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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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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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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