The Virgin Birth shall forever convey the truth that the womb is far greater than the publishing house and the Son is far greater than a book that is filled with accounts of humanity's contradictions and misunderstandings of the Father while masterfully pointing us directly to Him through the Son. Jesus is not ink on paper. He is Divinity wrapped in Humanity!
I'm reminded that Jesus is greater than the Law and the Prophets whenever I think of the Mount of Transfiguration. Like Peter, men are bent on building three co-equal tabernacles for Moses and Elijah but the Father will have none of it. In that Biblical account, the two disappear and only THE LOGOS (The Word of God/God's Perfect Logic) remains, and His Name is Jesus! We can appreciate the Law and the Prophets, but the Father commands us to HEAR THE SON while assuring us that His Voice is all-sufficient and far greater than the Law and the Prophets who were groping in the dark while longing for Him Who ALONE is the Brightness of the Father's Glory and the Express Image of His Person. Jesus is the only One Who could say, "He who has seen me has seen the Father".
The Bible is like a series of love letters that invite us to the marriage bed. We should deeply appreciate our Bibles and be lifelong students of its texts, but not at the expense of behaving like a newlywed bride who is more obsessed with a book that whets her appetite for intimacy than intimacy itself.
When I look back on my life, I find that the seasons of greatest spiritual and intellectual growth have occurred when "believing to belong" was not a mandate or condition for receiving Love and enjoying fellowship. That "season" is now a perpetual way of life for me, and has been for quite some time.
Conforming to any organization's dogmatic doctrinal demands (many of which are highly contested in other spheres of Orthodox Christendom) in order to maintain a position, a paycheck, and prestige never brought me true freedom and kept me within the constraints of the understanding of the highest man on the denominational totem pole, whether he was dead or alive.
Jesus never shuns those who approach Him and the Scriptures with doubts and serious questions that are not welcomed in much of the Western "Christian" world.
Refusing to be conformed to "this world" (systems...See Romans 12:1,2) includes a refusal to be conformed to religious systems which will not allow for personal and collective transformation (i.e.- Growing in Grace) through the ongoing renewal of the mind.
I can tell you from experience that coming to God with serious doubts, fears, admitted ignorance, and tough questions regarding the Scriptures hasn't destroyed my faith (I understand that it is His Faith. Nevertheless, I am speaking in terms of personal growth in His Faith to the best of my understanding...along with what the English language will allow). It has only solidified it and made it stronger.
I have also learned that all of the answers to my questions don't come directly from God. He has designed his Ekklesia/Body in such a way that we must rely heavily upon inter-dependence. An understanding of that has brought me greater experiential Joy and caused me to find great treasures outside of my own formal Theological training and limited ecclesiastical, and personal experience and studies.
Another important lesson that I have learned is to be wary of environments where Monologue is King, Entertainment is Queen, and Meaningful Dialogue is the Neglected Peasant.
While I may expound upon this topic in a more lengthy writing or video, these are my brief thoughts for today.
1. There were no buildings called "churches".
2. "Preaching" was synonymous with dialogue, not Greco-Roman, "Sage on the Stage Sermons". EVERY member of the family was welcomed as an active "joint of supply".
3. Overseers/Bishops/Elders didn't "control the show" and were not necessarily synonymous with the "five-fold" equipping ministry of "pastor".
4. The role of "pastor" (Mentioned only once in the entire New Testament, where it is plural and listed 4th among 5 equipping ministries...and also LEFT OUT of the list in 1 Corinthians 12) looked nothing like what it does in most churches today. The Bible promises no one the "one-man show" Grace that is needed to fulfill what is expected of Post-Constantinian, 21st Century "pastors". The modern-day role simply can't be defended Biblically or with First Century History.
5. There were no altars or altar calls.
6. There was no "sinner's prayer". The church multiplied through God's Love functioning through His people and by the organic work of the Holy Spirit awakening people to the Truth and joining them through meaningful, family relationships.
7. Denominationalism ("I'm of Peter!", "I'm of Paul!", etc) was synonymous with CARNALITY. This obviously included "Non-Denominational" Denominations.
God is Love. Love/God can't be humanly manufactured. Our union with Love, through Christ, is the only way that we can Love Love and enjoy Love Loving through us. We discover the highest expressions of Love when we reckon ourselves dead and our lives hid with Christ in Love! The key to Loving God, Neighbor, and Enemy is to stop trying to Love and to just let Love in us and all around us Love through us!
A few reasons why this diagram is deeply flawed:
1. The Godhead is the pattern for ALL relationships.
2. The Trinity's Inter-Dependent relationship and function is best described through the Perichoresis (A Circle Dance) example, not pyramids or umbrellas.
3. Unless Jesus' Umbrella LEAKS, why would anyone need the others? Our lives are hid WITH Christ IN God.
4. God's Pattern emphasizes FUNCTIONING IN UNION vs. A Boss Dominating a Subject down the inverted, misogynistic, Patriarchal pyramid.
5. The Law came by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ. Moses could tell you what to do ("top down"), but he couldn't indwell and empower you to do anything! Jesus does! Therefore, umbrellas and inverted pyramids are horrible ways of relating to God and each other. While some of the "principles" may be correct, the implied dualism and multiplicity (vs. union) are glaring misrepresentations of the Christ Life. A man who views himself as ONE with God, His Wife, and His Children will be much more successful than one whose prominent perspective is from a "Husband Down" position.
6. It seriously devalues the Christ in women and children, and is an unnecessary stumbling block for Non-Believers.
7. Some diagrams include "Pastor" (Mentioned only once in the entire N.T., where it is plural and listed 4th among 5 functions), which makes the "LEAKY UMBRELLA/INVERTED PYRAMID" picture even worse.
8. Notice the only place where "LOVE" is listed.
9. What does it speak to broken families, widows, orphans, or women and children who have been abandoned?
10. According to the diagram, Who is closest to Christ (but not even IN HIM)?
Fact: Most "Israeli" Jews today are religious Jews who are of Gentile descent. Science has proven that. They are the seed of Japheth, not Shem (Semitic), and don't have a direct bloodline to Abraham. Therefore, Arabs (descendants of Shem) are more "Semitic" than most "Israeli" Jews.
No one in "Israel" practices Old Covenant Judaism and many don't even follow modern Rabbinical Judaism. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't Love and protect the human rights of all people, but it does dispel many Premillennial Dispensationalist, Christian Zionist myths and reaffirms the fact that God Himself has a Middle East peace plan with justice for all that does not require racism, apartheid, persecution, ethnic cleansing, geopolitical posturing, and land theft.
Do a study on Ashkenazis and Kazars (CONVERTS to Judaism from Central or Eastern Europe) for more information. It should also be noted that Israel's official genealogical records were burned when the Romans destroyed Herod's Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
People have made huge errors while conflating religion with race. There is no religion with "a pure bloodline". Jesus Himself has Moabites and Canaanites in His "family tree". Moses married an Ethiopian. Joseph married an Egyptian. Solomon married "everyone"!
If the Beatitudes don't apply to the land where Jesus was born, then where do they apply? Why should someone of European descent who lives in Nebraska be able to convert to Judaism and become an "Israeli Settler" who steals Palestinian land? Why did European nations not give Jewish Holocaust survivors back their money, possessions, and lands in Europe? Why was UGANDA suggested as a place to send Holocaust survivors?
Western nations most certainly created a mess in the Middle East...as they continue to do to this day. It's time to speak out against Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate; and it's time to MAKE PEACE. The problem in the Middle East wasn't created by Jews or Arabs, it was created by MY EUROPEAN DESCENDANTS AND OTHER EUROPEANS.
Blessed are the Peacemakers! Jesus isn't GOING TO BE The Prince of Peace. He already IS The Prince of Peace! He also manifests Peace through all who truly follow Him.
There are multitudes of Israeli's and Palestinians who desire nothing more than peaceful coexistence. I'm with them!
Added Notes: If many U.S. "Evangelicals" followed their own "moral" eschatological "land principles", they would have given their houses and lands to Native Americans long ago!
The absolute scoundrel, C.I. Scofield was also complicit in the Premillennial Dispensationalist scheme which has caused so much needless pain for both Jews and Arabs.
Peace, Shalom, & Salaam!
When I observe how a large number of professing, American "Christians" behave on Facebook, I have to conclude that many worship at the altars of Nationalism, Politics, and Fear.
Having Jesus as their mascot, a few out-of-context "proof texts", and the talking points of their favorite "news" outlet appears to be their way of justifying hatred, racism, violence, oppression, and war. Their version of "Jesus" has them thirsty for political clout, military might, and the destruction of their enemies. Sick stuff.
Matthew 5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world (the entire Kosmos) unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” - 2 Cor. 5:19
What if all are in, but not all are actively receiving and enjoying the benefits? Did our prayer or decision cause us to be crucified with Christ or seated in heavenly places IN HIM? Does our decision somehow inject us into Christ or are we simply cooperating with His finished work?
The True Meaning of the Word "Gospel" and the Dangers of Premillennial Dispensationalism...
Anyone who truly understands the meaning of the word "Gospel" (euaggelion), knows that you can't have a Gospel without a LIVING, REIGNING KING. "Euaggelion" (Gospel) does not find its origin in religion. When any First Century Roman Citizen heard "Gospel" they understood it as a newsflash relating to: The Birth of a Caesar (king), The Triumphal Military Victory of a Caesar (king), or a Regime Change...where a New Caesar (king) was coronated. It had everything to do with THE KING and nothing to do with "heaven and hell" or any other components of what the term "Gospel" has come to mean in many Evangelical circles. While many Evangelicals teach COMPONENTS of the Gospel, few understand THE KING (of The Commonwealth of The Israel of God who are In Christ/Abraham's Seed) and HIS KINGDOM as its crux. To proclaim THE GOSPEL was (and is) to declare, "Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not!" That's why there was so much pushback from the political leaders and their religious pawns of that day!
Bottom Line: Believe The Gospel! The King was BORN! The King defeated all of His enemies! The Regime Change was inaugurated by His Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and destruction of the Old Covenant system in 70 A.D. His Kingdom came, is coming, and shall come! That which was INAUGURATED around 2,000 years ago shall one day be fully consummated, as God's New Heaven and New Earth project comes to its completion! That's precisely why He taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, They Will be done, on Earth (visible realm) as it is in Heaven (invisible realm)."
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
That Kingdom, Government, and Peace were initiated by Jesus LONG AGO; and are now dwelling in a people who rule and reign through Love; not fear, war, and the ways of earthly, sensual, and devilish empire!
What happens when people don't understand "THE GOSPEL", fulfilled History/Prophecy, and the Dynamics of His Present Kingdom?
They spend millions of dollars to send Jewish people to "Israel" while believing that 2/3rds of them will be violently destroyed in a soon-coming, "Great Tribulation". It's cruel and sick, but it's what Premillennial Dispensationalists do and promote.
They spend 3.8 BILLION+, each year, to fund a murderous, thieving, oppressive, racist, Apartheid regime because they believe that the Old Covenant system must be resurrected and the finished work of Christ simply wasn't enough.
They sacrifice The Beatitudes on the altar of Darby, Scofield, Larkin, Ice, LaHaye, Hagee, and friends. "Love your enemies" becomes "Use Empire to Kill your perceived enemies under the guise of Romans 13 and prophecy being fulfilled."
Many hold to this belief system (Premillennial Dispensationalism) with great sincerity and even greater ignorance (as yours truly once did), but it's time to study HISTORY (Especially the works of Flavius Josephus), along with the works of scholars outside of your traditional echo chambers. It's high time to stop superimposing that horrible Premillennial Dispensationalist lens over the Text of the Bible! I wouldn't be so adamant about this if it wasn't literally and needlessly KILLING dreams, hopes, and millions of PEOPLE!
Those who project fulfilled History and Prophecy into the present and future do so at the high cost of so many lives which are snuffed out through violence or greatly discouraged and depressed through fear and hopelessness.
Meanwhile, The True Gospel remains and awaits all who will embrace His HOPE!
Ephesians 3:21 "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
-An absolute impossibility if a revived, "National Israel" takes the place of the ONE NEW MAN/The Israel of God (The expansion of Israel if you will)...made up of Jew (first) and Gentile. What part of "all ages" and "without end" don't you understand?