Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our Inherent Mortality and the Gift of Immortality

Death, by definition, means "the end of life."

If someone dies, he or she lives no longer. The question that has been asked throughout the centuries is this: "If a man dies, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14).

The Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle - all of whom lived hundreds of years prior to the coming of Jesus Christ - believed things contrary to the Hebrew Scriptures. They taught their followers that life never really ends for anyone. For these Greek philosophers, the "soul" or "spirit" within a man is inherently and naturally immortal. Therefore, they declared, the soul exists forever -  even independent of the human body.

To the Greeks, the soul of a man was like the trick birthday candles you tried to blow out as a child. No matter how hard you tried, the candles couldn't go out. For the Greeks,  it was considered impossible for the "soul" of a person not to exist. They simply defined death as the separation of  "the soul" from the body, not the end of life. Socrates explains:
"Is death not the separation of soul and body? When the soul exists in herself, and is released from the body and body is released from the soul, what is this but death? (Five Great Dialogues, Classics Club, 1969, p. 93). 
Socrates (c. 470-399 B.C.) and his disciples taught that the soul of a man, once freed from the body at death, is rewarded by the Creator according to the good deeds done on earth or is punished for the bad deeds done on earth.

Socrates postulated his belief in the separation of the soul from the body after Malachi finished penning the last book of the Old Testament. So the belief that souls of human beings are inherently immortal became part of Greek thinking after the close of the Old Testament Hebrew canon.  Grecian King Alexander the Great (356 - 323 B.C.) conquered the known world, so Greek philosophy became part of most civilized cultures in the ancient world.

The Hebrew writers of the Scriptures, contrary to Socrates and the Greek philosophers, taught that death meant the end of life.

There is life after death, but it is only because God raises the dead. This is the teaching of the Bible. In fact, the resurrection from the dead is a central tenet of the Bible.

Jesus explained that the resurrection was taught in the Pentateuch:
"As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." (Mark 12:25-27). 
God isn't the God of the dead for they cease to exist. He is the God of the living.  At the resurrection, the dead are raised to life. Some of the dead are raised to be judged for the evil things they've done in this life. After their judgment, they will be sentenced to die a second time (Revelation 20:14).

Others are raised from the dead to receive the grace gift of immortal life. 
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believes in Him should not perish (e.g. "the second death"), but have everlasting life." (John 3:16
The prophet Daniel spoke of the resurrection:
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting shame and contempt" (Daniel 12:2). 
Possibly the clearest teaching of the resurrection in the Old Testament is from the typology of the Festival of Firstfruits (see I Corinthians 15:20-23). The Bible is replete with the teaching that life after death only occurs because of the resurrection from the dead.

Many erudite biblical scholars have shown how the resurrection of Christ from the dead and the resurrection of all human beings from the dead is the crux of biblical faith. Death doesn't mean continued life. Death means cessation of life. Resurrection from the dead is the only way life after death occurs.

This truth causes some people to be upset.
"People were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead" (Acts 4:2).
It's easier for most people to believe that nobody ever dies (e.g. "because people are immortal and can't die") than it is to believe people die and that God raises the dead. I heard on the radio today a New Age charlatan who is charging money for a conference where she will "communicate with your dead loved ones" as if your dead loved ones continue to exist in the form of a spirit or ghost.

Isaac Watts, the great hymn writer of songs like Joy to the World, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, and other renowned songs clearly stated his belief that nowhere in Scripture is it taught that "the soul" is inherently and naturally immortal.
"There is not one Place of Scripture that occurs to me, where the word Death, as it was first threatened in the Law of Innocency, necessarily signifies a certain miserable Immortality of the Soul, either to Adam, the actual Sinner, or to his Posterity.... (The Ruine and Recovery of Mankind - p. 228).
Yet even the Hebrew religious leaders in Jesus day had come under the influence of Socrates and the Greek philosophers. The Sadducees, the educated religious elite in Jerusalem, many of whom had been trained in Greek philosophy, scoffed at the resurrection. Why is the resurrection needed, they philosophically pondered, if the essence of a man is the soul of a man, the soul which can never die or cease to exist?
"Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees--religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead." (Luke 20:27 NLT). 
Evangelicalism in our day has some similarities to Sadduceeism in Jesus' day. Though we evangelicals will speak of the resurrection of the dead, and although resurrection from the dead is part of our official confessions, we evangelicals often privately scratch our heads over the concept of resurrection because we've been conditioned to believe that death doesn't mean the cessation of life, only the separation of the soul from the body and the continuation of life.

Resurrection to those who've adopted Greek philosophy seems irrelevant and unneeded.

But Jesus declared:
"Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming  in which all who are in the graves will hear His foice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:28-29 NKJV).
I've actually had Christians say to me, "What's the big deal about the resurrection? Why would those already in heaven need anything else?"

Good question.

Some evangelicals seem unable to grasp that death means "the end of life."

If death means the cessation of life, then if life after death occurs, a resurrection is required.

The Bible teaches that God alone is immortal (I Timothy 6:16). Every living creature that the immortal God creates is therefore inherently mortal. Everyone dies. That includes male and female human beings. We are naturally and inherently mortal beings.

If mankind is to obtain to life eternal, it must be a gift from the immortal God.

Adam and Eve were created as spiritual living beingswith the ability to relate to the invisible, immortal Creator and with other things in God's realm (e.g. "Kingdom things"). Adam's spirituality separated both Adam and Eve - for the Bible calls both the "male and female" Adam (see Genesis 1:27)  - from the animals that God created.

You never see a dog bowing in prayer before eating. Nor do you see a horse with hooves raised to the heavens in worship. Animals are not spiritual like the human race. We relate to the spiritual realm.

Though Adam and Eve were created with the capacity to relate to the God, after their fall in their relationship with God, spirituality died. Adam and their descendants became "dead in their trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1) toward God.

Mankind now needs a resurrection of spiritual life to relate to God and the things of God. This is what the Bible calls "the new birth" (John 3:7).

Unless a descendant of Adam is "born again" by the Spirit of God (John 3), that person will be unable to relate to the spiritual.
"For a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishiness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (I Corinthaisn 2:14). 
Don't misunderstand. Spirituality doesn't mean a man is a spirit. Angels are spirits, and contrary to what you hear at funerals, men and women never become angels.

Man is a physical being that is capable of relating to the spiritual realm. To be a spiritual person with the ability to relate to spiritual things requires regeneration from God (e.g. "the re-beginning (generation) of spiritual life").

Human beings are living, breathing creatures (nephesh) with abilities that other living, breathing creatures (nephesh) do not have, for God created humans in His image. When you read the Old Testament and come across the English word “soul" or the phrase "living soul," these words translate the Hebrew word nephesh. The literal meaning of nephesh is “a breathing creature.

Living creatures (nephesh) created by God in Genesis 1 and 2 include both man and animals.

The New Testament Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word nephesh is psuche.  Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words defines psuche as “the essence of life, the act of breathing, taking breath." 

The Bible teaches that God gives life (breath) to every nephesh. At death,  the breath of God returns to Him who gave it and the body goes to dust.  
"When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust." (Psalm 104:29). 
"Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it..." (Isaiah 42:5). 
"The Spirit of God has made me and the breath of God gives me life" (Job 33:4). 
When God made the first man (Adam), the Bible says in Genesis 2:7 that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living creature (nephesh)."

Again, nephesh is also the Hebrew word also used for animals in Genesis 1.
"And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures (nephesh) according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.' And it was so" (Genesis 1:24)
But animals don't have the ability to relate to the spirit realm or to the things of God. They are not spiritual nephesh, but they are nephesh.

Mankind is different from animals in that God created us "in His image" (Genesis 1:26).

If you are looking for a biblical definition of what it means to be created in the image of God, you won't find one.

However, if you look closely at Genesis 1 you'll see the living creatures (nephesh) that the Bible identifies as animals differ from the living creatures that the Bible calls mankind (nephesh) in two fundamental ways.

God made Adam and Eve with the potential for spirituality (a relationship with God) and the potential for immortality (a life that continues forever). These two potentials seem to reflect God's image (spirituality and immortality).

Adam and Eve lost both qualities for themselves and their posterity in their sin against God.

But the last Adam (Jesus Christ) brings both potentials back into play for the sinful human race.

The immortal God created spiritual nephesh in His image (e,g. Adam and Eve) with the ability to fellowship with Him and with free access to the tree of life (Genesis 2:9), the fruit of which gave Adam and Eve the gift of living forever. As long as they related to their Creator in love, obedience, and submission, they would live forever in relationship with God.

But when Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator and broke that relationship, God banished them from the Garden and from access to the tree of life. God gave the reason for His banishment:
"Lest Adam stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). 
The first Adam and all who descend from him are now under the sentence of death. For the wages of sin is the sentence of death (Romans 6:23).

The death of things and all nephesh (e.g., "breathing creatures") other than man is natural, but the death of nephesh (mankind) created in the image of God is contrary to the gift of eternal life God gave promised man contingent upon obedience to Him.

Adam and his descendants have lost the gift of immortality and we all experience mortality (death), for all have sinned. Every human being is born dead spiritually toward God and under the sentence of physical death. Physical death is described by the prophet Ezekiel.
"The soul (nephesh) that sins, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:20). 
Think carefully. Death is natural (e.g. "a part of nature") for every living creature (nephesh) as well as plants, stars, objects, etc. - but death is unnatural for the nephesh that God made in His image.

Death for mankind is a consequence of the first man's rebellion against God.

The Scripture teaches that there is coming a day when all descendants of Adam will be raised from the dead to either be judged for their sins and die again or to be granted immortal life through the work of the last Adam, Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:42-46).
"This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (II Timothy 1:10). 
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). 
I do not believe the Scriptures teach universal reconciliation but I love my brothers and sisters in Christ who do.

I do not believe the Scriptures teach the wicked will live forever in conscious torment though I love my brothers and sisters in Christ who do.

I believe the Scripture teaches those in Christ are given the gift of immortal life, and those outside of Christ will be judged for their sins and suffer eternal destruction (II Thessalonians 1:9).

Let the prophet Malachi have the last word.
"For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the Lord of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord of hosts (Malachi 4:1-3). 
Sola Scriptura. Sola Gratia. Sole Fide. Solus Christus. Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Cataclysmic World that We All Call Home

It's not my intention to frighten those who read this post. Intentionality aside, I am sure that a few of you who read what follows will find it hard to sleep tonight.

We live in a world where natural cataclysms are the norm.

By cataclysms, I mean continent-cracking, life-losing, empire-ending geophysical eruptions of volcanic, tectonic, and stellar activity.

The lie propagated by government scientists and state educators is uniformitarianism. Evolution, atheism, and humanism are all built on this philosophy which  states "no swift and radical change in nature has taken place in the past because nothing like it is observable in the present." 

According to the uniformitarian, the world slowly - over billions and billions of years - experiences changes in the landscape, climate, and environment through the slow and uniform forces of nature. Mountains were formed eons ago. Seas were filled millions of years ago.

Slowly...slowly...slowly...the world evolves.

Not so fast! (Pardon the pun.)

Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky was a brilliant scholar, linguist, anthropologist and scientist who died in 1979. In seven epic books, Worlds in Collision, Earth in Upheaval, the three-volume Ages in Chaos, Mankind in Amnesia, and Stargazers and Gravediggers, Velikovsky shows that worldwide, earth-shattering catastrophes are the norm.

Nature will often suddenly, violently and cataclysmically shake the world. Velikovsky irrefutably showed how these cataclysms occurred in ancient history (ex. 23rd Century B.C., 15th Century B.C., 8th Century B.C. etc.) and how they are likely to happen again in the future.

Charles Darwin, the father of uniformitarianism, denied continental catastrophes but admitted in a private letter that the extinction of mammoths in Siberia "was for him an insoluble problem" (Whitley: Journal of the Philosophical Societ of Great Britain, XII (1910), p. 56).

You see, the mammoths froze instantly.

In 1831/1832 Darwin sailed around the shoreline of South America.  He kept a diary. After examining massive amounts of fossilized bones belonging to extinct mammals, Darwin wrote:
"Certainly, no fact in the long history of the world is so startling as the wide and repeated exterminations of its inhabitants." (Charles Darwin: Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World, dated January 9, 1834)
Darwin's uniformitarianism gave him no answer for the massive, sudden and violent changes in landscape and climate that exterminated whole species.

Uniformitarians find it difficult to answer why there are seashells on the summit of Everest, a place where even eagles and birds can't fly and only recently has man's foot stepped? If sea urchins were deposited billions of years ago on Everest, why are they still extant and not dust? Uniformitarians struggle with explaining how hippopotamus bones, elephant bones, and the bones of other mammals not native to England are found in caves there? It's impossible for a uniformitarian to explain why there's fossilized wood and other weird plant life in Antartica. What's going on in the world?

Velikovsky explains. He states:
"The origin of new species from old are caused by the processes that can be duplicated in laboratories - by excessive radiation or some other irritant in abnormal doses, thermal or chemical, all of which must have taken part in natural catastrophes of the past, and could have played a role in building new species, as the case of new plants in the bomb craters appears to indicate. 
Great catastrophes of the past accompanied by electrical discharges and followed by radioactivity could have produced sudden and multiple mutations of the kind achieved today by experimenters, but on an immense scale. The past of mankind, and of the animal and plant kingdoms, too, must now be viewed in the light of the experience of Hiroshima and no longer from the portholes of the Beagle." 
Velikosvky, a close friend to Albert Einstein, showed in his book Worlds in Collision how Venus is relative newcomer to the planetary orbital system and that civilizations across the world recorded massive natural catastrophes during the 15th century B.C. as Venus passed in close proximity to earth.

Velikosvky brilliantly shows in Earth in Upheaval how the geological layers of the earth and massive mountain ranges with fish on top can only be explained by massive earth splitting, fountains of waters rising from the deep caused massive tsunamis, tectonic plates shoved into each other raising seabeds into mountain ranges, and the creation of  new oceans vast deserts during the 23rd century B.C.

Atheists, evolutionists, and humanists hated Velikovsky. Carl Sagan would often lie about Dr. Velikovsky to humiliate him publicly. Educators banned him.

But science keeps vindicating Velikosvky, including NASA's research in 1963 that proved Venus temperature and gases were precisely what Velikosvky said they would be if Venus was a newcomer to the planetary orbital system.

Velikosvky was brilliant. He was not a Christian. He was a scholar of the infinite degree.

Others may comment on this post and call Dr. Velikosvky a quack and a pseudo-scientist. Dr. Einstein considered him a genius.

The inventor of radio-carbon dating, when shown by Velikosvky the errors of assumption made in the initial research, was unable to dispute Velikosvky because he didn't know as much as Velikosvky and admitted such.

What's the point?

Simply this. If the world is indeed a chaotic place, with a history of cataclysms that destroyed empires and changed the face of the earth, then one should expect such cataclysms in the future normal. Add mankind's new technologies into the equation, and the chances of a future cataclysm on earth only rise.

So if Yellowstone explodes and covers the United States in darkness for decades, it's not the end of the world, it's only the world being the world.

And if the west coast of America falls into the sea and a new coastline is formed in Utah, that event will only be the world being the world.

And if a manmade nuclear explosion occurs (again) and kills millions, it will only be a continuation of the chaos that has come to this world since the fall of man.

This is the cataclysmic world we call home.

That for which we all can be thankful is the knowledge that the One who Created the world will always remain in charge, fulfilling His good purposes.
"Disaster will come upon disaster...(for) only by His word the present heavens and earth are reserved"  (Ezekiel 7:26; II Peter 3:7). 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Promise about Kingdom Giving Worth Pondering

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

When Jesus speaks of time, it’s usually with the language of “this present age” and “the age to come,” or “this present age” and “in the resurrection” (see Luke 20:34-35). 

The resurrection, the central tenet of Christian faith, separates “this present age” from “the age to come.” 

In this present age, when you and I are willing to give up assets, family, and income - for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s sake - He promises that we will receive a hundred times as much assets, family and income in this present age.  

I do not believe I have ever noticed this promise before. Typically, I have thought (and taught) that what a person gives in this age may only redound in blessing in the age to come. 

That’s not what Jesus says. 

Jesus promises that whatever you give in this age for the Kingdom will come back to you 100 fold in this age. Lest you think He’s thinking that what comes back your way is a “spiritual” blessing and not a “material” blessing, Jesus repeats the exact same nouns - houses, family, farms - in the 100 fold blessings you receive. 

Those who read my writings know that I have little sympathy for what is commonly known as the prosperity gospel and no patience for prosperity preachers. Their problem is the desire to “get rich” on the backs of the poor. Jesus condemns religious leaders who want riches for riches sake. 

However, I am a biblicist.  I believe what Jesus says.  So I am not going to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. 

Next time you feel impressed to give something for the Kingdom’s sake (to a person, a ministry, a church, etc.) consider this promise from Jesus. Give. Don’t worry about having enough to live. Give for the Kingdom and He’ll give you 100 fold in return.  

In other words, don’t worry about material or familial blessings “in this age.” Seek first His Kingdom and all these other things (home, family, income, etc...) are given to you by Him who promised a 100 fold blessing. Consider the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor worry, yet they are clothed in splendor more than Solomon was in his day. How much more does Jesus care for you.

Give to the Kingdom in this age and worry not about a thing in this age. 

He’s got your back.

Even in the persecutions that come your way for His sake. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Tube of Time and Eternity Outside the Tube

We are creatures of time.

We plan for the future, reflect on the past, and live in the present.

But what if time is created by the Creator and exists for only a season? What if there is a "beginning" to time and an "ending" to time? What if one could live "outside of time" (eternity) and from eternity actually enter the tube of time at different places at the will of the Creator?

Sound ridiculous?

It may not be as wild a thought as one might initially think.

A scientist named Albert Einstein (1879-1955) thought about time, space, and eternity entirely different than others before him. All except for Spirit-inspired biblical writers (as we shall see).

Albert Einstein wasn't as big a genius as many believe. But Einstein had a very curious mind. He thought about things that others rarely considered. Einstein took time to imagine. And, most importantly, Einstein wasn't afraid to think differently about things that others firmly believed.

As an example,  Einstein began imagining a person flying in space at the speed of light (e.g. Superman). Einstein asked himself a question:
"If a man flew at the speed of light with his arm fully outstretched and his hand holding a mirror in front of his face, would the flying person be able to see himself in the mirror?"
Strange question? Not to Einstein's curious mind. It was a difficult question to answer because the hypothetical flying man would be flying at the speed of light. So what about the speed of the light traveling from the man's eye to the mirror and back? How does the man's flying speed alter the speed of the light bouncing between the man's pupil and the mirror? Would the flying man be able to see himself flying?

For a decade (1895-1905), Einstein imagined possible answers to his hypothetical question. Again, Einstein imagined the answers. He used his mind, not his laboratory. Or maybe even better, his mind became his laboratory.

Einstein thought through whether the man would be able to see anything since he was flying at the speed the light, the same speed as the light traveling from the man's pupil to the mirror. He also considered whether the man's flying speed change the speed of light coming toward his eye from the mirror and distort the image? Einstein then pondered whether the man would see his face bigger or smaller than it actually was. Einstein also reflected in his mind what observers on the ground would see or not see looking at the flying man at the speed of light.

A Famous Formula

After a decade of thought, Einstein concluded that the speed of light was constant. In other words,  Einstein speculated that light never changed speed, regardless of the observer's movement toward or away from the source of light.  

So out popped Einstein famous formula E=mc² (energy equals mass times the constant speed of light

Up until Einstein's time, everyone thought that time and distance were constants, but the speed of light, like the speed of everything else in the universe, was variable. 

But Einstein was willing to think about the speed of light in ways different than everyone else. After making the assumption that the speed of light was constant, Einstein returned to the mathematical and electromagnetic equations that had already been worked out years before and plugged in the letter "C" (a constant) to represent the fixed speed of light (whatever it might be) and out came the formula E=mc².

Here is where it get's crazy.

IF the speed of light is constant, Einstein knew from math that time and distance had to be relative.

That means time and distance are not fixed. Hypothetically, someone would be able to advance in time or go back in time, as well as jump to long distances by folding time. That seemed crazy and unscientific, and actually, it was, because Einstein thought it rather than proved it.

Even so, in 1905, Einstein publicized his formula in a three-page paper entitled Does The Inertia Of A Body Depend On It's Energy Content?" The paper had no footnotes and not one single reference to support it.

The scientific establishment went nuts. Einstein, they said, was insane.

Twenty years later, when technology had advanced sufficiently for science to prove or disprove Einstein's theory of relativity, the science proved that Einstein's guess was correct.

The speed of light is constant.

Time and distance are relative.

I'll put this in another way that is consistent with the teaching of Scripture. People created by God in the universe are living in a tube of time that God created, with the Creator and His Kingdom both inside and outside this tube of time.
"And God said, "Light!" (Genesis 1:3). 
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 22:13)
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (Psalm 90:2)
"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality." (I Corinthians 15:51-52)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). 
Time is linear. But eternity is outside of time. Therefore, anything eternal must be thought about differently than how we think of time. Outside of time doesn't mean "at the end of time." Outside of time means "outside the tube of time."

An Illustration of the Tube of Time

Imagine a tube of your creation. Suppose you are the One outside that tube. You determine to allow two ants to crawl into one end of the tube. Then, since you are outside the tube, you may choose to seal both ends of the ant tube. Inside, the ants begin their linear journey to the other end of the tube. Along the way, the ants procreate and other ants are born. After a season, the first two ants die, but a colony of ants now exists in the tube. As far as the ants are concerned, nothing exists outside the dimension of their tube, but they hear stories in their ant language passed down from the first two ants who had seen the One outside the tube.  The One outside the tube (you) knows the beginning from the end (of the tube). The One outside the tube is from everlasting (from before the beginning of the tube) to everlasting (form long after the end of the tube), completely outside the tube of ant time.

That's an illustration of a tube of time.

In the tube of time known by man, God created time and placed those He created "in His image, male and female" (Genesis 5:1-2) inside time.

The Creator exists outside of time.

But in "the fullness of time," (as measured inside the tube, and according to God's plan), the Creator entered the tube of time, coming as Man, to communicate eternity with us (see Galatians 4:4-7).

Humans live and die in the tube of time.

But the Creator raises from death those who die in time.

Some raised from the dead by the power of God will be given immortal life and live in His Kingdom for eternity (outside of time). Others will be raised to judgment and will be sentenced to die a "second death" (Revelation 20:14) which the Bible calls eternal death, to separate this second death from the ordinary death that occurred in the tube of time (see II Thessalonians 1:7-9 and Romans 6:23).

From the perspective of the one who dies in the tube of time, the resurrection is immediate. But since the resurrection takes one "outside of time" (see I Corinthians 15 and Luke 20:27-40), the resurrection marks the beginning of the eternity, literally called "age upon age" (Hebrews 1:8). Life immortal after the resurrection is lived in a dimension with which we are unaccustomed.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
A Couple of Thoughts About Eternity

If resurrection to immortal life begins a life lived outside the tube of time, it might be interesting to consider a couple of questions:
1. Is it possible for those who've experienced the "ressurection to immortal life" to  live in the eternal Kingdom of Christ (heaven) outside of time but come back through a portal into the tube of time?
The Scriptures may give a "Yes" to that question.

Moses and Elijah appeared in time on the Mountain of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17) from their homes outside of time.

Certain Old Testament men and women of faith who'd been raised to immortal life at the general resurrection came back into the tube of time when Christ was raised from the dead (see Matthew 27:52).  Jesus is the Firstfruits of resurrection, and the general resurrection is "yet to come" - that is from our perspective "in time." However, the resurrection takes God's people "outside of time" - above the "tube of time" if you will. So it seems that God determined to confirm His Son's resurrection by allowing "saints of old" (Matthew 27:52) to enter time from their eternal homes to confirm Christ and His eternal Kingdom to the early disciples.

The Scriptures also teach that we are likely to entertain "messengers unawares" in this life (Hebrews 13:2).  These messengers from eternity can be angelic who come into our sphere of space-time as guardians and protectors to those who've been ordained to "eternal life" (Hebrews 1:14), but it is also possible that since the word translated "angels" is actually "messengers," God could send a message to this world from those "in the resurrection."

So it may be wise to consider this world as a multi-dimensional epoch movie with both script and orchestration written and conducted by the Creator. God knows the end from the beginning. And as the eternal and immortal Creator who exists both inside and outside the tube of His creation, He can send "in time" His people who've been gifted with immortality. The resurrection takes His people "outside of time." It could be possible that some might be allowed - at the discretion of their heavenly Father -  to go back in time into this world's events to accomplish His purposes for the glory of God and the good of His people in "the tube of time."

Sound crazy? Not if time and distance (space) are relative and Light is constant.
2. Is it possible that death is called "sleep" in the Scriptures because the resurrection is the fountainhead of the eternal?
We lean toward thinking of eternity linearly and have difficulty considering eternal things existing outside the tube of time. If the Creator and His Kingdom are immortal and eternal, it means that Christ's Kingdom is outside the tube of time.
"The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His Kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19). 
Yet, for our sakes, He enters time. His Kingdom culminates for us (at least from our perspective) outside of time (e.g. "forever and ever") when He raises us from the dead and gives us eternal life. The Bible teaches that the resurrection is when  "man's last enemy (death) is destroyed" (I Corinthians 15:26).

We are told Jesus Christ "waits for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet" (Hebrews 10:13).

"Waiting" is something that only occurs in the tube of time. Jesus conquered death in His resurrection. But before He ascended He said, "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear My voice and come out - some to the resurrection of life and some to the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28).

Jesus waits - in terms of the tube of time - for the general resurrection. He's the firstfruits. His people are the full harvest. The general resurrection is coming "in the tube of time."

But time is shattered at the general resurrection. All are raised by God to His Kingdom outside of time. Those in Christ are gifted with immortal life to live forever outside of the dimension of space and time as we know it. Those apart from Christ are sentenced at the judgment to an eternal death.

There are some practical implications of seeing the resurrection to immortal life as an event in "the tube of time" which inaugurates immortal life "outside of time" (John 5:28). 

One implication is how we think about "heaven" inside the tube of time.

Often we think of loved ones who are in heaven "now" (thinking as one in the tube of time). But if we all wait for the general resurrection, then when we think of heaven we must always consider ourselves with our loved ones outside the tube of time (in eternity). There's nothing wrong with thinking of your loved ones in eternity now - outside of time - but you must imagine yourself with them, for you are!

The resurrection is the transition from inside the tube of time into the eternal. From our perspective, it happens "in time," but from an eternal perspective, it is outside the tube of time.

Obviously, it is impossible to "prove" anything I've said in this post. I'm just thinking through and imagining - like Einstein did from 1895-1905.

God's Word is the science of eternity.

Because we are not yet experiencing life outside of time, our minds must become the laboratory until God takes us to the lab. 

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Speaking Freely, Boldly, and Confidently of Jesus

If you've ever thought about telling others what Jesus has done for you or explaining to others what Jesus can do for them, you've probably felt inner hesitancy. "What will they think?" "Should I not say anything?"

Speaking freely, boldly, and confidently of Jesus is like lighting a fuse. What follows will always be transformative. Jesus either rebuilds the broken or crushes the proud.  If you want to make a difference in this world for the Kingdom, speak of Jesus freely.
Here's an example:
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
Peter and John had been going throughout Jerusalem after Pentecost, speaking freely to the people, priests, Temple guards, and Sadducees who came up to them "greatly disturbed because they (Peter and John) were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead" (Acts 4:2). Jews were believing Peter and John's Good News about Jesus Christ because they were seeing miracles happen throughout the city, including Peter and John healing a 40-year-old lame man who'd been crippled from birth (Acts 3).  Peter and John were transformative people. They were changing lives through their proclamation of Jesus Christ.

The Jewish religious leaders had them arrested.
"By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”
 Peter stands before the Sanhedrin in defense of his and John's actions and declares:
"Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. Jesus is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief Corner Stone.  And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12).
Read Peter's proclamation carefully again.

It's not politically correct. Though the messengers loved all people, their message was not embracing of all faiths. On the contrary, Peter and John declared an exclusive message. All other faiths but faith in Jesus will not deliver people from their broken condition; all other faiths but faith in Jesus will not bring people to right standing before the Creator; all other faiths but faith in Jesus will not lead to immortal life.
"By this name (Jesus) this man stands... Jesus is the stone rejected by you, but has become the chief Corner Stone...And there is salvation in no one else but Jesus; for there is no other name under heaven but the name of Jesus by which we must be saved." 
That's bold speech. That's free speech. That's confidence in the message.

And that is exactly what the Jewish religious said about Peter's proclamation of Jesus:
"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
The word translated confidence in Acts 4:13 is the Greek word parrésia. This word - translated into English as freedom, boldness or confidence - means the power of freedom in speech. This Greek word refers to a speech or talk given with so much resolve, confidence, and freedom that the hearer remembers the message because the messenger's bold delivery makes the message memorable.

Could it be that what is missing in our Kingdom message is the parrĂ©sia that characterized the speeches of Peter and John?

When it comes to Jesus, don't worry about political correctness. Speak freely, boldly, and confidently. The Savior transforms by both the content of the message  (the Gospel) as well as the character of the messenger (boldness).

Saturday, November 04, 2017

OU/OSU Bedlam Nothing Compared to Bethlehem

Rachelle and I are headed to the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State football game in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This game has Heisman Trophy, Big 12 Championship, and even National Championship implications. Living in northwest Oklahoma, people are either avid Oklahoma fans or Oklahoma State fans, seldom both.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have played football every year since the late 1890’s. The series is called “Bedlam.”

Bedlam means "a scene of mad confusion.”

Bedlam definitely characterizes this football series. The word was first used to describe an OU/OSU football game exactly 100 years ago (1917). A reporter for the Daily Oklahoman wrote about the response in Stillwater to OSU’s surprising victory over OU in 1917:
"So surprised were students, faculty members and citizens when they first heard the 9 to 0 victory story from Oklahoma City that confirmation was necessary. Then bedlam broke loose. Nine long shrieks of the college power plant whistle told the score. Guns were fired. The antique, dust-covered bell in old Central building belfry chimed for the first time in years. Literally the town was painted white. On buildings, sidewalks, windows and other places, the score was painted. A huge figure nine and a tiny naught." - 1917 The Daily Oklahoman
Most people know what bedlam means, but few know the etymology (origin) of the word. 

Bedlam is the colloquial way English speaking people pronounced Bethlehem since the 10th century.  By A.D. 1418 even the spelling of Bethlehem became Bedlam among the English.

Yes, that’s right. Bedlam is actually the word Bethlehem. 

The place where Jesus the Messiah was born is the word used to describe the football series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. 

But why does bedlam mean “a scene of mad confusion” or pandemonium or chaos?

Here’s why. 

The most famous insane asylum for 500 years was Saint Marys of Bethlehem in London, simply called “Bedlam” Hospital by the English. Again, Bedlam was the way Middle English folks (A.D. 500 - A.D. 1500) pronounced Bethlehem. Founded in A.D. 1247 as a priory, Bethlehem was first mentioned as a hospital in A.D. 1330 and became a lunatic hospital A.D. 1402.  Eventually Bethlehem (Bedlam) was converted to a civic lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in A.D. 1547. 

Everyone in the English speaking world knew Bedlam Hospital was a place of confusion. The word Bedlam eventually became synonymous for “a place of confusion, chaos or pandemonium.” 

And everyone knows the OU vs. OSU Bedlam football series means chaos and confusion as well.

I’m writing this before we leave for the game. When it’s all over, some Oklahomans will be disappointed and depressed, while others will be exuberant and excited. This game means so much to so many. 

But let me take a moment to remind us all that the real confusion in life comes from ignoring the One born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. 

Football games and seasons come and go. 

The real bedlam comes from missing the significance of Bethlehem.