Beware of Old Hymn References and Religious Clichés that can put you on the wrong track. Let's take "I Surrender All" as an example...
"Worldly pleasures all forsaken"... What does that even mean???...
Good food? Good drink? Good sex? Good vacations? Family fun? Good sports? Good hobbies? A nice House? A nice Car? Having Fun with your Dog? Enjoying the warmth of the Sun on your skin? Laughter with Friends?
Should we really "Surrender All"? Did we lose a fight with a Divine Enemy or did we gain everything that pertains to Life and Godliness through Christ? Hasn't He given us all things to ENJOY within the context of His Loving Instructions and the guidance of His indwelling Spirit?
If we're talking about the Hedonistic perversion, misuse and abuse of physically enjoyable, God-given things and greed...then YES, by all means, grab hold of the GENUINE and ditch the cheap counterfeits.
If we're talking about following a Platonistic philosophy where everything in the visible realm is dirty...and cleanliness is found only in the spirit realm, then we're way off track and missing the point of God's GOOD creation and the beauty of mankind...created in the Image and Likeness of God! It is no wonder that Platonistic minded Christians believe in the absolute destruction of a dirty planet, and want to spend eternity as disembodied spirits in a faraway place!
Walking in the Spirit of Him (LOVE) Who gave us ALL His ALL is the key to living Life to the fullest. All that is His is ours...and all that is ours is His! We were born to enjoy receiving as much as giving, socializing as much as meditation, and earth as much as heaven.
That mindset will take you places where fleshly vows, resolutions, false humility, conjured up "holiness", and self-torture...in the name of "Surrender" can't!
God didn't take a seat at the front of the bus for Rosa Parks, pray while Bishop Desmond Tutu kept his mouth shut, save Jews while Oscar Schindler hid and counted his money, go to the impoverished for Mother Theresa, or speak audibly for Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela while they remained silent. He didn't nail Luther's 95 Theses to the door at Wittenberg, nor does He desire to be "IN TOTAL CONTROL" of mankind...as some erroneously teach.
During Jesus' 3.5 years of ministry as a man on Earth, The Father didn't just "Control Things" while Jesus sat around playing video games or just passively "said His prayers". Note: I understand the importance of prayer and like video games!
God has given mankind DOMINION over the earth...and everything in it, besides each other. He had delegated His Authority in such a way as to do things WITH and THROUGH us...not INSTEAD of us!
While we are not usually responsible for things like sunrises, sunsets, and keeping planets in their proper orbit, we cannot passively and lackadaisically allow our lives or planet Earth to run on autopilot while claiming that "God is in control!".
To view "The Great Commission" and "The Great Commandment" as being separate from the initial, Divine Narrative of the "Eden Mandate" is folly!
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
1 O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
While our free will cannot over-ride His ultimate Sovereignty and plan for planet Earth, our character, words, and actions are nevertheless extremely weighty and consequential! Seventh Grade History students know that much!
What has seemed to many of you as being "The End" is actually just a "Pregnant Pause" for which you will be extremely thankful in the days ahead...as Christ is revealed beyond your deepest thoughts and wildest imaginations.
In the meantime, keep drinking the New Wine, eating the Bread of Life, and functioning in whatever capacity, gift, or miracle He sees fit for the moment.
Part of what was revealed in that manger in Bethlehem was the truth that God never intended to destroy the earth. He, instead, took on the same earthly substance from which He created the First Adam (while remaining fully God)...in order to be the ultimate sign to us that heaven and earth shall remain and be in union forever through Christ! Jesus didn't come to fix God's great big, creation mistake! He came to fix ours! The Gospel is all about Love, Redemption, Reconciliation, and RESTORATION...not the false narrative that Jesus was too weak to finish the job or that God's ultimate intention for earth was ever condemnation and destruction!
Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Let that sink in!
In order to destroy the earth, after the Incarnation, He would have to literally destroy Himself...which is IMPOSSIBLE (since He Himself is God embodied in a glorified, EARTHEN vessel)! The Incarnation cannot and never will be undone! His Divinity and Humanity remain forever inseparable! The Resurrection proved that He is the INDESTRUCTIBLE God-Man, the Prototype Son, and the Firstborn among many brethren!
If you are wondering about what Jesus meant when he said, "Heaven and Earth will pass away" and want a proper definition of "A new heaven and a new earth", you need to look no further than what every First Century Jew understood when they heard these phrases in their historical and cultural contexts.
The Temple and Jerusalem were considered to be the place where heaven and earth met...and were referred to as "Heaven and Earth". Noah's Ark, Jacob's Ladder, The Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant, David's Tabernacle, and Israel's Temples all foreshadowed the New Covenant Temple (JESUS- The "Place" and eternal consummation of the whole "Heaven and Earth" reality).
While speaking of His Body, Jesus declared..."Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up again." He DID just that...along with including ALL of mankind in this New Covenant Temple reality. Belonging is a given. Participation is a choice. "God was in Christ reconciling THE WORLD to Himself"!
He also destroyed the Old Covenant Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and abolished its priesthood along with their ceremonial practices (i.e.- The "elements" which Peter prophesied would be destroyed by fire).
"Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God?" The Church in Christ is The New Heaven and New Earth...and The New Jerusalem...which John saw coming DOWN...not going up!
Jesus is the Sure HOPE for all mankind...and planet Earth!
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth (Which Ecclesiastes declares... "Remains forever") as it is in heaven! See Matt. 6:10 and Ecc. 1:4.
Of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end. See Is. 9:6.
The meek shall inherit the earth and unto Him there shall be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen! See Matthew 5:5 and Eph. 3:21.
All creation groans and travails not for its own destruction, but for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God! See Romans 8.
American politicians have done a bang-up job of dividing the church into its own separate "either/or" puppet factions instead of being a powerful "BOTH/AND" voice of the Lord. A prime example of REAL progress would be a united church which stands for the Sanctity of Human Life AND Justice for All. As long as we are fooled into believing that we must "choose a side", we will continue to represent a pathetic shell of who we truly are!
If a wife's conversation was dominated by speaking about her incessant infatuation with OBEYING her husband, instead of walking in a MUTUALLY ENJOYABLE, LOVING UNION with Him, it would cause us concern. The same holds true when we speak about our relationship with Jesus.
Walking in a mutually enjoyable Union is on a much higher plane than obedience. Soldiers and slaves OBEY each and every day in settings where LOVE and UNION are not the motivating forces.
Put another way, to avoid arguments about semantics, if we choose to use the term "Obedience" in a New Covenant context, a mutually enjoyable, loving union must be included in our definition of the word.
For those who may stumble over the word "Enjoyable", I will add the following: Please note that I am not speaking of a perpetual Fantasy Land on earth in the present. I am speaking of enjoying the New Wine and the Bread of Life...through the "ups and downs" of our LOVE WALK....with, in, and through Him...as He is making the world a better place through us and as us!
The system wants people to stereotype, label, marginalize, dehumanize, and demonize each other. It's a very effective way to divide, conquer, control and profit. Our Facebook news feeds are plagued with this deadly venom each and every day.
Meanwhile, Our Loving Father desires for us to interview (The Greek definition for "Intercede") Him on behalf of others, see them through His Eyes, pray properly, and LOVE them accordingly! This includes LOVING those who disagree with us and those who hate us. LOVING those who are blinded to HIS BEAUTY and THEIR OWN is Christianity 101!
2 Corinthians 5:16 (RSV) "From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer."
Please remember this when Facebook presents you with their favorite "TRIGGER" words today...to include the names of politicians and people groups whom you dislike...or have even "grown" to hate.
We were not created for the ultimate purpose of becoming disembodied spirits who live in a far away place in the sky called, "heaven". Our final inheritance and destination is a much better earth and our final, eternal form will be a glorified, immortal body...just like the one Jesus has! The meek shall inherit THE EARTH!
Our mission, by His Grace, is to unceasingly participate in the coming of His Kingdom while fleshing out His Will on earth (visible realm) as it is in heaven (invisible/spirit realm).
The imminent sign of His ultimate, physical appearing (unlike prophecies concerning 70 AD...i.e.- Mt. 24, Revelation, etc...) will be an Earth that resembles Heaven so strongly (SO MUCH LOVE!)...that the only missing ingredient will be His Physical return. Yes, He will feel "at home"!
The problem with much Western Christian belief is that it has people longing to be disembodied spirits in the sky, when Jesus longs to physically inhabit the earth again...WORLD WITHOUT END. It also leaves the earth with no ever-increasing/coming Kingdom and no meek people to inherit it!
Jesus' resurrection required a glorified, immortal, physical body. So will ours, along with the souls of all who have preceded us in death! Resurrection requires a BODY. Where there is no body, there is no resurrection!
What about the phrase, "Heaven and Earth shall pass away"? Any First Century Jew could tell you that "Heaven and Earth" was an extremely common reference to the temple and physical Jerusalem....which were destroyed in 70 AD.
What New Covenant "Temple" replaced the one that was destroyed? The answer to that question reveals the identity of the "New Heaven", the "New Earth", and the "New Jerusalem"...which John saw coming DOWN to EARTH!
Hint: 1 Corinthians 6:19,20.
The Future: Glorified bodies on a perfect earth! Better than Adam & Eve and better than the original Garden!
The biggest problem with introspection is that people don't look deep enough, beyond the thin membrane of that which is microscopic and fading, to see the eternal, infinite, omnipresent and omnipotent beauty of HIM and themselves in Him!
Plenty of people's Theology won't allow for the earth to become a better place, much less the possibility that they could be used to facilitate such a thing. Therefore, we have people shouting "God is in Control" and "Trust God"...while completely neglecting their God-given mandate to guard and cultivate the earth...taking dominion over everything, besides other human beings. When folks believe that they are basically powerless, that the earth is the devil's, that the incarnation of evil is greater than the incarnation of good, and that escaping the earth is their main objective, they leave themselves with little practical hope this side of the grave.