Tag Archives: creation

Salvation: More than a ticket to Heaven?

God Saves

When someone says, “I’m Saved!” There is always the contextual question, “Saved from what?” Except if it’s said at Church. Within Christianity Salvation has become synonymous with Eternal Life. Salvation means that if I believe, one day I will go to Heaven. Yet, should Salvation always equate to being rescued to Heaven?

There are many places in the Scriptures that Salvation is past, present, and future to the author or reader. One tricky example is Romans 13:11 the Apostle Paul writes,  “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed?” Was Paul saying that he was not “saved” yet?

Or take for instance Luke 19:9. Jesus said Salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house that day. Does this mean Zacchaeus died and entered Heaven that day?

“In the Old Testament, God’s acts delivering the people from hunger, bondage, and other difficulties are usually called ‘saving’ acts, and Yahweh is repeatedly praised as the Savior of Israel.  In the New Testament, ‘salvation’ may mean either healing or deliverance from sin-and sometimes both.  Thus, salvation has to do, not only with one’s eternal destiny, but with everything that stands in the way of God’s purposes of communion with creation-and specifically with the human creature.  Thus salvation includes both justification and sanctification.

In the Greco-Roman world in which Christianity was born, there were many religions offering ‘salvation.’  Most of these understood salvation mainly or exclusively as life after death, and often combined these notions of salvation with the ideal of escaping from the material world. Given that context, it is not surprising that quite often Christians lost the fuller notion of salvation that appeared in their Scriptures, and came to think of salvation merely as admission into heaven-sometimes even seeing such admission as an escape from this physical world.  Perhaps the most notable development in soteriology [the Study of the Doctrine of Salvation] in recent decades has been the recovery of the wider notion of salvation as including, not only salvation from death and eternal damnation, but also freedom from all sorts of oppression and injustice.  Salvation, in its fuller sense, certainly includes eternal life in the presence of God; but it also includes the process of sanctification, whereby we are brought greater communion with God; and it includes also the destruction of all the powers of evil that stand between God’s purposes and present order of creation.”

-Justo L. Gonzalez, Essential Theological Terms. pg 162-163

Salvation cannot be understood in reference to one particular saving act of God. Jesus has rescued us from many things, and will one day rescue, redeem, and renew us and creation. The one unifying aspect of Salvation throughout the Scriptures is that God does the saving apart from the help or interference of man.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Everything

No More Sea.

Throughout the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, the seas and oceans represented Chaos and wickedness. These large and deep bodies of water are host to the mighty unknown, and reckless and destructive power. Even in our modern age our titian vessels and ports cannot withstand the devastating power of the seas. Only God has the power to control the mighty seas. God separated the waters of the Red Sea, and closed them on the invading army. and when Jesus calmed the storm that was about to swallow the disciples as they were on the water, this was the major turning point for them to recognize Jesus as God.

God spends 3 days ordering and separating the waters in Genesis chapter 1.

Day 1: The Earth is formless and void, and the Spirit of God was moving over the waters. Gen1:2

Day 2: God separates the water to form the sky and the seas. Gen 1:6&7

Day 3: God gathers the seas and lets dry land appear. Gen 1:9

*It is interesting to note that God is never recorded created the waters. The waters are just there, just as evil is there in the Garden of Eden to tempt mankind after creation.

The waters represent chaos. However, God does not remove the chaos, but he organizes and separates it, causing good to rise from it. Like all things evil seeks to destroy God can use to form life. Jesus claimed “I am the resurrection and the life,” a claim the God of the Old testament establishes on many occasions. God gives life to the barren womb of many, and springs of living water in the midst of the desert..

Furthermore, it seems like from the beginning God did not intend to destroy the chaos, but to order it. To me this parallels God’s allowance for man to choose evil that was provided in creation. Although evil was not God’s intention for man.

Then at the time when mankind’s choice for chaos and wickedness had almost overwhelmed his love for God, God released the waters of chaos unto the earth to cleansed it and humanity. God used the very representation of the thing man was seeking for in place of God to bring his judgment. The flood also used to foreshadow the coming judgment fallen humanity will face before the Holy God in 2 Peter.

However, when all is said and done. Once evil is finally destroyed. The waters of chaos will also be done away with.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”

(Revelation 21:1)

14 Comments

Filed under Everything

Spiritual Milk? Do you get enough? Has it changed?

The writer of Hebrews lists several key items and labels them “Elementary Teachings.” He says of points listed that they are “spiritual milk,” and that his Christian audience should be growing up and feasting “spiritual meat.”

Here are the points of understanding that the writer labels “milk”:

  • Repentance from acts that lead to death.
  • Faith in God.
  • Instruction about baptisms.
  • The laying on of hands.
  • The resurrection of the Dead.
  • Eternal Judgment.

(Hebrews 6:1-3)

Some of the items on this list are understandable as “milk.” Repentance and faith in God are the introductory elements to the Christian life. However as one examines the other items on the list unanimous consent isn’t a given. For some these points might be areas of contention between denominational communities. For many others there might a complete and genuine ignorance as to understanding of these issues. To this ladder point I write to address.

The Christian church has failed on many levels to educate its people. At one point Christians were at the forefront of community education. Yet our ranking has dropped. Many churches are “producing” dumb Christians. I am not an advocate that every Christian needs a seminary education. However, I do believe that the community of believers need to taught more than many of them get in the Sunday morning situational/behavioral sermon. Our lives are shaped and flow out of our understanding of who God is. If our view of God is shallow than our lives are build on a shallow footing and any powerful event may have the ability to shake us from beliefs.

It also seems as though this list has shifted today from what it was. The elementary teachings of the church ages past are not consistent with the elementary teachings of the church modern. I have debated my self, wondering if this is due to contextualization or if there is a misrepresentation of what truly is an “elementary teaching.”

Two of the most common substitutions on this list are the teaching of Creation, and the Rapture. In many circles these have become the benchmark doctrines for new believers. Evolution is only equaled by some to Satanism, and the teaching of the resurrection of dead has been surpassed by the Hollywood images of floating in clouds in some mysterious Rapture.

I want to hear your opinion on the issue. Think back for me what was the most common and frequent teaching you remember or hear to this day in church?

1 Comment

Filed under Everything

Wonderful cross or place of death?

We often sing of the wonderful beautiful cross. And because our mind cannot handle the intensity or cruelty of the cross we grow numb to the brutality of the cross. Yet, we have to remember the cross was torture leading to death. Jesus experienced pain at the highest levels of the human experience.

The cross was not just some uncomfortable experience, like the awkwardness of telling a stranger on the plain you’re a Christian, or the embarrassment of getting to front of the line at the grocery store with a cart full of items and realizing you forgot your wallet.

Jesus died on the cross. He bled, and breathed his last breath on the cross.

When we sing of the cross it should be in the sober reality of what happened, why it happened, who it was that died for us.

The cross is the anchor point of our faith, not some pithy poppy featurette of the Sunday lineup. Our God died at the hands of his creation; the creation he loved and formed. Our God suffered and was humiliated by the very people he gave life to.

The cross is not wonderful, it the shame of humanity, and the glory of God. The cross does not represent the best in man, but the worst. The cross is the premiere exhibit in our museum of disgrace.

I understand why people wish to forget the cross, and down play its reality. As a humanitarian why would I want to highlight the cross any more than I would want to highlight the holocaust as an act of human civility and love?

All one should do at the cross is fall down before it and cry out, “I will never deny you again. With my heart and with my actions I too crucified you, but never again. I will serve the King whom I killed. He will be my God.”

3 Comments

Filed under Everything

Must death preceed recreation and renewal? Is creation lost?

There is this conflict within the christian community as how the recreation of the world will take place.

One side believes that all of creation will be destroyed. Then God will form again from nothing a new created world.

The other side believes that this created world will not be destroyed merely recreated. God created this world “good,” loves this world, and does not and will not ever destroy it.

Side one:

2Peter 3:10-13

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The interpretation:

  • Sin has completely corrupted the world, beyond saving.
  • Both mankind, and all of creations was changed beyond return because of mans sin.
  • Therefore God, must destroy the old to bring forth the new.
  • There must be death before recreation.

*This would seem true, but not all believers will die before receiving their resurrection bodies. Those who are alive at the time of Jesus’ return will just be transformed.

Side two:

Genesis 8:21

“Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”

Romans 8:20&21

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

The interpretation:

  • Sin has not completely corrupted creation
  • Creation was distorted and pulled down because of man’s fall into sin.
  • God does not need to destroy creation to restore it.
  • He knew man was wicked, yet when man is restored then creation will be freed from the effects on sin.
  • Man’s sin is what is keeping creation from being how God has intended it, paradise.
  • Once sin is removed creation will be restored.
  • Man’s corruption is the issue not creation.
  • Creation is only a tool that God uses to both bless and punish.
    • Blessings: fruit of the land, provision, beauty.
    • Punishment: Toil the land, natural disasters, sickness.

Leave a comment

Filed under Everything

How could God allow evil to exist? Not your typical answer!

Refer to these two posts for a background of this argument, and the traditional Christian responses.

https://saintdisillusion.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/the-problem-of-god-the-existence-of-evil/

or a similar article…

http://christianelements.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/how-can-a-loving-god-allow-evil-and-suffering-to-exist/

In this entire conversion, a distinction must be made between Pre-Fall World and Post-Fall. Mankind, and the created universe was completely changed Post-Fall. So we are only speaking of what we hypothetical know of the Pre-Fall universe. Furthermore, we are only looking at mankind, and not angels or demons. It can be seen that Satan was operating with evil intentions before man, however, the universe only seemed cataclysmicly effect when mankind chose evil.

Option A: God did not create evil… or did he?

The same logic that says if you chose not to make a choice means you still made a choice, also means by the mere fact that God did stop the option for evil to exist, although he did not create evil man did when he disobeyed God’s order and design for creation, means that God is still the hidden creator of evil. For example if a biologist created a bacteria with the ability to both help and harm, is he not still the creator of the harm, although he intended only to help?

Even if you argue that evil is not a created “thing” with the previously outlined logic God still created the man with the capacity to “do” evil. Therefore, he is still the creator of evil, because he could have created man without the possibility to “do” evil.

Conclusion to option A: it seems the answer to this question of why God allows evil to exist is more related why does he allows good to exist. Man ability for evil is the same in his relation to do “good”(pre-Fall). So it seems that God allowed evil to exist in the hope that the good would triumph over evil. So it seems to match up with the narrative of the Bible, that evil is an option, but with the intervention of God evil is crushed.

Follow up Questions:

Why did God create evil only if he planned on destroying it?

Does evil need to exist for good to exist?


Or option B: Evil is not a created “thing.”

The Bible does not explain the origin of evil, but rather only the origin of evil within the created world. And since evil is not a thing, just as love is not a thing, both are wills and intentions of the heart/mind; they are ways to use things, rather than things themselves; then God merely made man with the capacity to operate on either the network of love, or on the network of evil. We were in one sense beings with free roam capabilities. However, God is a being that exclusively works on the network of love, and although he intended us to function lovingly, man does not always do so.

Therefore, the question as to why does God allow evil to exists is unanswerable with the information given. The question and focus becomes not where did evil come from or why is it here? But on how does God intend us to live. This also coincides with the narrative of the Bible, which is that God steps into creation to redeem creation so it has the power to resist evil.

Follow up Questions:

If evil is not a “thing” can it even be created? And if it cannot be created has it then always existed, and apart from God?

More to this thought:

God never intended man to understand “good” and “evil.” It was the forbidden fruit. God only intended us to operate on the network of love, and man in his first act of evil sought to understand both “good” and “evil.” After eating our eyes were open to what evil is.

If this is true, then it presents another serious question. Man’s first act of evil/sin proceeded his understanding of what evil really was. Therefore evil must have existed before man sinned, and the fruit of the tree only represented man falling victim to penalty of that understanding… judgment.

Before the fall, the question of evil is irrelevant. For man righteousness and judgment was only based on one rule, “do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” If man obeyed righteousness was obtained.

So man could have done acts we now know as evil, but he would not have been judged for them. (If they would have this is not certain, there eyes had not been opened to seeing these things) Paul writes to this effect in Romans, that those judged without the law are judged apart from the law. They are judged by their own standards. (But no man can even live up to his own standards, so we are all guilty of at least breaking our law.)

Therefore, the question of How does God allow evil to exist is not a question at all. The reality is that the more we know about evil and good, right and wrong, the more we become accountable for those actions. The more evil a man does with understanding the more judgment he comes under. So with this, it is understood that God is both bothered with evil, as he punished it, and with our understanding of it because the more we know the guiltier we become and the more evil we seem to do.

In the end the answer to the original question is unanswerable, but to say that God does not like evil, that is why he punishes it, and that he never intended us to know evil and therefore its hurts and pains.

To phrase it another way:

As to the origin of evil or why God allows evil to exist, it is beyond our understanding. What is known is that God never wanted mankind to experience or participate in it.

Maybe it had always existed?

It could be said that because evil or love is not a created “thing”… it has always and always will exist as an option, because as it is not a “thing” only an intention, so as long as that intention is a possibility, “evil” will exist. Before creation there was only God. God is love, in Him there is no evil. Therefore evil was not presently visible. But when the created world was formed, evil was given a facility to operate and became a present visible reality. Both evil and love are only “made” or become visible and real when when someone chooses them (for example man).

If in my life I never chose to love… this does not mean love did or does not exist, just that I never chose it. This same principle applies to evil. Before the creation evil was not seen because God never operated with evil intentions. But after man was formed evil is made visible because man chose to operate in evil.

So the question of who created evil is the same question as to who created the ability to be generous, rude, kind, or mean. These are not “things” they are ways to use and treat things/others so before there was things and others, none of these characteristics were possible, for there was only God. The created world only gave these non”things” a platform to operate within.

However, this then presents another serious objection for option B. If the created world opened a “Pandora’s box” of evil. Then why did God create at all? If the created universe was only going to give a pathway for evil to be made visible why make it?

Maybe… it was worth creating because God wanted to make a community, who  like the triune God, could live and share love. Maybe… in love God created so that others could experience love, but first they would have to reject evil. Maybe, this is why God was willing to send his own son into the world so man could be redeemed from evil and the Holy Spirit could be with us, empowering us, de so that we could live in communities of love.

Conclusion for option B: God wanted others to experience the love in community only the godhead had experienced up to that point.  So he created the universe in love, which gave pathway for evil. Then it was either let evil destroy creation or step into creation to rescue and redeem it? The Biblical account testifies God chose the ladder option, and by stepping into creation God defeated evil and prepared the way that we could once again live in a community of love.

1 Comment

Filed under Everything

Jesus Picture of Perfect God, or Perfect Man?

jesus man

“The truth is that the Man who walked among us was a demonstration, not of unveiled deity but perfect humanity.” A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy.

We often equate Jesus life on the earth as this great picture of God among us. However, this is not an appropriate statement. God did not come to this earth to completely reveal himself, but to completely reveal what was lost in the fall off mankind. Jesus is the picture of original humanity. Jesus is our example to live by, not as a picture of God, because we are not supposed to be “God” (for there is only one God) but we are supposed to be as God first created mankind, like Jesus. We are not to be god-like(per say), but Christ-like. We are not called to fill the role of God, but our role as men and women created of God.

Jesus was perfectly united with God in relationship and action. And because of this he was able to point others to the Father. Jesus did not point to himself as the embodiment of everything God was and is. He was nonetheless still God, but his purpose was to restore the knowledge of what it means to be human. He is the Second Adam. He reflects everything Adam was created to be. He was the restoration of a righteous heritage rather than sin nature. He communed and walked with God as man was originally supposed to. At every point Jesus restored, to a fallen and lost humanity, the knowledge of what it means to be human.

6 Comments

Filed under Everything