Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Stages Of Development

Concerning him we have much to say, and {it is} hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes {only} of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.
{Hebrews 5:11-6:3 NAS}
To make it even more clear: When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things{1}. For the time has come to grow-up—again{2}.

No, this is not meant for everyone{3}. For it all depends upon what our Heavenly Father wants to accomplish in and through someone{4} that determines when, and unto what extent, He will allow and enable them to come into the knowledge and understanding of His absolute truth{5}.

It is, however, meant for a lot more than want it to be. For far too many are well content with the knowledge of already having everything that they need in Christ Jesus{6} without having any idea just what that really means{7}—nor having any desire to learn{8}.

No, this has nothing at all to do with earning our keep. For we are saved from receiving the just wages of our sins{9} by grace{10}: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.{11}

On the other hand: it does have everything to do with the kind of relationship that our Heavenly Father wants to have with His children by faith{12}. For to think that there is nothing more unto it after accepting Christ Jesus as your own personal Lord and Savior is like a wife thinking that there is nothing more unto her marriage after the ceremony is completed!!!

Alas, have we not been given written confirmation of this? Yes, we certainly have been. For it truly is as it is written: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”{13}

No, this should be taken as a threat. For this is for the benefit of all concerned{14}.

It does involve some things that are naturally unsettling—be assured{15}; and not the least of these has to do with coming to terms with the realities of our situations in this world. For it truly is as it is written: I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead. He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked. Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows. He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long. He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall. He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, to deny a man his rights before the Most High, to deprive a man of justice—would not the Lord see such things? Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?{16}

Yes, the rest of the passage goes on about being justly punished for sins{17}; and in many cases: this is exactly what is going on{18}. For there are times when we do bring more hardships down upon ourselves than would be absolutely necessary to accomplish our Heavenly Father’s purposes{19}.

Nonetheless: that does not discount the absolute truth of the matter truly being that there would not be any hardships unto our lives in this world if it was not for it being in accordance unto our Heavenly Father’s will. For it truly is as it is also written: I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.{20}

No, there is no way of getting around it. For what did all of those children (most being of His own chosen people{21}) who died in Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust do to deserve their plight?

Yes, many would argue that it was just a result of being born into a fallen world. Some would even go as far as to insist that it was because of being Jewish; but what choice did they have: either way{22}?

No, there is nothing to be gained by ignoring what has been made so very obvious{23}. In fact: there is actually much to be lost; and not just in regards unto integrity—neither{24}. For the more it is made clear that our Heavenly Father truly is responsible for ALL that happens: the more satisfaction He can receive. For it takes a very special kind of love to want to still be with someone who has done you much harm{25}.

Yes, it naturally sounds rather crass (to put it mildly); but when all that our Heavenly Father has endured{26} (even going as far as to experience the spiritual death of a full and equal part of Himself{27}) is added unto the mix: a much weightier issue must be considered. For why would He subject Himself unto all that He has (let alone: us) unless it was worth it{28}?

[{1}1 Corinthians 13:11NAS; {2}Ecclesiastes 1:9; {3}Matthew 13:10-12; {4}Ephesians 2:10; {5}1 Corinthians 2:6-16; {6}1 Corinthians 1:4-9; {7}1 Corinthians 3:1-3; {8}Luke 9:23-26; {9}Romans 6:23; {10}Ephesians 2:8-9; {11}Romans 11:6 NIV; {12}John 15:15; {13}John 15:1-8 NIV; {14}Jeremiah 29:11; {15}John 15:18-25; {16}Lamentations 3:1-38 NIV; {17}Lamentations 3:39-66; {18}Colossians 3:25; {19}James 1:2-4; {20}Isaiah 45:5-7 KJV; {21}Genesis 17:1-21; {22}Job 5:7; {23}Luke 12:1-3; {24}Matthew 25:14-30; {25}Job 1:21-22; {26}Genesis 6:6-7; {27}Matthew 27:46; {28}Romans 8:15-39]

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Mysterious Ways

Wives, {be subject} to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself {being} the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives {ought to be} to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also {does} the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. {Ephesians 5:22-32 NAS}
By definition: a mystery is something inexplicable; and that certainly applies unto our Heavenly Father’s ways—especially in regards unto how they look from our own very limited ground-based points-of-view. For they truly are much much higher than our own{1}.

Ephesians 5:22-32 serves as written confirmation of just how true this is. For most (from amongst us) would not really care all that much (if any at all) about the particulars involved: just as long they received what they wanted to out of a relationship. Whereas: the kind of love that our Heavenly Father wants to receive from us is one that is based upon genuine affection—not DNA{2}, nor necessity{3}.

Alas, is this not the reason for why He chose to partially{4} hide Himself from our sight{5}? For who from amongst us would be able to truly love Him as He wants to be loved if we could see Him in all of His most awesome glory as we now are{6}? After all: would not some be motivated by fear{7}; and others: by greed{8}?

No, this is not to deny that we were created to be His children by faith. For it truly is as it is written: The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God{9}.

Neither is this meant to take anything away from the kind of a relationship that should exist between a parent and their child. For to honor our parents is as to honor our Heavenly Father{10}; and parents should cherish their children as being precious gifts from Him{11}.

Nonetheless: the relationship between a husband and his wife is meant to reach a level of intimacy that goes far beyond that of a parent and their child. Hence: …but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.{12}

Yes, this is the way that it has always been meant to be{13}. After all: do you think that it is just a matter of something being lost in translation that the children of Israel are referred unto as being adulterous{14}; and if that is not enough: what about the example that was given through Hosea? For it truly is as it is written: When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.”{15}

[{1}Isaiah 55:8-9; {2}John 1:12-13; {3}Revelation 20:11-15; {4}Romans 1:18-20; {5}Isaiah 45:15; {6}1 Corinthians 13:9-12; {7}Job 40:1-7; {8}2 Corinthians 2:17; {9}Romans 8:16 NAS; {10}Ephesians 6:1-3; {11}Psalm 127:1-5; {12}Genesis 2:20-24 NAS; {13}Hebrews 13:8; {14}Ezekiel 6:8-10; {15}Hosea 1:2 NIV]

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Somewhere In Between

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. {Hebrews 9:27-28 NAS}

No, not everyone in the Christian community{1} humbly accepts{2} that there are only two places that we can go after our own time as a part of this world comes unto an end{3}. For they have been led to believe{4} that there is also “Purgatory”, which is supposed to be where those who have not “knowingly”{5} committed a “mortal sin”{6} can go to do whatever they need to do so that they can eventually enter into our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom of Heaven{7}.

Yes, there would be good reason for us all to pay close attention unto what has been taught about Purgatory if it really was expected of us to prove ourselves as being worthy of our Heavenly Father’s favor{8}. For it truly is as it is written: The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.{9}

However, since our Heavenly Father has known since the beginning what would be in the end{10}: it should be rather obvious{11} that there has never been a need for such a place as Purgatory is supposed to be like to exist{12}. After all, how can anything be proven unto the One{13} who already knows everything about everything{14}???

Yes, it could be argued that any stopover in Purgatory would not be so much about proving oneself as it would be more about completing all of the necessary requirements{15}; but to make such an assertion is (in effect) the same as to accuse our Heavenly Father of being a liar{16}—be assured{17}!!! For He promises that: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.{18}

Alas, there are some who would still point to the verses in our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible that refer unto souls not being left in “Hell”{19} as being sufficient proof in (and of) itself that Purgatory does indeed exist—even if only as another part of the place{20}; but in what way would a change in location really change anything??? For either the Lord Jesus Christ paid the price in full that was required to redeem all of us from having to pay for all of our own many many transgressions of His Law ourselves or He did not{21}; and if He did, then the truth about us being accepted into our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom of Heaven as heirs unto all that is His in glory{22} would have to be that: It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.{23} For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.{24}

Yes, many would argue that grace can only go so far{25}. For it is the way of this world that nothing comes for free; but if it is by grace—His unmerited favor and graciousness—it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace—it would be meaningless.{26}

[{1}Matthew 7:21; {2}2 Corinthians 5:7; {3}Revelation 20:11-15; {4}2 Timothy 2:24-26; {5}1 Timothy 1:13; {6}Proverbs 6:16-19; {7}1 Timothy 4:1-5; {8}Ecclesiastes 3:18; {9}Psalm 14:2-3 NIV; {10}Isaiah 46:10; {11}John 8:12; {12}Matthew 6:7-8; {13}1 John 5:8; {14}Matthew 6:5-8; {15}Romans 10:1-4; {16}1 John 5:9-12; {17}John 14:15-27; {18}Romans 8:1-4 NAS; {19}Psalm 16:10; {20}Deuteronomy 32:22; {21}Hebrews 10:1-18; {22}Romans 8:17; {23}Romans 9:16 NIV; {24}Ephesians 2:8-10 NAS; {25}Isaiah 55:8-9; {26}Romans 11:6 AMP]