true.

The reason that people have a difficult time with this concept is because they do not have or embrace an objective, non-contradictory definition of both God and man”.  Fortunately we addressed this in the early days of the blog.  Both God and man are spirit.  Spirit is composed of principles that define one’s nature.  So in order for Jesus to be God and man, He’d have to have a nature that is always and completely right and just, AND have free will.  But the only way this would be possible is if He used his free will to ONLY choose to be always and completely right and just.

Here’s how it worked:  the Second Person of the Trinity – The Son – was incarnated in the womb of Mary in a physical form that was a direct creation of God (like Adam).  Since his physical body was a direct creation of God, as opposed to being  a blood descendant of Adam (like us), Jesus was born with a connection to God (alive).  And being God Himself, His nature was always and completely right and just.

Ok, so that takes care of the “God” part, but what about the “man” part?  As a physical man, He had free will, which means He technically had the ability to choose to act outside of His nature.

That presents us with an incredible conundrum.  If He act outside of His nature (always and completely right and just), He can’t be God.  But since contradictions don’t exist, He cant be God AND not be God.

So how did Jesus resolve this?  He did the only thing a person who is always and completely right and just would do with His free will choice – He chose to COMPLETELY give His will over to God (The Father)!

Jesus reversed Adam’s choice!  Recognizing that He was now in a (temporarily) lower state of existence, He chose to defer completely to a superior being.  For every decision in His life, for every moment in His life, He totally submitted Himself to God.

Jesus said that He did NOTHING of Himself but ONLY did what God told Him to do and say.

When you heard Him, you heard God, when you saw Him, you saw God.  Because when you saw and heard Him, you saw and heard God’s nature and all the effects thereof – love, joy, peace, perseverance, gentleness, patience, humility, holiness, etc.

So was Jesus capable of sin?  Well, He had arms and legs so He was technically able to grab a rock and bash somebody’s head in.  But He wouldn’t ever do that.  Why?  Because He ONLY did what God told Him to do and God would (and could) never tell Him to do anything unrighteous or unjust!

An admittedly crude analogy would be that of a video game.  In most contemporary video games (which I’m frankly not very good at), you interact with the game through a digital character, or “in-game personality” (as gamers call them) that you control.

This character is essentially your avatar in the game environment .  The people who programed the game made it so that the character is capable of going anywhere and doing anything that the rules of the software allow.  However, since you are in control, the character can only do what you command.  Its “will” has been completely surrendered to you.  It is your representative in the game environment.  It expresses your nature.  In a sense, its “you”.

As someone  who only did what God commanded, Jesus was in a similar situation.  So when He told people that He was one with God, and that seeing Him was the same as seeing God, is was being truthful in every practical sense.

As a being who was fully and and fully God, Jesus was able to bridge the gap between Gad and men.  Through Jesus, man would gain the opportunity to receive the gift of life, the ability t to become like God, and spend eternity with God.

The physical advent of Jesus on earth conjures images of a gentle nativity scene, humble shepherds, rejoicing angels, and reverential wise men.  But in the spirit word of Satan and his minions, it was quite a different story.  In the spiritual battle for the souls of men and possession of the earth that began in Eden, the advent of Jesus was a military invasion by a hostile force!   The nativity was not an idyllic barnyard motif, it was a beachhead established by the enemy they knew had come to defeat them and reclaim the earthly kingdom for God and man.

In the next post, we will begin to look at the advent of Jesus as the Great Invasion of Satan’s kingdom by exploring the spiritual battles that took place in man’s history as Satan and his forces attempted to thwart God’s plan and prevent the coming of the Redeemer.

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November 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Trees part 5 – Eating Yourself to Death

Posted in The Dispensations tagged , , , , , , , at 4:02 PM by E. M.

THE EPITOME OF SHORT-TERM THINKING

This week we conclude our examination of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil by understanding why eating the fruit of the Tree led to death for Adam and Eve (and consequently, for all of us).

It’s easy to see what has become of humanity since the fall of man (just watch an episode of “Jersey Shore”).  But what were things like before Original Sin?

Before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they were in a state of complete innocence.  They lived and thought only in the moment.  They “walked with God” daily and thus received constant direction from Him.  They never had to think about tomorrow or “what to do next”, because God was always there to tell them.  Their only obligation was to obey.

The Bible makes a point of saying that they were naked and unashamed. They didn’t know the implications of being naked because they never thought that far ahead!  They ran around naked and free in their naïveté without giving any thought to what would happen next.  They were like babies in that sense (or college kids on spring break).

So what happened when they ate from the Tree?  Well, as advertised, they gained knowledge of good and evil – of creation and destruction.

Does this mean that Adam and Eve did not know what creation and destruction were before they ate the fruit?  No, they knew about creation because God undoubtedly explained the origin of the world to them, plus Adam knew that Eve had been created.  They knew about destruction because they witnessed it on a small scale whenever they ate fruit from the other trees (“destroying” it in the process).

But the complete definitions of good and evil are creation and destruction in the long-term. That is what Adam and Eve gained knowledge of:  the long-term!

When they disobeyed God, they voluntarily disconnected themselves from His influence.   Their constant “life guide” was gone. They were on their own for the first time in their existence. They were no longer led by an intelligence that was always and completely right and just.  They had to figure out what to do next based on their own imperfect judgment and thought processes.

The human brain is in a constant state of creating and “rewiring” itself based on our thoughts and experiences.  This is most dramatically true with infants because their lack of experience gives them the most new neural connections to make.  As heretofore-innocent beings, Adam and Eve were in a similar position.

When they had to think long-term for the first time, brand new connections would have begun to form in their brains.  They began to process long-term cause/effect relationships and they started to understand the ramifications of what they had done.  They were able to imagine a future in which they were separated from God.  They became afraid, and they hid.

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they began to see all the long-term implications of their nakedness – desire, sexual intimacy, joy, pregnancy, heart break, child rearing, guilt, jealousy, etc. (basically, they took on the opposite mindset of a kid on spring break).

When they experienced this flood of knowledge and the guilt associated with it, Adam and Eve committed the first religious act by covering their “shame” with fig leaves.

What was it about the fruit that caused this?  Did it have some type of “magical” composition?  Did it contain a deadly brain toxin (could this have been the origin of high-fructose corn syrup)?  No, I think that it was just regular fruit.  What made it significant was God’s command not to eat it, which entailed the choice to stop living with moment-by-moment direction from Him.  It was the choice that disconnected Adam and Eve from God, not the fruity goodness.

God told Adam that in the day that he ate the fruit, he would die.  How could God accurately make that prediction?  Because He knew the causes that would lead to the effects.  God knew that Adam and Eve were not always and completely right and just, so when they gained the knowledge of the long term and had the burden of decision, they would choose to pursue death by being comparative.

But God, being just, had to give them the opportunity to be contrastive – to repair their brains and live.  Instead, they predictably chose to be comparative.  They chose death.

And thus all of their descendants (us) follow the same pattern.  We are all born innocent, however, since we are born without a connection to God, we all quickly gain knowledge of the long term.  And since we are not always and completely right and just, we (like our original ancestors) choose to be comparative.  We all eventually commit Original Sin and our brains become wired to pursue death.  We damage our brains and compound and escalate that damage as we gain more experience.

But fear not.  All is not lost.  In the next post we will conclude our study of the first dispensation by examining the curses that God placed on Adam, Eve, and the serpent after Original Sin.  The curses are the source of many of the struggles we face today, but in the midst of the curses He pronounces, God also gives us our greatest hope for redemption.  Next time.

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October 31, 2010

A Tale of Two Trees part 4 – Evil is as Evil Does

Posted in Terminology tagged , , , , , at 8:45 PM by E. M.

THE GATEWAY TO EVIL (AND CHLAMYDIA)

In order to understand why eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would lead to death for Adam and Eve we have to first gain an objective understanding of what “good” and “evil” are.

In the last post, we examined the Biblical definition of “good”.  In this post, we will address “evil”.

In the last post we saw that “good” is “that which creates”.  However we also saw that sometimes circumstances call for short term destruction in order for there to be long-term creation.  So the complete definition of “good” is the idea of “that which creates in the long-term

Biblically speaking, evil is presented as the opposite of good.  So “evil” would then obviously be defined as “that which destroys in the long term”.

When we are tempted to do evil, we are tempted to do something that will (or that we think will) be good; that will create something for us (pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, reward, etc.).  But it only creates in the short term, and the long-term results are destruction.

There are many obvious examples of this – drug and alcohol abuse, reckless driving, lying, cheating, theft, sex with Kim Kardashian (boy, do I regret that now.  Thank God for penicillin).

We also saw in the last post that the ultimate expression of “good” is eternal life – perpetual creation.  Conversely, the ultimate expression of “evil” would be eternal death – perpetual irreparable destruction.  Hell.

The key to determining whether something is good or evil is to look at the long-term intent and results.  For example, saving your money is good because the long-term results are the ability to buy a home, send your kids to college, and enjoy a secure retirement.  But in the short term, it means the sacrifice of certain pleasures.  On the other hand, if you spend all your money as soon as you get it, you can have a great time in the short term, but the long-term results are a future of poverty and debt.

Understanding long-term vs. short-term is also a key to understanding God’s actions in the Bible, in the world, and in our lives.  God is good.  He creates in the long term.  His focus is not on our short-term happiness; His focus is our long term good.  The ultimate long-term good is eternal life.  And if God has to introduce or allow short-term pain, discomfort, distress and frustration into our lives in order to drive us toward accepting and embracing the things that will lead us to eternal life, then that is what He will do.

When persistent and/or unusual calamities occur in our lives, instead of complaining and questioning God’s goodness, it would probably be more beneficial to ask, “God, what are trying to drive me towards and how will it work for my long-term good?”  That, my friends is contrastive thinking!

Contrastive thinking can lead to eternal life, which again, is the ultimate expression of “good”.  Therefore, we can say that contrastive thinking is good.  Comparative thinking prevents repair and can lead to perpetual death.  Therefore, we can say that comparative thinking is evil.

So how can you tell if a person is good or evil?  Actually, you can’t.  None of us has enough comprehensive information about another person to categorically declare their entire being good or evil.

This is the rationale behind one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible – The admonition not to judge in Matthew 7:1.  This verse is often used by a guilty person as their defense when you confront them about their wrongdoings.  (Have you ever heard an innocent person tell you not to judge them?)  Instead of owning up to their guilt, they try to sidestep it by attacking your right to accuse them.  But we are told later in the same chapter of Mathew that we can and should judge what a person does (Matthew 7:15-20).

So while we cannot judge whether a person, is good or evil, we can judge if they are pursuing good or evil.  How?  Examine the long-term intent and results of their actions.  Is the focus of their life the pursuit of creation or destruction?  Do their actions lead to repair, and life, or do they lead to stagnation, and destruction?  Are they motivated by the desire to grow, even if it causes them discomfort and pain, or do they actively justify themselves in order to avoid pain?  When they are wrong, do they think comparatively or contrastively?

What a person pursues in the long-term is the key to understanding their life.  Furthermore, examining you own life and looking at what you are pursuing in the long-term can allow you to see if you are headed toward life or death.

Now that we understand good and evil, we are ready to examine the ramifications of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  But before we do, there is one more question that needs to be addressed.  God’s plan of redemption (the Fall of Man, the incarnation of Christ, the cross and the Resurrection) all seem predicated on the existence of evil.  So, does God need evil in order to bring about His plan? Does good need evil in order to exist? Next time.

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September 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Trees part 2 – Death

Posted in Terminology tagged , , , , at 8:08 PM by E. M.

NOT EVERYONE'S IDEA OF HEAVEN

There were two trees in the Eden narrative – the Tree of life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  One sustained life, the other brought death.  In the last post, we saw that life is the ability to repair physically and spiritually.  Physical life is in the blood, and spiritual life is in words.  The right nutrients in blood can repair physical damage, and the right information in words can spiritual damage.  The right information (expressed in words) that can repair and lead to spiritual life, are words of repentance.  Repentance begins with contrastive thinking.

With the right blood, and the right thinking, you could repair forever and have eternal life.

If life is the ability to repair, then obviously “death” is the inability to repair.

Since death did not exist before Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it is logical to assume that they were initially immortal, or at least had the means to sustain their “alive” status without any cellular degradation (presumably by eating from the Tree of Life). But when they ate the forbidden fruit, something happened to disrupt this.

So what happened when they ate the fruit?  Their disobedience cut them off from righteousness (God) and instead of repenting and repairing, they chose to be comparative.  This comparative thinking lead to a form of brain damage that was passed on to their genetic offspring (us).  Thus, while Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, we are all born in the image of fallen Adam and Eve.

We’ve inherited their brain damage.  We are born without the connection to righteousness (God) that they had.  We are born self-centered instead of God-centered.  We are born with an innate capacity for comparative thinking.  We are born without an innate desire for contrastive thinking (Romans 3:10-12).  We are born without the ability for sustainable spiritual self-repair – we are born spiritually dead.

When Adam and Eve got the boot from the Garden of Eden, they also lost access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-24), so they lost the capacity for sustainable physical self-repair, and their bodies began to age and deteriorate toward physical death.  And their offspring suffer the same curse.

But this situation, while just, presents God with a problem.  A population of spiritually dead and physically dying people would make it impossible for God to get what He wants (spending eternity with the walking dead probably isn’t much fun – unless you’re Stephen King).  So God has to come up with a just way for dead and dying people to regain life.

How can the dead and dying regain life?  By being reborn.  In order to be reborn, we first have to die.

We will all die at least once.  Our physical bodies will one day die and decompose, but our spirit is different.  It cannot cease to exist because it is eternal.  However, as we just read, our spirit can be “dead” when it cannot repair.

Yet while we are born spiritually dead, we are born physically alive. We continue to grow and repair (non-lethal) damage until we peak in early adulthood, then we deteriorate and die physically.

If a physical rebirth were possible, it would have to happen after physical death.  but since we are born spiritually dead, we could conceivably experience spiritual rebirth while we are physically alive.  We could be spiritually “born again” even though our physical bodies are deteriorating.

How could this rebirth happen?  Through perfect thinking and perfect blood.  If we could gain access to perfect thinking and perfect blood, we could be reborn into spiritual life while we are still physically alive (though deteriorating), and regain sustainable physical life after our bodies die.

So if we could experience two births (Initial physical birth and spiritual rebirth) we would only die once (physical body).  However if you were to choose not to access the perfect thinking and perfect blood for whatever reason, then when your physical body dies, justice would demand that your spirit be put into a state in which it could not repair for eternity.  We’ll discuss this in a later post when we address “Hell”.

In a nutshell – if you’re born twice, you die once.  If you’re born once, you die twice.

It would seem then that a result of the first dispensation was the need for God to find a righteous and just way to give humanity access to perfect thinking and perfect blood so that those who chose to accept it could live for eternity.  This idea will prove to be the seed plot of our entire history.

Understanding life and death completes our look at the Tree of Life.  Now we need to take a look at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Why did gaining knowledge of good and evil lead to death for Adam and Eve?  In order to answer that, we need to understand what “good” and “evil” are.  Next time…

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September 5, 2010

A Tale of Two Trees part 1 – Life

Posted in Terminology tagged , , , , , , at 11:35 AM by E. M.

Child Abuse In A Box

In the first dispensation, Adam and Eve were told that they should not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  If they ate from that tree, the result (effect) of that action would be death.  While the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil gets most of the attention in the Eden narrative, its very important to remember that there was a second titular tree in the garden – The Tree of Life

And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – Genesis 2:9

Adam and Eve were told that they could freely eat of all the trees except for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Presumable that would mean that the fruit of the Tree of Life was a part of the acceptable diet plan.  So eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would result in death, but eating from the Tree of Life would sustain life.

But what exactly is “Life”? – other than a rather bland breakfast cereal that my mother made me eat while cruelly ignoring my desire for Cap’n Crunch!  (Hmmm, looks like it my be time to visit my therapist again…)

From a purely scientific standpoint, an organism is considered “alive” if it has self-sustaining biological functionality; if it has the ability to ingest and metabolize nutrients, grow, respond to stimuli, reproduce, and adapt to its environment.  Organisms have many complex organs and systems that work in a synchronistic fashion  to accomplish this, but on a cellular level, the key to maintaining life is the ability of our cells to continually reproduce themselves.

As we’ve seen before, matter cannot be created or destroyed.  Technically, there is no scientific reason for death.  Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells.  As our cells wear down, an exact copy replaces them.  From birth until death, all of our cells constantly reproduce themselves.  Some do it every few hours, some take several days.  It actually takes about 28 days for every cell in your body to reproduce itself – so technically; you get a new body every month (unfortunately for some, it’s a copy of the same body they had before).

Our bodies are design for perpetual life.  With enough fuel from food, there is no reason why we should die . . .yet we do.  As we age our cells become less and less efficient at reproduction.  Genetic defects and disease impair the cells ability to repair damage.  When the cells of a vital organ like the heart, lungs, liver, or brain lose the ability to repair, the systems that rely on them to remain functional fail, and we die.

What is the difference between a dead body and a living one (other than the smell)?  The living body maintains the ability to repair damage to enough of a degree to maintain functionality.

Life is the ability to self-repair.  If you somehow had the ability to repair any damage that was done to you, you would live forever.

In biological terms, the Bible states that life is in the blood of an organism, and that blood sustains life (Leviticus 17:11, Leviticus 17:14 ).  This makes sense since blood transports the essential nutrients, building blocks, and organic information necessary for cells to reproduce, function, and repair.

But we know that we are not just physical beings.  We are also spirit. What does the Bible say about spiritual life?  Lets take a sneak peak into the 5th dispensation where Jesus speaks about life:

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life… – John 6:53-54

No, this is not an endorsement of cannibalism, He is speaking symbolically.  Keep reading.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. – John 6:63

Jesus was speaking metaphorically and using a revelatory pun by associating blood (physical life) with spiritual life.  So what leads to spiritual life?  Words!

This idea is in total agreement with what we learned about spirit in an earlier post on this blog. That post showed that the content of spirit is information, and words are the conduits of information.  Just as blood is the key to physical life because it is the transportation medium of the essence of physical life, words are the key to spiritual life because words are the transportation medium of information.

The verse states that words are life. Not just any words, but the words that constitute one of Christ’s primary messages on earth – repentance.  Words of repentance are the words that lead to life.

When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” – Acts 11:18

Repentance for our wrongs leads to spiritual life because repentance is the process of turning from our wrongs and embracing right.  Words of repentance cause us to repair spiritually!  And what precedes repentance?  Contrastive thinking!

So if we look at it from a cause/effect standpoint: contrastive thinking leads to repentance, which leads to repair, which leads to life.

So it all comes back to contrastive thinking.  Contrastive thinking leads to righteousness and life. And righteousness is what it takes to be like God and live eternally in Heaven.

Moreover, life is not a static quantity.  There are qualitative levels of life.  When we asked “What’s the Point?”, the problem we were addressing was really “living” versus just “being alive”.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). – John 10:10 Amplified Bible

Jesus states that we can have more life; better life; an abundance of life.  This is not possible if life is just a binary measurement of being alive or not alive.  But it is possible if life is the ability to repair.  Having more and/or better life would mean the ability to repair physical and spiritual damage faster and more efficiently.  The ultimate or perfect life would be the ability to repair instantaneously.  This would constitute immortality, and eternal life.

Perfect blood would be the cause of eternal physical life, and perfect thinking would be the cause of eternal physical life.  But how could we get access to someone with perfect blood and perfect thinking?  That answer will have to wait until the 5th dispensation . . .

So if life is the ability to repair, what is death?  How did it come about, and what are the implications of spiritual death?  Death isn’t all bad.  It depends on which part of you dies . . . and how many times you die.  Stay tuned . . .

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