The Foreordained Plan of God is the Unifying Law of Everything in the Universe

This is a collection of posts on www.createdtobelikegod.com.  Reference should also be made to www.intheimageofthecreator.com (this site has been closed for revision) for additional discussion on the Plan of God and the Unifying Law - and the impact on Genesis 1-3 and evolution, "the Fall of Man," the doctrine of original sin, and biblical interpretation.

Friday, April 5, 2013

129. THE UNIFIED FIELD THEORY OF EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE

It seems like a dichotomy -- on one end we strive to discover every minute or gigantic detail in the universe; on the other end we want to have one simplified summary, an all inclusive formula, for everything.  The Conceptual Theory of the Universe -- into which everything that exists can fit.  Unification.


Some say we are getting close to discovering it.  Confirmation of the existence of the Higgs Boson was said to have been a big leap, but the formula for the universe hasn't been discovered yet.  Others say it will happen in the future, and one day humans will understand it all and there won't be anything left to discover.  Like Napoleon, who reportedly cried when there were no more lands to conquer, perhaps scientists will cry because there are no more grant applications to write.  Many say that the idea of knowing everything is an oxymoron that can never occur, because discovery produces more to explain with greater complication, and there will always be exceptions and contradictions.  

The search for a Theory of Everything, that is the fundamental description of the basis for everything in the universe, usually takes the form of derived equations and mathematical formulas.  These explanations of the physical universe are searching for one basic formula that is at the foundation of everything physical, observable, and testable by the scientific method.  People before Einstein have tried to find the Theory of Everything and are still looking after 100 years or more.  Some have equated finding the Theory of Everything with looking into the mind of God.  This is a philosophical reference to the magnitude of the discovery, since many of the people who make such reference to the mind of God also say they don't believe God exists.

There aren't very many attempts to connect the Theory of Everything with anything related to God, but those attempts that do generally follow along a relatively narrow theme.  Doing a Google search for "theory of everything" and "God" doesn't produce much --  references to young earth creationism or to aliens and paranormal activities. There is one person, Trey Smith, who has published books and DVD's and maintains a web site and some videos on YouTube (Theory of Everything: God), which are at least somewhat entertaining to watch.  He uses the approach of the impossible mathematical (im)probability that everything could have come about by random occurrence, therefore something (God) must have been behind it.  This complexity of design argument has validity, but it is aimed more at showing that if something random couldn't explain the universe, then something divine must be involved by inference of what remains.  But that is not a direct ascertain, but just what's left after we apply our reasoning to physical data.

Very few people have taken the more positive approach.  Instead of saying God must have done it because nothing else remains after a discounting process, we say that God did it by His foreordained plan into which everything on heaven and earth finds a logical place.  Instead of saying random evolution can't explain it, so there must be a God, we say that there is a God that explains it, and so there must be evolution that appears random to us but is by design of God.  Evolution not only becomes palatable, it becomes logical and the obvious part of God's design.  In fact, it doesn't make sense that all of the physical universe would have come about in any other way.

Even fewer people have derived the Theory of Everything from the scripture, showing that the plan of God gives sense to everything from the physical universe, the earth, and humankind to the plan of God revealed in the Old and New Testaments.  Everything fits.

The Theory of Everything is the predestined plan of God, foreordained before the creation of the world and the beginning of time, that we should grow into His nature of true righteousness and holiness according to the pattern set by the Lord Jesus Christ, so that we might enjoy fellowship with Him throughout eternity.  Now, go ahead and figure out the mathematical formula -- this is the reason why the formula exists.

We have said that the Christian has the greatest bandwidth for receiving both the truth of the physical universe and the revealed truth of God in the Bible, because God is the author of both.
We propose that there is a Unified (or Unifying) Field Law of Everything in the Universe. (A rather tongue-in-cheek amalgam of the Unified Field Theory, the Theory of Everything, and the Conceptual Theory of the Universe.)

We believe this is a Law within which all physical parameters of the universe reside and have meaning as well as why we are here, why we were created, what we are to be doing, what the church is supposed to be doing, and how we are missing it.  It includes all things on the earth, above the earth, under the earth, past, present, and future. 

All of the posts on this blog, as well as the companion web site, fit into the Law. At least, that is the intent.  Perhaps it is still a "theory" to the extent of the introduction of randomness and chaos within the brain of the writer of these posts.  

The Unifying Law = the Theory of Everything/brain randomness

The Unified Field Law of Everything is found in Eph. 4:24 and Col. 3:10. All things in the physical realm, natural and supernatural, submit to this Law.  

The theoretical pontification begins here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

130.  THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW OF THE UNIVERSE IS NOT A MATHEMATICAL FORMULA

We are moving more and more into a legalistic mindset that is defined by specific, measurable, narrowly focused, job descriptions.  Like a robot that moves something of a certain size and weight and shape from point A to point B within a tolerance of 0.01%.  And a sensor measures the displacement to know if the robot is functioning according to plan.  A test stimulus is presented occasionally to test the sensor to make sure it is calibrated correctly.  On and on it goes.  Then something measures to see if it is Six Sigma yet.  If it is, then black smoke puffs out of the chimney, and a sensor measures the density of the smoke and the mean diameter of the carbon particles +/- standard deviation.

Responsibilities are reduced to measurable job descriptions and so-called quantitative measures of success as defined by the organization.  How well the school is teaching the students is not how well they are prepared for life, but the students' score on a standardized test.  Something of a shorter range than a life changing education needs to be measured, because we need measurable feedback now, not in 20 years.  Besides, we need to compare these students' performances with students from other schools.  

A class syllabus is like a contract between the teacher and the students.  "Do we have to know that?  Is this going to be on the test?  Is this listed in the syllabus?  Why do we have to know this?"

You have a device near your house; it's called a trash can (let's call it a "dumpster.")  You fill the dumpster with trash -- some household, some yard stuff, some grass, some sticks.  You push down and compact the contents to get everything in, and you roll the dumpster to the street.  Now it's somebody's job to empty your garbage and haul it away.  A motorized specialty vehicle sometimes known as a garbage truck drives by.  A big robotic arm with pincers comes down from the truck, picks up the dumpster, raises the dumpster over opening in the back of the truck to a level where the lid flops open, bumps the dumpster twice, lowers and releases the dumpster.  The truck drives to the dumpster(s) at the next house, and the next, and so on.  The refuse personnel did their job by emptying your trash.  Right?  

You walk to the street to roll your dumpster back to your house.  Your dumpster has fallen over on its side.  You pick it up and look inside to see that half of the trash is still left stuck in the bottom.  Besides that, the wind was blowing and caught the papers as the dumpster was hovered over the opening in the back of the truck and carried papers all over the neighborhood.  Papers, "junk mail," and other stuff with you name and address on it.  

What do you think?  The robotic arm put the dumpster on the ground such that it rolled over, half the trash was left in the container, and papers were strewn all over the neighborhood.  Oh, and the sticks are in the middle of the street.  Do you think, "They didn't empty my trash!  They didn't do their job."  Well, think again, because they did their job -- it's just that their job is not to empty your trash.  What??

Their job is defined on a specific list of "do's" on a job description.  This is a description of what this job consists of, and the person will be evaluated by whether or not they do exactly what this list specifies.  The list says, "You will drive the truck up to the dumpster and stop so that the robotic arm will reach the dumpster, grasp the dumpster, raise the dumpster to the top of the truck, bump the dumpster twice, lower the robotic arm, release the dumpster, and drive to the next dumpster.  You will do this to an average of XX dumpsters an hour and YY dumpsters in a 6 hour period.  A counter will measure how many times the robotic arm is activated up and down, and if the number of the count approximates the number of dumpsters on this route, you have done your job.  

This check list of specific actions is defined as emptying your trash.  The trash truck drives over the blowing papers and sticks on the road as it goes down the other side of the street.  This list of job description duties has defined that your trash has been emptied and a truck has carried it off.  You may have to go over the neighborhood and pick up the papers; you sweep the street; you put the debris in the dumpster; you roll the half-full dumpster back to your house.  But your trash has been emptied, because the job description says so.
Good luck calling and actually talking to somebody who is alive and speaks the same language as you do.  If you do, and if you say that your trash wasn't emptied, you are informed that the people did their job.  "They didn't empty all the contents."  "That's because you pushed compacted the contents too much."  (i.e., is your fault).  "But it's their job to empty the dumpster."  "No, it's their job to bump the dumpster twice."  "But what about my trash?"  "Okay, I'll send some someone out."  

So, you think the job of the next people will be to empty the trash?  It may seem that way, but really their job is to perform the actions listed on a piece of paper the supervisor gave them.  This job title is called, "Responding to pain-in-the-neck customers."

Now what are these only slightly exaggerated stories saying? 

Do any of these stories describe actions in the church?  Have our Christian responsibilities been reduced to a list of job descriptions - either on paper or in mind?  Does any group call this list, "doctrine?"

The Unified Field Law of Everything in the Universe is not based on present observations to be understood by studying natural operations in the past.  This Law is in the present, but is based on where we are headed in the future.  We are told what the destination is; we have been given a description and a model of the destination.  That is the Law.  The question is, "Are we preparing to get there?"  How well we understand and believe that Law determines what we do in the present.  Many people know about the Law intellectually; but, what they apparently do not understand is that this Law is the Law of the universe, from beginning to end.  It is the Law under which everything submits and gains purpose and meaning.  If people understood the magnitude of the Unified Law of Everything in the Universe, they would act very differently in the present.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013


135.  THE UNIFYING FIELD LAW PREEMPTS EVERYTHING THAT IS PHYSICALLY DERIVED

It's the source of questions, conflicts, discussions, comments, debates, arguments, rhetoric, blogs, globs, blobs, and flogs. 

Is it science vs the Bible?  Is it creation vs. evolution?  Is it literal Genesis vs allegorical Genesis?  Is the accumulation of scientific evidence necessitating a reevaluation of the interpretation of Genesis 1-3?  Does a literal interpretation of Genesis determine what part of science is right and what is wrong?  What is in the driver's seat of all this attempt to reconcile Genesis 1-3 with scientific evidence?   This is a trip that carries along the baggage of discussions of a literal/figurative Adam and "original sin."  Now we have to diss and cuss the New Testament references to Adam and the Garden and sin and how those relate to the correctness of our doctrines. 

Organizations have been started, books have been written, grants have been awarded, web pages have been created -- all of which are directed toward either elevating traditional Biblical interpretation over modern scientific discoveries, elevating science to dominate over the Bible, or attempting to make them quasi-equal and find ways for them to co-exist, often by compromising one or both.

Arguments and disagreements are based on the preconceptions from the experience that individuals have before they consider the evidence or what someone else says.  And of course, it's those other people who do that.

What if there were a Primal Law that preempted all of this?   Go ahead and examine the scientific evidence.  Go ahead and interpret the scriptures.  But whatever any one derives from their human analysis has to fit and be consistent with the Unifying Spiritual Law -- the explanation, direction, and reason for existence of the universe and all things physical.  

And more than what the Unifying Law says, the very idea that there is only one Law to which everything in the universe submits is revolutionary -- our scientific discoveries, our Biblical interpretations, our traditional doctrines, our higher human analytical logical thinking.  Everyone starts at the same place, the Christian first, followed by those who have not chosen to submit to Jesus Christ.  Why?  Because if the Christians cannot live by the Prime Directive and prove the plan of God, why should anyone else be convinced?  It takes both a logical analysis together with a maintained behavior that is consistent for people to pay attention. 

The Unifying Field Law is so deceptively simple that it can easily be dismissed as trivial.  "Oh, we already know that!"  But it is not the concept that is profound as much as the profundity of its application, consequences and outcome  -- because it impacts everything. Placing the Law first challenges the very core of human primal fleshly motivation -- pride.

The Unifying Law:  It is the purpose and design of God in creating the universe, and its continued transformation from the Big Bang until the end of time as we know it, that we should grow to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  We are in the "last days" of preparation for fellowship with God now and throughout eternity.  There is nothing more important; everything points to this; if anything of this world is given a higher priority, it is idolatry.

The Prime Directive:  The church is to be the vehicle or conduit for the power of God to demonstrate the outcome of following The Unifying Law.  The church is the composite of believers, each growing to be like God by spiritual transformation into His righteousness and holiness.  The church is a field of relationships in which individuals become more like God when they help one another to do the same.  There is nothing more important in the marriage relationship or in the one another relationship in the church.  No interpretation, no opinion, no doctrine, no tradition, no nothing.  The church grows into maturity and the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as members do their work to build up the body in love.  Anything given a higher priority comes from human pride and is idolatry.

So, do we really "already know that?"

Anything that detracts from the rate at which I am being transformed into the likeness of Christ or anything that inhibits my helping another person grow to be like God so that the body of Christ becomes mature is sin.  Not that the activity itself is necessarily sinful, but placing the activity in a higher position than the Unifying Law is idolatry.  

Now, a discussion about "creation vs evolution" can be about "creation by evolution," and it really doesn't matter so much as long as the outcome of the matter help everyone in their journey to be like God and as long as the process to become like God isn't diverted into divisions over human ideas.  The most important matter is not to explain how we got here, but to understand where we are going and to travel toward that high calling at the maximum rate possible. If sin is "missing the mark," then whatever causes us to miss the target God has set or to "fall short of the glory of God" by giving a higher priority to something other than which God has set is sin and idolatry.  

If everyone were to actually concentrate on helping one another to become like God in true righteousness and holiness instead of arguing over the physical means God used to get us to this point, some people wouldn't have much left to talk about.  "We can talk about 24 hour creation days and where the light came from before the sun while we work full time in loving and serving one another and others so that we can all together grow to be like God."  That loving service of a unified body of Christ is the action that will speak to the world, not arguing over creation and evolution, no matter who claims to have "won."  Because, really, no one has.

We need some new definitions for old buzzwords.  One group says, "We are 'evangelical.'  We show the love of the Father to the world by serving one another as we all grow to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."  Another group says, "We are 'missional.'  Our mission is to grow to be like God at the maximum rate so that all can see that there is nothing better in this life."  Both groups work together in unity of mind and purpose.

So, before Christians spend their time and energy going at each other over their physical interpretations of scripture or of physical data and elevate either or both to a matter of inspiration of scripture, salvation, faith in God, or whether or not God even exists, let them first explain how the time spent and results of this topic's discussion are making everyone grow to be like God in true righteousness and holiness and testifying to the world of the love of the Father at the fastest and most effective rate possible.  If the discussions are taking the place of becoming like God at the fastest rate, then a search through the travel-bags for an idol called "human pride" needs to be done.

The focus here has been on discussions about "origins," but anything can take the place of becoming like God.  We understand "You will not have any gods before Me," so most people don't place an image of a golden (colored) calf in their front yards.  Do we also understand that idolatry is more than substituting a graven image in the physical place of God?  Do we understand idolatry is also substituting something else (another activity, another priority) as being more important than becoming like God at the fastest possible rate?  Even talking about God as an end in itself, instead of becoming like God, is idolatry.

I have discovered this only recently, and I am still in the process of peering over the side into the depth of the fundamental nature of this truth.  It's scary.  I don't say these things because I have lived them or because I am now becoming like God at the fastest possible rate.  I say these things to myself because I am convinced that it is what the word of God says. 

I believe that I have missed it, that most, maybe all, Christians are missing it, that the church is missing it, that all the tribal divisions are missing it, and that the church has missed the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus for almost 2000 years.  The book, Pagan Christianity (Frank Viola and George Barna) gives evidence for many practices and beliefs of the church today being derived from paganism, not the New Testament.

The church has some changing to do.  The church is full of people who operate under the control of their human pride, even while wearing holy clothes, performing holy duties, and being called by holy names.  And those who are not externally identified with such things are still no different.  The church needs more than a reformation or a restoration or a refreshing or a reestablishment or a revitalization.  No, the church is blinded to itself.  The church needs to be a New Creation.

Basically, the church needs to get started by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ and being saved.  The church needs to get on the road to the high calling of Jesus Christ our Lord, and Christians need to live out their professed name and become like God in true righteousness and holiness at the fastest possible rate.  We are preparing for an eternal fellowship with God.  If we really understood what that was going to be like in heaven, there would be some big-time changes being done on earth.

Is God going to have to "explain it to us?"  He already has, you know.  Is the church like the defiant hard-headed 4 year old who "has to learn it the hard way?"  I don't think that is "the little children" Jesus was referring to.


140.  FREEDOM TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH IN GOD

John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.  16 All that belongs to the Father is mine.  That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

I grew up in a tradition that said that the truth was the same as God's word, the Bible, and God said what He meant and He meant what He said.  Since God wouldn't write anything that we couldn't understand, we should be able to know the truth without knowing Greek or having a college degree in Bible.  Yet, the "truth" was determined to a significant extent by academicians who used the Greek and their doctorates in Bible to form a hermeneutic that produced a list of binding rules -- (yes, "binding" was the term).  So, the truth didn't really set us free, because it was considered presumptuous of God to say that you "knew" you were saved.  You were supposed to say "I hope so" or "If I've been good enough."

I found out that these assessments were backward -- it is highly presumptuous to think that I, or any other human, could understand all of God's truth as revealed in His word, through Jesus Christ, and in His creation; and I can say with certainty that I am saved  and that God lives within me now so that I can become more like Him while on this earth to prepare for an eternity of heavenly fellowship.

That's about a 180 degree doctrinal flip.


But this is not the kind of trip that one makes under a layer of bondage.  If you know the Son, the Son will make you free, and you will be free indeed.  But, one also has to be free to know and recognize the truth when one sees the truth, or else the only "truth" the person will see is that which feeds their own prideful thinking.  The truth and pride, selfishness, or any other work from out of the flesh do not mix together.  Knowledge of truth fills the space after the pride of self is removed.  Pride of self is like a black hole -- it takes the light and sucks it up like a vacuum cleaner.

So discovering the truth that is there and that has been revealed through Jesus Christ requires that I would first want or desire the truth, like a hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6), so that I could be filled.  Because I desire something greater than myself, I take myself off the throne (or whatever component of myself that I have recognized is in the way) so that the truth can be known.  I am not free if I am in bondage to myself.  The knowledge of the truth that I receive sets me free in righteousness and holiness, so that I can receive more truth from the Holy Spirit.  Thus, there is an upward cycle of transformation, of change from one glory to another, of renewal of the mind, as I allow the Holy Spirit to fill me with more truth that will set me free to learn more truth.

This cycle applies to an individual growing to be like God, and it applies to the church, composed of such individuals, all growing together into the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, into the maturity of love and unity. 

How are we set free?

I am free to consider new discoveries in the understanding and interpretation of scripture, because I know that my goal is now to grow to be like God and not to protect my traditional doctrinal views.  My salvation does not depend on the shifting sands of human doctrine -- some of which is proven over time of generations of testing proven to be of value in the spiritual, and some not.

I am free to recognize that much of the interpretations placed on scriptures comprise inflexible doctrines that need to be defended -- the intensity of defense needed is proportional to their inability to pass muster with the Spirit.  They are made more from human opinion coming from the accepted cultural norms of that day than on truth.  All groups do this -- some groups change the scripture to excuse the sins of the present culture while others make modifications of a less drastic and more subtle nature.  But truth is based on revelation, not the degenerate component of natural human social evolution.  Truth is based on discovery, as confirmed by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit testifies only of Jesus, and the testimony is true (1 John 5:6-8). The sanctification and renewal by the HS will make us more like the Lord Jesus Christ, and becoming more like God is the test for what is truth.  When is newly discovered data to be considered as revealed truth?  When it testifies to the Lord Jesus Christ and when it helps form us into the image of God (1 John 5:1-12).

I am free to remove my preconceptions that impose certain interpretations upon the scriptures.

Through Jesus Christ, I am free to approach God in faith and confidence (Eph. 3:12).

We have found that a knowledge of the culture of the people at the time of writing the scripture can help in our understanding of how those particular passages might have been received at the time.  Understanding the "honor culture" of the Jews at the time Peter preached the sermon on Pentecost can help one understand the message in Acts 2.  Since the goal is to become like God, one does not have to get upset even if that understanding is different from one's preconceptions.  Understanding Genesis 1-3 in the light of the creation stories recorded by ancient people of the time contemporary with Genesis can help is understand that an interpretation of 6x24 hour days is almost certainly a fabrication of Sunday school materials promoting eisegesis of scripture.  We are free to consider the physical evolution of mankind as the mechanism of creation, and our faith can remain unshaken because our faith is not based on stories of human construction but on the Creator God.  We can then be free to understand the plan of God better than before -- the predestined plan foreordained before the beginning of time.


I am free from the influence of a "politically correct" society that imposes its own rules of behavior promoting sin in this physical life instead of growing to be like God for the next life.

I am set free from the "tribal control" of enforced doctrinal views and interpretations -- "you can think whatever you want to, you just aren't going to think it here."  "If you don't like it, you can leave."  I am free to leave those attitudes behind and pray for everyone to turn themselves over to the control of the Holy Spirit.

I am free to keep my eyes on Jesus, if a new discovery changes the prescription in my glasses so I can focus on Jesus better, then I praise God for it.  I am certainly not going to set my eyes on other Christians and argue with them over interpretations.  I don't have time for that -- too busy becoming like God. 
Because I am free, I can become like God at a faster rate when I don't have to wait 10-20 years for the cultural norms of a generation to change my perspective of scripture, because I have fear of the opinion of others.  I am free to change in a shorter period of time as I pursue truth from a different perspective -- the goal of becoming like God and not protecting my doctrine, my lifestyle, my tribal acceptance as an idol of confirmation.
Combine these freedoms that all Christians should know that they have and there is a group called the elect of God, who are free to help one another in love to grow to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, so that they can all together grow into the fullness of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
To God be the glory, great things He has done.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.


141. WE ALREADY HAVE THE ANSWER, SO WHAT IS THE QUESTION?


What part of "designed plan" can we not understand?

"Oh, I know.  The answer is Christ.  Christ is the answer for everything.  Right?"

The answer is in Christ -- within Christ, or through Christ, or by means of Christ.  But Christ is also part of the bigger plan, and the plan was carried out by Him and is still being carried out through Him.  The coming of Jesus Christ and all He did on earth was a means to an end.  This was all necessary to accomplish something that had been foreordained.  Christ came with a job to do, and what He did was part of the plan of the Father.  

"Well, then, the answer is the gospel, the "good news.".  The world has to be saved.  We need to be evangelical and missional and conversional."

Conversional?  Hey, you just made that up.  Look, we've got enough confusion from tossing the first two theobuzzowords around without adding another one. And be fully committed and intentional about it, too.  The "good news" is not the answer, per se, but the gospel describes the answer. 

Something really big happened, and it was before everything that we know about -- before matter, before physical energy, before heat, before time, before a big bang of whatever that involved.  It was before.  It wasn't "the land before time" because there was neither land nor time.  It was before creation.  Because it happened first, it affects, effects, directs, explains, and gives purpose to everything that followed.  Everything that occupies dimensional space and has a component of time submits to what happened before these physical and temporal things ever got started.  There is nothing that is random; everything has purpose because what happens in space and time is according to the initial designated direction and master plan.  

Go ahead and do all the experiments on providence or randomness.  Do the statistics.  run the paradigms.  Apply the formulas and the theorems.  Go ahead, wear yourself out.  Get a grant.  It has already been revealed, so your experiments are irrelevant.  Finite humans in the physical realm may think it appears random and without prior design, but they just don't know, because it is revealed in the scriptures.  The real problem comes when Christians don't have a clue, either; and that sustained lack of knowledge promotes actions out of the fleshly human nature, which go in direct opposition to the plan.  And when Christians get together and pool their human doctrine and call that a church, they protect what they have created rather than work for what God designed for His creation to do.

The creation came from the mind of God and was effected though Christ.  God had a plan, a design, an ultimate goal that everything in the creation would head toward.  The way the plan would work was predestined before creation of the physical universe, in which the plan would be carried out.  It was foreordained.  Everything, everything must fit into that predestined plan in order to be properly understood.  Misunderstanding, pride, rebellion, flesh, and sin all go together.

A logical path of the working of God's plan is found both in the physical creation, studied by science, and in the increasing revelation of the plan in the scripture.  His plan went through physical persons operating out of their intrinsic human nature; that didn't work (Adam and Eve -- and don't think God was surprised by that).  God's plan was increasingly revealed through the people He had chosen. the Israelites, predestined to develop the religious, civil, and generational aspects of the plan.  They developed religious humanism to its best, but it wasn't good enough (and don't think God was surprised by that).  Then, Jesus Christ came to complete the plan so that the final dimension could be effected on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on all people.  Jesus Christ didn't have to come to bail out a plan gone sour in the Garden of Eden -- the plan foiled by a serpent.  God had foreordained everything.  The final phase, the last days, the age of spiritual evolution began on Pentecost.  Now the plan was fully revealed, and the body of Christ on earth was left with the responsibility to carry out the plan, demonstrating its wisdom and success to the world.  
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
That is the plan, made for our glory before time began (1 Cor. 2:7), and hidden as a mystery until it could be revealed through Jesus Christ (Rom. 16:25), that we would be chosen in Christ (Eph. 1:11; Col.1:27, 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4) for godliness (1 Tim. 3:15).  We were chosen to be adopted (Eph .1:5) from the beginning (2 Thess. 2:13), so that by the foreknowledge of God (1 Pet. 1:2) we should participate in the divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4). 

Eph. 1:9  And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

If Christ was part of the answer before the creation of time, and if it is through Christ that all things were made (Col.1:16), there was a process planned that involved reconciliation with God, redemption through Christ, and our creation to be like God that was foreknown.  The events (so-called "fall" of man) in the Garden describe what God had foreordained would happen as a part of the designed plan.  Why would the mission of Christ be foreknown if God didn't know man would sin?  The physical, intellectual, social, and religious evolution of mankind was predestined by God to occur until that process was sufficiently fulfilled that Christ could come to earth and do His work; and Christ knew exactly what His mission was.  

Through Christ and His completed work, the Holy Spirit could be poured out on Pentecost (Acts 2:33) and the love of God into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), as the DNA of God, coding for the righteous life and behavior of Jesus Christ, the perfect image of the invisible God (Col. 1:19).  Thus, in the new creation, we were created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24), in the image of the Creator (Col. 3:10).  

Once this mystery had been fully revealed in Christ and empowered by His Spirit, the church was formed to reveal this wisdom of God to the world and to powers in the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:9-11).  Thus, the church is the transmitter of the eternal wisdom of God, as Christians testify of the love of the Father by their unity (John 17:23) in Christ.

So, how has the church been doing with that one over the past 2000 years?  What direction is the church going now?  Is the church growing into unity of the Son of God, into the perfection of the full knowledge of Christ (Eph. 4:13)?

Since this plan was made before the creation of the world, then everything since has been by design, by intent, by foreknowledge, and by predestination.  But, there is this matter of choice, and this has also been incorporated into the plan.  So, does predestination mean every breath of every person through all of time?  Did God predestine dinosaur A to bite dinosaur B, and for Walt Disney to make a movie about it 300 million years later?

So, what is the answer to any question?  The preordained plan of God, formed before the creation of the world.  Everything must be evaluated in the light of the purpose for creation in accordance with the predestined design of God -- every Biblical interpretation, every decision, every formation of doctrine, every sermon, every conversation, every captive thought.  This is continued in more detail on the companion web site, www.intheimageofthecreator.com.


Monday, November 18, 2013

147. THE PLAN OF GOD, PREDESTINED BEFORE TIME BEGAN, IS BIGGER THAN REDEMPTION

Many years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a book, "Your God Is Too Small." Perhaps another book is needed -- "Your Plan Is Too Limited." We limit ourselves by our finite human comprehension. While we claim to operate by faith, we functionally operate only by what we can understand and explain. By doing so, we place our human intellect above faith and restrict the channel for the Spirit to reveal the mind of God.

We are in the last days, the last phase of the plan of God, created before time began and extending beyond the point when time ends. We are in the culmination of 16.3 billion years of preparation. We have more revelation of God than at any time before. The Holy Spirit of God has indwelled the church for almost 2000 years. What are we doing with this power and where are we headed? Are we being faithful stewards with what God has given to us?

A rescue

Edward Fudge makes a good observation in his GraceMail of Nov. 17, 2013. "Today, Christian theologians from all over are calling for a 'big picture' story that takes the spotlight off us and shines it directly on God's enormous plan to redeem the whole world!" Edward then recommends his book "The Divine Rescue" -- which Max Lucado calls "the 'sweetest of stories' -- God's relentless pursuit of his fallen people" -- which addresses the need for a big picture in a Biblically accurate and readable story that "unfolds the drama of the salvation story from Adam and Eve to the open gates of eternity."

I highly recommend and endorse Edward's book. I bought two copies-- gave one away and kept one for myself. It is written by a scholar of great study and experience, and it provides a depth of theological discernment into the scripture. So, thank you, Edward, for contributing this work.

Why a rescue?

What I want to do is build upon the story described in "The Divine Rescue." In our human minds, God's plan started in the Garden with Adam and Eve, because that's the start of our natural comprehension. Adam and Eve failed in the obedience test, and sin, with its consequence of death, entered into the world. Because of that sin and separation from God, He had to redeem us to "get us back." That's a "sweet story" -- using human terms. Although this story content may be accurate, is the scope of the story still too limited? Our plans can go sour; God's plan does not. God's plan didn't start in the Garden; and the Garden wasn't a failed experiment in a phase called, "God's plan goes bad -- Oh my, now what?"

Paul clearly says that God's plan did not start with the Garden and that the plan did not start with creation or the beginning of time. God's plan started in the spiritual realm before the physical universe was formed (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:9-12, 2:6-10, 3:3-6, 3:9-11; Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Thess. 2:13-14). God's plan begins before time, continues from the big bang to the end of everything, and does not stop with the gates of eternity, but proceeds on. God's plan is not limited to our human experience, to our recorded history, to our physical perception or understanding. God's plan began in the heavenly realms, it travels through time and space, and it returns to God. Just like Jesus did. Among all of the eternally important things that were accomplished by Jesus Christ the Son, the eternal plan of God was modeled for us within a period of time that we can relate to (33 years) and in a 3-dimensional space we can relate to (a human body). The mystery of God's plan was revealed though Christ, and the power for the spiritual growth phase of the plan was administered on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out (Acts 2:33). God's plan came to earth in real time and real space (John 1:1-4). Men didn't comprehend it because they couldn't get their own flesh out of the way. Nothing has changed.

The limiting problem with a phrase such as "the rescue" is that it implies something went wrong -- something got off track -- something got itself in a mess so bad that it couldn't get itself out. Therefore, only God could do the rescue. While that is true, a rescue depends on the prior occurrence of a mistake, mishap, or accident. A rescue is a response to a goof-up and its consequences-- maybe somebody's fault or maybe just out-of-control circumstances. Did the eternal plan of God include a phase of goof-up from which a component (human) of the created had to be extracted? Was man's sin planned before the creation of the world? Was sin just foreknown to be extremely likely to happen? Or does "rescue" imply a humanly limited understanding of the eternal plan of God?

When did "sin" enter the world? Was it when the human creation had sufficiently developed so that it could comprehend the necessity to seek after a divine being, so that they were accountable for their actions? What is "sin" anyway? Did God create "sin," or is "sin" a term used in scripture to describe being under the control of the human, physical, animal (if you will) nature instead of the nature that was created in the image of God? Sin is the difference between our human "righteous rags" and the true righteousness of God. Jesus coming to snatch us from the mouth of hell is true, but it is not mature thinking. Jesus came so I don't have to worry about that and can spend full energy growing to be like Him. Carefully defining what hell is and what hell is not does not make me more like God, because that is where God is not. That is an elementary subject that we are supposed to leave behind as we grow into the fullness of Christ (Heb. 6:1).

So much of our theology regarding the plan of God centers around recorded historical facts without considering the many scriptures that suggest something is beyond both ends of the limits of time. We do a better job of imagining "heaven" than we do with imagining what God's plan was before creation. We tend to equate "salvation" with "redemption" and being "safe" from hell and living in the house Jesus has provided -- all those concepts that start with "the fall of man." But the scripture doesn't limit salvation to redemption from "a fall." Redemption is for what reason -- for what purpose? To be obedient? To bring glory to Jesus? To spread the gospel to the world? All these are involved, but are working components of a larger plan. All of the above components are limited to time and space which we compress to fit our finite understanding. A universe age of 16.3 billion years and an earth age of 5 or so billion years is much harder to conceive of than Bishop Ussher's Young Earth calculation of 6000 years. And the picture of God intentionally creating everything like a wizard fits with our preconceptions from Bible school better than an evolution from chemicals to amoebae to fish to monkeys to humans in a way that is not distinguishable from random -- at least from a limited human perspective. While these subjects may seem very important in isolation, but when one understands the eternal plan of God, these types of subjects limited to time and space become secondary by comparison.

So, are we redeemed?  Is Christ the Redeemer?  Were we bought back with a price that we could never pay ourselves?  Does that make us justified, declared righteous and holy, with continual forgiveness of sin?  Sure -- all of this is correct.  But, it presents the question, "Why?"  So that we could be free of all earthly entanglements to overcome our human nature with the nature and character of God -- so we can be like God in an eternity of heavenly fellowship.  Of course we interpret the scripture from a human perspective, because that's all we have available.  Even revelation from the Holy Spirit passes through a human filter.  That's why the words of prophets are subject to other prophets (1 Cor. 14: 29-33).  But we should also ask if our human perspective of dimension and time could limit our understanding of the eternal plan of God, and if we might be missing something because of that.  

The traditionally accepted explanation of Gen. 1-3 is that the creation, and Adam and Eve, were created perfect -- which is an interpretation of being created "in our likeness" or "in our image" (Gen. 1:26, 27).  In spite of long-established tradition, can we admit that we really don't know exactly what that means?  Created perfect sets up the disobedience of Adam and Eve, and the doctrine of "the fall of man" comes from Gen. 3.  To have "a fall," you have to start off at some point of higher elevation -- as though gravity is sin and the rocks at the bottom of the ravine are the consequences?  This sin now sets up the inevitable failure of the human nature to please God, so creating the need for Christ, the Redeemer, so that we can be "bought back" and again placed in the position of Adam, with final perfection coming at the Second Coming of Christ.  

From human perspective, looking backwards in time and trying to understand what has already happened, this looks like pretty rocky terrain for a plan to unfold -- perfect, then sin, then slowly developing a called people, then a law to point out sin, then a law that cannot be kept, then a law that represents condenmation, then a law that represents such a coating of legalism that the original intent is missed, then a Savior -- a Redeemer, the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God -- sets us back in the grace of God.  What if the line of progression were not up and down and jagged depending on circumstances of the time -- what if the line was more linear.  Linear or straight, as though the line described the path of a plan -- made beforehand rather than following almost random-appearing reactions to changing circumstances.  Said another way, what has been in charge -- have the circumstances developed according to a predetermined plan, or has the plan had to adjust according to human response or failure or other natural circumstances?  

The doctrine of "the fall" does not appear as such in scripture -- it is a traditional interpretation of the meaning of Gen. 3.  That doesn't automatically mean the interpretation is wrong, but it should not be that the doctrine is above question or investigation. 

So, what would be a plan that is bigger than redemption, bigger than rescue, bigger than evangelism, even bigger than creation, itself? A plan into which all of these important concepts find place and function. A plan that targets us but centers on God, as we are drawn to Him. A plan that is so big and so important that it overshadows all human based endeavors. A plan that is the reason why the universe was made, why we are here, and what we are supposed to be doing. A plan that is the center of everything. A plan that ties everything together, physical and spiritual, because "in him all things hold together" (Col. 1:17). A plan that calls for the church to show the manifold wisdom of God to the authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10).The plan is so simple -- actually, it was included in the above discussion. Did you catch it? We miss the plan's importance when we impose the limits of our human understanding of time and space upon it and miss the continuity on either side of time. When we miss the plan, we place it lower than our ideas, interpretations, developments, and doctrines. Our methods of achieving the plan (as we understand it) for God takes precedence over the plan, itself. The one sovereign plan of God brings unity; our variations of human "wisdom," elevated above the plan, bring division.  The extent to which there is division in the body of Christ is the extent to which the plan of God is misunderstood, and vice versa.  So, how are we doing?

The plan: we are to grow to be like God.
Eph. 4:24
"...to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."  
Why does Eph. 4:24 give the plan; why is it so important; and why are we missing it? Those questions are the subject of the two web sites below, written under the pseudonym of "drtheophilus."

http://www.createdtobelikegod.com
http://www.intheimageofthecreator.com

These sites are comprised of a somewhat tortuous collection of around half a million words -- somewhere between "scratch notes put together" and a "rough draft" of some sort of "real" publication. In spite of the sometimes random presentation of the logic, these sites are dedicated to trying to explain something beyond (at least my) human comprehension -- the eternal plan of God to which everything in heaven and earth submits, fully revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ. 

God loved us so much that He saves us, but God saves us so that we can be like Him in true righteousness and holiness.  The ultimate salvation is when He comes for His called and elect -- recognized because they are His family who resemble Him, the Father. 

How we execute the plan in the kingdom of God on earth is how we will live the plan with joy in the kingdom of God in heaven.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

148. NO CONFLICT BETWEEN THE FOREORDAINED PLAN OF GOD AND EVOLUTION

Regarding evolution, science, and the Bible, I have turned 180 degrees twice, a complete 360 -- and that only describes the rotation in 2 dimensions.  Sixty plus years ago, I was told in Sunday school that the earth was 6000 years old, created in 4004 BC, during six 24 hour periods of time.  That was my final answer, and I was sticking to it.  Everything in Genesis 1-3 was literal down to each word -- as well as the Tower of Babel and Noah's Ark and various other literal interpretations.  Attending a Christian college and then pharmacy school, I didn't have to worry much about successful contradictions to my creationist ideas -- one doesn't get much evolutionary science in pharmacy school except in freshman biology, which I had taken at a Christian college anyway.  You don't have to worry too much about monkeys in a pharmacy counting pills by the five'ses, except there was one customer who would bring his pet monkey in on his shoulder.  But graduate school was outside of that range of protection.  I began to recognize overwhelming evidence for evolutionary origins, which didn't fit with the 6 day theory.   For years, studying John Clayton materials and other similar publications, I tried to fit evolutionary ages with the sequence in Genesis.  The Big Bang was the Big Bad, but there sure was a lot of time scrunched into those first 3 days.  I read Desmond Morris' book, "The Naked Ape," and thought what it proposed was just terrible, but then I read the description of the natural man in Romans 7-8 and Galatians 5 and recognized those verses did characterize someone who behaved a lot like an ape.  Then the explanation was "the God of the gaps"; then it was more of a theistic evolution.  But it seemed that I was always trying to take what sounded like an allegorical biblical story and transform it into objective data that might coincide with conclusions from science -- coming from a million times that much data.  There was always this uneasy cease-fire in my mind between scientific data and the old Sunday school engrams of an instant creation.

So, the Bible tells the Who and the Why in the spiritual realm, and science tells the When and the How in the physical realm.  Okay, but one still has this urge to at least put the edges together for a seamless fit between the Bible and science.  And being perfectly honest, there is an interface between the spiritual and physical realms that necessarily involves harmonious overlap which is difficult to obtain, so many people just either deny the spiritual realm exists at all or claim that the most of the scientific discoveries in the physical realm are invalid.  Because the questions still exist, a problem is created called "How to make up something that is out of your territory after you have declared the real answer to be non-existent."

One source of my concern was that the Biblical account was always having to be interpreted around scientific evidence.  Well, maybe "day" didn't mean "day" as in 24 hours; maybe "light" in verse 3 meant something different than "light" in verse 16; maybe there was a little micro-evolution going on in these periods of time described as "days."  Then, there were discoveries of relativity and time warp and multiple universes and strings and the search for the Theory of Everything (Unified Field Theory) to explain and give meaning to everything in the universe.  How would a few verses about creation fit into that?  Time warp the scripture?  What a conundrum!

But, now, I have been freed from all of that.  Because it really doesn't matter.  In fact, if worrying about "origins" becomes too much of a focus and obsession, it can become idolatrous.

My revelation (or "epiphany" for cessationists - which I also was years ago) came only recently while studying the foreordained plan of God, formed before creation and time, with a predestined outcome, held in mystery until the coming of Jesus Christ and fulfilled as the promise of the Father on the Day of Pentecost for all of those who would follow in the last days.  We are in those days, and we as Christians and as the church have expectations and responsibilities to do in response to being called into the kingdom of light as the elect and children of God and called according to His purpose. 

The more I read and studied and compared the many scriptures concerning the plan of God and the developments that followed in the effecting of this plan, the more I came to certain new realizations.

[1]  God foreordained before creation that we, in these days, would be transformed into the character of Jesus Christ and into the glory of God, because we were created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24).  There is nothing in heaven or on earth, past, present, or future, that is more important for the pinnacle of God's physical creation - humankind - to understand and submit to than the plan of God.  At the coming of the Lord, we will all understand the importance of this sovereign plan.

[2]  Everything in the Bible points to the effecting, or carrying out, of God's plan.  God's plan was that we should be declared sin-free by the blood of Jesus so that we could receive His genes, the same spiritual DNA given to Jesus Christ in the flesh, who modeled what the plan should look like in its perfection.  Jesus, Himself, was an author of the plan before time began, and He came to fulfill and to bring the plan into its final phase, which occurred on the Day of Pentecost when Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:33).  The promise to Abraham, carried through the ages and prophesied about over the centuries, was brought about by Jesus, but the promise of the Father was the Holy Spirit, and the gift of the Holy Spirit being the genes of God to transform us into His likeness.  This occurs at the baptism within the Holy Spirit (Spirit Holy in the Greek) and the new birth of the New Creation in Christ.

[3]  This plan of God is the Unifying Law of Everything.  God's plan was made before creation, therefore, it preempts creation, time, and everything.  Therefore, the physical universe since time began fits into God's plan, not the other way around.  God's plan is the reason the universe was made and everything in it.  Everything in the Bible and everything in science - all discoveries past, present, future - submit to God's plan. 

[4]  The plan is why the universe exists, why physical cosmic and earthly developments occurred as they did over whatever number of years, why humans exist and why we are here, what we are supposed to be doing, and what the organization of Christians called the body of Christ, the church, is supposed to be doing.  The plan also reveals how God expects that we should prepare for eternity. 

[5]  The word of God trumps any discovery of man - in science (all disciplines) as well as theology and religion (any and all).  But watch out and don't be too fast to run with that one.  Human discovery is not limited to science, but it also applies to human interpretation of the message that the words translated by humans in human hands, and how these words reveal of the mind of God.  The word of God is inerrant, but my opinion about and my interpretation of the printed words on the page of the Bible are not inerrant.  We say we understand that, but then we pridefully act as though we don't.  There are many, many golden calves of "accepted" interpretation of what the scripture says and of what God "means to say," and every one of those idols must be melted down.  Better that we should melt them as a sacrifice of ourselves on the alter of God than God melt them down when our work is tested on the final day of the Lord.

[6]  The Unifying Law of Everything in the Universe is the Who and the Why, and compared to that, the importance of the How and the When is insignificant. If I gain all the arguments about evolution or Young Earth Creationism, if I publish books and videos, if I debate everyone else into the ground, if I win all the arguments on comment sections on blogs about theistic this or that, what has it gained me, unless it transforms me into the righteousness and holiness of God at the fastest possible rate.  Realize that the difference between my little measly rate of transformation while I argue about origins compared to the rate of transformation I could be attaining by the works of service God has prepared in advance for me to do, that difference is sin. Thank God for His grace, but His grace frees me to become like Him and not to keep on inflating my prideful interpretations of what I think He said back in Sunday school or in my doctrinally prejudiced seminary. 

[7]  If you haven't caught the idea by the increasing temperature of the developing rhetoric, we should feel a sense of urgency, just like those in the first century, when the writer said "as you see the day approaching."  We must lay aside those things that entangle us -- one of which is the pride of interpretation.

[8]  Since my faith is in Christ and in the power of God that is transforming me into His likeness and since my faith is not in my past interpretations of scripture, I am free to let these interpretations go rather than having to defend them.  To say that the creation story and the Garden and Adam and Eve may be allegorical stories, along with the Towel of Babel and the Flood and Noah's Ark and maybe even Jonah and the fish, and Job and parts of Daniel may be apocalyptic would once have really messed with my head, but not now, because my faith is no longer in my previous interpretations.  That frees me to look past my previous interpretations, which I considered to be literal, conservative, and fundamental, to new and deeper meanings of these scriptures -- meanings that reveal the carrying out of the plan of God.  I cannot afford to get all upset over evidence for or against a world wide flood, because getting focused on that debate does not make me to be more like God.  And to focus and be consumed on something in the past takes away time and energy from my becoming like God in the future.  That is sin.

[9]  I used to think (a) that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God that contained everything for salvation, (b) that the Bible was to be interpreted literally and in doing so, I was a conservative, fundamentalist who was dedicated to restoring New Testament Christianity.  That expressed view of myself is unchanged -- but what I have now are different definitions of these words, and I understand differently the meanings of these words.  I am free from the legalistic chains that have bound me to the traditional interpretations of the English translation of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, so now I can consider more carefully how the readers of the time might have interpreted either the writing to them of the events as they were recorded.  For example, I used to struggle with the idea of God in the O.T. getting angry and busting people, or threatening to wipe the Israelites out unless Moses interceded.   I now do not have a problem with God allowing these verses to have been written from a human perspective of thinking that God must have been angry when something bad happened.  Or even that the conversation of Moses talking God out of trashing the Israelites was included as a representation of Christ.  "You mean it really didn't happen that way?"  It happened that way, but I may have misinterpreted the meaning of the scripture by making the words English literal instead of context literal.  I don't have a problem with it either way, but now I am free to consider a wider range of options that might better fit into the development of the plan of God.  Because scriptures no longer stand on their own, or even stand within a micro-context.  The highest level of interpretation of all scripture should be how it relates to the development of the plan of God at that time.

[10]  God's plan was effected in three major ages, eons, or stages -- (1) physical creation and development, (2) creation of social structure and order and development of religious thinking, and (3) the New Creation and spiritual development (transformation, sanctification, renewal).  In physical creation, humankind was formed with intelligence that could sufficiently comprehend God, right and wrong, obedience, submission, and authority in order to proceed to the development of social and interactive skills.  Social development occurred throughout the Old Testament record, as God helped people to have higher and higher accountability in their submission to Him and in their treatment of one another as facilitated by the development of their political structures.  Their political structures eventually became corrupt because human effort alone is destined to follow the path of entropy.  When the time had fully come, Christ came and accomplished, fulfilled, modeled, taught, and brought about everything in perfection that was necessary for the final phase of the plan to be effected.  The final phase was initiated on the Day of Pentecost, when the plan of our "creation to be like God" was fully revealed. 

[11] Each of these three phases involved a gradual change that could be called an "evolution."  Thus, there was physical evolution, social/religious/political evolution, and spiritual evolution.  Humanism reigned until the Day of Pentecost -- then the genes of God became available for the evolution into new heights never possible before -- to be like God.  We do not evolve retrogradely, or backwards.  We do not return to Adam "before sin."  The doctrines of original sin, the "Fall of Man," and "once saved always saved" are erroneous and do not fit with the revealed plan of God.  God did not plan that man would fail.  Jesus did not come to redeem a plan gone awry.  The plan was made to be continually progressive, and it was.

[12] Each of these three phases involves a change from something more simple to something more complex.  There is an increase in complexity and ability of function over time, and the increase is gradual and accumulative.  Each of the phases starts where the previous one fully matured, or completed its development.  Each phase didn't stop; it kept going like a baton handed off in a relay.  The next phase was only superimposed over the previous phase and surpassed it in development.  So, each phase involved starting simple and going more complex, which continued until a time of completion or "perfection" when sufficient development had occurred for a higher phase to start.  The transition of the physical evolution phase occurred in Genesis as depicted by the creation story and the Garden of Eden.  Mankind was ready for a social evolution for development of a society with increasing complexity and knowledge of religion and national organization.  This evolution had matured sufficiently that the "fullness of time had come" for Christ, who was the transition between the humanistic social/religious/political phase to the spiritual phase which preempts everything that came before.  We are evolving -- changing -- transforming -- toward perfection and maturity -- the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:14-16) and the righteousness and holiness of God (Eph. 4:24). 

Everything since the beginning of time has pointed toward this age.  What are we doing with it? 

God is unchanging -- the same before the creation of the world, the same during time, and the same after.  Every revelation we have of the method of God is described as a gradual process from simple to complex.  There is no precedent or revelation in scripture that is consistent with a sudden six 24 hour days in which everything just gets zapped into existence.  The plan of God as revealed in the scripture does not support Young Earth Creationism.  It does support an evolutionary process, even one that is seemingly indistinguishable from the natural.  What appears random to us is by design from God. 

There is no conflict between Genesis 1-3 and evolution or any other scientific discovery; no conflict with a 16.3 billion year universe or with a 4.5 billion year earth; no conflict with an evolution of mankind.  Conflict is due to our faulty interpretations.  We need to stop trying to make a conflict where there is none and instead show the world what it looks like to be growing to be like God.  Because we can't do both. 

So, how should Gen 1-3 be interpreted if not as a physical creation?  See books by John Walton and Peter Enns about the Garden of Eden describing a view of a temple of God in which He lives and over which Adam was caretaker. 

There are many posts on this site (createdtobeliegod), as well as the companion site (intheimageofthecreator), that go into more detail about various aspects of the summary here.  This is just another attempt to begin to explain the incomprehensible.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

082. GOD (by Intelligent Design) CREATED (by supernatural power) THE UNIVERSE (and the earth and all life) THROUGH AN EVOLUTIONARY (so-called “natural”) MECHANISM

A misplaced battle

A problem was presented in the previous post.  People get embroiled over the apparent conflict between the Genesis account of creation and the science account of evolution, and this conflict produces a number of consequences, none of which are good for the witness of the church.

First, people on both sides of the issue get their eyes on one another and become so argument-focused that they overextend the evidence for their position and discredit themselves by making unjustifiable conclusions and rhetorical statements.   Atheists who do this don’t have much to lose, but the church places the credibility of its witness to the world at stake.  It appears that it is more important to discredit the opposing view than it is to find the real truth. 

Second, a lot of resources are consumed trying to win a battle which is unwinnable, because, while we are convinced that we must wage a battle for righteousness and the honor of God and the scriptures, we are opposing ourselves by fighting more from human pride against a straw man of our own creation.  In this state of self-induced chaos, each time a new discovery in science is made and evidence against God is (falsely) claimed, Christians act as though their faith has been threatened.  The defensive response is to get on the offensive and somehow find flaws in the science or discredit the validity of the results so that the conclusions can be disregarded.  But this is like fighting an enemy on his own territory, using his own rules, and using his methods and implements after we have left our superior weapons back in the garage.  Some act as though they don’t realize these resources even exist.

Opposing views are actually parallel, not head-on

The first line, separate, but in parallel with the second line.  So, we have people who use discoveries of the natural universe to say that God is not needed to explain how the universe and life came about and to say that anyone who believes in a God is unreasoning and superstitious.  But, by making these assertions, they show the gaps in their own evidence against a role of God, mainly [1] from where did the original energy/matter come to start the “big bang,” and [2] how can the formation of the universe after the big bang and the formation of life on the earth come about by a random process when the statistically probability is ridiculously finite that such a complicated chain of event could happen within the age of the universe?  Are these gaps in evidence indicative that evolution is fiction and that the earth is 6000 years old or that people are limiting an explanation to the bounds of their own human comprehension?

Second line, separate, but in parallel with the first line.  So, we have people who apply their interpretations of the Genesis account of creation to say that God had to create the universe, the earth, and all life within a period of 6 x 24 hour periods of time, that matter or life represented by each day suddenly sprang into existence independent from the previous days, that the earth has to be 6000 years old and made to look 6 billion years old by God for some unknown reason, that scientific data that cannot be made to fit with this interpretation has to be wrong, and that anyone who disagrees has, at a minimum, streaks of atheism.  But, by making these assertions, they show the gaps in their own methodology and the narrowness of their thinking by insisting that their interpretation of Genesis is the only correct one.  With that view, a distortion of scientific evidence to fit a particular interpretation is easy to justify.   But, by doing this, don't the proponents of this interpretation signal that they are limiting the acts of God to the bounds of their own human comprehension?

Why make this proposal?

This is a proposal directed toward believers, and it assumes that those who might give it favorable consideration will not be viewing and evaluating it through a Godless filter.  Just to make sure this presupposition is obvious and up-front, this proposal starts with an admitted particular foundation, stated as follows --

God exists as the Creator;

God is the definition of all love, righteousness, and holiness, that the relationships between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are divine, supernatural, and given to us an example of the fellowship God wants with all of His creation, particularly that part, Man, created in His own image;

God through supernatural power created the universe, the world, the earth, and everything in it, including all life, including humankind;

God, Himself, has no limitations or constraints that are imposed upon His creation, such as time or spatial dimensional;

God is of infinite power and intelligence, that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, and that His ways are beyond our understanding;

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to be fully human as well as fully divine, to show us the true and final revelation of the character of God, to die and pay the price for our sins so that we can be declared perfect even as we grow into perfection, to be resurrected in power so that sin and death would be defeated and that we might be also resurrected in a new spiritual body that will reside with God forever, just as God resides within us and within His church today but with much greater fellowship in heaven,

God sent His Holy Spirit, poured out by the Lord Jesus Christ first on the Day of Pentecost, to dwell within our hearts and within the church, transforming us into the likeness of God with the church growing into the fullness of Jesus Christ our Lord;

God through supernatural intervention caused his Logos Word to be recorded and preserved so that we may know of His revelation and of His will for us, that this scripture is inspired and without error -- although our human interpretations of the scripture will be imperfect and prone to error;

The Holy Spirit, who was poured out by Jesus, reminds us and teaches us of God’s word and leads us into all truth;

As the redeemed elect of God, we have the right to approach the throne of God and ask for understanding, wisdom, and our own revelation into the mind of God as He has revealed it to us in his word and in His creation;

We, as being created in God’s own image, are to bring glory to Him by showing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and by showing the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the unity of the Spirit in the relationships we have one with another in the church;

We, as the body of Christ, are to be a witness to the world of the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord by our love for one another, by our extension of forgiveness and reconciliation and peace, and by our oneness in the body of Christ that resembles the unity between the Son and the Father (John 17).

It is for the above reasons;  it for the sake of the testimony of the church to the world; and it is for the very survival of the candlestick of the church as we know it in America that the following proposal is made:

A Design by God Appears Random only from a Human Perspective

Surely someone had this idea long ago, because it is actually so simple.  We need to stop creating God in our human image by limiting how He had done, and does, and by conforming His works to something that we can think of and comprehend.  Unbelievers might have an excuse for doing this, because they don’t know anything greater than themselves.  But what excuse does the Christian have, unless he or she also has unbelief -- in the power of God or in His Spirit at work.

What does it mean that “God laid the foundations of the world” (1 Sam. 2:8; Job 38:4; Ps. 102:25, 104:5; Prov. 3:19, 8:29; Isa. 48:13, 51:13, 51:16; Jer.31:37; Mic. 6:2; Heb. 1:10)?  What about God setting in motion from the beginning all the natural laws so that changes between energy and matter and in the formation of the earth and of life and Man in His image were predestined to occur?  We have enough trouble fathoming the expanse of the universe from the guessed outer limits to the calculations of string theory.  What must be the intelligence of the divine being that planned all of this and set the inevitable in motion 13.6 billion years ago?  What different would that amount of time, be it more or less, make to an eternal God not limited by time? 

In the beginning, God provided the starting material for the big bang, and, from our humanly limited perspective, it was “out of nothing.”  God made the foundations of the universe and set them into motion so that everything would occur as He predestined.  We know from scripture there are times when God displays power from somewhere out of the physical realm, according to our understanding this is called “supernatural.”  God may have done this type of intervention at times during the 13.6 billion years of universe/earth/life/human formation, or there may be “natural” processes following the “natural” laws God set in place that we have not yet discovered.  This intentional and purposeful intervention of God’s power would improve the probability of change so that seemingly random processes would indeed occur within the time of formation of the universe (and "probability" could be called "certainty").

Cycles

How did God do this?  I have yet another suggestion that will be developed sometime in future posts.  I believe God created the universe, set the laws of the universe in place to be followed according to God’s design of order and time, and allowed the design to be played out according to His purpose by using cycles.  The entire universe and everything in it operates according to the laws set out by cycles -- from the most dominant master cycle, which is said to originate from out of our known universe, down to strings, which are the smallest component of all matter.  Cycles rule the physical realm by laws, which we (and the church) subject ourselves to when we operate out of the sinful nature instead out of the Spirit.

Who do we think we are?

Back in Galileo’s day, it was thought that the earth was the center of the universe.  We know better now (although the church gave a rough time to those people who first presented the contrary evidence).  So, since we know about the corrected physical evidence, let us not repeat the same mistake.  Let us not act conceptually as though we think the explanation for the universe, and it’s origin (God), revolves around our human capacity to understand.  We are not in control.  This is a different type of application of the saying, “Let go and let God.” 

Is this saying that God designed everything that happened throughout 13.6 billion years ahead of time and set it all in motion knowing what would happen -- all the way from the big bang to the evolutionary formation of Man to the coming of Christ to us today?   All of this designed and predestined to happen beforehand?  That is the proposal.  How much more glory does this give to the phenomenal power of a omnipotent Creator of this universe– to do something absolutely out of our world?

This is so unfathomably huge that it is inconceivable to us.  And that’s why we didn’t conceive of it.  God did.  The best we can do is come up with a name for it – it’s called Intelligent Design.

There is a book recently published on the subject of Intelligent Design (Harry Lee Poe and Jimmy H. Davis, “God and the Cosmos: Divine Activity in Space, Time and History”) which was reviewed on Jesus Creed (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/04/26/god-and-the-cosmos-rjs/).  People are struggling with these concepts, trying to resolve our understanding with the actions of a sovereign God. 

One point that the book, and review, make is that there seems to be a general assumption that if we can understand something, it takes it out of the supernatural realm and therefore out of the domain of God.  But, in reality, nothing is out of God’s domain, and the physical realm came from out of the spiritual realm; so, the physical realm contains the design of God.  That’s what Romans 1 says.  This idea of God’s Design through what is called “natural means,” including evolution, actually blurs the interface between the physical and spiritual realms and the meaning of natural and supernatural.  It is all from out of a supernatural source, and, once again, calling something “natural” or “supernatural” is from our human perspective.  That also impacts our definition of a “miracle,” which is a subject for another time.  We humans are the ones who tend to mistakenly label things “miracle” or “supernatural” and “natural.”  That is a study of scripture for another time. 

Who should understand this role of God any more than Christians who have the Spirit of God in them?  Christians should be the leaders in the full use of God’s bandwidth, leaders in expanding the interface of human knowledge about the creation and the Creator, leaders in understanding the significance and role of the body of Christ on the earth.  But, aren’t we instead squandering too many of our resources trying to pit one source of God’s revelation against another source -- God revealed in the scripture and God revealed in the things He has made?  Fighting an enemy on their turf when it’s really ourselves?  It is reminiscent of the scene in Star War IV (first one released) when Luke went out to meet Darth Vader.  Luke said, “I’m not afraid.”  Yoda said, “You will be.  You will be.”  Luke met Darth Vader and took of Vader’s mask only to see an image of himself.  Had Luke been fighting himself? 

Open questions – don’t know the answers

There are questions that a “Design by Evolution” idea raises.  How does the Garden of Eden fit into this?  How about Adam and Eve?  How about the sin and the serpent?  When during the course of evolution did God say, “Okay, Mr. Hominid, your brain grew enough between yesterday and today that now its big enough for Me to breathe into you My breath of life?”  Or what other means was used? 

First of all, I don’t know those answers.  But, if we would spend less time and resources on questions that have already been answered and we just haven’t perceived it yet, we would have more time and resources to devote to questions that we really do not know. 

Let’s not be prideful, like Job

God “dresses down” Job in Job chapter 38, mainly because of Job’s pride in thinking that he had God all figured out.  God tells Job that not only does he not understand, but Job didn’t design and create the physical realm in the first place, “so just who do you think you are?”

Job 38: (God speaks to Job)
02 Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
19 What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?  Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
Job 41: (God continues)
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.
Job 42: (Job responds)
2 I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, “Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

God working beyond our human capacity to understand should be no surprise to the Christian

Of all people, a Christian has the evidence that God works in ways beyond human comprehension.  Do we read verses such as the following and think, “Oh, yeah!  Paul addresses those atheists and scientists and academicians who think they’re so smart that they don’t need God, and does he tells them a thing or two!” 

That’s true, but maybe Paul message also speaks to us -- that we aren’t so smart either when we tell God what Genesis 1 means and how He did or didn’t create the universe.  

1 Cor. 3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours,

“All things are yours.”  Stretching that verse somewhat, “You have the maximum bandwidth to God’s revelation, why are you messing around with this self-deceptive trivia?”

There are numerous verses that indicate a blurry barrier between the spiritual and physical realms.  All things – earth and heaven – were created for and by Christ, and all things were reconciled through His blood.  The physical and spiritual are intertwined.  The presence of God permeates through all of the physical realm as well as the spiritual.

Col. 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

God has predestined (planned, designed) before the creation of the world

God had a plan, an Intelligent Design, before the creation of the world. – and that includes the physical world, not just the spiritual world.  God’s will was in place that we would be adoptied as His children even before the big bang occurred.  How can a Christian not think that God was anything other than involved in all of the creation process – and what does it even matter what physical substrate God used for the process – 6 x 24 hour days or 13.7 billion years?  Let’s just go with the preponderance of the data and get on with the important work, like showing the power of the love of Christ to the world by the way we love and serve one another in the body of Christ, the church.  Not by the way we argue.

Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

Eph. 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Why should the Christian be surprised that God works in ways beyond our comprehension?  Do we think this only applies to understanding the spiritual realm?  No, it applies to the formation of the universe as well. 

Eph. 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

So, how do we argue this point to the atheists who quote their findings to say there is no God? 

We don’t argue.  That’s ineffective. 

We will continue to convince no one and continue to get nowhere by trying to argue against evolution or someone else’s data.  As we will see when we finally get to discussing the psychology of human morality, people are convinced primarily by what they experience and only to a very small extent by what they reason.  That includes even the New Atheists who say they uphold reason.

We will not convince anyone by spending time, effort, and resources arguing about their reasoning behind their points.  They had their beliefs before they did the experiments.  We will convey the message of the love of Christ by showing to the world how the truths we believe make a Spirit-led difference our lives and in the relationship of members of the body of Christ, the church.  Then the world will observe something that they need, because they recognize it is better than what they have.  And they will come and ask, “What are you doing?”  They will not ask, “What are you arguing?”

Christians should take the lead in "casting out the log" of hypocrisy.  We should "get our own act together" before thinking that we are helping someone get their act together.  If the others do not recognize they have a problem, our "helping" can be received as "interfering" or "meddling."

No longer need to feel threatened

Let’s say that someone discovers a well-preserved 100,000 year old fossil, which is named Homoafricanis  missinglinkicus.   Atheists jump up and down in delight because …. well…. because of why?  Because they finally have evidence for a natural process between apes and human?  What’s my response going to be? 

Choice 1:
“Oh, no!  What will I do!  My faith is threatened because it is wrapped up in a certain Biblical interpretation that just can’t be wrong because I learned it a long time ago.  I must defend my faith (no, I mean, the faith).  God just couldn’t have done it that way.  I must find something wrong with their data so their conclusions can be invalidated.”

Choice 2:
“Ho-hum!  So what?  That’s not news.  We already knew God did it that way. What changes?  Nothing changes, that’s what!  We know that God used what we call “natural” means to bring about this universe because He designed it that way.  Good job, you guys!  Hope you discover some more, because the more you discover, the more that is revealed about God.”  Then leave them with their mouths open as we go back to what we were created to do – serve others, show the love of Jesus Christ, maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace – preach the good news and heal the blind, lame, sick in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord for the glory of God.

Man was created in the image of God and given the authority of choice.  We can choose the control of the Spirit for life or choose the control by the sinful man and reap the physical consequences of the laws of nature that God set into place as the foundations of the earth.  One path leads to transformation into the likeness of God; the other to entropy.

We were created to be like God.  Let’s choose wisely.

Monday, April 30, 2012

083. A ‘NEW’ THEORY OF EVOLUTION AS THE OVERALL PLAN OF GOD FOR THE PHYSICAL, SOCIAL, AND SPIRITUAL PROGRESSION OF MAN*, WHO WAS “CREATED TO BE LIKE GOD IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS” (Eph. 4:24)

*Note gender neutrality:  Man = human = mankind = Homo sapiens = humanity = male & female inclusive

[This is a continued discussion of some new concepts, at least new to me as a scientist and a Christian, which I am trying to comprehend and get comfortable with myself, even as I organize and express the ideas in writing. “This is not your father’s theory of evolution.”]

A physical, social, and spiritual evolution

The previous post presented a case for God creating the universe through what we would scientifically characterize as a “natural” mechanism played out through 13.6 billion years of cosmic change, 4.5 billion years of material change and biological evolution of life on earth from amino acids and proteins to forms of increasingly complexity from single organisms through the phylogenetic scale –fish—amphibians—reptiles—primates—to around 100,000 years of human evolution.  It was suggested that the creation force was placed into a divinely orchestrated order at the beginning by the laws that God set in place utilizing cycles as the basic foundation.  Cycles are still the foundation holding the universe together today.  God predestined everything in the spiritual and physical realms to occur because of the founding laws governing these realms when they were first created.  Therefore, the words “created,” “evolved,” Intelligent Design,” “natural,” “God,” and “human” were all used in a context together in previous posts because they described various ways to view the same process. 

An advantage of such a global-sized theory is that it brings together a lot of seemingly diverse processes.  A disadvantage of such a theory is that it necessarily involves such a large expanse of assumptions that it almost ensures everyone will find something to disagree with.  But any idea could have some merit if it brought together some concepts of God and creation and scientific data into a more compatible framework when there has been and continues to be such debate, divergence, and division over current interpretations.  That is the spirit in which this idea is offered.

Assumptions and outcomes

A key assumption in the theory that God created everything through an evolutionary mechanism addresses the “randomness” problem.  What appears to be a random process (evolution) from our perspective, from retrospectively assembling together a relatively few pieces of information into a history that is billions of years old, is actually a process of planning, design, and predestination from the perspective of God.  God’s intelligence is so much greater than our human abilities.  We might understand more of God’s perspective one day or we might never understand it, at least not when we ourselves are confined to the limits of the creation – limits of space and time.

Another necessary assumption is that God injected “supernatural” power or energy into the “natural” evolutionary process to increase the probability (perhaps to a certainty) that particular events would occur, because the calculations of the time for such complicated reactions to happen indicate the time required would be too great for the process to have occurred by chance.  That raises new questions.  If God injected energy into the universe from an outside source, what does that say about calculations of entropy from the second law of thermodynamics?  Also, when does God choose to introduce new power into the universe today?

One outcome of this idea is that the separation between the spiritual and the physical realms becomes somewhat blurred; and an implication can be made that the interface between them is rather fluid in nature.  This view would necessitate a review of the concepts of “spiritual” and “natural,” of “heavenly” and “earthly,” of “Spirit control” and “control of the flesh,” “of the will of God” and “sin” or “sinful nature,” of “miracles” and the “power of the Holy Spirit,” and many other similar things.   

Therefore, searching and making discoveries are components of the continued evolutionary process.

Another outcome of this blurred interface between the spiritual and physical realms is when something new about the universe or about nature is discovered by humans, it does not “de-deify” those data because the “mysteriousness” of the mechanism has been identified and can now be understood by the human mind.  The mind, power, design, and purpose of God behind that physical discovery are the same.  Everything is a testimony of God; it isn’t removed from the spiritual realm and placed into the natural realm just because we find out about it.  It has been in the natural realm all along, because that is where God designed it to be.  A little bit of God doesn’t cease to exist whenever we make a new discovery.  And just because we discover something new about nature, why should that imply that humans will one day know everything there is to know about nature, so God will not be necessary?  That self-inflated view requires a lot more faith in an imaginary world than I can muster.  I must choose the more reasonable explanation – the one put forward by Francis Collins, Head of the National Institutes of Health – when we make a discovery, we learn something that was previously known only in the mind of God.  

Does God leave when humans step in?

At one time, the mechanism for neural control of voluntary movement of the limbs was not understood as well as it is today.  Let’s say, just as an example, that the mystery of movement was considered to be something that was done by God (or by whatever divine being recognized at the time).  Then neurons and neural networks were shown to exist, only a few hundred years ago because the action of volatile anesthetics such as ether could not be explained by the body “humors” of Aristotle.  Then it was discovered that neurons could be stimulated with electricity, and localized muscle movements were elicited in areas associated with a somatotopically functional map of the motor cortex.  When this phenomenon was discovered, did the scientists say that, since they had experimentally reproduced neuronally controlled movement in the body, God could not have made the neuron-muscle network?   Did this discovery change the motor control of the musculature from the category of “miraculous and not understood” to “understood and therefore not miraculous?”  Either it was always miraculous or it never was.  Either way, the existence of God or His handiwork doesn’t change because of a change in our human perception or knowledge.  God is the creator of it both ways.  Once again, this illustrates a blend between the domains of the physical and spiritual realms.

There are many observed phenomena which have been attributed to a supernatural action of God which have been later studied and duplicated (supposedly) in a laboratory.  Examples are glossalia (speaking in tongues), after death experiences, feelings of a divine presence, dreams and messages from God, etc.  The conclusions from these studies are usually that if humans can “duplicate” the experience, then it must be a natural phenomenon and not from God; so, once again, God isn’t necessary.  But, again, if some, or even all, of a process can be duplicated “in the natural,” so what??  God created the mechanism and placed it there, and if humans can duplicate part or all of the process, so what??

This type of “if we can duplicate it, then it can’t be of God” thinking is nothing new.  In Exodus 7:8-13, the magicians of Egypt threw down their rods and they became snakes just like Aaron’s rod had done.  Even though the staff of Aaron and Moses consumed the magicians’ staffs, Pharaoh had seen enough duplication for him to conclude they humans had the same power as the Hebrew God.  So, was Pharaoh right?  No, but Pharaoh continued to be stubborn against God’s authority until he walked into God’s judgment at the Red Sea (Exodus 14).

Our attitudes about ourselves may fill our own personal finite universe, but they don’t fill God’s infinite universe.   We need to keep ourselves in perspective in relation to God and to one another (Phil. 2:3-4).

All things have been foreordained by God and placed under the authority of Christ (Col. 1:9-23)

God predestined everything spiritual and physical within this universe.  Before the beginning of creation, the material composing the “big bang,” God had foreordained that man would be physically created (evolved) from basic raw  materials (dust of the earth), that man would be created (formed) in His own image, that man would fall from fellowship with the glory of God because of a choice to sin, that God would make  covenants and promises with Man, that God would send His Son Jesus Christ to save the world, that the Holy Spirit would come and God would live in and among His people in fellowship, that the human nature would be transformed into God’s divine nature by the power of the Spirit, and that Man would be resurrected from physical death in a new spiritual body that would eternally have fellowship with God.  This implies there would be integrated processes of physical, social, and spiritual evolution as part of the overall plan of God.  As said in a previous post, evolution means “change” with an implication that the environmental pressure produces a differentiation between a change toward or away from a better adaptation to those surrounding circumstances. 

The continual phases of evolution

Ever since Man was sufficiently developed so as to be able to record his own history, all three types of evolution have occurred.  Physical evolution has continued to occur within species – bacteria develop antibiotic resistance, viruses develop new strains and evade methods of prevention or eradication, cancerous cells develop, etc.  Man has produced genetic changes and modifications in both plants and animals to suit a special purpose, and a new field of bioethics has evolved socially to deal with the moral control and responsible use of this recent ability to alter nature.  Humans have physically changed also.  Over 50 years ago, my orthodontist told me the reason that wisdom teeth needed to be extracted was that the jawbone had evolved to be shorter because humans didn’t hunt and chow down on raw meet like they used to 30 thousand years ago.  At the time, I thought that explanation was somewhat amusing since it was so undignified and almost ludicrous. 

Approximate fit with Biblical history?

One could speculate that physical, cosmic, and biological evolution (macro-evolution), to and including the formation of Man (human), might correspond to about the first three chapters of Genesis.  The documentation of social evolution began when Adam and Eve (or whoever they represent) left the Garden of Eden and began to populate the earth with humanity.  God progressively revealed more and more of His divine nature to the patriarchs of tribal communities.  Small tribes then evolved socially from aggregates of tribes into a race of people (Hebrews), then to an organized nation of people, still preserving tribal identities (sons of Israel), and then to a kingdom of people organized under a governmental authority of a ruling king.  God then allowed the disruption of that evolved human government through external conquest by the Medes, Persians, and Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans.  Throughout all of this, God preserved a spiritual remnant of His people within which to continue the evolution of religion to sufficient maturity to eventually receive the complete revelation of the nature of God.  In the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4), human physical, social, and religious evolution had sufficiently progressed so that Jesus Christ could come into the world being in the fullness of God (Col. 1:19, 2:9) and in the image of God (Col. 1:15).  God proved that He had predestined this event by having Old Testament writers record prophecies to be fulfilled in detail thousands of years later, telling of specific events that would occur at the time and during the life of Christ.  By God’s design, every prophecy was fulfilled in exactness and completeness.  Jesus completed the plan of God for the redemption of His creation; the Holy Spirit of God came and took up dwelling in Man, who had been created to be like God (Eph. 4:24), and in His church, who would build itself up into the fullness of the knowledge of Christ (Eph. 4:13).  Thus, the final phase of evolution began on the Day of Pentecost, when the power to be transformed into the likeness of God was poured out upon all people (Acts 2:17, 33), and received by those who accepted the gospel of Jesus (Acts 2:41, 47; 4:12; 5:32). 

So, in this dispensational age, we are the final phase of evolution, when the complete revelation of the nature of God has been given (John 20:30-31).  Just because God has been revealed doesn’t mean that we comprehend all of God.  But, by the nature of the “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) and the Holy Spirit within us (1 Cor. 6:19-20), we can have fellowship with God (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 1:5-7) even as we continue to grow into His likeness.  We prepare for an eternal relationship with God by working “in the laboratories of God” [posts 39, 40, 41] in which we experience his Divine nature – revealed in the church and the marriage relationship and the natural creation. 

Genesis 1-3

Therefore, the first three chapters of Genesis should not be expected to contain a literal scientific account of the physical details of Creation, and those who force that eisegesis upon the passages do a great disservice to the inspiration of the scripture and to the knowledge that God intends for us to have about His plan.  Rather than an account of science, Genesis tells of the beginning of the redemptive and ordained plan of God as it was initially transferred from the mind of God into the formation of this universe and of His highest creation, man and woman. 

We are that highest form of creation; let us be good stewards with that privilege.  There are some parables that Jesus taught that may have relevance to God’s expectations of our stewardship -- of the physical earth, of forming a helpful and beneficial society, and of spiritually developing the character of God.  Some of the standards seem pretty high.  Maybe we should get all our eggs into one basket instead of throwing them at one another.

Speculation city?

Very admittedly, this idea of continued evolution in both the physical and spiritual realms is hypothetical, speculative, assumptive, imaginative, and just about every other “…cal” and “…tive” one could think of.

But it does made sense that the Creator would have an orderly and consistent design in His plan for those who have been “created in the image of God.”

This is the reason why Christians should understand that they have the widest bandwidth to the revelation of God.  We, of all people, should understand that it is all available through the Logos of God, while others have chosen to put filters on their frequencies so they receive only a narrow band.  

The widest, most open, and least restrictive method for receiving the most complete revelation of God comes when the universal body of Christ is maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).  How are we doing with that?

Friday, May 4, 2012

084. THE PREDESTINED DESIGN FOR OUR EVOLUTION INTO THE LIKENESS OF GOD

“If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.” Acts 10: 15 (The Message)

It was proposed in the previous several posts that God had a plan for us before the big bang ever happened -- a plan of supernatural design of evolution that included creation, physical formation, and spiritual transformation.  The entire creation has, as a whole, gone through this.  Now, each person goes through the same steps in their creation (conception), physical formation (development, physical birth, physical growth, mental growth, social maturation), and spiritual transformation (new spiritual birth, indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to transform the human spirit into the likeness of God).

Ephesians 1:  (underlining and italics mine for particular emphasis)

      3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.


God is the Creator of all things, in heaven and on earth, meaning everything in the universe. God's plan for us was brought to completion through Jesus Christ.  Just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden, we can choose God's plan or our own plan.  The search for Truth using God's plan involves both the physical and spiritual realms.  Alternatively, people can choose to search for the Truth using their own human plan and even denying God's plan exists.  Although they search for the same Truth, their human-only methodology is incomplete, so they are destined to find only a part of the Truth. 

Christians, and the church as the body of believers, should show, by their own behavior and from their own search for the Truth, what the results of a search using all methods -- physical and spiritual -- should look like.  The discoveries involving the universe made by those who deny God are not invalid -- in fact, the results are to be considered important and vital in the search for Truth.  But these data must be interpreted in the light of a larger picture that Christians have because of their acceptance of the full revelation of God through Jesus Christ.  Therefore, Christians have the leading of the Holy Spirit into the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Too many Christians today seem to be unaware of their responsibility as well as all the truth-searching methods given by God for their use.  Some Christians use the methods in a prideful way, which produces a poor witness to the world.  Some get on their own path and justify their choice by distorting the interpretations of both the Genesis account of creation and the results of scientific studies regarding evolutionary mechanisms -- all to fit their preformed conclusions.  This is a common method of humanistic origin, and it's outcome is often used by the enemy to bring discredit to the church.

Therefore, it’s not a truth competition between the Bible and science.  It’s not a matter of creation or evolution.  It’s not a problem of monkeys and apes and humans, of billions of years, of random chance and spontaneous generation or Intelligent Design, of the supernatural or the natural.  The answer is “E.  All of the above.”  It is all a part of God.  It is all an unfolding sequence of God’s eternal plan.  God owns it all, and God has designed the universe and the spiritual realm so that we can be a part of the plan. 

God is the author of Intelligent Design and set the fundamental laws in place by which the control of cosmic, chemical, biological, human evolution took place over billions of years. 

From examining the remnants of the past universe, much of what has physically transpired appears to be spontaneous and random.  But this is a view by humans of finite capabilities looking retrospectively at a very fragmented picture of the outcome of actions of divine intelligence of infinite magnitude.  What appears random to us is a predestined certainty to God. 

God planned and foreknew before the creation of the world (the big bang) that humans would be created in the image of God, that they would sin and be separated from Him in fellowship, and that Jesus Christ would come and redeem the creation from the consequences of sin and death. 

Part of God’s design was to use a slow, gradual process for change according to natural law to create a physical substrate (human), who would learn social skills of survival and self-betterment through group interactions.  Through continued maturation of both an individual and a collective understanding of God as the author and focus for life and the development of disciplined religious approaches to God as sovereign and divine, righteous, and holy, worthy of all obedience, praise, and worship, mankind finally had socially and religiously evolved enough for the final phase of God’s plan.

The final revelation of the nature of God was given through the coming of Jesus Christ, who not only revealed God but also provided the way that God’s highest form of creation could grow and change into the likeness of the character of God, Himself.  Empowered by the Holy Spirit of God with a source of energy from outside the physical realm, man and woman, individually, man and woman joined by marriage, and men and women comprising the body of believers in Jesus Christ, could reach past their own humanity and take on the very nature of God, as taught and modeled by Jesus Christ in the flesh on earth. 

This final phase of evolution (change, transformation, growth) into the character of God began on the Day of Pentecost AD 30 (or 33, depending on the calendar used) and continues today.

This 13+ billion year process of evolution according to God’s plan for us to be like Him can be summarized as three major phases, each one providing a means of growing toward God at a faster rate than the rate of the previous phase.  

Although this plan for a completed evolutionary change is God’s plan for us, He does not force us to get on the bus.  It is our choice.  From the perspective of the lesson of the Garden of Eden, humans can either bask in their self-glory because they have been allowed to usurp the control of their own destiny, or they can choose to grow into the knowledge of the Creator.  The human choice was symbolized in the Garden by Adam and Eve deciding to follow their own desires rather than the command of God, and consequently being denied fellowship with God or the opportunity to have access to the tree of life through Him.  

Thus, the divergent path in the Garden illustrated the basic choice -- to follow either the plan that God designed that leads to spiritual life or the plan of natural course of the universe, also designed by God, which is destined to follow the 2nd law of Thermodynamics.  Adam and Eve made the latter choice by elevating themselves to the place of God in using their own human wisdom to determine what they thought was right and wrong. This was rebellion toward God.  Adam and Eve made the first decision recorded in scripture using humanistic thinking, although they did not deny that God existed.

We have the same choice – to exercise human wisdom in the natural knowledge of good and evil or to exercise the option of obedience to God and acceptance of the plan He designed before the creation of the world and revealed through Jesus Christ.  The first option is symbolized in the Garden by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (using the standards of human wisdom on the earth); the second option is symbolized by the tree of life which is experienced throughout eternity and guaranteed now by the Holy Spirit.  Understanding the different outcomes that accompany each of the different choices requires spiritual discernment using the Spirit of God.  Those without the Spirit of God think the path toward God is foolish, and they cannot understand it (1 Cor. 2:13-14).

The proposal being made, that God is the author of all evolution, physical and spiritual, is summarized in the diagram below.  A lot of detail, removed for simplicity, may be added back to a diagram in a future post.


The diagram depicts the three phases of human evolution, all designed by God.  Physical evolution began at the big bang from which matter and energy were formed from out of nothing within this universe (the outside supernatural power of God).  Through cosmic, chemical, biological evolution, and human evolution, the physical substrate, created in the image of God, into which God could breathe His Spirit was formed.  After ejection from the Garden, Adam and Eve began to populate the earth so that social and cultural evolution could begin.  God was present with His people, but did not live within His people because of their sin.  At the fullness of time, Jesus Christ came, died to pay the price for atonement of all sin and was raised from the dead in a final victory over death, which paved the way for our own resurrection.  Jesus Christ showed and taught the completed revelation of the nature of God the Father and returned to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could be poured out upon all people.  Those who accept Christ (instead of the bad choice of Adam and Eve) are cleansed from sin so that the Holy Spirit of God can come and take up abode within their hearts.  This is the power of the supernatural God to overcome the flesh and the corruption imposed by submission to the natural law of the universe (that God set up) and begins the third phase of evolution – the spiritual evolution – which is the transformation into the likeness of God.  Those who choose the “natural” operate out of the strength of the natural man and have a “transformation ceiling.”  Christians have no such ceiling, but they apparently do not realize this because many do not seem to operate in the power of God much more than anyone else.  One of the reasons for this could be the dilution of the power within the church by the infiltration of human natural unspiritual thinking, which has become an acceptable standard.

[Christians have a theoretical ceiling, but that ceiling is perfection in Jesus Christ -- it is being like God.  No one will make that in this life.  Even Paul couldn't do that - Phil. 3:12-14.  There are no valid comparisons between people or groups on who is the more spiritual - that is being judgmental.  The only valid comparison is between a person with Jesus Christ and what that same person would be without Christ.  We are our own experimental controls, not someone else.]

There is a lot of scientific evidence that is consistent with physical evolution – cosmic, physical, chemical, biological, human.  There is beginning to be more evidence for social and cultural evolution, and evolutionary outcomes are used to explain many types of human social behavior today.  Again, there is a consistency of evidence.   Evidence from one field of research contirms findings in another.  

What about spiritual evolution?  Shouldn't one expect to find a consistency between spiritual principles and those principles found in the physical and social areas?  Shouldn't Truth be consistent irrespective of where it is found if it comes from the same source?  The answer is “Yes,” and there are many consistencies between the Bible and science.  The Bible has evidences of the truths of nature all throughout the Old and New Testaments.  Many spiritual principles mirror physical laws in the universe, and it is quite consistent and confirming.

Even principles of "survival of the fittest" apply in the spiritual realm as in the physical realm -- in spiritual evolution as well as in so called "Darwinian evolution."

We will talk about these consistencies in future posts.  There are parallels in physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, genetics, mechanics of cycles, and more.  The Bible is consistent within itself, from Genesis to Revelation.  However, theologians and Christians can get their own pride in the way of seeing the truth just the same as any unbeliever can do.  

It is the Christian who should take the lead in using all the resources God has given to us to find the Truth -- advancements in scientific research, advancements in Biblical history and translation and interpretation, advances in social and cultural interactions – everything is from God.  

That means that all forms of evolution are also from God. 

Don't condemn what God has made.

            Acts 10 – Peter’s Vision
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.
13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Peter had the Holy Spirit of God within him.  The passage context indicates Peter was praying, implying spiritual discernment, and was also hungry, implying natural desires.  God used both the spiritual and natural to speak specifically to Peter to prepare him for an attitude change.  Peter, because of his background, considered some of God’s creation to be unacceptable (unclean from a Jewish perspective).  But God told Peter to open up his bandwidth of reception of the will of God, because he was missing out on some important revelation of the Truth.  

“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

If God made evolution and is the author of its design to bring all things to Himself, what right does anyone have to call anything impure that God has made clean?  What right do Christians have to call God’s methods unclean, when they have received the word of God, and the word says “Don’t do it?”


Monday, April 14, 2014

154. YOUR INNER JESUS

Your Inner Fish.  

It's a lot more detailed than searching on Ancestry.com.  Your records are not buried under a granite mountain in Utah.  No, your ancestry is buried everywhere.  You now have an opportunity to explore your ancestry with a PBS special series called "Your Inner Fish."  Yes, paleontologist Neil Shubin would like to introduce you to your family tree -- that's the really big tree that traces ancestry back more than 3 billion years. In this three-part PBS series that began April 9, 2014, the evolutionary history of the composition of our human body is traced on the screen before you.  Indeed, buried in our anatomy, chemistry, embryology, and genetics is the evolutionary history of physical life on earth.  The series will compress billions of years of history into three episodes -- "Your Inner Fish," "Your Inner Reptile," and "Your Inner Monkey."  
A check of the video previews of the episodes will reveal that this presentation is extremely well-done.  "Special effects" in movies were rewarded in the past with Oscars; but, now it seems more like animation graphics are becoming "regular effects."  These episodes work the animation graphics into the story and make the prehistoric creatures seem more real than in Jurassic Park.  The images morph from fossils into creatures that can run around on a desk like a mouse (meaning the real live rodent, not the computer variety).  The parts of our bodies, such as our brains that reflect evolutionary classifications of major types of animals -- fish, reptiles, primates, are visually traced forward with graphics so that evolutionary development seems to occur before your eyes.  It uses teaching methods to a capital "T" in making a clear explanation of evolutionary biology.  It is not the purpose of the series to "teach evolution" -- that's just assumed to be correct as far as the producers are concerned.  The purpose is to explain how humans physically came about -- the origin of homo sapiens

This series is a highly recommended resource to view.

Is this a problem for the Christian? For the Bible? For belief in God? For Young-Earth Creationism (YEC)?

 
It should not be a problem for the first three; but, it will be a problem for YEC -- a problem that will only get worse. When it comes to communicating an idea, high quality broadcast videos of cutting-edge computer graphics will convey the message much more effectively than Ken Ham's static creation amusement park. The story of the evolution of humankind commands probably 99.99% of the published and accepted scientific data, so the likelihood that the earth was created in 6x24 hour days in 4004BC is infinitely small. That's just the way it is - the lopsidedness of the data is only getting greater as research continues, as will the problem for Christian youth who are led to believe that YEC is of faith and evolutionary biology is of the devil -- young students who are going to continue to run into a brick wall. People have to be able to understand the real scientific facts separately from the rhetorical opinions that are published with the data. Truth about the creation does not contradict God, but people do, because God gave them that right, even though they are also part of the creation.

In terms of data presentation, real-appearing holographic images in motion are around the corner. In fact, they are already here, but so expensive that, at this time, they are only used in high income generating environments, like making a holographic image of Amy Winehouse doing a show (which isn't going to happen, not because the technology isn't available, but her dad said "no.") How about when kids will go to a museum of natural history featuring moving holographic images of animals morphing into "higher" species, with a background of information about how it all happened. Instead of a "petting zoo," how about a "pet the prehistoric animals" setting? Move over Star Trek. Compare those images with some motorized stuffed dinosaurs making grinding sounds supposedly representing what occurred in a 24 hour period 6000 years ago. Which one would be more likely to draw a crowd? How about an evolutionary Wii game in which the player has to battle the competitors to be able to survive among the fittest? These inventions could be made to be so visually and interactively intense that surely what they represent must be assumed to be right. That type of technology is already here. It is just waiting for someone to decide there is enough money in producing these types of graphics of evolutionary morphology.

The ideas of creationism are going to fold under the tide of increasing scientific evidence. It would be much better for Christians to figure out beforehand that evolution is more consistent with the whole of scripture than is a 6x24 hour creation mechanism -- especially when one looks from the perspective of the eternal plan of God. Surveys continue to indicate that a substantial number of young people abandon their Biblical teachings when they go to college after being confronted with the overwhelming data supporting natural evolution. This information is not new -- the loss of youth from the church has been going on for generations; but, it is only getting worse, and will continue to worsen, as more and more data accumulate supporting evolutionary science. The prospect for improvement isn't good when only 1% youth pastors/workers have even addressed a science topic in the previous year. Students hear the data supporting evolution, but they also hear a godless interpretation -- and even more, they hear a God-disparaging interpretation which extends beyond the data into personal interpretation. But since it is all new, it is difficult to discern it separately, so evolutionary data and lack of faith run together in the same channel. It's not the fault of the data -- the data testify of God -- the church has difficulty in recognizing that testimony by separating results of natural discovery from expressed opinion filtered through human preconception.

What to do?

So, is this another area where the church needs to change its theology because of the pressures of criticism and ridicule from the world? "First it's this and then it's that and now it's creation itself. When is this going to end?" The answer is -- this human-generated conflict is going to end when the church and Christians begin to do what God designed and predestined to happen before the beginning of the universe. But, that will not happen until Christians stop focusing their attention on preserving some traditional human doctrine against alien contamination and defending their ill-conceived interpretations of the scripture -- such as done with Young Earth Creationism. Christians are supposed to understand that the battle is not in the physical (flesh and blood) realm but in the spiritual realm. The battle is not against error; the battle is for truth.
 

So, go ahead and watch the you-tube videos, like "Our Fishy Brains" and "How Do We Know When Our Ancestors Lost Their Tales?" and "The 500-Million Year History Of The Human Brain."  Learn from where human emotions and habits are derived.  Learn how some people can act more like apes than humans.  Learn where intrinsic human social behavior comes from.  The evolution of the brain is the formation of the natural substrate upon which God eventually placed the responsibility of becoming in His image.   

It's important for history to be discovered, and anything that occurred in the past is history -- fossils, ancient tools and buildings, old forms of manuscript recordings, drawings on a cave wall. The study of evolutionary history is as important as is political and social history. The study of history as recorded in the Old Testament is also important. But history is history and the future is the future. Sounds redundant, but Christians act as though they still haven't figured out the difference between history and future-- when they have to preserve their view of history as though their very salvation in the future depended on it.

In natural history, we may have actions and reactions that can be accounted for by evolutionary changes over many millions of years. That may explain a lot about human behavior, which is helpful in understanding the present, but it helps little in understanding the future. Christians are humans physically, just like Jesus Christ was fully human, but Christians have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit at the spiritual birth of the new creation. This gift is the same DNA of God that Jesus had, and this spiritual DNA gives them a different evolutionary standard -- a different behavior -- a different role model -- a different future. The problem is, too many Christians don't comprehend that, and they set their eyes, and their futures, on other people and on human standards.

Your Inner Jesus

Okay, so, let's say that humans have "Your Inner Fish" in the natural sense; but Christians have "Your Inner Jesus" in their hearts and minds and futures.

So, if anyone wants to only have an "inner fish" for their future, go ahead. But whoever has an "inner Jesus" is being transformed into the ever increasing glory of God in their future. In the natural, we are the product of our past -- from literally our own lifetime or from ancient evolutionary development. In the spiritual, however, we are growing into what will be the product of our future -- the fruit of the Holy Spirit -- because we have been created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). God has poured His love into our hearts by His Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5), by which we have the genes of God -- to be expressed into the behavior modeled to perfection by Jesus Christ on Earth. It is by spiritual evolution that we overcome our physically-limited background. Spiritual evolution (sanctification, transformation, renewal) does not compete with physical or social evolution -- spiritual evolution completes the sequence. The human race by itself faces a de-evolutionary process because of the energy drain of entropy.

Transformation has been occurring in one form or another for 16.3 billion years -- ever since God provided the spark of the Big Bang, and energy, matter, and time were formed. All transformation (physical, social, spiritual) has been gradual and progressive and in accordance with the foreordained plan of God -- predestined to be carried out by the will of God. The development of creation before mankind didn't have a choice about whether or not to evolve until humans came into being, as represented by Adam and Eve. Humans were placed in authority over the rest of the earth, but they were given a choice whether or not to subject themselves to the God of their creation. We still have that choice -- we can spiritually evolve by the Holy Spirit expressing the genes of God as we grow beyond our human constraints into the image of God, or we can choose to remain as we are. Just because one has received Jesus as Savior doesn't mean they have chosen to place themselves under the Lordship of Christ so that they will be transformed into the likeness of God. Man was given the responsibility to model for the creation the submission to God and the transformation into His likeness. This was completed in the coming of Christ, who modeled for us exactly how this is to be done as He submitted to the Father. God gave us the model, and God gave us His DNA. The whole creation groans for the sons of God to be revealed (Rom. 8:22-25) -- waiting for us to express our inner Jesus. Are we waiting for something else to happen, or what? We are that something.

The church does what?

So, what is the church's role in all of this? The church's directive is to make known the manifold wisdom of God expressed in the formation of this plan. How does the church to that? By arguing about evolution? By insisting on an indefensible interpretation of Genesis 1-3 as if it were the tenet of faith? By trying to debate atheists? All of this is fish vs. fish. Go ahead and express your inner fish. But God has a better plan. We are to show the world and those in the heavenly realms the wisdom of God by becoming like Him. That's the proof of the plan -- show that the plan works by doing it! Express your inner Jesus.

...the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.  10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Eph. 3:9-11)
The PBS series may be able to use computer animation to show the evolution of the "inner fish," but the church is supposed to use real lives in real time in real situations to show the spiritual transformation of the "inner Jesus" into the likeness of God.  Christians who watch "Your Inner Fish" and get upset over their perceptions of a Godless presentation had better be careful, because they could end up expressing their own "inner fish" in their choice of behavior.  And it is a choice, because we choose whether we are going to express the genes of Adam (so to speak) or the genes of God -- to be controlled out of the flesh or controlled out of the Spirit.  Paul said the two gene strands war for control - actually it is a battlefield of war that is staged in our minds; the question is - which side is winning (Rom. 7:7-25)?  Are we going to choose to continue the foreordained plan of God into spiritual evolution - transformation (renewal, sanctification) - or will we choose to reject God's offer and continue with the evolution that is an extension of the natural fish.  Jesus died so that we could put away the control by the natural desires and rise above that into the realm of spiritual transformation. 

PBS does its job by presenting the derivation of the natural physical substrate -- over which God overlaid the social and finally the spiritual evolution phases. It is the church that is supposed to be presenting the final program sequence -- what it looks like when people are together being transformed into the likeness of God. PBS does their thing regarding physical evolution, and Christians should do their thing involving spiritual evolution. We don't waste time being against everything; we spend our time becoming like God. Surely no one specifically intends to grow into the likeness of fish. That is just what happens when we spiritually miss God. We either grow into the likeness of God by the power of the Spirit, or we can revert into the likeness of fish by the default law of entropy. It's our choice, and God made it that way.

So, fellow Christians, God has given us a choice -- do we want to cooperate with God's eternal plan or not? Do we want to accept the genes of God in name only by stopping at the initial phase of salvation, which we call justification, or do we want to functionally express the genes of God in the continual phase of salvation, which is called transformation or sanctification? Do we, as the church, want to fulfill our Prime Directive of showing the wisdom of God as it is evidenced in the lives of believers, or do we want to continue to be conformed to the world by trying to fight worldly issues with worldly methods? What methods? You tell me -- how does arguing about whether creation occurred in 16.3 billion years or in a period of 144 hours 6000 years ago make anyone more like God in true righteousness and holiness?

In the absence of transformation, God has to remind us as He did in the Old Testament

God had to continually remind the people in the Old Testament of who He was and of what He had done for them in the past. "I am the God who brought you out of Egypt; I am the God who saved you from your enemies" ... etc. God was on the outside of the people talking to them; the people were guilty of sin and God could not abide in the presence of sin. So, God talked to them through prophets and priests and other anointed people as representatives. God has to continually remind them over and over, but they still fell away. The Jews fell away from God into the idolatry of the people around them, until they were finally "cured" of that once and for all with the Babylonian captivity. But then they fell into the idolatry of elevating their own pride and selfishness by instituting layer upon layer of human legalistic rules on top of the Law, even as they suffered oppression from their own rebellious nature against the Romans.

What if PBS could show the first century Jews a series of graphical presentations --"Your Inner Fish!" How about "Your Inner Legalism?" -- "Your Inner Rebellious Nature." -- "Your Inner Fleshly Nature." What would those depictions look like? Read descriptions of the behavior coming from the control of the fleshly nature -- the old sinful nature -- the "fishly nature" -- Col. 3:5-9; Eph. 4:17-19, 25-31; Gal. 5:17-21; James 3:14-16; et al.

But, Jesus freed us from the control of the fishly nature. Why? So that we could build church buildings? So that we could make up human doctrines that divide the body? So that we could marry and divorce and marry some more? So that we could be free to be gay and to have gay marriage instead of what God designed? There is one thing that is similar in all of these issues, and that is -- human beings are in charge. Humans have themselves as the object of their future -- they are working out their own plan of God around themselves and their own pride and selfish desires. "Oh, sure, we know what the plan of God is. Yes, we have captured and unpacked it quite adequately in our vision statement." The plan of God is for us, but the plan is for us to submit to God for our spiritual transformation rather than the result of controlling our own destiny in the flesh.

The church is supposed to be a living PBS program of what spiritual transformation looks like. This is the continuation of the plan of God - the final phase of evolution - the highest form - and the church holds the keys to this kingdom. What are we unlocking with the keys?? Are we unlocking the revelation of the nature of God as revealed in creation, the Word, and by the Holy Spirit so that the world can see the love of God through Christ? When the people of the world are asked what the church is doing, what do they say?

So, this plan of God that the church supposedly knows about and is wisely living -- what does this plan look like to outsiders -- does it show Jesus Christ or does it appear more like a fish? Does the Spirit of God live in the spiritual construct of today's church (Eph. 2:21-22) or do the spirits of fish live in the "Church of the Aquarium?"

Do we need to be continually reminded about God's goodness like His people in the Old Testament, or do we grow past that and into the maturity of becoming like Him? Do we recycle immaturities and elementary teachings of Jesus (Heb. 6:1-3) or do we build upon these in the maturity of transformation from glory to increasing glory (1 Cor. 3:18)? It's great to sing praises to God on Sunday, but the question is - will we live praises to God in our lives the rest of the week? The people in the Old Testament needed to be externally reminded about God; God's people in the New Testament have the Holy Spirit living inside of us by the gift of God through Christ to remind us of all truth (John 16:12-16). Are we being transformed into the likeness of God by the Spirit, or do we need to be reminded by an Old Testament style sermon from the priest (pastor) on Sunday morning that we need to obey God's law?

The church of today needs help!

Is there anyone who is frustrated by the church's representation of a conflict between the "Your Inner Fish" of natural evolution and the "Your Inner Jesus" of spiritual evolution? If so, hear this -- there is no conflict. These processes do not preclude one another; each type of transformation helps explain the function of the other. One follows the other. Physical evolution was necessary to set the stage for social evolution to follow and spiritual evolution to begin after that. These evolutionary processes are harmonious because they came from the same creator. The appearance of conflict is a tool of the enemy using the human nature of people in the church. The church needs people who can understand the eternal plan of God and how the church is supposed to be carrying it out. If you can do this, the church needs you. Hey, any people who can understand science and who can see the plan of God in both nature and in the spiritual realm and who may have left organized religion frustrated by all the perception of illiteracy and hypocritical thinking -- this is a note to you: you are desperately needed -- please come back and help. 


The church must get on track with the predestined plan of God as revealed in the Bible, not as filtered through almost 2000 years of human modification. We have had the Holy Spirit guiding into all truth for 2000 years -- after all this time, is the church closer to understanding the wisdom of God as revealed in His plan or is the church drifting away?

Don't give up.

Some people have gotten so frustrated with the church following human wisdom that they have rejected both the church and God. What an abysmal witness to the plan of God to shove people from a belief in God into agnosticism or atheism. If you are one of these people, consider returning to the true God of the universe -- the God revealed in nature, the God revealed in scripture, the God revealed through Jesus Christ, the God who made the plan for our transformation into His likeness before the creation of the world. The church needs your help to get back on track. The church needs people who are willing to cut through the refuse piled up over centuries of accumulated human thinking. What did Jesus do to the money changers in the temple who represented the institutionalized religion of that day? He drove them out. But the evolved religious system still didn't listen, and what happened about 40 years later? That temple was destroyed. Contented Christians are in denial that the same can happen today. The plan of God overcomes entropy; but, if human pride builds its own plan, it opens itself to the natural law of entropy. It is the law of God put into place at creation. Natural law says that created things wind down unless energized by outside source. The energy for transformation comes from God. The divided segments of the institutionalized church of today seem to be choosing the path of entropy.

There are many good things about the church, but doctrine that divides, competition that defeats, and prideful spirits that redirect away from the plan of God are not good things. It will take people of dedication and discernment to correct that. Think of some movies about the old saloons of the West, in which a sign was posted, "Leave your guns at the door." For the church to do its God-directed job, we will all have to "leave our selfish pride at the door." 


So, what about it? We can be working for the redemption of society and of mankind in general, not because mankind is damned like in the "original sin" doctrine of Calvinism, but because we have been predestined to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Let us live up to our God-ordained potential -- our "inner Jesus." 



157. GOD DESIGNED THE PLAN FOR US, BUT CREATED US FOR THE PLAN

we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. (1 Cor. 2:7)


Everything in Creation submits to the foreordained plan of God
Does the foreordained plan of God, made before creation of space, matter, energy, and time, submit itself to our human definition? Do we get to make interpretations of the scripture and say that we understand the mind of God? Do we get to make human doctrines that undermine the spiritual body of Christ - the church? If so, then we create a false god in our own image, because that image is not God. No, that image is the walls of the inside of a box, because that is what we have created for ourselves. It's what we sometimes call ... "the church building." 

No, we are the created. We and the rest of creation were made to fulfill the predestined plan of God, not the other way around. We only understand about the plan of God from the scripture; we understand the nature of the plan more fully when we undertake our part of it - when we as individuals through the mechanism of the church, the united body of Christ, grow to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). This is a mystery -- the plan was designed for us, but we were created for the plan, and God is sovereign over everything.

Revelation and cessationism do not mix

Has revelation ceased? Did revelation stop when the last book of the Bible was written or when it was admitted to the canon? If so, then how is the body going to grow up into the full knowledge of Christ? It is the church's job to grow into perfection and take all members of the body with it in the process - and in so doing proclaim to the world the manifold wisdom of God's plan (Eph. 3:10). 

Anyone who says that they or their group understands all of the mind of God are self-deceived and only babble foolishly. Has the Holy Spirit finished His work? If so, then we are in even bigger trouble. The Holy Spirit guides into all truth, but truth is not divided into different human opinions. The truth may have been revealed through Christ, but Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33) so that the church could reveal Christ to the world by its unity of mind and purpose (John 17:21-23, Phil. 2:2)
 Because you do not know Scripture or the power of God (Matt. 22:29) Does our story of redemption start in the Garden of Eden? Is our God-story the redemption from sin and its consequence of spiritual death through the blood of Jesus? Is our redemption the same as the predestined plan of God? Is our redemption from the sin introduced by Adam the story of the love that God has for us? Is that why it was predestined that Jesus would come into the world and die for our sins -- so we would not be lost eternally? 

What if the response to all of the questions posed above had to be either "Yes" or "No?" What if it were suggested that the best answer was "No?" How many believers would be upset by that? "No" might be the best response to inadequate questions.
 One reason why we do not have more answers concerning the nature of God and what we, and the church, are supposed to doing is that we don't ask the correct questions. The answers are there, but in many cases our own human limitations are enhanced by pride keep our questions "within the box" that we ourselves have created. Even worse, is when we think we already have all the answers, or when we think we really shouldn't be so presumptuous as to be asking questions. If this is the case, what does the passage on "Ask, seek, and knock" mean? (Matt. 7:7-12) The questions in a previous paragraph are an example of inadequate questions - it's more than the answer being "No." They are not valid questions. All the questions ask the wrong thing. Why? Because they are based on the wrong presumption. Why? Because we continue to recycle the incomplete thinking of the past instead of searching for a greater understanding of the revelation of God. Science searches for the revelation of God in the things He has made (Rom. 1:20), although science usually doesn't say it that way. In this respect, science does a more rigorous job than Christians do when they search through the written Word for a greater understanding of the revelation of God.

Paul clearly states that the foreordained plan of God was made before the creation and before time - which means before the Big Bang and the universe and humans and Adam and Eve and sin. Everything in that instant of creation was made to fulfill the plan of God according to His predestined will. 
 

A Fall? So, let's think about that one. Does that mean God planned for mankind to fall on its face and be bound for hell in separation from God? Was mankind rebellious to the plan of God as the Garden story has been interpreted? Did God plan for Man to fail so that God could redeem him, or did God make a mistake and have to bail Himself out of it?

Did God show His love by sending Jesus to die for our sins? Wasn't the love of God displayed in creation? Wasn't the love of God displayed in the predestined plan he had for our perfection - made before the world was created? Jesus existed before creation, and He was the plan before time began. Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, so God's love hasn't changed - just our understanding of it. We understand more as we grow in the love of God ourselves. 

Have we disrespected God by ascribing human character to Him even in our attempt to relate to and understand better the plan of God. We need to ask the right questions that reveal more of the nature of God instead of imposing our nature upon God. We try to explain things retrospectively from recordings of history made by people who wrote according to their own understanding of the limited revelation God had given up to that time. Our retrospective analysis is, itself, limited to human thinking. Yet, we piece things together, fill in the gaps, and make doctrines out of the results. 

Doctrinus fossilacious
 I used to be amused at how much imagination could go into a reconstruction of an early hominid evolutionary ancestor, when an entire creature could be shown walking around with facial features and everything -- all from a discovery of some bone fragments and a tooth. A picture of the proposed skull features would show the small actual fossil parts that had been found with the rest of the image being a clay reconstruction. Wow - some artist sure filled in a lot of gaps. How misleading! Bad, bad! Oh, really? How about a log in the eye?

How many times have Christians taken fragments of scripture and filled in the rest with the clay of imagination into the formation of a fossilized doctrine? How many times have such doctrines been represented as gospel truth instead of traditional interpretations. How many churches have brother (sister) Australopithecus afarensis walking through their liturgical corridors? Maybe he (she) wrote the material for the sermon. 

We make a human retrospective analysis of incomplete data from the Old Testament (hey! Paul said so!) and come up with interpretations and doctrines that supposedly represent the mind of God - when He prospectively created the universe as it had been predestined according to His foreordained plan. And then Christians dare to form groups that practice squatters rights over the different human traditional interpretations, as if they were in themselves inspired, and competitively defend their territory at the expense of unity in the body of Christ!

Instead of continuing the search for truth as revealed by the Spirit, do we stop searching for the revelation of God's character and of His will for us and start protecting what we think we have because our finite human capacity for understanding God is easily saturated? 

In this respect of a continual search for new knowledge, Paul said that the church has the Spirit of God (Eph. 2:22), the Holy Spirit that guides into all truth. Why then is the church falling behind the world in discovering new knowledge by science and technology? Why are so many of these new technological discoveries being used for the advancement evil purposes? Because the church is falling behind in its influence -- in its guidance and example of a moral ethic growing into the character of God. The complexity of the world's need is growing faster than the church's capacity to supply the answer, because the church is too busy dividing - with the fragments protecting themselves from one another.

The church is busy preaching "the gospel," but the gospel it proclaims is basically that Jesus came to free us from the Old Law. This is evidenced by the fact that now we are free, we respond by making up some new rules -- the steps to salvation, how to keep your salvation, the way to avoid hell, do and say this and this every Sunday, now lead a good Christian life and hope you're good enough to get saved (if your good deeds outweigh your bad ones). We give ourselves away by what we do. We need to stop protecting and start furiously searching for God, because the gospel of the foreordained plan of God is much greater than what the church is proclaiming. The preaching of the church is inadequate because our understanding is too human-based and inadequate.

Note also that the questions in the earlier paragraph are directed toward revealing the negative - what is wrong - what is bad - what is "sin," as a straw man for setting up the remedy. Man rebelled; Man sinned; Man was bad. Therefore, God had to redeem what His creation (yes, that creation He called "very good" in Gen. 1:31) had gone and fouled up. We sure did place God in a bad position. So now we have to keep identifying the sin - the Fall - the depravity. But that is what the Old Law did - the Law pointed out sin. Jesus did away with that so we could put all that behind us and be free to become like God. Jesus made a new creation, not just patched up the old one. We are not to be focusing on escaping our past; we are growing into our future. Redeemed from what? From the Old Law of sin and death. Redeemed for what? To become like God. As worthy as it might seem, celebrating our redemption from the past is still squandering time that should be spent becoming like God. Jesus came so that we could be like Him, not that we might just escape the Old Law.

Jesus saved us from sin. Shall we now fall short of the glory of God by spending our time glorifying our escape from the past instead of becoming our future in the glory of God? Falling short of the glory of God is sin (Rom. 3:23). So did Jesus cleanse us from sin so that we could continue in sin of a different type? (Rom. 6:1-2). Most Christian doctrines today define sin as an action of doing something bad, i.e., committing sin. Like, we are okay as long as we are really careful not to mess up too badly? Oh? That's so Old Testament! What is it called if we continuing in immaturity instead of growing into the fullness of Christ - being renewed into the image of the Creator? What is falling short in that area called? It is called "falling away" (Heb. 5:11-6:12). That is the sin of the New Testament. Sometimes infants die because of a condition called "failure to thrive" -- meaning they fail to mature properly. Is the church of today showing signs of "failure to thrive?"

When God's plan is preeminent, things of human origin come into submission 

When the foreordained plan of God has its proper preeminence over everything in the universe, including interpretations of scripture and the resulting doctrines, many discussions of human importance take a position of submission to the perspective of being with God, in unity with the character of God, and in fellowship with God for eternity - all according to the predestined will of God. The following subjects are examples:

The Fall, the Fall of Man, the Fall of Adam, the Sin of Adam, the Fallen Nature, Human Depravity, the Fallen World.


A preoccupation with discussions about the nature of Hell, particularly in the American churches - eternal torment, conditional, redemptive, annihilation, other.


Physical manifestations of the Spirit - spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, "strange fire" or not, "miracles." 

Justification and redemption as salvation; preaching justification as the basis for the gospel. 

The interpretation of Genesis 1-3, the creation account. The Young Earth Creationist vs.evolution. Is Darwinism correct? Let's worry about the content of origins in the public school science textbooks.

What is a "literal" interpretation of the scripture? Is this interpretation approach applied consistently to all passages?


Doctrines of predestination, once saved always saved, if saved always saved; depravity, election, falling from grace; Calvinism vs. Arminianism; TULIP or one-lip?


Current issues of elevated social importance and media attention - women's roles in the church, gay marriage, divorce and remarriage, abortion, "rights" of the individual.


Human tradition, protocol, liturgy, procedure, pomp and circumstance; feigning an acceptance by God by using physical, human symbols of authority.


Competition over limited resources; ownership of physical materials, square footage, real estate; preservation for self-perpetuation; crowd-count, group hysteria, sensory auditory and visual overload in the name of worship.


Anything that separates or divides the body of Christ, church organization or hierarchy or offices or names or labels, all from works of the flesh - pride, selfish ambition, greed. Understanding what "maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" means. (Eph. 4:3)


Present views of a "historical Jesus" in worship services, the Lord's Supper, devotionals, sermons, and holidays.


Celebrity preachers elevated to the status of published idolatry; non-celebrity preachers elevated to the same status, but with a more local sphere of attention.


An immature understanding of the work of the church in the world; recycling human immaturity instead of growing into the fullness of Christ (Heb. 6:1-3).


Identifying the real definitions of "evangelical" and "missional."


An understanding of the times -- if the church does not recognize, repent, and change, the discipline of God is rapidly approaching. When the signs are such that even the folks into self-protection and self- perpetuation recognize them, it will be too late. Then, those responsible will blame everybody else, just like they do now.


Concerns, discussions, debates, and divisions over topics such as the above, and many more, take on a very different perspective when placed within the context of why God created the universe and what we are supposed to be doing with all of our power and energy supplied by the Holy Spirit.

Some of these topics fade into unimportance. Others we might discuss while we help one another travel toward the fullness of Christ at the fastest possible rate. That is, if we have enough time left over to spend on that.

Making issues out of the above subjects necessitates a retrospective view of the Old Covenant - either dragging physical requirements of function necessary to satisfy doctrine, protocol, dress, liturgy, or entrance into membership or making the entire point of the sacrifice of Jesus doing away with the Old Law's requirements. Most of the time, it is a combination of the two - emphasizing our escape from condemnation of the Law, but, at the same time, carrying along some of the legalistic trappings for the ride to the church services. 

Everything in creation, from the first instant of the Big Bang until now, was predestined to point toward God, and by the predetermined purpose of God it is still pointing, and it will continue to point to God until Jesus comes to claim His own. God did not set up the Old Law only to declare it inadequate. The Old Law was adequate for a period and for the social and religious maturity of the people of that day. It was inadequate compared to the covenant under Christ. God has a designed purpose for the Old Law to fulfill. God's purpose in the death and resurrection of Jesus was greater than redemption from the condemnation under the Law.  Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on all people according to the Promise of the Father for a reason. This reason was predestined and foreordained and pointed to God -- that we should be transformed into the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness as the church is being perfected into the fullness of Christ. 

What if we continue to fall short of the plan of God for our glory?

therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. (1 Cor. 9:26)


So, what happens when we cannot see the perfect plan of God? In politics it might be called a "backlash"; in weather it might be an "inversion"; in the stock market it is a "correction" (if that doesn't do it, then a recession, a depression, or a crash); in sports it might be a "slump" or a "losing streak"; in nature it is called "entropy" (maybe extinction); in scripture it might be called "reaping the corruption from sowing to the flesh"; in the church it is called "the discipline of God." There are consequences to falling short of the glory of God. Not just missing the bulls-eye -- but not even making it to the target. 

Headed for a target is not necessarily the same as heading for the target - there is only one plan of God - no substitutes. Heading for a target that is substandard might generate some spiritual power, but it is much less than the promise of the Spirit associated with pursuing the real target - the truth of the foreordained plan of God for the church. The "system" seems to be designed so that, in order to overcome evil with good, the church has to operate at a higher efficiency doing good than the world doing evil. If the world operates at 70% efficiency, the church will have to operate at >70% to have a net positive effect. If the church has the wrong target in sight, its highest possible efficiency might be reduced to only 50%, in which case the church would be falling behind and coming more and more under the control of the world. And, all the while, the church fragments are thinking they are doing the very best they can - work harder, work longer, try harder to obey the rules - why do we still fall further behind? Well, go figure. Try to look through the Spirit from the eternal mind of God rather than the temporal product of human doctrine and see the foreordained plan of God - out of which the universe was created and predestined. The only way for the church to overcome evil with good is to get with the perfect plan of God and, in love, peace, and unity, race forward at maximum efficiency into the fulness of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's either overcome or be overtaken.

The signs of what is coming are already on the horizon (Matt. 24:33). How long can they be blissfully ignored?

Are we forgiven for missing the target? Does God still love us? Does God love and forgive the church for seeking its own human opinions over unity in the Spirit? Of course! But God disciplines as sons those whom he loves so that they will not be brought along with the world into judgment by God's righteousness, but that instead they may share in His holiness (Heb. 12:4-11). We do not escape God's discipline now so that we will escape God's wrath later. What then, is the price to pay for our falling short (sin)? The church fails to grow into perfection and we as members fail to grow into the image of the Creator. Because our rate of maturation is slower than the rate of development of evil in the world, evil is not being overtaken with good (Rom. 12:21), but the opposite is occurring - with predictable consequences just like the children of Israel (1 Cor. 10:1-13). 

Does being included with "the elect" give anyone a sense of entitlement - so that if we just maintain the doctrine the church has at this point everything will be okay? The exhortations in scripture to the First Century Christians to "hang in there" and to "remain faithful to the end" and to "persevere with patience" (found especially in epistles of Hebrews, John, Peter, Jude, Revelation) were written as encouragement to people undergoing acute physical and social persecution. These messages were not written to Christians who lived in protected social affluence and who drove their new chariots to a large physical edifice every Sunday. Some of those early Christians had been geographically scattered because of persecution. Today, it might be more like encouraging those Christians who are fleeing ISIS by leaving their homes and going to hide on a mountain (Matt. 24:16-18). 

To what extent do Christians act as though their salvation rested on a specially tailored list of their very own accomplishments? Can we develop a complacency of self-assurance that comes from meeting our own self-defined standards that are based more on human doctrine from private interpretations of scripture than on the true righteousness of God? This would be like developing a standardized test to supposedly validate a weak educational curriculum that is developed to be biased toward a group of people or some esoteric goal. People pass the test and get course-certified, but they are unprepared to function in the world, because neither the course nor the test pointed to the genuine truth.

To what extent does the Western church live in a world of wonderland where the church exists comfortably only by fragmentation into little parts housed inside a box of self-deception clothed with pious liturgical robes? 

That sounds somewhat cynical, harsh, and iconoclastic, Jeremiah! If only it were! One has to believe a delusion to think that God's discipline for the church will not soon happen. In fact, the discipline should be expected to be even harder on the prideful and self-righteous to bring them to repentance.





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