Continuance

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks. I’ve been much busier at work and exhausted, though in a good way, when I get home. On top of this, I’ve felt God prompting me to decrease, and maybe eventually stop all together, caffeine consumption. I was having some headaches that seem to have stopped with the stepping down of caffeine lately. Also, while scatter-brained, I’ve been more physically productive. I suppose I know I have to keep moving in order not to pass out asleep.

On top of these things, God has brought me to some realizations. Basically, I’ve written the majority of what I needed to “get out in the open” through my blog. Questions I’ve had since as early as I can remember have been answered by the Holy Spirit while writing. Things like hell, death, suffering, prophecy, and free will—God has given me answers to in light of his love, grace, and power. He’s also taught me a crucial lesson from this journey—I can’t take others where they’re unwilling to go. Some people will hold stubbornly to what they’ve been conditioned to believe until, if ever, they are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them. I know, I was that person until one day I prayed, from the depths of my being, that I had this relationship with Jesus—no matter the cost. And it has cost me—but it’s a price I gladly pay and would pay over and over again.

Many seem to assume these views, these hopes to help others see a way to freedom in Christ, are an attack on “the church,” God, religion, etc…This is not an attack on those things specifically. Rather, this is an attack on the chains that bind instead. Anything, any doxology, and religion, any view of God, Jesus, or the Spirit, that binds instead of liberates, is what I can’t propagate.

Systems that are based on fear and/or obligation are not part of the Kingdom Jesus established and built, regardless if God’s name is attached to it, regardless if a building is constructed and a steeple erected. Obligation may grow out of love, but it can’t produce it. Obligation only produces a need to continue to be obligated. Without obligation or fear, man-made systems just fall apart. These are poor substitutes for a real love relationship with God and others.

So where do I go from here? God has laid so much on my heart, I honestly don’t know. These are things I can’t necessarily write about, at least at this time, because it seems counterproductive (I don’t know a better way to explain it). I have a lot of material I wrote prior to my blogging days that I may go through and retool. However, everything I wrote was by God’s prompting as he beckoned me deeper into his love. I’m unable to write much of anything unless it is by the Spirit’s prompting. In large part, this blog seems to have served God’s purpose.

God seems to have hinted towards some ventures, but I never know where those hints may lead, and my assumptions have proven wrong often in the past :D. Not really knowing what the next steps are can be a good thing! To be totally at God’s disposal when he directs, not forcibly walking a direction I, or others, might desire, is a beautiful state of relationship to exist in with Jesus.

This is the state of being that these writings have brought me to the edge of (but I ain’t there yet)—a state I couldn’t have imagined over a year ago when I started writing here. This is the place I hope others can begin to find also—the freedom in Jesus to be who we are, to fall in love with Father over and over again every day, and to be guided completely by the Spirit in this amazing journey we call life. This is my hope in everything I write!
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Good and Evil

A Personal Note
Lately, I’ve been in a state of sadness, not for me personally, but for those I use to be bitter against. Truthfully, knowing I was bitter towards certain people helped some, but actually having that bitterness removed was impossible by my own means. I had to just let Jesus work in me to slowly wither it all away. Now it seems all that bitterness has been, unexpectedly, replaced with sadness. I feel like my heart is broken every time the though crosses my mind of people being misled and misleading others by the ways they present God. This has been a large part of the burden on my heart lately. However, this does place me in a better position to love those same people instead of the bitterness I use to have towards them.

Good and Evil
Sometimes it feels like we’re looking at things from the wrong angles. The Holy Spirit has to continually nudge me on this personally. We continue to define good and evil by our human viewpoint instead of trusting Father. It seems we categorize every action as good or bad, black or white, without ever stopping to consider the hurting, confused, and/or angry people caught up in these situations.

We’re still eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

We even categorize God’s actions, who is pure light, into our human conceptions of good and evil. We use all kinds of references to justify our stances. “God’s love and wrath are two sides of the same coin.” We scramble together words that only confuse to attempt to defend God as good. In turn, we don’t trust that all of God’s actions are good, because they come from the source of all goodness. If we try to justify why God did “bad” things, we defer to a humanistic view of good and evil.

We continue to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.

God is good and all that he created is good. Therefore, any action he takes, or seems to allow, is for our good. I know this can be a hard pill to swallow because we still want to define “good and bad.” Somehow, if we can categorize the two, we can justify our stances. We can then, based on these good/bad things we witness, determine who is good and going to heaven, and who is bad and going to hell.

We continue to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.

How do we know what to do? Maybe we just follow the Holy Spirit.

How do we know who is good or bad? Maybe we just follow the Holy Spirit.

How do we know who to trust? Maybe we just follow the Holy Spirit.

Maybe, just maybe, we stop eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and we start eating from The Tree of Life—we start partaking in the life and love of Jesus.

Truth

I’ve seen a common theme lately. Possibly, this has always been around, but God has only recently called my attention to it more implicitly. It seems many use the word truth, whether speaking of the capital “T” Truth that is Jesus, or the truth as related to what the Bible states, as evidence that what they believe is factual.

Much of what I’ve seen is the repeating of a common concept, sometimes at length. When we consider why we believe what we do, it most often results in tradition and popular opinion—“this is what we’ve always believed.” Likewise, the Bible is often pointed out as the source. Jesus dealt with the same kind of culture—popular belief (John 12:42) and tradition (Matt 15:3, 8-9). As well, he redefined what the scriptures meant (Mark 12:30-31).

With respect to the Bible, if we are going to even attempt to uphold a concept as fact or Biblical, we first need to test our beliefs to see if they are indeed true. If we just repeat what we’ve been told, we could easily end up guilty of alienating others from Jesus. Everything I’ve written here, especially recently, has been considered and prayed about with the Holy Spirit to see if it holds truth. Am I always right? Nope! But, I make sure I’ve dug for all the facts as relevant to what I’ve written about instead of just repeating what another human insists I believe.

Often, even if I point out Biblical concepts that don’t sync with a specific stance, my thoughts are either ignored or the subject is changed. Sometimes, though I’m use to it now and have come to expect it, I’m threatened with damnation, heresy, blasphemy, etc…However, repeating cliches about a subject that hasn’t been tested for truth can easily cause stubbornness, stagnation, and/or self-righteousness.

I welcome testing of my beliefs because it’s a win-win for my spiritual journey. If I’m wrong, I’m led to understand the truth. When I get comments that challenge or threaten me, my faith in Jesus only grows. However, it doesn’t matter how well I can back my beliefs—if I fail in love, and instead attempt to force my views, no amount of “correct” doctrine will help.

I don’t write any of this to chastise anyone. I’m just tired of seeing God blasphemed to “outsiders” by those professing to following Jesus (Romans 2:24). Then, the blame is shifted to “the world” though it’s the Christians not following Christ propagating the society in large part.

Until we actually start following Jesus instead of just extrapolating random phrases from the Bible to condemn others with, the world will continue to get worse. Until we stop using threats of damnation and finger pointing, we will never reach those in the world that we cast blame on.

Think about it—who did Jesus’ ministry reach the most—the insiders sitting in a church…synagogue on a Sunday…Sabbath or the outsiders who soaked up his love and mercy like a sponge? Who is it that enters the Kingdom first—us with the slick looking morals or the ones we condemn with pointing fingers (Matt 21:31)?

We can go around in circles debating among ourselves what the “truth” is, or we can start living in the Truth and reaching out to a hurting and broken world we’ve traditionally condemned. Our words of obligation, threat, and condemnation continue to fail and alienate. If we truly lived and loved like Jesus, our impact on the world would be unimaginable.

More Pieces of the Puzzle

I’ve been contemplating a lot of differing thoughts and experiences over the past week. As I stated in a prior post, there are some lessons I’ve learned the hard way, as we humans always seem to prefer. These had me at somewhat of a standstill of what to do next.

As I prayed more over this, God said, as he has oh so many times before—just follow the Holy Spirit. I’ve been learning to do this more and more, just go where the Wind takes me though I don’t know where it’s going (John 3:8).

Over the past several weeks, many good things have been happening in my personal life. This isn’t so much because God is specifically blessing me. It seems God is always pouring out his love on us, it’s just that we want to do things our way and often end up hurting ourselves and others in the process. When trusting him, though the journey may be rough, we find he always has our best interest at heart.

On a similar note, I was talking with a fellow Christ follower this week who I know in my personal life. While there is much I wanted to say in regards to the faith, I kept feeling the Holy Spirit holding me back. I could have still said the things I wanted, but it most likely wouldn’t have been productive. In the end, I remember only saying one sentence that I felt the Spirit leading me to say—just a hint of words and nothing more. In this approach, I’ve felt a huge burden lifted of trying to lay out, in conversation, everything in my head. This approach seems to have made him contemplative, and, in these scenarios, I can go as deep as a person is willing to at any given moment.

The Assembly
There’s another couple of topics that have been on my heart, however.

I still constantly see a bombardment of obligated “church” attendance, laid out as rules of conformity.

Our gatherings have become about control, mandates, submission to the “leaders” (those that have been ordained by men), etc…

We see the early church coming together for fellowship under the most dire of circumstances because of the joy and intimacy of those relationships. Today, however, we mandate attendance under threat to maintain our kingdom—worse, we state that is the way God wants it.

Many churches today have become the same as the synagogues and temple during Jesus’ ministry. Though, because of the ineffectiveness of that system, Jesus came to establish a New Covenant. This isn’t because of the system itself, but because of the human stranglehold that had ensnared it.

Jesus even tried to teach in the synagogues and temple but was often ran off and threatened (John 8:59, Luke 4:28-29). The very sheep he came to rescue from that system instead rejected him (Matt 15:24, 21:42).

Today, we repeat the same things. We’ve rebuilt synagogues and call them churches. We view the Bible as a set of rules to run our churches and seize control of others—the same way the religious leaders imposed their view of the Old Testament, though Jesus redefined that also. Likewise, we continue to miss out on the main point—the Bible is to help us draw closer to Father, with Jesus, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Note, in a “healthy” congregation, the fellowship can be stellar. Unfortunately, I’ve not been privy to witnessing any, pursing the obligated approach, that are truly growing spiritually as the early church was.

For example, the early Christians were known to be singing praise to God when dragged into the Roman arenas for execution. That extravagant love that is joyful even in the face of death eventually broke down even the most powerful empire on earth.

We don’t see that in much of Christianity today.

Instead, we see churches pushing political agenda in an attempt to strengthen their control over others—not at all what Jesus’ intent was for the Church. That same type of agenda seemed to disturb him greatly (Matt 23).

I know, I’ve probably said these things before in one way or another, so I won’t go into any more detail here. Maybe I’m prompted to say it again so that one day that freedom and life Jesus promised (Matt 11:28-30, John 10:10) might start being truly pursued, if only by one person that is tired of being bound by endless mandates and man-made traditions.

That singular hope alone is worth any and all effort.

Dehumanization

I was given the privilege of witnessing something quite awesome this week, a major step that would seem but the most minor from many perspectives, or perhaps a step in the wrong direction for some. Someone with whom I’ve had the opportunity to walk along with in our journey, made a small statement in speaking for a group that doesn’t have the opportunity to speak, in that forum, to those people, for themselves. They didn’t do this because the guilt of “I have to.” They did this because their heart has become so full of love for all of God’s children, that it hurts to remain silent while these others are condemned and shunned.

A group was stating their bias against another group of people. This person, respectfully and meekly asked if that was the best way to view an entire group of people without knowing each individual and their unique circumstances. While this might not seem huge to many, it was a major step in this person’s life. I got to see the fruit of just walking alongside another in Christ.

In the past, this same person would have been in agreement with these Christians. Instead, they stood as a shield of love for a group of human beings that had no voice in that conversation otherwise. While this person was “politely” ridiculed for voicing their thoughts, I was brought to tears in their bold meekness of being guided by the Holy Spirit in their life.

It’s truly beautiful when we start living in the approval Father has already given to us instead of seeking approval from others as to how that relationship should look and unfold.

I’ll admit, I’ve done more than my fair share of dehumanizing others. At one time, it was because those others were the enemy, and I was told I should stand against them, though I knew little to nothing of their personal journey and struggles. On the other hand, when I began to enter into those others’ lives, I began to see the vitriol and hatred of the stances I had supported, and my dehumanization methods turned on those I use to be in league with. This wasn’t necessarily the “right” approach, but it was a process of detoxing I underwent in order for the Holy Spirit to lead me to where I am today. I’m beginning to try to embrace these others again, but it’s difficult to say the least because I won’t conform to their performance metrics. If I don’t conform to their rigid stances, they in turn withhold relationship from me as an attempt to force my compliance—love abuse. The most powerful gift God has given us, we in turn attempt to abuse others with for our own gain or in belief that we have to assume control over another’s salvation. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of leading if we allow him, both in our life and others.

It often saddens me that our relationships have come to such a state. Though, I’m starting to realize that many will only see this if they are willing. Otherwise, I can only step back and allow them to take the journey they are on if they are adamant about placing contractual terms on relationship. It’s a complicated conundrum to say the least.

My point in all of this is that we often dehumanize entire people groups that won’t conform to what we insist they should. We’re adamant that we have the correct formula and bitterly refuse to enter into their lives.

Even if we do enter into their lives to some extend, it is under the agenda of conversion. “We’re going to get them saved,” is a phrase I often hear. What I really get from this, though, is self-righteousness, “We’re right, they’re wrong, and therefore we have to convert them to our ways.” When we approach others in this manner, many can see our motives dripping with agenda. No one wants to be another notch on someone’s belt. In turn, when our methodology is thus, many are repulsed. We then condemn and dehumanize “those evildoers” because they won’t conform to our “gospel.” Subtlety, without realizing it, our approach becomes more about making disciples of our agenda instead of helping others as they become disciples of Jesus.

The Spiritual and the Physical

There’s a lot I’m learning personally that is helping in my walk with God, but it can all be pushed aside if not helpful to others.

Lately, it would seem God is showing me more emphatically, the overarching purpose of our physical existence. These are questions that have been on my heart lately:

Why would God create us into such a painful existence if he loves us like he claims? Why not just create us in a better existence, especially knowing what we would go through?

There’s the issue of man’s free will and at the same time there’s the issue of God’s sovereign will. How can both be true without conflicting with each other? Perhaps this is part of the reason we exist as we do.

Cultivation
For some reason, God keeps nudging me back towards gardening concepts. In my last writing, I mentioned how Paul seems to intimate, in 1 Cor 15, that our mortal body is but a seed, planted in the physical realm. Inside, we grow spiritually until the time of our passing, in which our spiritual self emerges in what we know as the heavenly realm. Creation of the seed is a very intricate process, undoubtedly fearful and wonderful. How beautiful, then, would the cultivation process be from Father’s perspective?

I know beauty is a hard word to associate with the pains of this life, but I’ve noticed, as I rest in the Holy Spirit, as I keep my eyes of Jesus, even the most painful times are only temporary. Jesus is always there pouring out Father’s love on me.

In this, I’m beginning to see tidbits of the process. As we draw closer to Father, we become more shunned by those holding the worldly views of success—and even many of those holding views of what it means to be a good Christian. However, this has only seemed to help me grow spiritually by not trusting in such systems, but trusting in Jesus instead.

It’s like soil. Without it, cultivating a seed becomes much more difficult. The soil supplies nutrients that a plant needs to thrive. Without the “dirtiness” of soil, we wouldn’t have plants. It’s not the seed itself that grows and develops, it’s what is inside the seed. The seed eventually “dies” so that the plant itself grows and blossoms. The product of this growth has many similarities to the seed and can still even be considered the seed itself, yet the seed has given way to the birth of the plant.

We may consider the seed important, and indeed it is. In context, though, I would consider the physical as minute when compared with the spiritual. A grain of sand is to the beach as our physical body is to the potential of our spiritual one.

Likewise, it seems the dirtiness of this physical existence contains the essential nutrients for our spiritual growth. While we often attempt to avoid and push these circumstances away, it can greatly impede us. We need the living water Jesus provides as well as the Sonshine :). This isn’t to say that God causes our situations for our growth. He, indeed, weeps along side us in those growing pains. However, he’s planted us in the dirt in order for us to grow for him. He allows us to grow, or not, as we choose, regardless of how painful the process may be for us….and him. This brings me to another point – correcting our growth, or lack thereof.

Kolasis (κόλασιν)
This word, in the form kolasin, is used twice in the Greek1 John 4:18 and Matt 25:46.

The classical Greek concept of this word refers to the horticulture term we know as pruning (ref). While the Koine Greek doesn’t directly translate like this, we can see the inference. The word takes on more of a meaning of corrective punishment (pruning), for the benefit of the one being punished—not for the one doing the punishing. In this case, all the dead trapping that weight down one’s spirit from growth can be cut away (pruned) so that new growth can take its place. While this process was painful (and still is when I need it again), it is something that I’ve come to be grateful for—that Father is always seeking to help me grow spiritually and not stagnate and wither.

Conclusion
I often wondered why I had to be so shunned and feel so accursed. Now I’m beginning to know that it was all just steps in the process of spiritual growth. I couldn’t grow further until those dead trappings I’d been inundated with from birth were cut away. However, it doesn’t seem that God will correctively prune us, in this physical world, until we are ready. Likewise, we can’t take others where they aren’t ready to go. We can, however, walk alongside them in love, in hopes that spiritual awakening will being to transpire by the Holy Spirit’s nudging of their heart.

Death as we know it

This is another concept that was laid on my heart to delve deeper into. As mentioned previously, I tend to have a view of certain concepts within my own mind that wouldn’t make much sense in a discussion, based mainly on the way certain words have been used traditionally. The word “death” has taken on a different meaning as I’ve been drawn closer to Father.

A Brief Recap
As mentioned before, the original Hebrew concept of death/the grave was Sheol, a place where everyone’s spirit ended up—good, bad or indifferent. I believe this to be an important concept to keep in mind when reading through the writings from a culture that was still heavily vested in this idea.

Deeper
Lately, when I read certain words in our English dialectics, I ask myself whether those words could be referencing the physical, spiritual, or perhaps both. This goes for our English transliterations of sleep, death, grave, or even Hades/hell.

One example, Jesus defeated death by rising from the tomb. The vast majority of Christians know this, yet we still see physical death rampant in our world. If we already have victory over death in Jesus, why do we still die?

Jesus’ physical resurrection was the proof to the Hebrew culture that he had defeated death(Sheol) and the encroaching Greek concept of Hades(hell) (Rev 1:18, 1 Cor 15:55). We have victory over the grave at our physical death. The empty tomb was only the physical evidence to that culture that Sheol and Hades had been conquered—that spiritual death/imprisonment was no longer an issue.

Note that Jesus was already transfigured into a spiritual body at his resurrection. He could make himself unrecognizable to his own followers (Luke 24:15-16) and become intangible/vanish (John 20:19Luke 24:31).

Meaning
So now the question that’s been on my mind lately: What’s the point of an insistence on our physical resurrection?

Considering that Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb was more of a proof in our physical realm, why do we look forward to a day of physical resurrection?

To delve even further into this, Paul goes into a multi-verse explanation of the relation of the physical to the spiritual. He compares the physical body to but a seed that must die in order for our spiritual body to be “birthed” (1 Cor 15:36-37). This could go much deeper but would require a post or so of its’ own. In short, it seems God sows us in this physical realm to grow our spiritual body. When viewed from this perspective, what’s the use of the dead seed shell? We would still fully retain our identity grown from the physical seed into the spiritual body.

Consider this—we already profess that our dead loved ones have a new spiritual body in heaven, now. So, why do we insist that God would ever need to dig up the seed fragment to merge it with our, already cultivated, spiritual body? As Paul states, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50).

The Grave
This brings up an interesting thought. In the passages of 1 Corinthians above, Paul is speaking of the resurrection of the “dead” at Jesus’ Second Coming. Considering this, Paul is stating that their spirits are still locked in the grave/Sheol (1 Cor 15:52) until the last trumpet.

If Paul is right, only those that Jesus took with him at his ascension are in heaven now (Eph 4:8). Everyone else since is still locked in the grave until a future judgmentAll of our claims that our loved ones are in heaven now with Jesus would be wrong in that case.

We can see throughout the Bible, prior to Jesus’ Second Coming, that death is often described as falling asleep (John 11:11-13, Acts 7:60, 1 Cor 15:6, 1 Thes 4:13). This “sleep” would continue until the final trumpet blast. Again, if we are speaking of a future return, it would seem the evidence of the Bible points to the grave still holding dominion of our spirits.

An objection to this may be 2 Cor 5:8. However, this passage isn’t speaking of death, but absence from the body. This only furthers the consideration that no physical resurrection is intended for us as we will have everything and more when our spiritual body is manifested at our physical “passing” (interesting how we lean towards using that word).

A Wide Overview
So where am I going with this?

Daniel speaks of a period of 490 years (I won’t go into all of the specifics in this post). At the 483rd, the Messiah is “cut-off” (Dan 9:25-26). This aligns with the time of Jesus dying, being raised, and ascending. The remaining seven years were “paused.” It would seem that Jesus gave Israel the span of a generation (Matt 24:34, 23:36, 16:27-28) to repent (change their mind) and abandon the Old Covenant for the New Covenant that he had established in his blood (Luke 22:20). Some did, many didn’t. This seemed to be a rather unique time where a choice between two covenants could be made before the old was completely “consummated” (Heb 9:26) at the end of those ages, that is, God’s plan of Jesus’ restoration of all of creation revealed (Col 1:19-20). Those choosing the old would be under the curse because that covenant made no one perfect (Heb 7:19). Comparing Deut 28:15-68 with what transpires in Revelation, we see the payment issued to those insistent on living under the Old Covenant. Then, that kingdom was closed out forever and delivered up to the Father (1 Cor 15:24 – same chapter as above discussing the resurrection and Second Coming). The final 7 years were fulfilled (imo) in the war of 66-73 AD.

During the end of that age, those locked in the grave underwent their spiritual ascension, just as Paul stated. All of the New Testament authors intimated the prevalence of the signs of the Day of the Lord in their generation—the full inception of the spiritual Kingdom that we are free to begin living in now, and the spiritual ascension of those who had been locked in the grave during that interim period.

Conclusion
I know this can go much deeper, but the overall intimation of the Bible, even our own subconscious belief, is that our loved ones, who have gone before us, are already enjoying their spiritual bodies in heaven. If these bodies were cultivated from their physical “seed” in the first place, what point is there to recombine them with a dead and decayed seed fragment in some future age? Just as a butterfly abandons its’ cocoon when it has served the purpose of housing that transformation, so also would we abandon this mortal shell, through physical death. Until then, we have the opportunity to continue in our spiritual transfiguration in this realm.

As always, these are my personal views when considering all of the context of the Bible. This, indeed, can go much deeper, but I tried to hit most of the overarching principles. Feel free to toss all of this aside if it doesn’t work in your personal walk with Jesus.

Not that again – John 3:16

This is possibly one of the most easily quoted verses in all of the Bible, but what does it actually mean? Much of the verse seems fairly straight forward.

God loves the world (yes, all of it).
God gave his only Son for this.
We are to have faith in the Son, Jesus.

After this, the waters can be a bit muddy. I’ve known this verse as long as I can remember, but always repressed one major point of contention—“…shall not perish but have everlasting (or eternal depending on which translation is used) life.”

Many have quoted this often but have never stopped to consider what it means. This verse is often used as a bludgeon to beat others with in saying, “You better believe in Jesus (just like I say) or you’re going to burn in hell for all of eternity.”

Is that what this verse is actually saying?

First, if we take the common interpretation, as far as the area of the U.S. where I live, we already have a major contradiction—perishing vs eternal life. Considering the common English view of these two concepts, we could only conclude two fates—total and complete destruction and living forever. Technically, however, this verse is wielded to state both fates will have “everlasting” life, one will just be tormented while the other isn’t. This stance contradicts itself. In other words, if that is our stance, the verse would more read—“shall not be in everlasting torment but have everlasting life in heaven.” This is not what the verse says and would have to be heavily twisted (as it tends to be) if we try to force that meaning on it.

So what could this mean?

Looking at the Greek, the word ἀπόληται is used 7 times in this form, and a total of 92 times in various other forms. Of the seven, it is used either as lose/be lost (John 6:12 and Matt 5:29 – varies based on different translations) or perish. The same word can have a drastically different meaning depending on context. Just a few other passages where this word is used as lost/lose are (not to get too inundated on this)—Matt 10:39, 10:42, 15:24 (lost sheep), 16:25, 18:11. We see in these verses why lost would be used instead of perish. For example, “I come only for the perished sheep of Israel.” This only makes sense when we consider that Jesus was speaking of a spiritual state in which he came to rectify. Many in Israel were in a perished/lost/dead state spiritually. Those who didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah would remain in that state.

Likewise, it seems our popular translations of John 3:16 are based on the traditional value assigned to this word and not its’ actual meaning. A better understanding might be—“…should not be lost but have everlasting life.”

However, there’s still the contention of everlasting life. So far, the actual verse seems to state an either/or scenario. A person could either be lost/perish or have everlasting life, but not both as is commonly upheld. As stated before, the standard view is that everyone will have some form of everlasting life, it just depends where.

So the next question is, what does everlasting life mean? Going back to the concordance references, the word everlasting can have a varied meaning depending on context. That is, it’s an adjective that has meaning depending on what it is modifying. Here, it is modifying “life.” Everlasting life would be life that exists in it’s most abundant state—that is, in relationship with Father, through Jesus, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

A better way to explain it, as Jesus states:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.—John 10:10

So, what would the traditional threat of John 3:16 actually mean to our culture if it were expressed as the original audience (Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel—3:1, 10) would have understood? “Those with faith in Jesus will not remain lost, but shall live to the fullest, now and forever.”

This is the personal conclusion I’ve come to studying the context of this verse. As always, if this isn’t relevant to your personal walk with Jesus, feel free to toss it aside.

Currently Reading (Again) – So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore

After some amazing chats last night, I felt compelled to share this book that I’m reading again. I use to rarely read but, as the Holy Spirit has led me on this journey, there have been many books I’ve been prompted to dig into. This will be my fourth reading of this book in the last 2 years, and I find new and amazing concepts with Jesus every time.

When I first saw the title of this book, I was a bit turned off by it. I was invested in a local congregation at the time and didn’t really consider “the Church” to exist outside of the Sunday morning walls. Of coarse, my viewpoint has radically changed. I see the title now as a play on words. The Church isn’t something we “go to,” it’s who we are. Aspects of the Church may exist in the well known congregational settings, but it also far, far transcends that.

I’ve also had a chance to (indirectly) correspond with the primary author (Wayne Jacobsen) via email and a few podcast comments. He is the one I mentioned last night to those who were in that conversation. Wayne intimated not to worry about finding a church, and that every time I went back to the old congregation, I would find less and less there spiritually (though he wasn’t discouraging me from going). He also stated that as I walked out this journey with Jesus, others would find me and begin to walk alongside, and that it would most likely happen all of a sudden.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s one of my three “if you were on an island” books. It’s written as a fictitious story so it’s fairly easy to digest while still having meaning that can astound veteran believers.

This book can be found online for free (everyone’s favorite price) in PDF format at http://jakecolsen.com/contents.html.

Also, for convenience, here’s a link to the amazon book if anyone would like to read the synopsis and other reviewers’ commentaries.

A Week of Much Reflection

I’ve had a lot going on recently, all good stuff. It seems Jesus is guiding me into a whole new depth of knowing Father. There have been many, many thoughts and nudgings over the past week especially. It’s like a flood of new and astounding beauty has been revealed, and I’m, again, tumbling end over end trying to get my bearings. It’s always amazing that when I start to gain a decent footing of what Jesus has revealed through the Spirit, he then shows me an entirely new and wonderful dimension that I never could have conceived of until my prior understanding had solidified.

Gone but Not
One of the major concepts Jesus keeps pointing out to me repeatedly is—I may have left the religiosity I was indoctrinated into, but I’m still playing the game. I’m still seeking approval from other professed Christians. As long as I can be controlled in this way, then I’m still subjugated to some extent. Note, I believe religion to be a good thing. It’s one of those words I’m striving to reclaim as good though it’s been abused and manipulated to something else entirely. As a recent statement I read intimated—the only religion I’m interested in is one that loves like Jesus. If my religion still has venom and vitriol, I’m not quite there yet. Likewise, if I’m still upholding an “us verses them” mentality, I’m not really following Jesus whether I use his name or not.

Yet, for some time, I was still hoping that I would have been approved of by others. It’s truly awesome how God continues to chisel me out of that mentality.

The Standard
Whatever label is used, it divides us. This goes for atheist, abortionist, democrats, immigrants, tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, etc… I will say, I don’t like abortion. However, I often wonder if a better approach would be, instead of spitting venom, spending that time and energy helping those women that are considering abortion. Our “Christian” society has forced into being much of the very things we protest against. As with abortion, we’ve forced guilt, shame, and condemnation down peoples’ throats. We’ve told them that they’re already sinful for getting pregnant. If they’re already damned by our standards, then why not just do what they have to? After all, we tell them that they don’t deserve our tax dollars. They don’t deserve food stamps. They don’t deserve to leech off the government. They are liable to pay for their “mistake” on their own, alone. We’ll welcome them into our church and give them some leeway of grace, but sooner rather that later, they must subject themselves to our schism or else they’re still just adulterous sinners—and our disapproving gazes will ensure they know it! We talk about the value of human life while at the same time devaluing anyone who won’t conform to our standards as less than human, condemning them to an endless hell.

How easily we throw away their lives by our standards. Is it any wonder why some consider abortion?

Now, yes, there may be those who would have an abortion anyways, but how many more would benefit from our love (that little four-letter word Jesus was trying to teach) instead of our condemnation?

This is just one example. What if we represented the Jesus that loves everyone instead of a Jesus that hates atheist? Perhaps atheist don’t believe in our religion because we don’t live our religion out in a believable way that would inspire others to follow Jesus. Those “others” make easy scapegoats for a religion that we have to sell under threat.

A Chance
One of the beliefs I’ve held myself to recently is this—if I just had the chance to explain how I came to this relationship with Jesus, others would understand and begin to live in that freedom of the Spirit. If others would just listen, they would see my point of view and begin to draw closer to Father.

I was wrong!

Most seem content to uphold the beliefs they’re taught whether they make any sense or not. I’ve been striving, at the Spirit’s guidance, to make sense of scriptures that always contradicted one another. It seems, no matter how well I can explain this to others—no matter how much proof I present—there is never enough to convince others to let go and just live, unburdened, with Jesus. This isn’t an insistence that I have all the answers. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I’m realizing no amount of proof will suffice to those that have convinced themselves otherwise.

It seems we can only walk this life of love with others. In a way, I knew this—or I should say Jesus kept telling me this—but I stubbornly had to try and fail first before I could fully accept it. In turn, this has affirmed that I can only truly rely on the Spirit for guidance and not my own process.

Like with the religious elite during Jesus’ ministry, many will insist that they’re right despite any evidence to the contrary. At that point, I can only hope that seeds of love planted by the Spirit will one day be cultivated. Until then, I can only walk alongside if that is where God wants me.

Continuing
These are just a few of the basic things Jesus has helped me understand better. Now, he’s guiding me into another vast and uncharted space that is blowing my mind and challenging me spiritually in entirely new ways. I’m excited that every plateau is just the beginning of another amazing leg of the journey.