There are three things that spread the Christ-life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names—Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper. At least, those are the three ordinary methods.
C.S.Lewis Mere Christianity
What makes the creator of the universe choose these things by which new life is transmited to us?
Take Baptism – there are all the types of it in the Old Testament, the Red Sea and Jordan River crossings. Baptism itself is a type of death and ressurection. How does this transmit a new life?
Or Communion? Eating some bread and drinking some wine typologically portrayed by Melchizedek, and pointing to a torturous murder! The death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Belief – in a set of precepts? No – in the person Jesus Christ and the effectivenes of His death on the cross to bring us back into relationship with God.
We have all heard of the Adam and Eve and the serpent who tempted them to eat the forbidden fruit, thereby rendering them rejected by God and cast forth from paradise to a world of thorns, death and destruction.
Have we considered the world or environment that they would have inhabited? From hints scattered through the Bible it would seem that their world would have been very different from the one we know and experience.
We now know that the universe is much more than the four dimensions we directly experience and observe. Height, length, depth and time are what we know empirically, but we also experience “spiritual” sensations, things that cannot be measured. Mind, emotions and will, are commonly agreed to be the “soul”. And we can experience emotions, love, hate, fear etc. All these things are undoubtedly real experiences but are intangible except to the one experiencing them.
We also know that there are many physical realms that other animals experience that we do not. There are wavelengths of light and other radiation that some animals can detect, of which, we are completely oblivious.
Back to Adam and Eve.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10 (KJV)
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Acts 3:19-21 (NKJV)
If the Christian story is one of God restoring that which was lost, then the original experience of Adam and Eve must be a part of that restoration. So we find the Apostle Paul telling us a mystery.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (ESV)
We are promised that we shall partake in some new experience the likes of which we can only imagine. There will be a restoration of all that went before. This must include eventually the experience of Adam and Eve. So what was that experience? Can we gain any insight into what it may have been like?
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
Really? In his own image? If God is anything he is beyond time and space, he must be beyond dimensionality and mere physical existence.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 4:24 (ESV)
To be created in God’s image then is to be somehow beyond mere physicality and to be spirit. That mankind is both a spirit and physical being is, in the words of C.S. Lewis “that terrible oxymoron.”
To make an organism which is also a spirit; to make that terrible oxymoron, a ‘spiritual animal.’
C.S. Lewis ~ A Grief Observed.
The offer of Christ is that we should experience eternal life. John 3:16. Therefore we can know that Adam and Eve experienced that kind of life, whatever that is. The question then becomes what is eternal life? That it is very different from this life must be plain.
The requirements of eternal life are perfection for those who would experience it.
It will be an experience both like and unlike that which we have had here on this earth.
We are promised a new body.
We will see Christ as he is and we will be like him.
Jesus can now manifest physically, as in the upper room after his resurrection. He can eat and drink. He can be touched and felt. But he also exists in a glorified state as revealed in Revelation chapter 1. So we will experience both a physical and spiritual existence, but in a way that is no longer oxy-moronic. It will be natural and powerful and dare I say multi-dimensional. We will be beyond space/time. We will be truly eternal, spiritual beings of power and glory.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Hebrews 9:23-24 (ESV)
More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It turns out that roughly 68% of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest – everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter – adds up to less than 5% of the universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn’t be called “normal” matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the universe.
What is unknown to science is what the Bible calls the heavenly realm. And the writer to the Hebrews tells us that is where Jesus now resides. Not only that, the physical existence we experience is merely a “copy” the true things.
The Scripture declares that Jesus entered into the heavenly realm to purify the heavenly things with sacrifices better than the earthly ones. Which begs the question why?
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:19-23 (ESV)
So the scripture tells us that the entire creation is subjected to the bondage of decay/corruption, that includes the hidden realms of “dark energy and dark matter”. Or in biblical parlance the heavens.
Which leads us to some incredible conclusions. Mankind’s actions are not merely effective in the “physical realms” that is the 4 dimensions of height, depth, length and time. Our moral choices affect the very fabric of the universe. Therefore we can say that moral law supersedes every other law. When God tells us “Thou shalt do no murder” or “Thou shall not covet” he is deadly serious because violations of those commands actually, somehow, affect all of the creation.
So for Jesus to proclaim “Your sins are forgiven” carries with it incredible ramifications. If we consider the impact of the original sin, that act, so innocent in appearance, actually corrupted not just the physical but the meta-physical realm. To be then forgiven the debt of having destroyed the universe, that is truly mind boggling.
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
Mark 4:30-32 (ESV)
The parable Jesus tells here is of the growth of the Kingdom of God on the earth. What starts out, in what seems to be an insignificant manner, eventually becomes so influential that the entire world is under its sway. So much so that the forces of evil, the birds of the air, find places to make their habitation within the structures that society has erected based on the principles of Jesus teachings.
Let’s break this down. Jesus’ teachings in their day were absolutely iconoclastic in their scope and substance. For example the in Sermon on the Mount Jesus takes the Jews’ already high moral law and goes from mere external observance to heart intent.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV)
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV)
Jesus teachings were so radical and so at odds with the society of the day that it brought him into sharp conflict with the political forces of the day and eventually led him to his death on the cross. And that would have been the end of the story if he had not been raised from the dead . His disciples took up the message and practice of the Kingdom that Jesus established and within 30 years had transformed the society around them. So much so that when Paul and Barnabas went to Thessalonica they caused an uproar in the city and the indictment was that they had “turned the world upside down”
And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
Acts 17:6-7 (ESV)
Christianity has, for the last 2000 years, been a disruptive influence in the societies where it has been preached, and the entire world has, through the centuries, had opportunity to hear the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is the defining foundation of our current western society. “Judeo/Christian values” are what all of the current democratic societies look to as the touchstone of their laws and societal norms. Ideas like equality and social justice spring out of the ideals of sanctity of human life that Christ preached. Care and concern for the environment come from the understanding that the earth is God’s creation and has inherent worth. “Do unto others what you would have done unto you” and the idea of “fairness” and a “level playing field” and “free speech”, all springboard from Christian teaching that all human life has value.
But we now see those very values being weaponised to demolish the foundations from which they spring. The enemies of freedom, individuality and peaceful free societies are using the institutions and ideals built on the basis of Christianity to destroy the fabric of the society which embody those very ideals.
The current situation in the USA is a prime example of this. The BLM movement utilises the ideal of free speech and free association and freedom to protest to vandalise and wreck private and public property and to bring anarchy in the name of a more equitable society. In western society we have seen an eroding of the previous high moral values to an “anything goes” morality based upon the ideals of personal freedom and expression.
Sexual immorality now is the norm rather than the exception and the idea that I might be doing myself or others harm by my uncontrolled lust for another is no longer even considered. We have children and young adults viewing porn, violence and addicted to all other kinds of destructive behaviours. We see the rise of governmental control of society far beyond what would have been accepted in times past, in the name of “public safety”.
The “birds of the air” certainly have made their nests in the shadow of the mustard tree. These are signs of the times that Jesus foresaw and predicted. One wonders what will be the resultant outcome of these signs? What sort of society will we be leaving to our children and grandchildren?
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Recently I was thinking about the headlong rush to save the planet by moving to renewable energy sources. I was musing on the ludicrous hypocrisy of those who demand that we all stop burning “dinosaur squeezings” and embrace wind and solar as the alternate means of powering our lifestyles. I mean most of those calling for these changes live lives built around the usage of either coal or oil or both. Most of the devices we use today are made from products sourced either directly or indirectly from oil based products and from energy from coal or gas fired (or nuclear) power stations. For example; the devices we all communicate with are made with precious metals and plastics and other exotic materials all made or mined or developed by (in the main) countries that do not use the more exotic forms of “green energy”. To make matters worse we demand that we live lives of extreme comfort. We want to turn the liveability dial up to 11! So we have homes and businesses and cars that have to have air-conditioning and heating and all our appliances and furnishings and clothes etc all need to be the latest and greatest. Our manufacturers all outdo each other in bringing out yearly offerings all for our consumption and pleasure. We no longer see it important to make things that last – we live in an age of planned obsolescence. And we love it to be so. Our world wide travel industry uses a massive amount of fossil fuels to enable us our lifestyle choices for work and vacations.
So what to do about this ? How to change the way an entire planet lives and change the aspirations of everyone on it?
Into these mainly depressing thoughts, an idea hammered away at my consciousness trying to rise unbidden to the surface of my mind. What if the answers were not to be found externally? What if no amount of behavioural change could fix the planet?
What if it was our moral choices that affected not only the world, but the entire universe?
In the beginning that was the original choice. To choose life in obedience to God or knowledge of good and evil and become our own “gods”.
What if the entire sweep of history was God returning the entire universe to that original premise? The premise that it is mankind’s choice to live in obedient relationship to his creator God that is the primary factor deciding the fate of the entire universe.
If so, that changes everything. Yes, sure we still will need to make changes to how we go about managing the planet. But by far the biggest issue will be, how do we live our lives, morally? How do we determine right and wrong? What kinds of people should we be aiming to be? How do we communicate this radically different idea to everyone, everywhere? How can we do it?
Heaven itself is a state where the former things have passed away..
Hell then? A state where the former things – the corruption of life is allowed to go to its fullest end. The sadness, the grief, the horror and the brokenness is complete.
The lie of the spiritualist – “the happy past restored”
“Why are they so sure that all anguish ends with death?”
“Why should the separation which is so painful to the lover left behind be painless to the lover who departs?”
“She is in God’s hands, if so she was in God’s hands all the time and I have seen what they did to her here.” – subtle lie of the enemy. He was the one in who hands she was and who stole her life from her.
“In the only life we know he (God) hurts us beyond our worst fears and all that we can imagine.”
Again another lie – it is not God who hurts us… we ourselves have formed the instrument of torture. It is the whole sin filled world that is the instrument of pain and death and we have contributed and participated in the construction and maintenance of its edifices. WE are the ones who ultimately hurt ourselves and each other – our sin nature and our sinful acts perpetuate the system by which we ourselves and others suffer. We naturally followed the course of this world and the prince of the power of the air (the devil) and the passions of our flesh (Ephesians 2:1-3) and by nature were destined to God’s wrath, condemnation and judgement.
But GOD – being rich in mercy has delivered us from this “body of death” (Romans 7:24) and made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1-2
Jesus’ words here sound a warning to everyone who tries to do good in the world. There is a massive temptation when giving aid or helping others, to do so for the recognition and sense of pride that rightly comes from such acts of generosity or service. When such giving or acts of service are done with the express purpose of raising one’s profile in the eyes of others the entire meaning of them is robbed from them and they have amounted to nothing in terms of helping the giver’s heart to approach God. That is not to say that the recipients of such acts or giving are not helped, there may well be good done to others and much blessing received by them.
Jesus makes the point that if we are to receive a blessing in the giving we should be careful to hide from others those acts of service or gifts. If our purpose is to move closer to God by using them as acts of worship and service to him then we are to forego the worldly accolades and look to the Father for any reward and recognition.
And Jesus promises there is a reward for those who approach God in such acts and gifts. Which reward are we seeking?
John 1:4-5 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
John links the light of the Word of God with the eternal life of God. They are inseparable. Through all eternity before time, space and matter began LIFE! was – is. And that life, which gives rise to the incredible variety and vigour of all life on this planet, is the Life and the moral light by which mankind lives. The light reveals and gives form and substance to all that is darkness. The light defines goodness, wholeness, and the light exposes and overcomes all that stands in opposition to it.
Darkness. Darkness is the lack of light, is absence of life, is chaos. Quite possibly the saddest verse in the whole Bible is John 3:19. “and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (NJKV) Evil is defined by Good. Evil is all that stands in opposition to the One true God and is exposed as such by the light of the Word of God.
“Only in silence the word, Only in dark the light, Only in dying life: Bright the hawk’s flight On the empty sky. —The Creation of Éa” ― Ursula K. Le Guin
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Isaiah 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Genesis 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God does nothing apart from His word. The word of God exists with God. God’s word is God! God’s word is God’s will, it not only accomplishes God’s will but it is the complete expression of God’s divine will and purpose. God’s word is unstoppable and cannot be thwarted. Because the Word of God is actually a person, God’s son Jesus Christ, all of the attributes that pertain to God himself, pertain to his word.
God’s word is:
Eternal – Psalms 119:89 Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Pure – Psalms 119:140 Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it.
Right – Psalms 119:172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.
True – Psalms 119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
Imparts Wisdom and Revelation – Psalms 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
Psalm 19 sums it up very well,
Psalm 19:7-9 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Many of us view contrary circumstances in our lives as inconveniences and roadblocks to an imagined future that we ourselves have planned and hoped for. Here is Paul chained in prison with guards on either side, cheerfully telling the Christians in Philippi that this has, in fact, resulted in advancement for the Gospel. How does he come to this realisation and perspective? Paul’s perspective is based on the kingdom, he views everything from the viewpoint of how it affects the advancement of the good news of Christ to the world. But he also is concerned for the lives of those around him and the brothers who are encouraged as they see the grace of God working in and through Paul.
Paul acknowledges that people have different motives when it comes to the proclamation of the Kingdom. We should remember this when are confronted with persecution and opposition, even from within the church. Our over-arching concern and focus should be, like Paul, that in every way Christ – the KING -is proclaimed, and in that rejoice.