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.
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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.

Depressing Lesson

It’s been a busy week and now I’m finally able to take a breather and type out a few words. Apologies to all those I haven’t been able to contact yet.

There’s been something God keeps laying on my mind, but I’ve been stubbornly refusing to believe. It seems no matter the evidence, some people prefer to be bound to, and spread, fear-based religion instead of the love Jesus exemplified. Many don’t even realize they’re doing it. I keep seeing the same things Jesus disliked about the religion of his time repeated in Christians today. Yet, despite how much I try to prove God is love, many still hold adamantly to their fear-based views.

The hardest lesson is knowing that I can’t convince most people no matter what I prove through the Bible or otherwise. Many seem dead-set on following a set of rules they’ve extrapolated from scripture—scripture that was meant to help us fall deeper in love with Father. I don’t have much of a problem if people want to live out their self-imposed rules while shunning everyone else. It’s those rules being forced on, and threatened over, others that irks me. I don’t think I’m alone in this—it seems to have irked Jesus also.

I don’t want to delve too deep into this as I’ve already written much along these lines in other posts. Three times recently I’ve shown other Christians evidence in the Bible that they could be viewing our loving Father inappropriately. All three times the evidence has been ignored and the conversation redirected. For some reason, it seems people just don’t want to believe Father is love. Many would rather live in fear and spread that fear to others. But how can we love that which we fear? For me, the more I fall in love with God, the less I’m able to fear him. When I was stuck in fear, I couldn’t love no matter how strictly I followed a set of rules.

I write this because I’m depressed in my spirit with how adamantly people insist on living by fear and spreading that to others. Whether it is fear of hell or fear of Jesus showing up like a divine police officer, it’s still a fear-based relationship. I’ve been prompted more and more to just go to those God leads me to and quit worrying so much about those who insist on being bound by fear. If they want to live that type of existence, love won’t force them to change.

Perhaps seeds were planted. Perhaps one day a few more will wake up to Father’s love. Perhaps I need to learn to stop playing the game and just walk with Jesus. Maybe more will see him through me then instead of any logical discourse I could give.

All or Nothing?

Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.—Matt 5:17-18


There are some very interesting statements Jesus makes, in these two verses alone, that have long been the source of much confusion for me. I began getting the gist of these verses a couple years ago, but there were still some blind spots. For the past couple of days, God has been prompting me to more deeply consider these verses in the overall context of the sentiment Jesus seemed to be expressing. Yet again, he has shown me a whole new layer of understanding in my personal journey.

Is Everything Fulfilled?
We may readily acknowledge that Jesus was speaking of the old laws given to Israel, but he was also speaking of the prophets—stating he didn’t come to destroy, but fulfill. Even further, heaven and earth would have to pass away first and all things would have to be accomplished before even a letter or pen stroke would pass away from the law! This seems to be quite a pointed expression.

In this sense, it would seem we only have one of two scenarios: Jesus has accomplished everything…..or he hasn’t.

If the first scenario is valid, we are completely free from the Old Testament law as an obligation, though there is still much we can learn from it. If the second scenario is valid—that is, if Jesus hasn’t fulfilled all the law AND the prophets—then we are still under the Old Testament law, and we look forward to a future event in which heaven and earth will pass away and Jesus will finish the unfulfilled portions of prophecy. It’s important to note that much of the prophecy of those such as Daniel and Malachi were the same prophecies reiterated in Revelation. In other words, either Jesus has fulfilled all the law and all the prophecies, or he hasn’t. We can do theological gymnastics to justify our positions, divide up the law and prophecies, or otherwise ignore these scriptures, but the more I study such passages, the more the message is clear—Jesus has already accomplished everything.

If he hasn’t, then everything Paul and the other N.T. authors taught about, such as no longer being under law, is invalid—we’re still responsible for every iota of every character of the law if we are claiming to follow God.

When did heaven and earth pass away?
In passages such as Isaiah 1:2, we see who God is referencing with this terminology. This is a Biblical way of speaking of Israel, God’s chosen people meant to be the salt and light of the world, that all nations would be blessed through them. How well did they keep their calling?

Here, we see some of the pieces of the overall puzzle starting to fit together: The old kingdom would have to completely pass away for the new Kingdom to fully come into being. This is where Jesus returns to fulfill the curses of the law to those whom the law was given to (Israel). Those who refused to turn to the New Covenant, instead, binding themselves to the Old, were in turn delivered those very curses (Deut 28:15-68). When this was completed, the old kingdom was delivered up to the Father (1 Cor 15:24). This was the end of the age (aion), not “the world” as is commonly thought. Compare a few verses from the link (emphasis mine):


Matthew 12:32
NAS: in this age or
KJV: in this world, neither in
INT: this the age nor in

Matthew 13:22
NAS: and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness
KJV: of this world, and
INT: care the age and the

Matthew 13:39
NAS: is the end of the age; and the reapers
KJV: the end of the world; and
INT: [the] harvest [the] completion of the age is


Here, we see the often misrepresented concept between age (a period of time) and world (the earth as we know it). This one word has served to throw much of prophecy and the Bible off of its axis.

Summary
It short, Jesus seems to state that all the words of the law, as well as the prophets, would have to be fulfilled before the old law, every character and mark, would be fulfilled and pass away. We readily acknowledge, for the most part, that we live under a New Covenant. However, we often disregard the completeness of Jesus’ fulfillment. It would seem that the only way we can honestly view this passage is that Jesus has already fulfilled all the law and prophets. Otherwise, we are still bound to every single mandate of the Old Covenant.

This indeed goes much deeper and there are many other passages that correspond to these conclusions. For the sake of brevity I will stop here. I encourage any reading this to research these things individually as relevant to your personal walk with Jesus.

Prophecy – Considerations and Summary of Current Thoughts

Several of my recent posts have been about the prophecies of Jesus and the reiterations by the apostles in the 1st century. I’ve finished one leg of this journey in studying the overall time frame and audience to whom these scripture were directed. I feel led to research more in-depth some sticking points that didn’t quite sit well with me on my initial study. Please note these are my current views as I study these topics more. They are by no means set in stone as I continue to “think out loud” through my blogging.
Summary
Based on the terminology such as: soon, this generation, and some standing here will in no way taste of death, I believe that all of the prophecies were defined as happening in that time period. This seems to have been in reference to the Jewish-Roman war from 66-73 AD, the climactic event being the destruction of the temple in 70. There are many descriptions that sync well with this viewpoint, however there are a few that I’m still leery of and that I’m circling back to for more study.
Considerations
One of the major sticking points for me comes from passages like Matt 24:30. I’ve studied this some, but I’m still in the process of reviewing more sources. This is probably one of the main topics that requires more consideration before I begin in depth on Revelation. While Matt 16:27-28 hints that this happened already, it still deserves further research and consideration.
There seems to be three major viewpoints here as relevant to the surrounding passages:
1. This hasn’t happened yet
2. This happened on the spiritual plane
3. This was symbolic
I currently have my suspicions about all three of these approaches. Jesus lays out the timetable as to all of those things happening. The first point doesn’t seem likely based on this. Why would Jesus and the apostles make reference to this as soon? I’m still, however, researching a more definitive explanation as to this.
The second point seeks to explain this away too easily. I can’t accept such an assumption without further investigation first.
The third point seems to make more sense so far with what I’ve been able to research. Prophecy states very similar symbolism multiple times throughout the Old Testament. However, I have to do more scriptural comparison to fully accept this.
That said, here’s a few things I’ve come to understand a little better so far:
Are there parts of the prophecies relevant to our day?
In all prophecy, there seemed to be a warning, as pertinent to the people of that time, that would legitimize the message. Some type of evidence seemed to be given that the message was real. This warning may have been stated specifically in scripture or implied that it was given. For example, in Jonah, Nineveh seems to almost instantly believe the message of the prophet, though he was from an enemy nation. I believe this to be because the people of Nineveh originally believed he was a prophet from their fish-god, Dagon. When Jonah showed up looking and smelling very fishy and said that Yahweh was the one who sent him, that Yahweh commanded the giant fish to spit him out, this would have been seen as an extremely vital message to heed. God sent a message to Nineveh that they would undoubtedly understand based on their current system of beliefs. Likewise, Jesus himself went to his people to deliver his prophetic message of the coming destruction.
My point is, with all prophecies there is activity of God and warnings that would be readily identifiable to the people of the coming destruction, though often they may not have listened. In some ways, the Jewish prophecies have been retrofitted to fit to our current age’s situations. However, while prophecies over the old ages did have similar messages, they always seemed to have a forewarning directed to that particular society in a way that was undeniably from God. Regardless of what some may claim today, no such prophecy has been delivered to us in a way that would be relevant. In general, the original recipients of each prophecy understood what was being communicated and the details of the signs. Prophecy was meant to warn, not confuse, the intended recipients. To me, the Biblical prophecies of destruction weren’t directed to our age, otherwise they would have a more specified time frame instead of the soon terminology.
In other words, wouldn’t God communicate any prophetic warnings to our society in a way relevant to us today and that we could readily understand? Perhaps he will if applicable to future generations, but it doesn’t seem he has as of yet.
Symbolic Considerations
As I’ve began to study more in-depth of what was meant by Jesus coming in the clouds and the celestial references, I’ve come across a few correlating prophetic passages. In Isaiah 13:10&13 we see very similar references to celestial events in Matt 24:29 and the entrance with the angel armies in Matt 16:27-28. We know that the fall of Babylon referenced was a historical event, but was the physical earth shaken out of its’ place? In both cases, I would have to defer to symbolism and not take this to mean that prophecy wasn’t fulfilled. We see similar symbolism in Isaiah 24:19-20 and 34:3-4. Nahum 1:3-6 also makes these kinds of references.
Likewise, we see a similar coming to earth by God in Micah 1:3-4. Comparing the symbolism in this passage to that of Jesus’ coming in the clouds and the destruction of that time, we see similarities that can more readily explain these references. However, the physical heaven and earth that we know wasn’t destroyed at any point in these prophecies. Instead, catastrophic events took place that was the end of that societies’ “world.”
Conclusion
In conclusion, it would seem that God always warned a society in ways that were directly relevant to them and that those people would not mistake. No such warning has been shown to us today. Could it be that we are already living in the new “world” or age in the sense that the Bible describes?
The Biblical prophecies were written to other societies as specified in their individual passages. Eastern symbolism is heavily used in these messages though the events didn’t literally transpire in those ways. Yet, we still consider that when destruction was wrought on the Old Testament societies, the prophecies were fulfilled. Shouldn’t the New Testament prophecies be considered complete as the same symbolism is used and was referencing (in my opinion) the end of the Jewish age?

The Day of the Lord

This is a continuation of sorts of the posts Soon and So…What Happened? as well as sidebars of other post. These posts were written also to stand on their own in the case that God leads me in another direction with writing. Generally, the day before, I have no idea what I may write about on the following day. Likewise, yesterday was the same. While talking with God this morning, this seems to be the next step. In addition, I generally only have a discombobulated concept in my head that makes perfect sense to me but takes some correlation to put it in words.
As with, and correlating to, the soon terminology, there is a lot of language pointing towards a specific “day” throughout the New Testament. This language is also mentioned in the Old Testament writings and more adamantly presented in Malachi. Though the specific day and hour were unknown, the time frame is listed as that generation. As well, Jesus and the disciples also make reference to their respective audiences that some of those listeners would live to see that “day” (as referenced in the “Soon” post).
Here are some of the verses that all seem to be referencing that day, with my emphasis for easier reading. Please refer to the full context if interested and feel free to skip around as the concept may become quite repetitive:
Malachi 4:5—Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. (Matt 11:13-14 John the Baptist was Elijah).
This is no doubt referring to the Second Coming of Jesus when he comes in judgment. If it were referencing Pentecost, it wouldn’t have been referenced as terrible. Likewise, it seems the rest of the scriptures were also referencing this same day.
Matt 7:22—Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’
This is referencing a soon-coming judgment as also repeated in Matt 25. The time frame starts in Matt 23:36-37, is reiterated at the beginning of chapter 24 (i.e. v1-3), and continues in Matt 25 as one continuous prophecy of the Second Coming of Jesus in judgment.
Luke 10:12—I tell you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.
A few interesting things are going on in this verse. First, as with the others, it’s referencing a specific day of judgment. Additionally, it is hinting that there will be varying degrees of judgment, some more tolerable that others! This throws quite the monkey wrench in the doctrine of all sinners burning in hell for all eternity.
Luke 17:30—It will be the same way in the day that the Son of Man is revealed.
Again, this seems to be referencing the Second coming of Jesus since this was at a point when he was already in the full swing of his ministry. Additionally, the next verse is again referencing the prophecy of the coming destruction (v31).
Luke 21:34—“So be careful, or your hearts will be loaded down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day will come on you suddenly.
Here we see something very interesting—the why of the early church being told to be careful and aware. If these early Christians weren’t paying attention to the signs, they would likely get caught up in the judgment coming. Verses 35 and 36 go on to state that they could be snared and even that escape was possible (for those who watched the signs carefully). These are some directed concepts that only seem to make sense in regards to those of the 1st century. Like with Matt 24, this was again all in the context of the temple’s destruction (v5-6)
Romans 2:16—in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Jesus Christ.
As all of these “day” references reiterate, there is to be a judgment. The context of timing is always soon.
1 Cor 3:13—each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is.
Hebrews 10:25—not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.
This is one of those verses that is often taken out of it’s context and misappropriated to something that wasn’t its’ original intent. The author here is encouraging the congregation to continue to meet under extreme persecution based on the time period and the rest of this letter. This wasn’t about requiring people to meet or else they were doomed to hell. In addition, this verse makes reference to these people seeing the signs of the Second Coming as imminent! This is (in my opinion based on the rest of the N.T. passages) referencing Jesus’ prophetic warning signs from Matt 24 and the likes.
2 Thess 2:2—I wanted to point this passage out to mention that some Christians knew that the day was coming so soon that they thought it might have already passed. Paul reminds them that the “man of sin” must come first and there must be a falling away. Many Christians did fall away under the persecution. The “man of sin” is another topic, but again seems to have transpired, based on the timing suggested in the N.T. around the period leading up to the temple’s destruction.
I’ve only made it part of the way though the passages, but I believe the point is fairly clear. I’ll list some of the other verses if interested in further research, though there are many more. Emphasis below is mine for easier viewing.

1 Thess 5:2 – for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
1 Thess 5:4 – But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
2 Tim 1:12 – That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
2 Tim 1:18 – May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
2 Tim 4:8 – Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
1 Cor 1:8 – He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 5:5 – hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
Phil 1:6 – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Phil 1:10 – so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
2 Peter 2:9 – if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment
2 Peter 3:7 – By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2 Peter 3:12 – as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
Acts 2:20 – The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
Jude 1:6 – And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Rev 6:17 – For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
Rev 16:14 – They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
Rom 2:5 –  But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God;
Matt 10:15 – Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
Matt 11:22 – But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
Matt 11:24 – But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
Matt 12:36 – But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.
1 John 4:17 – This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
Ephes 4:30 – Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
John 6:39-40 – And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.  For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 6:54 – Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
John 11:24 – Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

All of these point to a day of the Lord, day of judgment/wrath, great day, last day, etc…They all reference the same time period and signs that were being made evident to the 1st century Christians. They were all looking forward to that day as it was rapidly approaching. If we deny the overwhelming evidence of scripture, we in turn make the Bible of little use other than a book of random philosophical teachings. Our religion then becomes the same as any other religion on earth. When placed into the context of the soon terminology, Jesus’ words—also reiterated in the apostles’ teachings, and the repeated association of the “day” terminology, we get a different view of when and to whom the scriptures were directed. Such evidence, when laid aside in favor of tradition, can violate the very passages we uphold so adamantly.
Now, I know I come across as quite direct here, but I think this is quite a glazed over concept that is stretched into a far-future fulfillment. Based on the contexts, this doesn’t seem very likely when comparing all of the varying books and authors. They all seem to be talking about that soon-coming Day. They all seemed to speak as though that Day would undoubtedly come within their generation. They seem to intimate that the signs Jesus spoke of were being seen by themselves and their fellow Christians in the 1st Century.
If, for all their divinely inspired writings, they were so inexorably wrong about this concept, then we have a Bible that we can never hope to understand and is subject to whatever whim we, or anyone else, wishes to apply to it.
As always, I would like to say this can all be set aside if it isn’t something that is helpful in your journey towards Father, with Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit. I only wish to present my viewpoint so as to help clarify the awkwardness in which these passages are often viewed.

So…What Happened?

This is a continuation of the post, Soon. In summary, the apostles all seemed to believe, based on their letters, that Jesus was returning soon, within their generation, and some of them would live to see it. This notion, as alluded to from the former post, seemed to have been instilled in them by Jesus. So, what actually happened?
There’s three ways to look at this. The first unlikely scenario is that both Jesus and the apostles were wrong. I don’t think this needs much refutation to Christians.
A second view is that they meant something else. However, the soon language is so prevalent throughout the New Testament and Jesus’ second coming seems to be alluded to, if not outright stated, in almost every letter of all the apostles, that this scenario also seems heavily unlikely.
The third view is that both Jesus and the apostles were right and something significant and literally world altering happened in the 1st century after Jesus’ ascension.
If we argue for the first view, then atheist have every right to disregard scripture. If Jesus and the apostles were wrong about one thing, how much else were they wrong about?
If we argue for the second view, then we can make scripture say anything we want by twisting the wording to our own desires. Sadly, this happens a lot in modern Christianity.
If we take the third view, and consider that something apocalyptic happened in the first century, then it better aligns with the rest of scripture.
We can skew the Bible to mean anything, but if we do that, then we in turn invalidate the Word. If we take it for what it says, relevant to the people it was written to (most of it wasn’t about us today), then we can begin to come to a better understanding of what the Bible is for and what relevance and application it actually does have in our lives today. This can be a far greater and more beautiful meaning than we ever hoped to dream by our current views.
A note, I don’t tend to write on Saturdays unless God lays something on my heart that I just can’t shake. This topic goes far deeper and I encourage research by anyone viewing this. Just what was going on in the 1st century that would have made everyone believe that Jesus was returning very soon? What type of end of the world, or age, event took place? The answers to these questions may be astounding when uncovered.

Are we really showing Christ to others?

How is the world seeing us as Christians?
Are we showing them the love of Jesus or are we loading them down with heavy burdens that we refuse to help them carry? (Matt 23:4)
Are we showing them into the Kingdom or are we insisting they have to conform to our standard before they’re allowed to enter? (Matt 23:14)
We readily defend and extend grace to professed Christians when their secret sins are exposed. However, we refuse to extend the same grace to those that won’t conform to the god we’ve made to resemble our politics, institutional obligations, self-righteousness, and manipulations. I can’t really blame those who don’t believe in that type of god. In a way, I’m glad they don’t because it would only obligate them to a system that stands in the way of the true and living God.
It’s so tiring to hear the same arguments that have been stitched together from out-of-context passages to bind others to an agenda rather than set them free to live a full life with Jesus in the Kingdom. Attempting to control someone by guilt, fear, and/or manipulation is NOT what Jesus is about.
Love wins a person’s heart and changes them from the inside. Guilt, fear, and manipulation only lead to a hateful form of religion. Justifying hatred for those “others” from the safe confines of a building does nothing for our call to be the salt and light of the world. It only makes us look like bigots.
I don’t write this out of anger. I write out of severe disappointment at the embarrassment that those calling themselves Christians continue to perpetuate on a hurting world.
This has gone on far too long. I’m deeply sorry if your finances are tied to ministry. I’m truly sorry if you feel you have to play the game in order to keep your livelihood. I know it’s hard and scary to admit fault and trust in God, I mean really trust in God and not just say it. I know it’s hard to watch as congregation attendance dwindles. It’s not an easy transition, but it’s a needed one for people to connect directly to Jesus without the filters that tell them they can’t.
If the institutions die, I say good riddance. I know that’s harsh, but anything that stands in the way of a direct relationship with Jesus needs to be removed. There is no excuse to stand in the way. Either trust Jesus with people’s salvation or don’t call yourself a Christian. It’s insulting.
Yes, I know that no one is perfect, but that’s not a viable excuse to stagnate and spew condemnation on others to try to appear more righteous. That’s not how salvation works and the rest of the world sees right through those ill-conceived attempts at religious superiority.
I begin to see why Jesus was often frustrated with the religious types and yes, I use to be one too.
Pray that Jesus will open your eyes and change your heart so that you can start reaching out in love instead of throwing condemnation from a distance on those you refuse to engage.
If you’re going to call yourself a Christian then suck it up and start living like Jesus. Otherwise, everyone will see right through the facade and know who your real father is (John 8:47).
It’s depressing to see a hurting world and Christianity being so obstinate and arrogant, pouring gasoline of hatred onto the fire. We could have been so much more by now, but Christians not following Christ keep tripping over their own self-righteousness.
Let’s become more than that. Let’s truly follow Jesus. Let’s no longer muck around in doctrinal quagmires that alienate us from loving others. Let’s move forward as the human race into the Kingdom that Jesus established for us through much pain and sacrifice. Let’s be THE Church!

Soon

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to more fully address to whom and for what reason the New Testament prophecies were written. Many today live under the assumption that they were written to, and about, us. Jesus and the apostles, however, use a lot of “soon” language in reference to the end times (aka the end of the age). Have you ever wondered why such wording was used, yet today we insist it hasn’t happened yet?
First, there has been much research done and a general acceptance that most of the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled. The problem is more in the New Testament prophecies.
In this particular post, I wanted to focus more on the timeline in which these prophecies were to take place—that is, soon.
For brevity’s sake, I will only list some of the more appropriate and direct verses:
Matthew 16:27-28
Matthew 24:1-3, 34
Revelation 1:13:1122:7, 12, 20
These verses appear to be fairly straight forward if we let them speak for themselves. It’s when an external meaning is attempted to be retrofitted that they become confusing and lose their original intent.
In addition to the above, the apostles also taught this soon theology in regards to these same prophecies.
So what’s the point of bringing up this timing issue? Either the events have already happened like Jesus said they would, and the apostles reiterated, or we have to do theological gymnastics to justify our stance that these things haven’t taken place yet.
One of the verses commonly used to circumvent the “soon” terminology is 2 Peter 3:8. This verse is referencing God’s patient in bringing judgment on Israel, but now that Jesus had come, delivering a timetable (that generation), the judgment would commence, and the new age would be fully substantiated, very soon.
A second verse like this is when Jesus states that no one knew the day or time, but only Father did (Matt 24:36). How could Jesus state “soon” if he didn’t know? The question is answered from the other verses (above). Jesus knew it would be within that generation and that some standing there would in no way taste of death until they saw it. The day and hour, however, weren’t specified.
Another view is that prophecy can mean multiple things, having a double or triple meaning and fulfillment. However, this isn’t how prophecy worked in the Old Testament, and isn’t how it works in the Bible all together. A prophetic passage always related directly to the specified event or people. In addition, if a passage can have multiple meanings, we can manipulate scripture to mean whatever we want. If scripture can have any meaning, then it has no meaning at all. I believe this to be also communicated in Rev 22:18-19 as adding to or taking away from what was originally intended to be heard by those the passages are written directly to. Revelation, for example, is written to the seven churches in Asia Minor. Why would Jesus give assurances to these churches that wasn’t relevant to their lives? Why would the apostles give the same kind of false hope to the recipients of their epistles?
Yet another view is that Jesus and the apostles wanted everyone to be ever vigilant throughout all of human history. This is a bit of a stretch as it would give false hope of deliverance from oppression to those that the messages of “soon” were delivered.  This was a large part of the prophecy—that the extreme persecution would come to an end, and soon. The call was to be on the lookout for “The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.” Great for those being delivered from oppression, terrible for those doing the oppressing. The idea, I believe, was for the sheep not to be caught up with the goats (Matt 25:32—this was part of the same prophecy), but instead, flee from Judea when they saw the signs of the judgment coming lest they be caught in the tribulation also.
So this is my view of the “soon” terminology used. Overall, the topic of New Testament prophecy goes much deeper, but I only wanted to point out how the timetable was applied relevant to those that were originally receiving these messages. I may continue deeper into this as God prompts.
One last question for thought—If that Day was to be within a generation, and some of those that heard the prophecy would live to see its fulfillment, when did it actually happen?