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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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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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 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 17, 2013

The Law Myth – part 2: Divine Dress Rehearsal

Posted in Jesus, Religion, The Law tagged , , , , at 2:20 PM by E. M.

THAT KID REALLY CREEPS ME OUT

THAT KID REALLY CREEPS ME OUT

In the last post we began to looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation.  We saw that the rules of the Law were not meant to repress the Israelites, but were intended to show them the optimal way to live and prosper and to make them good ambassadors to usher in the advent of the Redeemer.

But there are other aspects of the Law beyond health and moral conduct that gives rise to another myth – the myth that the Law is religion.

Much of the Law details a multitude of rituals, sacraments, and festivals.  The rules around these activities are very detailed, exacting, and strict.  Take for example, the “sin offering”:

And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which God hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty;
if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering, and kill the sin-offering in the place of burnt-offering.
And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt-offering; and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar.
And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace-offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto God; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. Leviticus 4: 27-31

To be honest, all this sounds a lot like religion.  It seems like God is telling people to do certain activities in order to justify their wrongs.

Furthermore, why does an all-powerful God need a sacrifice?  Why does killing an animal please Him?  Why does its blood need to be smeared all over the place?  It all seems a bit macabre.

Without the right context, it’s easy to see how all these rules can make God look no different than any other petulant, ancient “rage-god” demanding arbitrary obeisance from his fiefdom lest he rain down fire and crickets upon them in his wrath (ok, that’s maybe not the most vivid description of wrath, but I really hate crickets).

Is this myth true?  Is God basically that creepy omnipotent kid from the Twilight Zone?  Are the sacraments demanded by the Law a form of religion?

The answer is no.  And this is proven by understanding the purposes of both religion and the Law.

Religion is actions initiated by man (NOT God) in order for man to justify himself.  The Law comes from God, and merely doing the activities of the Law does not offer justification.

The purpose of the Law is to prepare the world (through Israel) for the coming of the Redeemer.  So how do the rituals of the Law accomplish this?

The ritual and the sacraments of the Law symbolize the vital aspects of the Redeemers advent and purpose.  Doing the sacraments of the Law is essentially acting out the work of the Redeemer.  It’s a divine dress rehearsal!

What is the Redeemer’s work?  From what we’ve learned so far, the Redeemer will be a man with perfect blood, who will sacrifice that blood on behalf of Adam’s fallen offspring (us), resulting in us gaining life and being reconciled to God.

Now let’s look again at the sin offering from the passage above.  It requires:

  1.  A blemish free (perfect) animal (a goat in this case, but lambs and bulls are also used)
  2. The animal is killed (sacrificed)
  3. Its blood is taken by the priest before the alter
  4. The priest puts blood on the horns and base of the alter
  5. The animals fat is burned which God enjoys
  6. The sin is forgiven

How does this all fit together?

We learned previously that “life” is in the blood.  The “perfect” animal represents perfect blood.  The perfect blood is sacrificed.  The priest is the mediator between God and man.  The priest represents One who has the authority to come before God on man’s behalf.  The alter represents God.  Horns are a Biblical representation of ruling authority.  Thus the mediator between God and man placed the perfect blood on that authority, and then pours it at His feet.  Fat is generally seen as excess and denotes the richness, luxury, and comfort (pride) of man.  Its burning (being destroyed) is pleasing to God.  These represent the humility needed when one prays – especially for forgiveness.  God finds prayers sweet like incense!  Finally, forgiveness is rendered, representing reconciliation with God.

And that’s just what can be found in ONE of the sacraments of the Law.  All of them represent some aspect of the Redeemer and were written with the Redeemer in mind!

The way this was supposed to work, is that if the Israelites obeyed the Law, they would have acted out the work of the Redeemer thousands of times, over the 1500 years between Moses and the advent of the Redeemer.  They should have known the work of the Redeemer so well, that there’s no reasonable way they could have missed Him and failed the 5th Dispensation.

But they did fail.  Why?  Religious brain damage!  As I wrote in a previous post:

“Unfortunately certain men decided of their own volition (and convinced countless others) that rituals alone could provide justification and atonement, and they warped them into religious acts.  But this was NEVER God’s intention.

As I wrote last week, the men who perverted Levitical rituals into religion are the ones whose actions led to the death of Christ.  Their religion blinded them to the advent of the very person the rituals were put in place to make them aware of!  See what I mean when I say religion causes brain damage?”

There is one final pervasive myth about the Law that we will conclude with.  The idea that God is a repressive prude who created the Law in order to make us feel bad about things we like – especially sex.  Next time…

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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 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Trees part 3 – The Greater Good

Posted in Terminology tagged , , , , , at 9:42 PM by E. M.

ONE OF THE GREAT INTELLECTUALS OF OUR TIME

There were two trees in the Eden narrative.  We’ve looked at the Tree of Life in the last two posts, now we need to examine the other, more infamous tree – the Tree of the Knowledge of God and Evil.  Eating the fruit of that tree led to Original Sin, and death.

Why would gaining knowledge of good and evil result in death for Adam and Eve?  In order to answer that, we need to understand what “good” and “evil” are.  In this post, we will define “good”.

Like “love”, good and evil are highly subjective terms.  Adolf Hitler, a universal archetype of evil actually thought that his actions were good for the German people.  There was a time in the history of this country wherein many people thought it was evil to free slaves and allow them human rights.  Then there are those who contend that the only “good” is the belief that no one can know what is good, and the only evil is the belief that evil exists.  Traditionally, these people had been known as “illogical, dope-smoking, hippie morons”.  Today they are called “intellectuals”.

Fortunately, we know that absolutes exist, which means that there are absolute standards for good and evil.  Those absolutes could only be set by someone who has all the information in existence.  As we have seen, that “someone” is the First Cause of existence, whom we call God.

So how does God define good and evil?

When using the Bible to define terminology, it can be helpful to use something that theologians call “the law of first mention”.  It basically contends that there is usually great significance in the first time a term is mentioned in the Bible.   The first time that “good” is used in the Bible is Genesis 1:3-4

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

In fact, the first seven times the word “good” is used in the Bible is in the creation narrative of Genesis 1.  With that in mind, I would postulate that good should be strongly associated with creation, and the working Biblical definition of “good” is “that which creates”.

God is described throughout the Bible as “good”, which means “God creates”.  This of course fits with Genesis 1.

However if we leave the definition at that, it creates a problem (no pun intended).  The opposite of creation is destruction.  Yet the Bible often shows that God destroys.  In Genesis 6, God destroyed the world with a flood.  Throughout the Old Testament God destroys the enemies of Israel.  The Bible is also filled with prophesies of God destroying the world completely at the end of the dispensations.

We know that contradictions do not exist.  So how can God be “good” if He also destroys?

Well, lets look at the long-term results of the destructions I just mentioned.  The Flood of Noah destroyed all the unrepentant evil in the world and allowed man a fresh start.  The destruction of Israel’s enemies resulted in the continuation of the Jewish race and the eventual birth of Christ.  The destruction of the world at the end of the dispensations will usher in a new world completely devoid of evil.

So it seems that the short-term destruction that God caused was necessary in order to create favorable situations in the long-term.

With this understanding, the definition of “good” is the idea of “that which creates in the long-term”.  Good can include short-term destruction if that destruction is necessary for long-term creation.

An interesting exercise would be to go through the Bible and substitute the idea of “that which creates in the long term” everywhere you find the word “good”.  I think you will see that it fits pretty consistently.

The ultimate expression of good would be something that perpetually creates in the long-term.  We are actually quite familiar with an example of a system that was designed to perpetually create.  The cells of our bodies constantly reproduce and repair.  We call this system life.  Life perpetually creates.  Life is not only “good”, eternal life it is the ultimate expression of good.  Jesus summarizes this idea in John 12:24-25.

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Next time we will examine the Biblical meaning of “evil”.

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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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February 8, 2010

What’s the Point?

Posted in What's the Point? tagged , , , , , , at 12:23 AM by E. M.

Seriously.  What’s the point?  I’ve found myself asking that question of life more and more as time goes on… and I’m not alone.

We’re born, we learn how to walk, we learn where and where not to poop.  Our parents teach us to not stick a fork in electrical outlets and to never be in a room alone with uncle Lester.  Then they send us to school where we learn to manage our emotions and expectations while memorizing a bunch of stuff, 20% of which is actually useful (to this day I have yet to gain any benefit from knowing how to find the square root of a number).  Then we’re off to college and if we’re driven (or masochistic) enough, graduate school.  We go on to find a career and a spouse.  We start a family, buy a house, go on vacations, punt the kids out of the house to start their lives, save for retirement, then idle away our remaining years in an RV or a motorized scooter while waiting for the sweet release of mortality.

Seems rather horrifying when you look at it, but it’s the path we’re all primed to go on.  It’s the socially acceptable way to live life.  But it’s only utilitarian.  School, work, kids, and saving accounts are a means to achieve a certain level of survival, comfort, and security, but they are not a “purpose”.  They aren’t “the point”.  If they were, then those of us who manage success on this path wouldn’t be so overcome with the drive to find higher meaning in life.  We wouldn’t still be asking, “What’s the point?”

Everywhere we turn, we are confronted by those who tell us to look “beyond ourselves” to satisfy the need for purpose.  They tell us purpose is found in leaving a legacy, making an impact (whatever that means), and making the world a better place.  This usually comes in the form of a cause we choose to support.  These generally consist of “ending” something like hunger, homelessness, or a disease.  Or “saving” something like a bird we’ve never seen,  a rain forest we’ll never visit, or the whales.

Really? “Save the whales”?  Is that it? Is my life to be defined by how many 80-ton, krill sucking leviathans are left behind when I die?  This can’t be the point.

The problem is, try as we might, we can’t escape the question.  We all ask, “what’s the point?” with our actions even if we don’t do it verbally.  When we don’t get an acceptable answer, we try to anesthetize ourselves against the question or distract ourselves from it with alcohol, sports, music, food, vacations, sex, shopping, fantasies, and all the other indulgences and excesses that stimulate our various glands and mental pleasure centers (I should add “church” to this list).

But once the adrenaline, estrogen, endorphins, testosterone, and digestive enzymes have subsided; once the bills (or bail) has been paid, we’re back to the question we’ve been asking from the start.  What’s the point?

We all want to know “what’s the point?”  We want to know why we’re all here.  We want to know why EVERYTHING is here.  The first priority of this weekly blog is to address that question.  But before we can answer the question “what is all this for?” We need to ask “What IS all this?”  What is existence?  It’s a good question.  Lets start there…

(see you next week)