Thursday, November 29, 2012

God is Not All Knowing & God is Not in Control

The dilemma comes up often, "How can an all knowing God allow evil?" I suggest to you that God is all knowing minus evil.

Jeremiah 32:35 says, "They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they would do this abomination." This clearly says that the evil they did never entered into God's mind. Why? Because God is good. He does not harbor knowledge of future evil. He does not fill His mind with knowledge of the sins of the world.

1 John 3:5 says, "In Jesus there is no sin." Jesus also made clear that thinking about murder, adultery, etc is sinful like doing those things. So then does God think about evil if there is no sin in Him? Is there sin in His head? No. God doesn't dwell on evil nor does He retain it in His knowledge. God deals with evil as it happens or after it happens.

God does not allow evil because He does not foresee evil. He is too good to have knowledge of evil within Him. He knows the difference between good & evil as Genesis 3:22 says because He participates in all good & refuses to be involved in any evil (James 1:17).

God is love & love does not demand its own way (1 Corinthians 13:5). God does not override people's freewill. Sure we think this is a good idea when it comes to evil deeds because we think the best way to protect someone is to control them. But it is not. Love never controls. In our hearts & minds we know that is true, unless of course we are doing the controlling because we feel as though we need to protect someone or guide someone "in their best interests." God does know what is best for us but love still never controls. God does not break what love is under the guise of "doing it for your own good." If He did somewhere in our hearts we would know it is not love. If God is not love He is unworthy. If God has not love then God is nothing & that is why so many don't believe He exists, they've never been presented with a God who is truly Love.

God is not in control. He has not been in control since day 6 of creation just before He created mankind with freewill and dominion over the earth. God is the most powerful & knowledgeable being but God is also love & love does not demand its own way. As God Himself tells us in Jeremiah 32:35, quoted above, God does not foresee evil. He does not retain evil in His knowledge. He does not remember sins either.

In the name of protecting the omniscient & sovereignty doctrines people will paint God as loveless, evil, & even the source of sin. But the truth is God is eternally omniscient minus evil. You can either view God as a self-centered being playing the world like a video game or as a Father of many children who never controls but fully loves. He is a Father, His first born Son told us so! Is your God a programmer who ran a simulation with AI? Is your God a gamer who plays us like a video game? Is your God a careless father who pays no attention to his family? None of those, though they are the dominant views of God in the world, represent the Father Jesus revealed to us.

God is a Father. Think about what a father is. Even the most manipulative father cannot control every aspect of all his children's lives. He can lock them up, distort their beliefs, force their hands but none of those things make someone believe they are loved nor do they inspire love. Love requires freedom. The freedom sin, Satan, & shame stole from mankind Christ again offers back to us & then some! Fathers provide, protect, guide, & most of all love. God works to love & protect mankind in ways we have no idea about.

Religion has sold us an all knowing God who is in complete control because it thinks that is what makes people feel secure. But the fact is that the only view of God that really makes people secure is the true view of Him, God is love & God is good. He doesn't have to be in complete control & He doesn't have to know all things for us to be confident in Him. All we need to know is He is with us & He loves us. If we think we need more then we don't grasp His love or presence in our lives.

"The Lord is upright! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!" (Psalm 92:15)

Since we all know God exists & evil exists ask yourself, which of these makes God seem the most loving?
God controls everything thus He is responsible for all evil.
God knows about all evil ever for thousands of years in advance but chooses not to stop it before it happens.
God doesn't care about people so He lets evil occur.
God only cares about certain people so He protects some from evil & not others.
God does not foresee evil so He can't stop evil before it happens but He does His best to help those affected by it.

Related Posts
God's License to Sin?
3 Doctrines That Really Don't Believe God is Love

The Devil Has the Power of Death

Hebrews 2:12-15, "Since God's children live in flesh & blood Jesus Himself became flesh & blood, that through death He might render powerless the one who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."

How People Were Protected from the Power of Death in the Old Testament
Here it says, "the devil holds the power of death." This text means that the devil also had the power of death before the cross, in Old Testament times. God tried to protect people from Satan by offerings, sacrifices, & obedience. If we take Satan having the power of death very seriously & the fact that he made people fear for their lives we can see God's motivation in the OT change from looking like a selfish God who demands obedience to a loving, protecting God who advises His children against things that lead to death. Because Satan had the power of death people had to be protected from him. So if they did not cooperate with God they refused his wise protection & they died.

Cain & Abel
Before the law Cain & Abel gave offerings that God regarded or disregarded. This suggests that they were told that they should do this. So the idea of sacrifices & offerings did not start with the law. God did not have "regard" for Cain's offering of fruit. The word regard there carries the idea of "a shepherd who inspects and watches over his flock with compassion and protection." Most seem to take God's disregard to Cain's offering as arbitrary or mysterious. But what happened is Cain's offering didn't allow God to protect Cain from sin. He gave fruits instead of blood. Satan craves blood & death.

Cain was angry & his head fell because his offering was not good enough but God said to Him, "If you do well, will there not be a lifting up?" The word for "lifting up" is the same word often translated as "forgive" that means to "lift up" or "carry away" a burden. God then said, "If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” This is the first use of the word "sin" in the entire bible. Sin is described as something that wants to follow Cain & ambush him. God says Cain must control/master/rule over sin. How? By offering the appropriate blood sacrifice, that is what "doing well" means. Cain could have the oppression of sin lifted off of him by giving the right sacrifice. This then doesn't describe God playing arbitrary favorites. Instead He is seeking to protect these brothers but His protection requires their cooperation because sin is a spiritual force, the devil, who God is aware of but they are little aware of. God's regard & disregard for the sacrifices is essentially God saying, "Abel your metal shield is great protection. Cain your grass shield is going to be useless."

Cain then Goes on to kill his brother. Why? Because the burden, guilt, shame, oppression, & influence of sin causes the action of sin. We also know there was something wrong with Cain's heart already because he didn't give the appropriate sacrifice. Satan seeks to kill. One way he does this is by convincing humans to kill one another. The only way for Satan to kill a protected man is by using another man to do it.  But next is one amazing thing God does. Cain says to God that he fears death. God then marked Cain to where no one who found him would kill him. God protected Cain, a murderer, from being murdered. We see that even though the law would some day judge Cain as worthy of death God saved his life & protected him from death. God is a God of life!

Most translations have Cain say, "My punishment is greater than I can bear." But the word punishment is actually the word for "twistedness, wickedness, unrighteousness." Cain was actually saying, "My twistedness is greater than I can bear." He was broken up about what he had done. Additionally the meaning of the names of the people in Cain's family were godly, also suggesting that Cain regretted what he had done. God was somehow able to mark Cain as protected from murderers because of this. (Side note: Cain is taught to be the first murderer yet Cain fears "whoever finds me will kill me"). God was able to sometimes protect men from being murdered, men such as Cain, Job, & the armies of Israel.

The Law
God's goal is to protect life despite sin, not to take life because of sin. The curses of the law weren't only a revelation about how God feels about sin or to be punishments from Him. They were also the reality of what Satan can seize through sin. God said in Deuteronomy 6:2 that keeping his laws prolonged people's lives & breaking them & worshipping false gods lead to death. Paul also said that obedience to the law can preserve life but it cannot give life & certainly cannot give eternal life.

Hebrews 7:18-19 describes the law as weak & unprofitable. The law could not add anything. It could only keep & weakly defend. It says the reason why is because "the law made nothing perfect." Yes God would bless people for obedience because obedience was safety for them. The law is performance based & sin is performance based, God is not performance based. Because sin, which is Satan who holds the power of death, is performance based God had to make a performance based law to protect mankind. The law was "safety rules." This is one reason why some of the laws seem so strange. Satan would take the smallest drop of impurity & use it against people.

God's covenant with man that started with Abraham was based on trust & promises not on performance. Galatians 3:17 says, that covenant was still in effect while the law was in effect. Righteousness & life never came through the law (Galatians 3:21). People were always saved by faith/trust. If people could never be given life or righteousness through the law then why did God give it? Paul says God gave it to make people aware of sins so they would know that everyone is imprisoned under sin. Another way to make this imprisonment obvious was by the law being a burden itself which made the even greater burden of sin obvious. That is the other reason why there are strange laws, strange yet detailed laws are more burdensome.

Jews never forgot about Abraham so trusting in the promise that was given in his covenant was always an option. The law was given to preserve people's lives, help people treat one another better, & most of all point people to God to trust in Him & His promises. People weren't to fight for themselves (self-righteousness) but to trust in the Lord who wants to be their protector. Many of the descriptions of God in the OT described Him as someone strong & safe. The covenant of Moses, the law, was to get people to realize their need for God which can be fulfilled by the covenant of Abraham, faith/trust & promise, which pointed forward to the New Covenant of the Blood of Christ.

The Sin Offering
In the old covenant there was a "sin offering." It wasn't an offering to God to appease Him. Instead it was an offering toward sin (the devil) to keep him from killing people because of sin. Satan had the power of death, the power to kill anyone he wanted to. Jews had to give sin offerings to protect themselves from Satan not from God. God is always about life & saving lives.

Those sacrifices "covered" sin. Why did sin need to be covered? Because Satan demanded payment for sin, which is death. Covering sin threw Satan off the scent of people's sin (notice OT offerings had scents). In Psalm 40 & Hebrews 10 God said that He took no pleasure in sacrifices & offerings & in fact He did not desire them. That means they weren't for Him. Hebrews 10 says sacrifices could not clean people from sin & that it was impossible for them to "take away sins." If you can't get clean & you have a scent then you must cover up the scent. Satan is described as a lion seeking to devour. While it is easier for lions to hunt by sight & sound they can also hunt by smell. Thus someone who had sinned but was not openly sinning at the moment still "smelled" like sin. God wanted to take sin away so people could be clean & perfect. He eventually did so with Jesus' sacrifice.

Protected from The Power of Death by Christ
Jesus didn't cover sin, He took sin away. Jesus was a sin offering but not one to appease God or to throw off Satan (like the OT one) but to defeat Satan & "render him powerless" & "free those who feared death because of him!" Why would the devil enslave people to fear death? Because he holds the power of death. Jesus said that Satan "seeks to kill."

"Christ Jesus, the savior of the world, broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News" (2 Timothy 1:10). The power of death is broken because the way to life is illuminated. It is like saying the power of your enemy in war is broken because Jesus has laid out a bunch of rocket launchers. The enemy is still there but if you use what has been given, in this case the life offered by Christ, the enemy is powerless & you have no reason to fear him killing you. The life of Christ has hopelessly outgunned the power of death, sin, & the devil. Jesus overpowered death through His resurrection & provided a way out.

Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life; everyone who lives and trusts in Me will never die" (John 11:25). God allows our flesh to pass away because it is a sin wrecked vessel of weakness. He gives eternal life to our spirit so when we trust Him there is a sense in which we Christians never die.

"For those who have trusted in Jesus the fact of sin & death has been replaced by the new reality of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. You are free from sin & death. You have been released from the reality of sin & death and born into a new reality of the spirit, the reality of life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:2).

With sin taken away Satan "cannot touch the children of God" (1 John 5:18). We are cleaned of the scent of sin, made perfect, & hidden with Christ in God. Everything God wanted to do for us to protect us from Satan has been accomplished. Satan only has the influence of deception in regards to Christians & his deception is only powered if we believe his lies.

Under the law Satan would take the smallest drop of impurity & use it against people. God is not a stickler anymore about what kind of fabric we wear because Christians are protected from Satan & God is offering perfect life to all mankind through His Son, the Savior of the world. Our actions no longer condemn us because God has broken the power of sin & death. God has no reason to charge people with sin because the solution to sin has been given (2 Corinthians 5:19). The law was a defense against Satan but he managed to use it to produce more sin & death & condemnation (Romans 7:8). But Jesus is only good & only love, Satan cannot tempt God or twist Him to do evil (he tried in Job & he tried with Jesus in the desert). Today the old dead law is used by Satan to distract people from Jesus & to make people fear death (people who believe they can "lose" their salvation fear death based on their performance).

It is clear that Satan has the power of death & it is God's character to save & give life. I believe God gives people a second chance to trust Him on judgment day as evidenced by Romans 14:10-12 saying Isaiah 45:18-25 occurs on judgment day. Thus I believe God has killed people in the flesh (such as the flood, see 1 Peter 3:18) to save them from the second death. Death is His final enemy. He doesn't let death win the first time when we die in the flesh. We have a second chance to choose life.

God has not yet ended the existence of death but He has broken its power. Satan still seeks to kill but God has offered imperishable life to all mankind for free. Satan may still be able to grab hold of unsaved people's actions & produce death but there is an easy escape. It is not an escape route, it is a Savior offering to take our hand.

Related Posts
Second Chances & Why God Killed
Satan is Not God's Attack Dog 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Having Leaders is Harmful

Notice how the bad things Jesus said in Matthew 23 about the Pharisees virtually make up the job description of pastors today. (In parenthesis are the modern equivalents). Jesus said,

They lay oppressive burdens on others (guilt, sin focus, laws, fear, tithing, serving the church).
They make themselves look good (they must dress up, smile, & act friendly).
They welcome honorary titles which makes others feel inferior to them (leader, pastor, reverend, etc).
They kept people from the kingdom of heaven by making human traditions and human religious rules more important than God’s words (you have to attend church services, listen to sermons, confess your sins, give money to the church, & loads of other falsehoods that have been formulated over the centuries).

In this same Chapter Jesus tells His disciples to "not be called leaders." We can see why. People are compelled to trust leaders because of their position or title regardless of whether or not the leaders speak the truth. Thus people will accept burdens & falsehood from leaders more readily than from anyone else because the mere existence of their position & title makes people consider them to be superior & more knowledgeable. People trust the "experts" thus leaders are the perfect people to spread & convince people of falsehoods unquestioned.

Jesus said He is our One & Only Leader. He said that we don't need anyone to teach us because the Holy Spirit will lead us to all truth. Yes the Spirit can use people to teach us but God did not set up in the New Covenant any Christians over any others to be official leaders. If you believe He has you are either fooled by mistranslations, reading into scripture what is not there, assuming it to be so because that is how it is now, or believing what you've been taught by self professed church leaders.

Other posts on this topic that will answer most questions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Help in Knowing God's Voice

Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice." He did not say, "My lambs know my voice." You can be unsure about God's voice. You can even be deceived into thinking the voices of "hired hands" (self-professed leaders) or the wolf (Satan) is God. Those things don't have to mean you are not saved, they can mean you are a lamb. Jesus does not condemn you or reject you for being a lamb.

Scripture says 7 times, “Whoever trusts in God will never be put to shame.” Shame means disgrace. It is literally the opposite of grace. God will never make you feel shame or guilt. (By guilt I mean guilt that is self-centered. It lacks compassion, empathy, sympathy, & love for whoever you harmed. It has self-pity.) Scripture also says that Satan is the accuser of God's family. Both accuse & convict mean "to charge someone with guilt." They are both synonyms for condemn. Remember scripture says, "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." If you feel accused, convicted, or condemned it is not from God.

Learning His Voice by Seeing How God Tells Us to Talk to One Another
I believe that God will not command us to do good things that He Himself does not do for us. So I have taken some scriptures that tell people how to speak to one another (other scriptures also) and extracted how God speaks to us.

God's voice is honest, kind, compassionate, encouraging, beneficial, helpful, humble, gentle, gracious, grateful, joyous, & delightful.
God speaks love, favor, affection, encouragement, wisdom, grace, life, fulfilment, nourishment, giving, guidance, direction, blessings, sweetness, & good will.
God tells us of Jesus, His good news, His desires, His trustworthiness, Jesus's resurrection, & His love for us.
God's voice is free from anger, wrath, shame, condemnation, accusation, arrogance, complaint, fault finding, abuse, grumbling, self-centered flattery, contention, harassment, impurity, bitterness, ill-will, desire to hurt you, falsehood, mudslinging towards others, & deceit.

He wants you to know, feel, & experience His love for you more.
He seeks to love you, benefit you, build you up, & teach you.
He makes the most out of what he says to you. He knows exactly how to respond to you.
He stirs us to love one another & do good things for one another.
He does not lower one person to raise another.
He speaks from His heart.

The Lord God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I draw you to myself with lovingkindness."
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Related Posts

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Slave Master?

I was pondering why Christians who view themselves as unworthy, wicked, and miserable think God saved them. The first thing that came to mind is that they think God only saves people so He can make them His slaves. That God only saves people to "use" them & to "glorify His own name." I used to think that too.

This mindset pictures God in heaven saying, "Hmmm.. I don't really want to save them but I could use some slaves. And I can get those slaves to recruit more slaves for me!" It basically thinks God's goal is to enslave humanity while calling it "freedom." That isn't a merciful God but a selfish god. It doesn't see God as the good Samaritan type who helps & heals free of charge. It doesn't even picture God as one of the men who passed by. Instead it pictures God as someone much worse. He sees us dying by the roadside & thinks, "If I help this guy he'll owe me BIG! I could get him to serve me forever!"

Good News Flash! You don't owe God anything. Love does not demand to be paid back. God however does desire for you to walk & work with Him because He wants to enjoy doing things with you that will benefit you & others.

"I do not call you slaves instead I call you friends." -Jesus in John 15:15

Monday, November 19, 2012

Second Chances & Why God Killed

Another Chance for Mankind the Day of Jesus' Death
"Because God is ready to judge the living & the dead Jesus told the good news to those who are now dead. They will be judged like men who are alive. This was done so that they could live like God in the spirit." (1 Peter 4:6)

To save people from the second death on judgement day Jesus told the good news to people who had already died before His death. It says this proclaiming of the good news to the dead was not a pointless proclamation. It was done so those who have already died in the flesh could "live like God in the spirit" meaning "be reborn." Some say this only refers to the dead Christians who have died up to this point because of persecution. But pair this with what Peter says in v3:18, "After His body died the Spirit of Christ went & proclaimed the gospel to the spirits in prison, some of which were people from the days of Noah who had previously disobeyed God."
Romans 3:25 says, "In God's forbearance Jesus passed over sins previously committed." Forbearance is defined as "good-natured & patient tolerance." This certainly does not mean Christ only died for the sins of people who had lived up to the point of His death. Hebrews 7:27 & 10:12 tells us, "Jesus died for the sins of all people for all time." It was not pointless for Him to have died for people's past sins, the sins of those who had died before He died. He told them the good news of what He had done so they could "live like Him in the spirit."

1 Peter 3:18 suggests that these spirits were only disobedient in the past, meaning they obeyed the gospel (trusted in Christ) & were saved. I think it singles out the people of the days of Noah because they are on record as the worst people in the history of the world. God gave them a second chance in the after-life because He is good, patient, & tolerant. How much more then will He give mankind a another chance to be saved on judgment day?

Another Chance for Mankind on Judgment Day
Romans 14:10-12 quotes Isaiah 45 letting us know that Isaiah 45 tells us what happens on judgment day, the same day people are later thrown in the lake of fire. On judgment day God tells the yet unsaved people to "draw near." He says "idols cannot save." He says, "I am God, and there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me." He says, "Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength." He says to all the people who are not His people "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other."

After God offers salvation to all mankind who have not yet received it Isaiah then tells us that "Men will come to Him." But Isaiah also says, "All who were angry at Him will be put to shame." In SEVEN places God promises, “Whoever who trusts in me will NEVER be put to shame” (Isaiah 28:16, 45:17, 54:4, Romans 9:33, 10:11, 1 Peter 2:6, Joel 2:26-27). If you are put to shame you are not saved. Shame is literally the opposite of grace. It is disgrace. If you are put to shame you have chosen not to receive God's grace. So we see that there are some who choose to retain anger towards God. Those are the only people thrown into the lake of fire, suffering the second death on judgment day. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 & Revelation 20:10,14-15 tell us that the second death is annihilation, an eternal destruction, not an eternal suffering. You cannot hate God & live forever. God is life. If you hate God you hate life & thus you have chosen death for yourself.

God's Motives Regarding Death in the Flesh Unraveled
The questions come to many. Why did God command the Israeli armies of old to wipe out entire groups of people? There are countless reasons given as to why it wasn't as bad as it sounds. That things were mistranslated, inclusive expressions were used, etc. I was asking myself this question remembering the stock answers of "it was to protect society as a whole" & "it was because the Israelites would have been led astray" & even "they deserved it because of their sin." So I asked God & He told me that the flood was the key to understanding all of this.

Regardless of your views on God's commanding or seeming commanding of Israel's army to kill & other stories in the Old Testament all Christians will admit that God flooded the earth & in that flood nearly all men, women, & children were killed (all but 8). All other stories pale in comparison when it comes to God bringing destruction upon people. So why did God wipe out mankind in the flood? Let us look back at the story.

"God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-8)

God was grieved in His heart about making mankind. The word grieved pictures that His heart was in pain, pouring out sorrow, hurting, & tortured. Does this picture a God of wrath who hates sin? No, it says He was sorry & regretful that He had made mankind. Why? Was it because He angrily hated sin? No, remember God is a Father. Look at this event through the eyes of a father or a mother.

Imagine a situation like Adam & Eve's with Cain & Abel. They had two sons but one killed the other. Regardless of how much they loved their son Cain thoughts of regret would have surely went through their minds. God likewise had this regret when He saw the people He had made only focusing on & doing terrible, destructive things. As some fear in modern times He may have foresaw humanity wiping themselves out because Genesis 6:11&13 say "The earth was filled with violence."

Most will not consider that God has two lives to work with when it comes to saving mankind from sin & death because most believe that we are not given another chance to trust Christ in the next life. However, as I have shown above, God does have two lives to work with when it comes to salvation. If mankind had wiped themselves out it would have been a much longer, much more painful ordeal.

People died in the flood. When are they brought up again in the New Testament? In the scripture mentioned above. 1 Peter 3:18 says of them, "Christ went & proclaimed the gospel to the spirits in prison, some of which were people from the days of Noah." Prison.. Imagine a mother who has an unruly son who is out committing crimes & destroying his life. Imagine how the mother, though grieved in her heart & even regretful for having him, could still, in love, turn him into the authorities to be locked up in the hopes to save him from his destructive ways & even save his life in the long run. That is a picture of God & the flood & every other place in scripture where God commands or threatens death for people. God killed these people in the flesh so they would be willing to be saved in the spirit. Instead of the flood being something where God deemed mankind unworthy of life because of their actions, it was actually God deeming mankind worthy of life despite their actions. He had to take their life on this earth away & lock them up so that they would one day take the chance to "live like God in the spirit" after Christ came off the cross.

God will go to any & all resorts to save people from ultimate death even if it means taking their first life. God's final enemy is death (1 Corinthians 15:26). If death is His enemy why would He let it win the first time? Death cannot win but death can be chosen. The second death is God's true enemy. God desired the first death for mankind after the fall so that they will be free from the flesh. That is why He prevented Adam & Eve from eating of the tree of life. He didn't want them to live forever in the flesh. God wants us to live forever but not in the weakness of the flesh but in the power & love & joy of the spirit.

True life is in the spirit because all flesh will die. God wants to save & preserve us as eternal beings in the spirit & the only way to protect us from death is to make us one Spirit with Him because His Spirit has already conquered death. God is the Savior, not the slaughterer. Some say God did these things to "preserve the lineage for Jesus" or "for the greater good of mankind" while those are true, these people who have died are not casualties of grace, they are still favored by the Father. God didn't make them die for you. His mercy removed them from this life for another shot at life. But of course, it is always much better to know Him in this life first.

I give you the true God. Always a Savior & always a Lover. Who would stay angry at Him?

"As I live!" declares the Lord God, "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way to My Way, Jesus the Savior of mankind, and live. Why then will you die?" (Ezekiel 33:11, New Covenant paraphrase)

"I have set before you life and death. Therefore choose life, that you may live!" (Deuteronomy 30:19)

For an in-depth look at eternal destiny & God's offering of life over death see these two posts:
Saved? Saved from What? & Eternal Torment, Annihilation, Ultimate Reconciliation? How about a little of each?

Barely Saved & Still Judged?

"Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." (1 Peter 4:15-19)

This is talking about suffering in the flesh. Certainly Christ did not "barely save us" in the sense of rebirth. The judgement in focus here isn't God's judgement on His people but a judgment, condemnation, & persecution from the secular world upon Christians. God's people are barely saved in the flesh from such oppressive rule & perhaps aren't saved at all. This entire context is about Christians suffering for doing good rather than suffering for doing bad.

Peter is saying, "Please don't commit crimes, if you are going to suffer only let it be for doing God's good. God in His mercy can barely save you righteous people from punishment handed out by the government because He can't override people's freewill & wicked people aren't going to cooperate with Him. Think about those who actually do wrong & don't know God. God can't always get you off the hook so don't intentionally put yourself on the hook by committing crimes. When you know you are going to suffer for doing good entrust your soul (earthly life) to God so you won't fear regardless of the outcome."

Peter concludes his letter & writing about suffering by saying it is the devil who seeks to harm you, not God. God is love & He does not punish His children. He cares for us.

"Cast all your anxieties on God, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." (1 Peter 5:7-10)

Christian Cannibalism?
The reason why "judgement" (this particular word is sometimes translated as condemnation) starts at the household of God is because Satan hates the people of God so he is going to influence rulers & oppressors to oppress them. Oppressors want to oppress just about everyone but Satan makes Christians a focal point of theirs. Physical persecution is Satan's last resort to harm the house of God. In western Christianity Satan doesn't need to physically persecute Christians. Because of 100s to 1,000s of years of religious teachings Christians condemn themselves. The problem with western Christians isn't that they "should do more for God" it is that they believe the wrong things about themselves & God. So Satan doesn't need to devour them. They consume themselves with guilt, shame, & fear all based on a false idea of God & a false idea of themselves.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yoked or Unyoked is The Issue of Mankind

Hebrew letters started as pictographs where each letter was a picture. Those pictures can give us insight into what Hebrew words mean.
The Hebrew word for "sin" consists of 3 letters with meanings of separate, clay, & yoke.

The word sin hides this message about what the spiritual condition of sin is:  "Man separated from the yoke of Christ"

This was amazing enough & such a dead on picture. But then I took the Hebrew word that is often translated as "forgive." It consists of 3 letters with meanings of life, two, & yoke. So when the bible talks of someone who is forgiven it pictures "The life of two in a yoke." You & Christ yoked together.

Those hidden meanings then make this scripture a HUGE focal point.

"Come to me, all you who are tired & burdened heavily, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is pleasant and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

So this saying of Jesus is perhaps the greatest picture of salvation & a relationship with God in all of eternity.

What does Jesus give?

How does Jesus treat you?
With gentleness & humility

Where have you heard God pictured like this?
He walks & works with you while directly teaching you in a relationship.
He treats you with gentleness & humility, He isn't demanding or harsh.
What He wants you to have most as He lives with you is rest, wisdom, & ease.

This is mind-blowing to me, that the very Hebrew words behind sin & forgive point to this precise saying of Jesus & the beauty of what Jesus describes a relationship with God is like. And let me tell you, it is exactly as He described. If you aren't experiencing God as Jesus described it isn't because you are doing things wrong. It is because you are believing the wrong things about God. Believe Jesus' testimony about Himself. If you think God has treated you without gentleness & without humility you've mislabeled something else as God (probably your own sense of shame). Jesus gives you the rest of having a love relationship with Him. To be yoked with Jesus means He says to you, "We are yoked together but I will pull the weight and carry the burden."

Related Posts
Walking Under the Yoke of Jesus

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ignore the Poison?

There is a mentality with sermons that a person shouldn't point out the bad/untrue/fear-based things the preacher said. People will say, "Oh don't worry about those things just focus on the good things he said."

If you & I were going to a coffee shop every week and they added, let's say, 3 drops of poison to every cup of coffee they serve would you say to me, "Oh don't worry about the poison just focus on the good coffee" & encourage me to come back to the coffee shop every week with you? Would you say this to yourself, "I'm not worried about the poison. I just focus on the good coffee" & keep going every week?

Falsehoods spoken confidently are poison. Things that make you fear are poison. Sin consciousness is poison. There are far more than 3 drops of poison in an average sermon (I dare say many are cups of poison with drops of truth). Why would someone want to keep getting poisoned every week? Any poison will harm you. Frequent poisoning will make you sick. Embracing poison as good & useful is a tragedy. Feeling obligated to knowingly drink poison is imprisonment.

Related Posts
Is Eating Poison Worth Your While?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let's Share in the Satisfaction of His Sacrifice

"If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2)

Advocate is a bad word to use because it makes it seem as if the Father wants to kill or hurt us if Jesus doesn't convince Him not to, that Jesus must plead on our behalf to keep the Father's wrath at bay. The word would be better translated as "helper" or "comforter" as it is the same words used by Jesus for the Holy Spirit in John chapters 14-16. We have an advocate WITH the Father as in the Father is our helper too. They both help us. They both comfort us.
"Jesus himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins." Atoning/propitiation could be translated as satisfying, satisfaction, content, contentment.
Of course God is unsatisfied to not have a relationship with us. Jesus's sacrifice opened to us the door of that relationship. God is satisfied when we enter that door because He wants to know us but these scriptures don't picture God aiming to please Himself. It is God aiming to please us so that if sin ever comes to our mind we can be completely secure in the fact that He has taken care of it for us. Sin was our problem that God fixed not God's problem because He has issues with anger.

"Jesus himself is the satisfying sacrifice for our sins." That means WE CAN be satisfied with nothing else but His sacrifice concerning our sins. His sacrifice satisfies us concerning "sin" to where we can need nothing else; not our performance, behavior, emotions; to make us confident that we know God without barriers, are fully reconciled to God, & fully cleansed of sin/failure.

John is saying Jesus's sacrifice IS enough to assure us beyond doubt that our sins are taken away & forgotten forever. His sacrifice IS enough to make us content, satisfied, & fulfilled in regards to knowing that our relationship with God is secure. And yes it satisfied God to do this for us.
How distant is this from the typical interpretations which say, "God the Father hates us (gets offended) so much when we sin but Jesus will keep Him off our backs if we tell Him what we've done wrong. Jesus stepped in & appeased God's wrath for us because God really wanted to kill us all." That is the message that words like atonement & advocate convey. That God was so against us He just had to keep Himself from going nuts on us by killing His Son.

Jesus revealed that the Spirit is our comforter. Here John reveals that Jesus is also our comforter with the Father because the Father is our comforter too. They comfort us by reminding us that Jesus's sacrifice for the world can completely satisfy us & make us content with God because our sins are no more. 1 John 4:10 says, "This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to give us contentment concerning our sins." That means no more worry or fear concerning sin EVER! It's true! It's true! I know it & I live it.

Good News Does Not Make You Feel Bad

The gospel is GOOD news. If you hear something that makes you feel worse than you did before you were listening then it is probably not the gospel. -Mike Kapler

So often people look at the "fruit of the Spirit" as if it were a list of things they are obligated to do, "love, have patience, be kind, be gentle, have self-control." But they are the fruit of the SPIRIT not the fruits of human effort. Branches don't strive to produce fruit, the life of the vine produces fruit through them.

The Spirit produces joy & peace. Remember these two? You can't force joy & peace onto yourself. Joy is good news & it makes you speak of the source of your joy. Peace makes the front page. God makes all of these things come out of you as you feel secure in Him.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wind in a Box

It is not mankind's crumminess that makes the majority choose to "feel good" by the flesh, it is the ignorance of what good really is. First century Christians used to eat, drink, and have orgies but then they heard the truth of what good really is. The odd thing is, is that there is nothing in all of existence that will make us feel better about ourselves than the message of the Cross!

The problem the church has is that the message of the cross doesn't fit in a box. Its genuine truth can't be used to manipulate people. The church's goal isn't to set people free, it is to get everyone to come into the correct denominational box week after week. Most churches and freedom can't co-exist. Churches try to define everything, every minute of the meeting is accounted for, every doctrine already marked as true or false. Jesus said, "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). When you put wind between four walls there isn't much it can do. Even if you open the windows not much is going to happen. Christians are always coming from church and going to church. Almost no one knows what it means to be born of the Spirit. With birth comes a new identity. With praying a sinner's prayer in church all you get is a new point C on weekends.

While everything does come down to personal choice, when you are deceived you don't even know you have another option. Ultimately if you choose to be open to God, no matter how wrong He shows your beliefs to be, you will find freedom.

You will stay in the dark and defend the very things that destroy you..
• If you are more concerned with certainty or confidence than truth
• If you are somehow endeared to holding onto a belief you've held for a long time
• If you trust in men (including yourself, leaders, theologians) more than you trust in the living God inside of you.

For those reasons I've seen people deliberately choose the "god" who gets offended & angry at almost everything they do over the true God who hold nothing against them.

Why do people love their bondage?
I think it comes down to a false sense of security. That is why people like the law (or what they think the law is), it has a list of things for them to do where they can evaluate themselves. They think as long as they have the rules they will always know what to do. It is not true, it often doesn't even feel that way but its "supposed to be true" IF "you can keep the law." Since people can't keep the law they believe they are the problem thus the false sense of security breeds greater insecurity in them. Hopefully that insecurity leads to them abandoning self-effort & entrusting theirself to God. But if the people are infected by one of the three reasons above it is a lot less likely.

Walking by the Spirit is a journey with God into the unknown where your security must be found in Him being with you, not in your control, not in predictability, not in rules, not in self-evaluation. You don't know where you are coming from & you don't know where you are going but you know who you are with.

Imagine two people standing before you. One is saying "Come with me." The other is holding up a list of laws, commands, & principles from the bible. Most Christians pay attention to the man holding the rules. They've also been taught to be afraid of "being led astray," so they refuse to go with the man saying, "Come with me." The truth however is that Satan is the man holding up the laws & Jesus is the man saying, "Come with me." 1 Corinthians 15:56 says, "The power of sin (the enemy, Satan) is the law." When you sit in front of a list of rules you aren't like the wind because you aren't walking with the Spirit of God. When you live by laws your life doesn't blow, it just sucks!

Related Posts
Satan and the Sign or Jesus and the Journey?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lie: You Don't Deserve to Be Saved

If my parents decided to set up a bank account for me with millions & millions of dollars in it, would I have earned it? No. Would I deserve it? Yes, because it was given to me. I am entitled to that bank account because of their giving. If someone found a way to steal from my account they wouldn't deserve it because it is my account, it was set up for & given to me. I don't have to ever access that account but that doesn't mean the money isn't there. I could grow poor & die if I refuse to access that account but that doesn't mean the money isn't there. A father can deem his children worthy of gifts either because of works they do or simply because he loves them.

To be deserving is to be worthy, which means to have enough worth, to have enough value. Love gives value. Mankind has always been loved & valued by God. Like an infant you don't have to work to be valued, you just have to be loved. Sin devalued mankind, it earned us death (in physical and spiritual). But sin never devalued God's love for mankind. Who do you want to judge what you deserve, you, someone else, sin, or God? Which eyes do you want to look at mankind through, they eyes of sin, which demands death, or the eyes of God, who offers life?

Christ wiped out our old sin accounts and opened new grace accounts for us. Did I earn grace? No. Do I deserve grace? Yes because He has put my name on it. My name is in the book of life. Scripture is clear that everyone's name starts off in the book of life. It says names have to be blotted out, not that names have to be written in. Every person on earth has a grace account that God has provided for them. Grace accounts only close on judgment day for those who still refuse them. Everyone deserves to be saved, everyone deserves grace because the Giver has deemed it so.

God has already taken away the sins of the world. Everyone on earth is entitled to salvation. God already has your name on the title you just need to sign yours. An atheist once said to me, “Well if I have to take the gift it is not free.” The Father doesn't force people to take a gift they don't want. In His love He does not demand His own way. It is a fully paid for gift being offered to all but He doesn't grab your arms and force you to unwrap it. He leaves the gift there hoping you'll experience the joy of what He has given you by unwrapping it!

“The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Death has been earned but life has been given. If I started a huge fire, would my father abandon me saying, “You started the fire so you deserve to die.” Or would he try to save me? Would he do whatever it took to get me out of the flames regardless of who started it? In my father's eyes did I deserve to die? In God's eyes, my Father's eyes, do I deserve to die because of my sins? If your answer is “Yes,” what kind of father do you think God is?

The bible says, “The wages of sin is death,” not “The wages of God is death if you sin.” God is our savior, not our slaughterer. Once the lamb had been slain I've been entitled to everything He offers me. The lamb was slain long before anyone alive today was born. On top of that the lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. God's eyes are the perfect eyes to look through & you've never deserved death in God's eyes for a moment of your life because the gift has always been given. Your name has always been in His book of life, a book that says, “He deserves life. She deserves life."

Saul (Paul) killed many of God's children. Did He deserve death in God's eyes? No, God saved Him. Paul was called “the chief of sinners,” the worst man that ever lived. God is love & love keeps no record of wrongs. God is love & love does not demand its own way therefore God gives everyone a choice. God says, “I have set before you life and death. Therefore choose life, that you may live!” Jesus is life.

Typical Christian teachings see it like this, “You are scum soaked because you've sinned. God hates scum so He will either make you clean yourself up or He will burn you up so He doesn't have to look at scum anymore. Either way all that matters to Him is not having to look at scum.”

God sees it like this, “You are sick because of sin and are going to die. God wants you to trust Him and take the cure for your sickness. You being sick doesn't make Him love you any less, it only makes Him try harder to get you to agree to taking the cure.”

The reason why this doesn't seem like God's viewpoint is because gospel isn't presented as good news. Christians are hypochondriacs, constantly medicating and talking about the sickness of sin as if it were still there when Christ has in fact cured them. Thus non-Christians have no good reason to believe Jesus is the cure.

You can look at God one of these two ways. God is either a murderer who demands that you die because He has CHOSEN to be offended at you, or He is a savior & a lover who knows love doesn't work in forcefulness, love only works in freedom. If you think God demands death you are looking through the eyes of sin.

Jesus said, “I came to the earth in the flesh so you may have life, not just a little life that barely gets you by but overflowing, abundant life that lasts forever.”

Related Posts
Did God have to save us? We don't deserve to be saved? We're Unworthy?
Saved? Saved from What?
Eternal Torment, Annihilation, Ultimate Reconciliation? How about a little of each?
Lifted Up to His Glory

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rant on Lies I've Been Told

When you know God's love, you will simply love the right way. Much of the New Testament was written to specific people with specific problems. We shouldn't impose their weaknesses upon ourselves. It is like a non-smoker taking advice on how to quit smoking. For someone who has never smoked chewing nicotine gum does no good. Sadly most approach the bible this way. Regardless of if they share the struggle mentioned in a scripture people condemn themselves as if they must have that struggle simply because scripture said people struggled with that. People are worse off trying to obey scriptures that have nothing to do with them than they are if they ignored those scriptures all together.

I remember many times in churches being told that you need to question your salvation..
if you're not in a trial or coming out of a trial
if God doesn't regularly “take you to the woodshed" to beat you

To put those in other words, you need to question your salvation..
if you don't get mega-stressed in life to where you see everything as a trial & life as utter suffering
if you don't feel guilt & shame regularly (also called being “broken")

How are such lies justified? Like this..
When you don't feel guilty you must be especially guilty because you don't even recognize it.
If God isn't beating you it is because he has put you on the shelf (As if life were all about being ”used by God” as a tool, we aren't tools, don't let someone call you a tool).

I'm still told things like this today,
“Saying you don't struggle with the flesh is like saying you don't breathe.” Really? The bible says, “we wrestle not against FLESH & blood" thus if we struggle with the flesh something is wrong with our mindset. I have a victorious spirit. The bible teaches self control (spirit control over the flesh) it does not teach “death to self" or self degradation.

“God gets greatly offended at you for your behavior." Really? Offend means, ”to make angry.” ON THE BLOOD OF HIS OWN SON God promised to never be angry with me again (Isaiah 54:9-10, Matthew 26:28, Colossians 1:20). That takes care of the whole woodshed non-sense too. When ever I heard ”God whoops you or you aren't his kid” I thought to myself, “God doesn't do that to me maybe I'm not a Christian." Then I had to remind myself of how He saved me by grace & lovingly proved Himself to me over the years.

I've heard other people talk about being told the lie, “if things go wrong you must be in sin & God is punishing you." I believed that to some extent but I was also told the lie, “if things are going right for too long you need to question your salvation.“ What kind of sick messed up religious garbage is that? “If anything goes wrong it is your fault & God is punishing you for what you've done. But if things go right.. you need to question your salvation because you should ALWAYS be going through trials.“ That may sound “double minded" but in fact it is single minded, it is 100% condemnation! My heart never wanted to believe these lies but my mind felt like it should. Thank God for His truth which leads to freedom!

I typically hold back from speaking from personal experience & opinion but I don't care right now because I hate the bondage of lies so much. I've never told someone not to go to church because they need to listen to God & not to me. But deep inside I honestly believe that you cannot go to an institutional church service without being poisoned in some way every single time. As time goes on I become more & more convinced of that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Judges in the Assembly Part 2

Looking at 1 Corinthians 6
“Do you not judge those who are within the assembly? Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life! So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are not esteemed in in the assembly?

I say this so you will turn in upon yourselves and look for some wise man who will be able to make decisions between the brethren. But instead, one brother takes another to court—and does so in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived because that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were made righteous in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

All things are lawful for me, but not all things bring people together. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of anything.”

In context of Christians judging matters between themselves Paul ends his argument here. After this he goes on to talk about why immorality is bad & somewhat hearkens back to the idea of why it is bad to have an immoral person judge your disputes. Paul says "All things are lawful for me, but not all things bring people together. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of anything." Most translations say, "not all things are profitable" or "not all things are beneficial." While there is truth there, another meaning of this conveys "not all things bring people together." Paul says that, while there is no law for Christians what we do still affects other people. Not everything we do brings us closer to one another, thus there were disputes among the people. Without laws or wise judges they could not decide how to settle matters in their community. Paul is pointing back to what he said about them finding a wise man to judge in their community. The judge's purpose would not be to "bring people under his power" or "exercise authority" over the brothers" but to bring people together.

"Be brought under the power" is the same word Jesus uses in Luke 22:26 for "have authority over." He said, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' But not so with you." Jesus says that the family of God will not "have authority over" one another & that they should not attempt to "bring others under false authority." Paul echoes the same thing basically saying, "Though I want you to identify judges to handle problems in the community those judges are not to have authority over you." It deeply relates to Romans 13 where He says to "voluntarily cooperate" with these judges. Seeing that the children of God are honored, Paul speaks of an "honor system" in regards to having wise judges to settle disputes, bring people together, & dole out punishments. It is an honor system because the people aren't required to have these judges nor are they utterly forced to cooperate with them. The judge cannot force punishment but the community can bring someone to him to have that person judged/punished. This is a similar system to what God set up in the Old Testament before there were kings. But in the assembly it would not operate by law, instead it would operate by the proven wisdom coming from the Spirit.

Looking at Romans 13
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. All people are to voluntarily cooperate with excellent authorities. For there is no authority except under God, and those excellent authorities which exist are established under God. Therefore whoever resists such authority resists the order of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves by the community. For judges are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation. Excellent authority is of God, it is a servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. For of God it is a servant who punishes the wrongdoer. Therefore it is necessary to be in voluntary cooperation, not only because of punishment, but also for conscience sake. This is why you pay tribute tax because the judges are servants of God, devoting themselves to administering punishment on the wrongdoer. Give to all what is due them: tribute tax to whom tribute tax is due; toll to whom toll; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.”

Overall Paul is referencing a communal judge system to handle disputes. He talks about the same thing in 1 Corinthians 6 where He wishes the Corinthians would judge matters amongst themselves rather than going into secular court. The difference is that these judges already existed in Rome. Paul is making a case for why people should submit to excellent authorities (judges) that are are in the assembly in Rome. Paul speaks of community selected judges who naturally arise in the community because of their wisdom, who's authority is not found in themselves. Their authority is either supported by the community or by voluntary cooperation.

This isn't a model people should try to copy & force into existence. This can only occur organically in close Christian communities. In the assembly at Rome this had already happened so Paul addressed the people regarding the judges they had telling them to only submit to excelling judges. Excelling because they continue to handle cases in wisdom, love, & justice. They are seen by how they have judged their most recent cases. Paul made this distinction of excellence because apparently the Romans had some bad judges who were not worth submitting to. Likewise the Corinthians had appointed immoral people, who Paul identified as "so-called brothers" in 1 Corinthians 5:11, to judge their matters.

Also mentioned here is the fact the people paid “tribute taxes" to the judges. The word “taxes” is a little misleading as it implies a compulsory payment that is decided by the government receiving. A tax must be paid, regardless of whether anything has been received in return. Paul is instead talking about a voluntary payment, not a compulsory levy. A tribute tax is a specific ”tax” that is a symbol of submission and dependence. When judges do their work well, the whole of society benefits, not just the people who get their cases heard. He is telling Christians that they should decide what they owe to the judges in their community and make sure they pay them something.

Excellent Judges
Paul lets the people know who the trustworthy & excellent judges in the community are by saying they
Are under God
Established by God (organically by the Spirit over time)
Do not cause fear
Do not do terrible things to good people
Commend people for doing good
Exist for your good
Are servants of God (Christians)

Contrast that list with truths about secular governments & it is obvious that this passage cannot be referring to them.

Not Legal Judges
These judges weren't law enforcers. They operated relationally to settle disputes between people & to punish people the community deemed dangerous. "Judges hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong." This statement is only true if there were no laws. If there were laws then the judges would have authority outside of voluntary or communal court settings. They would be a terror to the people by trying to force them to do good. These judges did not have the responsibility or authority to force people to lead virtuous lives. They could only restrain harm by punishing crimes & reconciling people. They weren't to attempt to make people be on their best behavior. Again "all things are lawful" & "no one will have authority over you" but not all things bring people together, not all things benefit so there are times where it is wise to submit ourselves to other people's help & guidance. No one person is to manipulate us or force us to do anything but a lack of independent authority in God's family does not exempt us from the usefulness of cooperation.

For an in depth look at judges in the Assembly of the Old & New Testament read God Raises Good Judges
For an in depth look at Romans 13 in regards to judges read Understanding Romans 13

Related Posts
Judges in the Assembly Part 1: Why Romans 13 is not about Secular Government
The Letter of the Law, The Life of Love -1 Peter 2:11-17:  Focuses on scripture that does address how Christians relate to secular government.
Did Paul Shame People?:  Most translations of 1 Corinthians 6 use the word "shame." See why this is inaccurate.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Judges in the Assembly Part 1: Why Romans 13 is not about Secular Government

Now that an election is upon us I've decided to present the truth behind Romans 13. In my journey with God He first freed me from man-made law before freeing me from His law. I used to fear that breaking "the law of the land," as churches called it, meant I was sinning. Having any copyrighted material that I didn't purchase on my hard drive, using any non-public domain image on my website, & even going 1mph over the speed limit would send me into a spiral of shame, fear, guilt, and the desire to not engage God. I somehow came across this webpage, (which most of the post below borrows from), which showed me how Romans 13 & 1 Peter 2 had been mistranslated. Its truth gave me great freedom & broke the illusion of so many things I thought stood between me & God. Roughly two years later I still have found no one else who has seen the truth which that author & I have seen regarding these scriptures. My second post on this blog addressed 1 Peter 2 in this light & does address how Christians are to relate to secular government.

I've kept this one under wraps for over 2 years because most will probably think this interpretation is an "excuse to sin" or be rebellious towards government but I don't care. What people should really be looking for in their own lives are "excuses to feel shame" & "excuses to burden themselves." People are much more likely to feel the wrong things & believe the wrong things than they are to do the wrong things. Feeling wrong & believing wrong is 98% as miserable as doing wrong. I think one reason why religious people get so mad at the idea of sinning & are always speaking against it is because inside they really want to do the things the free or uninhibited people are doing but their rules & fear won't let them. Thus they decide to attack the people who get to do the "fun" things they aren't allowed to do. Romans 13 is one of those scriptures that people's hearts tell them is not true because the translations & doctrines formed from it aren't true. My heart has always known that it wasn't true as translated & presented & it doesn't take much brain-power to see how this straight reads like non-sense...

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (Romans 12:21-13:5, NIV 1984)

There is No Authority Except FROM God?
Most translations of Romans 13:1 say, "There is no authority except FROM God." The Greek word translated as "from" is "upo". This word means "under" rather than "from." This is a subtle but important difference. Saying that all visible authority is FROM God implies that he sanctions all authority. It can also imply that He created it, but has given it to someone else. It has gone from him to the political authorities. This is a distortion of the truth. Authority under God has not gone anywhere. Paul is saying that there is no legitimate authority except UNDER God. True authority can only be exercised by those who move "under" God. Any authority which is not under God is illegitimate.

Jesus said that all authority has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). He has not handed any authority over to the secular state. He has not even handed authority over to a Christian state who pay lip service to his authority.  Unless governments are totally submitted to God (& they pretty much can't be), they are operating with fleshly authority that is not sanctioned by God. Paul was actually warning that they are rebels and usurpers. The truth is exactly opposite of the traditional interpretation.

The traditional interpretation of this scripture is to submit to governments regardless of how ungodly they are because God set up, even the most wicked governments. This interpretation by necessity says that the Nazi's were "God's servants" for "the people's good" simply because they were in charge. Think about that. Most people will teach you, based on this scripture, that someone is automatically God's servant by the mere fact that they are in charge! This teaching could only come from the lips of the deceived or the oppressors themselves! It says, "Because I'm in charge that means God put me in charge & you have to do whatever I say."

Nowhere else in scripture do we find the idea that unsaved, ungodly people, who have never even known God are His servants. This scripture isn't saying that either. Paul had warned at the end of chapter 12 that Christians should not be “overcome by evil”. It is unlikely that he would follow this warning with a message of comfort to support rulers and authorities who do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Psalm 103:6 says, "The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed." Are we to believe He does this by putting oppressors in authority?

Most Christians assume that we must submit to all political powers. This cannot be true. If Paul believed that all authorities are from God, he would have used the word “all”, but he did not. He used the Greek word “all” (pasa) when saying that “all people should submit”, but he did not use it when saying which authorities to submit to.

Submit to Governing Authorities?
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established." (NIV)
This translation is quite misleading. The word often translated as “governing” is “huperecho”. It can mean “superior in rank”, but it also has a strong sense of “excellence”. Paul used the same word in Phil 3:8, when speaking of the “surpassing greatness” of knowing Christ. Paul is actually saying that we should only submit to those who are excellent. He is giving us a choice when submitting. We only submit to those who have demonstrated excellence.

Submission is never obligatory. It does not have the same meaning as obedience. Christians are never required to submit & certainly not to blindly submit. Our freedom means that submission is always voluntary. The word submit means "voluntary cooperation." We should use our freedom to submit wisely, never out of obligation & never simply because someone is in a position of man-made authority.

"For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong."
The word usually translated as “ruler” is “arkon.”  English translations of Romans always choose the strongest possible translation, but this Greek word can also be translated as “judge” or “magistrate”. It is translated as judge in Luke 12:58. The context confirms that Paul is writing about submission to judges. We will see who these judges are in Part 2.

Not a Terror?
Paul says that good people do not need to fear rulers. "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you" (Romans 13:3). If Paul were speaking about all political authorities, this statement would be nonsense. Sadly a mainstream method of biblical interpretation is to take what you interpret as non-sense & turn it into obligation. Instead of discovering its true meaning you just shut-up & obey. Instead of questioning what you've been told, regardless of if it makes sense, Christians are just supposed to keep any imperative statement in the bible as a law out of fear of sinning.

All over the world and throughout history, good people have had terrible harm done to them by rulers. Kings and armies have pillaged and burned houses and farms without discrimination. In the Soviet Union, millions of people were sent into exile and many were killed. Millions of innocent people were slaughtered in Communist China. Political powers have always been a source of terror for good people. The bible is obviously wrong here to anyone with an ounce of historical knowledge if it were meaning to say that "all governing authorities are instituted by God," "everyone in them serves Him," & no government causes terror for those who do right." People will try to excuse it by saying, "Well it means unless they are sinning or tell you to sin." But Paul makes no such statements here. Paul cannot be speaking about all political power, when he says that they hold no terror for those who do right. In fact, the opposite is true. Political authorities throughout history have had so much power that they have been terrors to good people.

These so-called authorities are in rebellion against God. Unfortunately, Christians have failed to understand this message and have twisted the scriptures to give a justification to kings and governments who have set themselves up in opposition to God. Psalm 2:2 says, "The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together AGAINST the LORD and against his Anointed One (Christ)." Are we to believe that it is God's will for people to oppose Him? That is non-sense.

Does God Override the Freewill of Governing Leaders?
Proverbs 21:1 says, "The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes."
Who wrote this? Solomon. Who was Solomon? The King of Israel. Notice King Solomon says, "The king's heart," not "all kings hearts." He was speaking of himself and his relationship with God. In this verse Solomon is "the king." This is not a claim that God overrides the freewill of all governing leaders. Solomon didn't dam up the channels of his heart. He was saying that his heart was open to God's turning.

People like to take comfort in the idea that whatever happens is God's will but that is not true. Countless places in scripture people don't do what God wants. God didn't even want Israel to have a human king in the first place. God never wanted anyone to sin. God is not in control of mankind! God has a hand in everything and in the end He will accomplish what He desires but GOD DOES NOT CONTROL A SINGLE HUMAN BEING ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. HE NEVER HAS AND HE NEVER WILL.

Not all authority is from God. That is a mistranslation. The only legitimate authorities are under God & work under His authority.
Submit does not mean to obey but to voluntarily cooperate.
Paul wasn't writing about "governing authorities," he was writing about "excellent authorities."
Rulers is a mistranslation. The word should be "judges."
Governments do terrible things to good people & have throughout history.
You will almost never get commended for doing right by the government.
People who have never known God are not God's "servants."

Romans 13 has been badly translated into English. Almost every English version has been translated in a way that gives the greatest possible power to political leaders. These translations make Paul out to be an idiot, a liar, or a stooge. In reality Paul was in trouble with the political authorities throughout his life. The assumption that Paul is commanding us to submit to every political authority including dictators and tyrants is absurd and needs to be deported from our minds. Romans 13 is not written about secular government/authority. As we've seen there are so many reasons why the idea that it would be is utterly absurd. In part 2 we will look at what Romans 13 is really about.

“Do not envy the oppressor & choose none of his ways.” (Proverbs 3:31)
Related Posts
Submission to Whom?:  Much of this post comes from this page & it gives additional details.
The Letter of the Law, The Life of Love -1 Peter 2:11-17:  Focuses on scripture that does address how Christians relate to secular government.