RSS

Tag Archives: heaven

Why I Don’t Believe In “Eternal Hell,” Pt. 1: Introduction

separation-2057205_960_720

For several years now I have been convinced that no one will end up in “eternal, conscious torment” (ECT), and lately I tend to believe that everyone will be reconciled to God through Christ someday, in some fashion.  Any view similar to this is sadly considered heretical and dangerous today, although it seems to me that, in comparison with “eternal torment,” to believe that all will be reconciled, or at least that the wicked will be destroyed, is far more God-exalting, scripturally honest, and consistent with the belief of the majority of early Christianity, prior to the heavy influx of pagan ideas and practices beginning in the 300’s AD. 

Many who read this might say: “the Bible teaches plainly about eternal torment, hell, and the lake of fire, so anything like universal reconciliation is clearly wrong.”  I am well aware that the Bible mentions these things, and I intend to look in depth at scripture in posts to come.  The truth is, the Bible is not as plain, literal, and clear-cut as people like to think.  If it is, how can you explain the vast differences in belief and doctrine among good, intelligent, Biblically-devoted people?!  All I’m saying here is that while the Bible does mention hell, torment, gnashing of teeth, the lake of fire, etc., a closer look reveals there is no solid basis to teach that all “unbelievers” who die end up permanently and unendingly in what amounts to sadistic eternal torture.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences, by the way.

I don’t ask or expect you to believe something just because I do.  All I ask is that you keep an open mind and heart to the possibility that the particular way you now believe is misguided.  After all, hasn’t that been true of all of us more times than we would like to admit?!  Isn’t refusing to even consider a reasonable alternative view an unhealthy, cultish trait?  Keeping a pliable mind and heart, which seeks truth above comfort, familiarity, sentiment, and tradition is the only way true repentance can take place.  And repentance is necessary to progress in one’s salvation.

Like many my age, I grew up reluctantly believing that eternal torment in hell is the fate of millions. I accepted this mind-bogglingly terrible idea primarily because I trusted those who taught it to me, I was familiar with a few scriptures which seemed to support it, and I was almost never exposed to other viewpoints.  A few things contributed to changing my belief about hell: first, I began to read scripture on my own, with a desire to learn rather than to support my current beliefs, and I began to read and talk with those who saw differently (and deeper) than me.  I saw scriptures that actually contradicted eternal torment, and supported the idea of universal reconciliation, which in my experience no pastor or teacher had ever mentioned.   Also, as I got older, I had some personal experiences and met others with personal experiences of the all-encompassing love and mercy and compassion of God.  The biggest factor, perhaps, was that I continued taking seriously the Biblical account of the person and ministry of Jesus Christ, who in Hebrews 1:3 (MLV) is said to be: “…the brightness of (the Father’s) glory and the exact representation of his essence…”  Jesus even said of himself: “he who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

I think most would agree, it is no minor detail that the words and the actions of Jesus (again, the exact representation of God as a human) are completely contrary to the idea of any sort of eternal torment or punishment (not to mention, the idea of “eternal punishment” doesn’t even make sense, considering men are extremely fallible and vulnerable and live such short lives).   It’s certainly true that in Jesus’ zeal for God’s Kingdom, he was sometimes harsh (though always correct) when speaking to the Jewish religious leaders, who like many religious leaders still today, continually misrepresented, hindered, and opposed the truth of his Father, thereby keeping his precious brothers and sisters under needless bondage and prevented from receiving their inheritance as sons of God. 

Despite these stubborn, prideful and greedy hypocrites opposing all he and his Father stood for and did, continually resisting the truth and ultimately torturing and murdering him, Jesus never once retaliated with violence or harm – in fact, he consistently taught and lived out that we are to love our enemies and persecutors.  When one of Jesus’ closest followers cut off the ear of someone arresting him, Jesus rebuked his friend but healed his enemy.  Some of his very last, painful breaths were used to plead for the forgiveness of those actively torturing and killing him. 

Sure, we can explain this away, as many have, by saying that Jesus was only showing God’s mercy while on earth, but that later he will show His wrath.  But that’s not what Jesus himself said.  He said if you have seen him, you have seen the Father – that the two were one.  He said that he spoke and acted from what he heard and saw from his Father.  The Bible DOES mention wrath in a few cases – but this wrath was tied to the breaking of the law, and we are not under the law!  This wrath also does not necessitate eternal torture!  I see no genuine, honest way of reconciling the plain accounts of God in the flesh teaching and living out truth and mercy with the idea that this same God has designed a world in which eternal torture waits for those who don’t “accept” His son, or who fail to meet some other standard.

Another issue I have with eternal conscious torment (apart from scripture, which I promise I will get to in posts to come) is that it is thoroughly toxic to human beings. At best, I feel it hinders intimacy with God and encourages the development and presentation of a false identity as fearful servant, which greatly hinders intimacy and freedom, rather than our true identity as sons and daughters, with intimacy and joy and freedom.  The false identity of “fearful servant” often leads to apathy, confusion, frustration, powerlessness, spiritual blindness, and devotion to traditions.  More specifically, the idea of eternal torment fuels many negative mental states, including anxiety, doubt, religious foolishness, fanatacism and even psychosis.

Maybe you have heard of Andrea Yates, the mother from Houston, Texas who in 2001 drowned her 5 young children in their bathtub while her husband was at work. Now, apart from any religious beliefs she did or did not have, there is no question that she was very mentally ill and had been for at least two years.  No sane person, regardless of their belief about hell, would do what she did.  It was inexcusable and terrible beyond words. HOWEVER, one reason she gave to police for killing her children was that they had been acting badly and she didn’t want them to end up in hell. She is on record saying her children were being “unrighteous” and that “they didn’t do things God likes.” Therefore, she said, she believed that if they died as children: “in their innocence, they’d go to heaven.” The sickening reality is that the (false) idea of eternal torment, if you are brave (or mentally compromised) enough to truly and fully consider it, is so terrible it can create a twisted logic that can actually justify killing children, which in Mrs. Yates’ mentally diseased state she was actually able to carry out.

This twisted logic is actually quite simple and quite sound, but it requires the addition of one other mainstream Christian idea, known as the “age of accountability.”  This idea  basically says that children under a certain, undefined age will go to heaven when they die even if they do not “believe in Jesus.”  This popular idea has even less scriptural basis than eternal torment, but was made up and is adhered to by those who cannot let go of the idea of eternal torment but also cannot stomach the thought of children going there (a good question is why it’s so much easier to accept teenagers or adults going there).  So, with that in mind, the logic goes like this: If it’s true that those who die as children are guaranteed to go to heaven – a place of eternal peace and comfort and happiness with God – but those who die after childhood have a very real chance of going to hell – a place of eternal torture without hope – then it is far better to die as a child then run that risk.

By this logic, a strong case could be made that Mrs. Yates actually acted in a very “sane” and even “loving” manner by sacrificing her reputation and freedom to make SURE that none of her children ended up in eternal torment by killing them as children.  HOW SICK AND PATHETIC IS THAT???!!! Here’s one terrible outcome of eternal, conscious torment: if this truly is the immediate and permanent fate of all “unbelievers” who die, then the best options are to either never exist at all, or, if you have the misfortune of being born, to die a quick and painless death as a young child.  I’m sorry, but IF the premises of eternal hell and the age of accountability are true (thankfully I’m convinced they aren’t), then Mrs. Yates’ logic was sound. 

I have personally known people who, though they would never harm their children themselves, actually prayed that God would kill their children, because they saw them making choices or choosing a lifestyle they felt would end up landing them in hell, to suffer eternal torment.  That line of thinking is madness.  Is the best that the Body of Christ and ministers of God can offer that death as a child is ultimately “safest?” Of course not!  Especially not on this side of the victory of Christ on the cross, which the Bible says “reconciled the world,” was a victorious sacrifice offered “once for all,” and which “took away the sin of the world”?  Again, is eternal torture in line with the love and healing and compassion of Jesus, or the revelation of the Father given by the apostles in the Bible, who is said to be kind and merciful even to the unrighteous, and who scripture plainly says will be All in all?  No!  Not at all!

The walk of a believer is spiritual, and based on one’s identity as a son, with freedom and joy.  It’s time we join this inevitable progression out from following the ideas of flesh conceived in fear and ignorance, as familiar and comfortable as many of them have become to us, and into the truths revealed by the inward Spirit of divine love and demonstrated in Jesus and the apostles.  This will mean change.  It takes some courage, but the one who leads us is the best guide there is, and there is ultimately nothing to fear!  Will you join me? I could use your help. Bless you.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

The Suffering Servant

Sometimes, I will send a text to myself when I have a thought I don’t want to forget.  The following quote is an expanded version of one such text I sent myself while thinking about the nature of love:

Love is “unfair,”  in favor of the beloved.  Love looks like a suffering servant – it’s the strong bearing with the weak, it’s putting others above oneself, it’s choosing mercy instead of judgment, it’s speaking grace and life in the face of death.  Because love doesn’t “know after the flesh,”1 it cannot and does not react or respond; certainly not with evil.  Love, being founded in the nature of God Himself, CANNOT be changed or overcome.2   Love isn’t painful in and of itself, but until the world is matured and perfected, love must and will take the form of suffering servanthood.  We must know this: if the Kingdom/Reign of God (the expression of the nature and will of the Spirit) is ever to be manifested on earth, it must do so through the body of Christ on earth!  As such, those who are Christ’s cannot repay evil with evil – not even a slight evil with an even slighter evil.  As should be obvious, repaying evil with evil, violence with violence, anger with anger, selfishness with selfishness, insult with insult, etc. simply perpetuates evil.  To end this cycle, someone has to absorb blows and insults, without returning them.  Someone has to walk in a higher plane than reasonings and reactions based on ego and fear; demonstrating the nature of God by showing KINDNESS to those who are undeserving, by speaking truth and life in spite of persecution, by both proclaiming and demonstrating God’s nature and mind.  This, by the way, does not mean pointing out “sin” any time you see it.  Doing that is actually administering DEATH.  It means showing and offering Life.

As I’ve said many times before, I am optimistic for the future.  I am confident that death will be swallowed up by life, light will banish darkness, truth will prevail over lies, Christ will replace Adam, and love will overcome fear.  In fact, I am certain of these things, because I am certain that in Christ, from the foundation of the world, they have already been accomplished!  Time and space place inescapable constraints on flesh and blood, but they have no such constraint on Spirit, where the end is known from the beginning and both past and future are merely parts of one whole.  In the Spirit, death IS swallowed up by life, and love IS the foundation of all things.  Just how and when these things will manifest in time and space, I don’t know. But I am confident they will.  Now, I am very aware that there is much I don’t know!  I am just increasingly confident that Christ has fully prevailed, so therefore NOTHING can stop the manifestation of love and truth and Life!

It bears repeating: true love often involves suffering.  Love suffers because it absorbs the various abuses that stem from fear, ignorance, and unbelief, but never returns them.  Paul wrote that Christ’s body is to “overcome evil with good.”  Love overcomes evil in the same way that light overcomes darkness, and truth overcomes lies.  Love suffers yet overcomes, because it doesn’t change or cease when things are difficult or when opposition is strong.  Jesus, the greatest man to ever live, allowed himself to be abused, beaten to shreds and crucified by prideful religious fanatics and a callous military and political system – in order to save them all!

I’ll end with this: what if the “salvation” Paul wrote of has more to do with aligning ourselves with and then bringing the “Kingdom of God/Heaven” to earth than it does with going to “heaven” when we die!?  What if, as the body of Christ, WE are the only ministers of salvation this world has – a world that still remains in darkness and needs it!  What if love is the necessary foundation, without which any preaching is useless?  What if the way we minister this salvation is no longer primarily by “preaching,” but by sacrificial LOVING, even if that means physical death!  Are we willing, or willing to be willing?  Our Spirit is.

Be blessed my friends, thanks for reading.

 

 

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:16
  2. 1 John 4:7, 1 Corinthians 13:8
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Hope of Righteousness (Our Body pt. 2)

castle-ruins-296199_1280

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”1

For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees? But if we hope for that which we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.”2  

A thoughtful reading of the above verses will raise a few questions, but seeing new things often requires the courage to take off, at least for a moment, one’s lenses of previous belief and doctrine.  I pray God’s grace works in us to desire truth more than comfort, familiarity or acceptance.  Here is the question I’m going to focus on in this post:

1). Aren’t we already righteous in Christ?”  If so, then what is this “hope of righteousness” we are waiting for and what does it mean to be “saved in hope?”

To answer this, we first have to understand what righteousness is in God’s eyes, and how we attain it.  First of all, righteousness is not morality. Simply stated, the “righteousness of God” Jesus said we are to seek is alignment with and conformity to the desires and purposes of God.  Since God’s purposes are centered around His Kingdom, righteousness for a believer will in some way line up with the establishment and ways of the Kingdom of God.

Here’s a helpful, though imperfect illustration of righteousness: lets say you have children, and you instruct them to take out the trash before they go to bed, as the garbage man will be collecting it in the morning.  You tell them this is important for the household to run the way it should.  The next morning, you see the trashcan is still overflowing and it’s starting to smell.  Your children excitedly inform you they decided to draw pictures for their grandma instead of taking out the trash as you, the head of the household, wished.  While the children’s choice of activity was in a sense “good,” it wasn’t righteous, because it wasn’t what the head of the household desired and instructed, and it wasn’t what the household needed at that time.

With that in mind, the “hope of righteousness” which believers await is the expectation (hope) of God’s will being fulfilled and His life expressed all over the earth, through the body of Christ, just as it is in heaven.  Jesus’ prayer was for this very thing to take place, saying: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”3  As sons of God, this is to be our desire and what we strive to see come to pass.  So many Christians have been indoctrinated to wait for a tribulation and judgment, thinking that the kingdom is going to come sometime in the future, likely after they die.  Jesus said the kingdom was “at hand” in his day, and I believe God is now waiting for a generation of believers to connect with Christ, it’s head, and manifest the kingdom of God on earth just as Jesus did when he walked the earth.  Now, since Jesus’ body has many members all over the earth, the kingdom will be manifested globally.  This is what we see in Revelation 21 and 22, which speaks of nations, on earth, bringing honor to the kingdom of God which is on earth as well (Revelation 21:24).

So what about believers being made righteous in Christ?  Well, according to the plain teaching of scripture, the only way to obtain and maintain a state of righteousness is through faith.4  Some translations say “faith in Christ,” others say “the faith of Christ,” and the literal Greek may say just “the faith Christ” or faith “into” Christ.  Either way, scripture is clear that even as believers, we cannot access grace or please God without faith.5  So what is faith?  Put extremely simply, faith is a divine gift of spiritual sight.  Paul said believers are to “walk by faith, not by sight,”6 meaning that for a disciple of Christ, one’s entire life will be guided not around one’s own understanding and reasoning (even of spiritual things), but by the inward illumination and prompting of the spirit of Christ, the “life-giving spirit” that Jesus has become.7  Christianity teaches that faith is essentially a “belief” in something, but seems to have missed the fact that faith is entirely spiritual, a divine gift.8

Jesus Christ was the word of God made flesh.9  He is the perfect expression of the Father,10 and therefore as his body walks by the spiritual sight granted us by the spirit of Christ, we will be in alignment with God’s will and will be righteous.11 Rather than waiting for illumination and only walking by faith, the body of Christ has, for centuries, largely walked by human understanding, doctrines and traditions, but either can’t or won’t see and admit this.  Thus, many believers refuse to repent and the earth suffers as a result.  As the body of Christ is “transformed” by the working of the spirit of Christ, scripture says we, together, as one body with many parts and one temple with many stores, will become the righteousness of God” in Christ, and that this is attained “through the faith of Christ.”12  That is the hope of righteousness we are saved in.  It’s not instantaneous; it must be sought, flesh must remain crucified, and love must be the underlying force – looking past sin, proclaiming reconciliation, enduring hardship and suffering.  So be it, I hope you’ll join me.

  1. Galatians 5:5

  2. Romans 8:24-25

  3. Matthew 6:10

  4. https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=KJV&quicksearch=righteous+faith&begin=47&end=73

  5. Romans 5:2, Hebrews 11:6

  6. 2 Corinthians 5:7

  7. 1 Corinthians 15:45

  8. Romans 12:3, Ephesians 2:8

  9. John 1:14

  10. 2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15

  11. Paul wrote about the walk of faith using a different illustration in Ephesians 4:13-16 (NKJV).  He says that apostles and prophets and such are only given until: “…we all (the entire church) come to the unity of the faith (the whole body finally connects to and is directed by the head) and of the knowledge of the Son of God (the faith of Christ), to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”  When this happens someday, the hope of righteousness will have begun to be fulfilled.  Imagine a natural body in which certain parts acted independently of the head, while others submit to it.  It would be a mess, and that’s exactly what we see right now, only we’re so used to it that for many it seems normal.  

  12. 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:22

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

What the Law Could Not Do

communion-bread-and-cup

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4 NAS77)

I want to look at just one portion of this incredibly deep and important passage. I want to know what it was “the law could not do.” Like most Christians, my upbringing led me to assume that Paul meant that the law could not fix my issues, my bad behavior (which is mostly true). There are depths I haven’t seen yet, but what I have seen confirms that as always, it’s so much bigger and deeper than just behavior-modification.

Paul’s statement that the law was unable to do something is in the context of a discussion about the power and impact of a new law that arrived in Christ Jesus – the law of the spirit of life. Paul says that this new law sets us free from an old law, the law of sin and death.  Romans 8 is all about living under the new law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

In short, “what the law could not do” is give LIFE.  Here are some things Paul wrote elsewhere:

  • Galatians 3:21: “…For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.”
  • Romans 7:9-10: “And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me…”
  • Colossians 2:13-14: (God in Christ) canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us…”

Life” as used in scripture needs to be redefined. Generations have taught that the eternal life Jesus gives is the privilege of spending an eternity in heaven. But Jesus himself defined eternal life as knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ whom he sent.1  Maybe the essence of it is really that simple.  The law cannot bring intimate knowledge of or communion with God.  Isn’t that what it’s about?  If two people are in love, for them there’s nothing better than intimate communion with each-other.

At least one reason the law could not do this, Paul says, is that man’s flesh made the law “weak.” Since Adam, man’s flesh has been sinful, corrupt, blind, prideful, self-preserving. Therefore law always led to failure and guilt, shame, and condemnation.  Sin was actually empowered by law.2  Therefore God “condemned sin in the flesh” by the offering of Jesus, once for all. God did this in order to translate all of mankind into an entirely different realm, one in which Jesus Christ is the firstborn, not Adam.  ALL flesh, (flesh being defined as man’s natural part, especially his natural mind and will), whether good or bad, is dead in God’s sight.  

Life is a really big deal to God. When we understand and taste what Life is, we can more easily recognize what both life and death in God’s sight are.  Do you want that? 

Thanks for reading. May God’s grace be upon you.

  1. John 17:3

  2. 1 Corinthians 15:56
 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Bigger Than Heaven

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”  (Hebrews 9:13-14)

“For the Law…can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?” (Hebrews 10:1-2). 

Wow, what huge verses those are.  Let’s first consider what these strange “dead works” are.  Two very important clues:  1.) It is the conscience that needs to be cleansed of them, and 2.) The cleansing agent is the blood of Christ.  I believe these “dead works” are works that are done based on the voice of the human conscience. 

Let me explain further.  Dead works aren’t evil, they’re simply dead.  Dead works could be ministering to the poor, going on missions trips, etc.  These things can be called “dead” because “life” is something that ONLY comes from God and is a spiritual reality, while the conscience doens’t connect with God and isn’t spiritual at all.  God sees anything that isn’t spiritual as “dead,” no matter how good and “alive” it seems to men.  God is pleased with obedience, which stems from relationship and communication, not “good works” which stem from man’s religious conscience. 

Now check this out: in both passages quoted at the top, the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus is being discussed.  The word “conscience” in the first passage is the exact same Greek word as “consciousness” in the second, and the same with the word “serve” in the first passage and “worshipers” in the second.  These passages are examining intertwining issues hindering intimacy with God but which are remedied by Jesus’ blood; namely consciousness of sin and dead works.  Combining these verses, I think one could say: Through the power of the blood of Jesus, God intends to both purge the conscience from dead works and purge the awareness of sin, in order enable true service and worship to Him.  Honestly, that’s huge. 

The first passage, Hebrews 9:13-14, exposes two contrasts: dead vs. living, and works vs. service.  Dead works, stemming from the conscience, by definition have no connection to a living God.  The conscience is based on the human soul, while the living God is entirely spiritual.  Work refers simply to expending energy on a task.  Anyone can do “work.”  But service (the Greek word also means “to worship”) can ONLY come from relationship. 

You can’t truly serve someone if you don’t communicate with or know them.  If I had a butler at home (hahahaha!), I wouldn’t him doing what he thinks I want, or what seemed good to him.  He wouldn’t really be serving me in that case, but at best his own image of me.  Instead, I would simply want him to listen to me and follow my directions.  If he did so, I would feel as if he valued me.  This is admittedly an imperfect analogy of God and His people, but I trust it makes some sense. 

Jesus’ blood serves a purpose far bigger than getting people into heaven.  The way has been paved for men to truly know God in the spirit realm, inherit His Kingdom as a son, and follow Him from love, not fear.  It begins now.  But first, the conscience has to be cleansed, once for all.

I may expand on some ideas here in a later blog, there’s a lot that ties in with these things.  Don’t you love truth?  : )  God bless you.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Selfish Religion

It seems to me the primary goal of all religions is selfish. Buddhists seek Nirvana, Muslims seek heaven and in some cases perpetual sex, Mormons seek Godhood, Christians seek heaven, etc. Maybe this seems obvious or trivial at first, but after a little thought one can see any system that ultimately serves self does not honor another, (i.e. God). Doing or speaking good for an ultimately selfish end is not true love and makes everything a servant of self. Religions glorify and praise God(s) in word, song, and feeling. They advocate various forms of self-denial or hardship in order to please God, as well as advocate helping one’s fellow man. But when it’s all boiled down, the ultimate goal of each is a selfish one, and this totally prevents any true honor of another. Thus we see religion DOES NOT honor God.

I am coming from the perspective of a Christian, having been raised in the Christian world most of my life, and still near it and familiar with it in many ways. I can truly say that the goal of most Christians is to get to heaven and to avoid hell. Many Christians might deny this is their primary goal, but it is. Though this is impossible, if ALL promise of heaven and threat of hell were removed, most of Christianity would crumble. You see, only in freedom does one’s true nature come forth. Only when restraints and fear are removed do you see the true nature of the heart reflected in one’s actions.

Here’s a small example. Lets say a man owned two dogs, who he kept chained on the front porch while he went to work during the week. One Monday morning, after a long weekend, he put the dogs on the porch but forgot to chain them down. When he returned, one of the dogs had stayed right where he was left, and the other had run away. The owner was surprised, because the dog that ran had for years acted just as affectionate and loving as the one who stayed. But by running away, this dog showed that all along, he was loyal to his master only because he essentially had no choice. The other dog showed that his loyalty was from the heart, being proven by the test of freedom.

Freedom could be said to be a test. Only when one is free do you see the true motives of the heart come forth in the actions. Someone might object that there’s not freedom in Christianity, because of the constant threat of hell or judgment. Well, Christianity might teach that, but Jesus himself and the apostles taught that in Christ, we are free. Free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), free from law (Ephesians 2:13-19, book of Galatians), free from fear (Romans 8:15), free in God’s love, as a son (John 8:32-36). One thing we’re not freed from automatically is ourSELF. Salvation is a process which involves being freed from the influence of self, which is opposed to God.

It is very freeing to know God has adopted you into His family, that you have been cleansed by a once-for-all sacrifice, and that He isn’t watching over your shoulder to wait for you to sin so He can smite you. There’s many old-testament minded Pharisees today that will tell you otherwise, but this is the truth. For some, if they believed this, they would start pursuing the desires of their flesh/self. To do this is essentially to be your own god. But if you desire to be a disciple of Jesus, if you love the Father simply for who He is, you’ll follow and obey Him from your heart, from love no matter what you may get out of it or what happens to you. This was the attitude of Jesus – to do His Father’s will and to deny himSELF. It wasn’t and isn’t easy. The real goal of a follower of Jesus is to build and establish the Kingdom of God on earth – not to go to heaven. Examine your motives, and I pray we see that the glorious God is greater than we’ve ever known, His love is beyond our comprehension, and living for Him is the highest pursuit of all.  Amen.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Laodicea

(Revelation 3, ESV):  14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  15“I know your works (labor): you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Many Christians believe that Laodicea, as the final church addressed by Jesus in the first chapters of Revelation, represents the “last days” church age in which we are living now, in which “lukewarmness” is rampant.  Be that as it may, I do think the church of Laodicea closely mirrors many believers today, and so the indictments and counsel Jesus gave her are very relevant for us here and now.  I actually think this is a vital word for our day when properly understood.

I have been taught and believed that Laodicea means “lukewarm.”  But it’s doesn’t.  It literally means something we would almost consider to be the opposite.  Laodicea means “people of righteousness,” or “a just/righteous people.”  It is a combination of the Greek words laos (a people) and dikaios (right or just).  As we will see, Laodicea’s righteousness was only in their own eyes (self-righteousness) and maybe in the eyes of others (outward righteousness),  but not in the eyes of the Lord (inward, true righteousness).  I believe God sees righteousness differently than Christians often do.  At the cross of Christ, everything radically changed in terms of what God desires, what pleases Him, and how we should relate to Him.  The Laodicean, “just and righteous” church and anything it may represent is one of which Jesus Christ has not one positive thing to say.

Much is often made of Laodicea being “lukewarm.”  The thinking goes that to be lukewarm means to be apathetic, as evidenced by little or no involvement in ministry, minimal bible study and church attendance, rationalization of sinful activity, etc.  But here’s the main problem with this line of thinking: it’s simply not what Jesus said lukewarm is.  If you read closely, you’ll see Jesus explained exactly why he finds Laodicea to be lukewarm.  This is a conditino that makes him nauseous and ready to vomit. Look at the emphasized part of Jesus’ words below:

(Revelation 3): 16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” 

Jesus calls them lukewarm and nauseating because of the self-confident, complacent attitude of their heart and their lack of perception of their true state.  Laodicea says (in their heart): “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.”  This literally translates as: “I am rich, have an abundance, and have no need whatsoever.”  Let’s remember, Jesus said his words were “spirit and life” (John 6:63).  Jesus was concerned only with the Kingdom of God; his Father’s will being known and done on earth.  I believe all of Jesus’ words and teachings were, first and foremost, speaking of spiritual realities.  He came to declare and pave the way for the spiritual kingdom of God, who is Spirit (I wrote of this idea more fully in my very first post on this blog).  The spiritual realm is deep within the “inner man” of each one of us, where the Kingdom is.  The natural, literal/physical mindsets and interpretations of scripture that are prevalent today have contributed to the spiritually emaciated and blind state of so many believers, no matter how outwardly “righteous” they are.

If this is the case, then Laodicea isn’t lukewarm because of their riches and lack of need materially, and they aren’t lukewarm because of their lack of good works.  Their lukewarmness is attributed to their belief that they are spiritually rich and without need.  Laodicea (the righteous people) have come to a place where they are so blind they have no sense of their pitiful condition and desperate need.  The scary part is they probably are totally convinced of their spiritual “wealth,” while Jesus says they are, literally “undergoing a testing, pitiable, thoroughly destitute, blind, and naked.”  Such is the true state of Laodicea, the “righteous people.”  When Jesus’ words are seen correctly, as spiritual states, the horrible and ghastly reality of Laodicea’s condition becomes apparent.  More could be said of each of these states, but the basic meaning of each is sufficient to get the Lord’s meaning.  

Much of Christianity today teaches us to pray a “sinner’s prayer” in order to be saved, and that once that’s done, heaven is assured.  That’s really the goal of Christianity – to get to heaven and to avoid hell.  It’s not ultimately about God, it’s about SELF.  God is in the picture, but ultimately, only as a means to serve self.  And sure, self is thankful!  The righteousness of Laodicea is a self-righteousness that is based on self-confidence, believing that one has “arrived” and needs nothing else.  Laodicea says in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by doing good works, and “lack nothing” because they are saved and assured of going to heaven.  But it’s all deception.

It’s hard to overstate how precarious and scary the condition of Laodicea is, especially because those within Laodicea don’t realize their true state (ask God to give you light on your true condition, reader).  However, Jesus doesn’t leave them helpless, he gives them counsel to return to true righteousness.  In my next post I plan to look closer at the counsel he gives.  God bless you.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Immortality Road

Going Out to the Sons and Daughters of God

New Mystic Mother

A Mother :: Falling Into the Hands of Grace :: The Journey

Entering the Promised Land

by walking in the Spirit

SEE withyour HEART

I am a citizen of heaven...Phil 3:20

Spiritual Abuse Sanctuary

Exposing Spiritual Abuse

The Straight Way Church Blog

Making the Way straight for the scattered Remnant of God

Sons Of Issachar

Understanding the times

Done with Religion

Written by Jim Gordon - Living with God Outside the Walls of Religion

plucked out of the fire

Passionate about Christ being revealed in and through his people!

Ephesians 4

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

My utmost 4 His garbage can

we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus. 2 Cor. 4:5

The Voice of One

To know and preach nothing but Christ....

notesfromthebridge

Most would rather endure comfortable bondage, than experience uneasy freedom

Escape to Reality

Exploring the wide open spaces of God's amazing grace

Life of Yan ♥

My Name is Yanira Vargas. I am a Senior at Washington State University. I love all things expression and creative. I was in a relationship with my childhood best friend of 4 years, who happens to have had passed away with stage 3 brain cancer. I still believe in God, and in the beauty of mircles. Join me and embark on this journey with me.

The Matt Walsh Blog

Absolute Truths (and alpaca grooming tips)