Sunday, October 16, 2016


What is the church doing about discovery?  God is the Creator of all things in the physical and spiritual realms.  The innate capacity of the human brain changes much more slowly than the explosion of new knowledge to assimilate and comprehend.  Technology (computers; smart phones, glasses, and watches; robots; Internet) has helped a lot in data storage, retrieval, "crunching," and communication.  People have become increasingly specialized in their focus of information they use and bear responsibility for -- greater specializations in medicine, engineering, law, science, etc.  More detail, more precision, less expansive information area.  

Particularly during the 1600's-1800's, many of the scientific discoveries were made by priests in the Roman Catholic Church.  The church had a significant participation in the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the natural realm, recognizing that as a work of God.  But an attitude of protection of theological data (called doctrine) and suppression of anything new pervaded the church, and the self-constraints imposed by the church slowed down its rate of progress in making and accepting new scientific discoveries.  The rate of generation of new discovery of the knowledge of nature has continued to increase exponentially, while the church's leadership in the discovery within the spiritual revelation of God has only slowly increased.  There were several "bumps" in understanding - coinciding with a frustration with the limitations imposed by the "status quo" -- called the Reformation Movement, the Great Awakening, the Restoration Movement, etc.  But these "bumps" have largely smoothed out over the following years as the groups form gatherings around their traditional doctrine with insulating protective blankets to keep intruders out (and the truth in).  

The people of the world make new discoveries that generate new technologies to allow humans to do things unheard of a few years ago -- genetic modification, robots, artificial intelligence, discoveries about the origins and expanse of the universe (or universes), etc.  Other things seems to increase, showing roots in "works of the flesh" -- greed, taking advantage of others, self-interest, selfish ambition, defiant immorality, lust for power, selfish interests and promotion, etc.  Increases in technology combined with works of the flesh yield a bad combination.  As the power and control from technology advances, there is an increase in the number of different ways the human race has at its disposal to destroy itself.  

The purpose of the church is to show the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10).  This demonstration of truth has to be done in the earthly realms, because that's where the "stage" is that is being watched.  What is the church doing in its assigned role?  It would seem more that science is showing the church what the manifold wisdom of God looks like in the physical creation, rather than the church showing the predestined and eternal plan of God in the spiritual realms.  All things on the earth, above the earth, and under the earth fit into the foreordained plan of God, because God's plan came before creation; and creation came from out of God's plan and with the purpose of fulfilling God's plan.

Science shows greater unity than the church.  When a scientific discovery is made and published, how this discovery fits into evidence from other sources is discussed as well as where this new evidence fits into the bigger picture of understanding this segment of the universe.  What does the church do to those people who dare to make or suggest a deeper understanding of revelation or the equivalent of a new discovery?  The different church groups protect their brands of doctrine like valuable trademarks.  In fact, marketing is a big deal in the church in advertisements, signage, web sites, names, symbols, and appearances.  If science is competitive, it is over funding.  Contribution, attendance, and square footage are the biggest sources of competition among church groups, as well.  

So, while science pursues natural truth through research and discovery, church groups protect their interpretation of truth and repress, criticize, and divide over new discovery.  One group advances while the other recycles.  Can you guess?

How many galaxies?

The Hubble Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of the universe over the past 25 years of its operation.  Based on its imagery, it was estimated in the 1990's that there were 200 billion galaxies in the "known" (by us) universe.  That calculation was based on an extension of what could be seen at that time.  Many years and many images later, scientists have studied old and new images from the Hubble and have made a calculation that if the Hubble had the resolution, it would find 10 times more galaxies than presently estimated.  That's a small 2 trillion galaxies.  The more that is discovered, the more there is to discover.  

This prediction will be tested with a successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope around October 2018.  This telescope, about the size of a tennis court, will detect objects with 1/10th to 1/100th of the light magnitude required by the Hubble.  It is expected to peer into parts of the universe born 13 billion years ago, a relatively short time after the "big bang."  

A NASA representative said, "Hubble rewrote the textbooks and we're planning to rewrite the textbooks again.  JWST will answer the questions which at the moment we can't think to ask."

"rewrite the book...answer the questions that at the moment we can't think to ask."  Can you imagine an academic theologian making such a statement?   Can you imagine a statement from a church group who thinks their hermeneutic has established New Testament Christianity, so you'd better not mess with it?  Or, a group who has so much institutional investment into their doctrine that the buildings would fall down if something were changed?

Has the universe expanded 10 times in the last 20 years?  Have millions and millions of new galaxies been formed?  Or, have they been there all along waiting for humans to ask the questions that drive the development of the technology to discover them? 

Some Christians will shake their heads and say, "What an amazing God," and then go and argue that the universe had to have been created in 6x24 hour days in 4004 BC, because "the Bible tells me so."  

The God who created the universe and everything in it, with more within its boundaries (if there are any) than we can think of yet, is the same God who revealed Himself, His being, His nature, and His Love from the heavenly realms of the "unseen" to the "seen" by His Son, Jesus Christ, speaks to us today through His Word and His Holy Spirit.  Are Christians afraid of new information?  Are Christians afraid of greater and deeper revelation?  Can God not handle it, or is it we who can't handle it?  God created shovels; are we afraid to use them to dig, or, are we too busy protecting the shallow holes already dug by someone else?  

What do you mean?  How do you know the holes are shallow?  We will never know as long as we are afraid to dig.  "The revelation of God will answer the questions which we presently can't think to ask."  What is the church afraid of?  Has the church created for itself such a large physical institutional footprint that it has limited itself to activities of self-preservation and maintenance instead of new discovery?

The Bible tells us of the foreordained plan of God, made before creation of matter and time.  The foreordained plan of God is bigger than 2 trillion galaxies.  Are we afraid to find out more about God's plan?  Do we pretend that we already know everything because really we are too busy counting the contribution to get a scriptural shovel and dig?  

Paul's descriptions of the power of God are greater than we can ask or imagine.  This is the God of 2 trillion galaxies or more.  The God with answers to questions that we have not even known enough to ask.  How can the church be satisfied with recycling its limited knowledge of God as if there is nothing more to be found?  What do the following verses say about the power of the knowledge of God?
Eph. 1:15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Eph. 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 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! Amen.
Now, again, what are we afraid of?  What the Bishop might think?  What the elders might think?  What the Council of Non-Thinking Bureaucrats might think (or not think)?  What the members might think as they vote with their feet and leave for some place less challenging?  

The church in the "free world" has been given incredible blessings of resources and freedom to pursue the deeper revelations of God.  What has it done within its great museums of theology?  Maybe pursue "revelation light - 40% less meat" in the safe confines of hallways of academia or churchademia or institutionalademia - maybe also publishbookademia, tenurademia, and theological careerademia -- all part of a larger classification of what could be called safeademia.  What is the church afraid of? 

The time could very well come in the not too distant future when the church will wish it had utilized its resources with better stewardship in the pursuit of the deeper revelation of God -- when opposing physical forces are destroying resources and persecuting those who would otherwise use them.  

Other than trying to preserve its comfortable little niche in society, the church has some serious theological problems that are in great need of being scrubbed clean by a fuller knowledge from a deeper understanding of the revelation of God. One problem that is likely the source of a lot of division and competition is the doctrines of sin, the fall of Adam, and depravity.  The root of this problem is a poor understanding of the foreordained plan of God for creation and for the church.  The Roman Catholic Church began carrying elements of the Old Law into the church, and this problem still pervades doctrinal thinking in Christianity like the mortar between the bricks of the building.

Please continue this consideration as recorded in another post, "Jesus Did Not Miss the Target of Perfection, So We Do Not Either." 

Let's get to moving - we have galaxies to discover.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Whatever the political stripe of a person, one thing that most everyone can agree on about the US presidential election is that this sequence started off strange and is now "off the charts."  The contest has come to which candidate can point out the most disqualifications in the other candidate - the most bad, evil, unpatriotic, immoral, even illegal things the other one has said, done, or even thought over the last 50 years.  Who is the least qualified?  Who do I most want to vote against?  Qualified?  The answer depends on the definition - qualified to do what?  Lead the country into what - greatness or oblivion?  Even "foreign powers" are taking note of an opportunity to take advantage of pending self-inflicted bedlam.  

In religious terms, what are the candidates doing, while denying that they are doing it?  They are having a sin-throwing contest.  Pin the tail (sin) on the donkey (or elephant).  If one can point out more sin on the other, maybe the first one's sins won't seem so bad.  It's a relative contrast, one against the other, with the standard for comparison going lower and lower.  

Even supporters of one or other of the candidates are getting alarmed.  Even so, supporters continue to be faithful to the candidate who best represents their self-interests or to the candidate who is the most "against the establishment" that they are tired of.  The best motives for support are still very poor ones.  

From where did this chaos come?  Are we really "doomed if you do, doomed if you don't?"  How has this mess been allowed to occur?  

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Rom. 12:21).  Is "good" spontaneous?  From where does "good" come from?  At this question, Christians and the church had better stand up and say, "Good comes from God through Jesus Christ through the body of Christ on earth, the church." 

How is this source of good to be made known by the church?  By preaching about goodness, but not practicing it?  Or, by practicing goodness and letting preaching be evidenced from that?  What does the "litmus test" show?  Is goodness increasing in our society?  Put the litmus paper into the areas of violence, interpersonal animosities, abuse relations within families and other abuses, terrorism, murders.  One of the reasons for government paralysis is self-interest of individuals and groups.  People who want to invert goodness with evil are getting more "press" if they blame everything wrong in society on religion.  And the press?  A polarizing influence, which improves readership, viewers, audience, and clicks, but not the public welfare and interest, supposedly served.  

So, downer, downer, why should the church get the blame for all this?  There's plenty of things to blame ... why, look at this and look at those people and look at the crazy leader of this country and movies and violent video games and Pukemon Gone.  

Yes, but the sum of the influence of all these "look at this" excuses for bad are insignificant compared to the good of the power of the will of God behind His foreordained plan, made before the formation of the universe and out of which all things derived and predestined to come together in Christ (Col. 1:16-17).  

To whom and to what agency was given the responsibility to execute and administrate the foreordained plan of God in accordance with His will?  Who is to show the world the love of the Father and how? (John 17:23).

Now, for those who still accept the Bible as the authoritative revelation from God, from where does goodness come (Matt. 19:17) and who is responsible for its source and distribution on earth? (Matt. 16:18-19; 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)  Where else is the love of God going to be seen and modeled?  

Okay then, you're saying it is the church's fault, which includes all Christians, preachers, the Pope, missionaries, pew warmers, hypocrites, etc.

And that question identifies wherein lies the problem.  Because we ask the wrong question, we get the wrong answer, and we seek in the wrong direction.

It's not count the wrong; it is do the right thing.  If the church had its eyes on Jesus, there wouldn't be a problem, a wrong question, or a wrong answer, because all this would have been left behind traveling along on the narrow way code-named, "goodness." 

Well, that's pretty idealistic, isn't it; why would that work?  Because that's the predestined plan of God, and if the church doesn't believe that, then let's just quit now and join the fight of the debate and sling some political mud.

Why does the church not have eyes of Jesus?  There are paintings, pictures, sayings, statues, buildings all about Jesus.  There are songs and sermons and prayers and Bible school materials and mission trips and liturgies all about Jesus.  There are holidays and Christmas carols and nativity scenes.  What about that?

The trouble is with that old Law schoolmaster who brought us to Christ.  We felt so comfortable with the schoolmaster, so we asked him to stay ... and stay... and stay.  And we apparently are still so comfortable with the schoolmaster that we have hired him as a full time staff person.  Apparently, we need to keep him around to lead us to Christ again and again and again.  Therefore, we are unable to graduate from the milk of the word and go on to the meat of the word, which is moving from the elementary teachings of Christ, which are about sin, to the mature living in Christ, which is about the plan of God for transformation into the perfection of Christ.

We ask the old Law schoolmaster to check our behavior and doctrines against the rule book and to point out all our instances of missing the target, so that we can more accurately identify these shortcomings (sins) in one another.  We have retained so much of the old Law (the schoolmaster) into the New Covenant that we focus on the entanglements of sin instead of on Jesus.  We rehearse over and over how Jesus saved us from the Law, so, if we didn't have the Law around, what would we have to rehearse?  The schoolmaster wouldn't have a job.  But if we were freed from the schoolmaster, we could know the truth and be truly freed to be transformed into the image of God.  Isn't that why Jesus died?

The political candidates are so busy pointing out each others sins that they don't have time to work for the good of the country as a whole, but they do talk about it.  What else would they do?  What kind of role model does the church provide?  Church groups are so busy pointing out each others sins that they don't have time to work for the good of the body of Christ as a whole -- which is producing transformation into Christ according to the will of God in His foreordained plan.

How much worse does it have to get in human society?  Likely, a lot more.  With lack of leadership the people perish (Prov. 29:18).  Perishing people have reduced sight and hearing so that deterioration is harder and harder to notice.  Instead of looking for the problem, perishing people increasingly blame one another. 

Christians have the answer.  But apparently they don't recognize what they have.  It's not just time to think outside the box.  It's time to think as having the mind of Christ.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


To begin to understand the foreordained plan of God, one must believe the Bible to be the authoritative word from God, that Jesus Christ came to earth to advance God’s plan into our present age, that Christ modeled a personal revelation of the character of God in the flesh, and that the Holy Spirit is the operating power of God. God’s plan has been fulfilled through Jesus Christ, and the execution of the plan represents order, and not chaos, for the spiritual and physical realms.

The foreordained plan of God takes preeminence over everything.

[A] God’s foreordained plan preceded creation of all things – all physical matter, energy, space, dimension, time (the “seen” 2 Cor. 4:18 or the “earth”) were formed from out of the plan of God and, therefore, are foreordained to fulfill His plan. (before time began, 1 Cor. 2:7; before creation of the world, Eph. 1:4; in heaven and on earth derived from the Father, Eph. 3:15).

Therefore, it follows that:

[1] God has predestined the outcome of the foreordained plan which has been, is being, and will be executed according to His design and will.

[1a] On the macro-scale (decades, centuries, billions of years), the Holy Spirit will execute (administer) the plan of God in conformity to His will.

[1b] On the micro-scale, God’s will is administered through human organizations He has allowed to form or which He, Himself, has set up and authorized (the church). Organizations, and individuals, who operate within the will of God will be blessed and benefited for the present and future; the opposite relationship is also true.

[2] God, Christ, and the Spirit, as well as the foreordained plan of God, existed before Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning …. God” means that God was before creation and that God was the Creator from His plan.

[3] Therefore, the plan of God takes precedence over everything in the universe, gives meaning to every physical thing and every process, including all interpretation of Scripture from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. All revelation from and of God is consistent with His eternal plan.

[4] This means that the first and dominant context for any scriptural passage must be how the verse fits into the foreordained plan of God. Other contexts, time of writing, culture, circumstances, to whom written or why (in the mind of the writer) are important, but secondary to the primary context of the plan of God.

[5] Note that this prioritization of contextual order affects traditional definitions of “literal,” “inerrant,” and “inspired.” These words still describe the Scripture, but their traditionally accepted meanings may change to more accurately comply with the plan of God.

[B] The concept of time limits our thinking and interpretation, but it does not limit God’s intent or His word. Since God has created order and since He has predestined what the result of His foreordained plan will be, God speaks things into existence, either in the physical or spiritual realms. Therefore, “and God said …” may involve the creation of something at the beginning of time, at the time of the recorded story (as represented by the context), or something that will have occurred at the “end” of time, whenever that is. Since God is the “I am who I am and always will be” (Exod. 3:14), God can speak without time constraint as through something in our future has already happened.

[1] Misunderstanding the above limitation on us, but not God, can produce scriptural interpretative problems. One example is the famous passage in Gen. 1:26 when God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27).

[1a] This passage has traditionally been interpreted in the context of the first appearance of humankind, either in the evolutionary formation of a new species (Adam=mankind) or in the instantly created form of a one single human being (Adam). If Adam were in the image of God, he must have been perfect, so when he made a mistake (referred to as “sin” by retrospective definition) he must have become imperfect and, therefore, “fallen.” From this “logic,” comes the doctrines of “original sin” or “the fall of man” and “depravity.”

[1b] Alternatively, God may have been speaking of Adam as a pattern of Christ (Rom. 5:14) who was the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), or of Christ within us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Indeed, in our New Creation, we were created to be like God (Eph. 4:24) and renewed into the image of the Creator (Col. 3:10). Collectively, the image of God is portrayed by the united body of Christ, which is the responsibility of the church to do (John 17:23). God was speaking of Adam as if it had already happened according the foreordained plan. This interpretation of the “image of God” is consistent with the predestined outcome of the eternal plan rather than constructed within a “doctrine of fall and depravity.”

[2] Our declared perfection is another example of God speaking in the frame of eternity. How are we forgiven, sin-free, sanctified, saved and glorified except that God has declared it to be because He has predestined that it will happen in the future. Since what we call “future” is timeless for God, He can declare that we are perfect in the present because, in Christ, it is already “a done deal” (Rom. 5:17). We accept that declaration through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:1-8). Therefore, in the eye of eternity, it has already happened. This is a confusing concept unless it is understood in the frame of the foreordained plan of God. How else could Abraham’s faith “be counted to him as righteousness”? Abraham had faith in God’s promise of a son even though he saw no physical evidence, and he and Sarah were only getting older (Rom. 4:19-22). In the realms of the “seen” (physical, natural realm) and the “unseen” (heavenly realms, spiritual realms) (c.f. 2 Cor. 4:18), we exist in the realm of the seen, but we, by faith, have our eyes on Jesus in the “unseen” in the heavenly realms. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). God has declared that, through Christ, we are also in the heavenly realms with Christ. From His position in the “unseen,” Jesus draws all people to Himself (John 12:32).

[3] Note that interpretations of passages are expanded greatly when the hermeneutic starts with the foreordained plan of God. The “expanded” version (from the traditional human perspective) is more the way that God “sees” it from a place unlimited by space and time. This view is more consistent with the intent of God’s eternal plan. The revelation of God’s plan is all contained and revealed in His word, but we have restricted our own spiritual awareness by creating human doctrines in place of the plan of God. Our own human doctrines have created a veil before our eyes (2 Cor. 3:14-16) because many of them have roots in the Old Law.

[4] Application considerations. 

[4a] If God said we are in His image, why don’t we act that way? Do we not even see a need to act that way? Are we too busy thinking about how to crawl back from depravity? If God said we are perfect and without sin because of the “one time” sacrifice of Jesus, what right do Christians have to say that they are sinners? Do we not have faith in what God has said? How can we expect unbelievers to have faith in God for forgiveness of sin when Christians apparently do not? Isn’t the church also showing disbelief in what God has said?

[4b] How do we thank and bring glory to Jesus for suffering and dying for us?  Do we thank Him by singing, praying, and preaching about His historical sacrifice in the flesh and observe liturgical services and ceremonies to faithfully "remind us," less we forget?  Don't we honor Jesus more by not just thanking Him for "what He did," but even more for "why He did it?"  What does it mean to thank Jesus over and over in the flesh, if we not do what he died for in the Spirit?  He died that we would be free from sin, so that we could become like Him, devoting all the energies that God powerfully works in us (Phil. 2:13; Eph. 1:19-20).  The church does not honor Jesus by retaining (and thus dignifying) its sin that Jesus died to remove, celebrating its removal over in place of following the foreordained plan of God for growing into maturity and transformation (Eph. 4:12-16; 2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 12:1-2).

[C] The presentation of the foreordained plan takes precedence over any “literal” interpretations of Gen. 1-3. The story of origins deals with why God created and not how God created. To force Gen. 1-3 into a doctrine of Young Earth Creationism and to insist that’s the only way it can to be is idolatry, because it sets human opinion (representing, generously, <0.001% of the reputable scientific evidence and interpretation thereof) above the revelation of the plan of God. The “fall of man” and “depravity” doctrines are counter to the foreordained plan of God, depending on human interpretation of time rather than on God’s eternal reference.

[D] The foreordained plan of God was a hidden mystery before it was fully revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets (Eph. 1:3-12; 3:2-6; 3:7-12; Col. 1:25-28; Rom. 16:25-26; 1 Cor. 2:5-7).

[1] The plan could not be revealed except through Jesus Christ and His foreordained work and until after the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

[2] The people of earlier times were held accountable for, and wrote about, their extent of understanding of the plan of God. But they had faith for what they did not know, and it was counted as righteousness until Christ could come and all could be declared righteous.

[3] We should be held accountable for the fullness of God’s revelation. Paul said in about 56AD that “the fullness of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Our time is almost 2000 years later than that.

[4] How is the church fulfilling the foreordained plan of God so the predestined outcome will be realized? Is the church within the will of God?

[E] We have been declared as having the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 5:17), which has been imputed by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:1-8; Phil. 3:9). But it was Paul’s work to present everyone perfect in Christ (Col. 1:28). We are declared perfect so that we can become perfect through renewal of the mind and transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. Although Paul was perfected in Christ by faith, he said he had not yet attained perfection, but pressed on toward that mark in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12-14). Those who are perfect (declared) should understand this (growing into perfection, Phil. 3:15). Yet, everyone should live up to what they have already attained (Phil. 3:16). This implies that there are people all along the road to perfection at different stages, but they have all been declared to be perfect by Jesus Christ. We would never become perfect if we continued to chase our sins like under the Old Law. So, we have been declared perfect, not sinners.  If we cannot understand this, we will defeat ourselves and remain immature.

[F] Two parables.

[1] The church is supposed to present itself as the bride of Christ, already made pure and spotless by the blood of the Lamb. The church is not to keep washing its linens because the Old Law has declared them as soiled when God has declared them to be clean.

[1a] Parable of the bride of Christ. The New Jerusalem was to come down out of heaven, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Rev. 21:2). The heavens opened, but nothing came down. And a loud voice coming from the throne said, “Where’s the bride?”

[1b] The response, “Oh, she ran out of quarters to feed the washing machines at the laundromat – she has to keeps washing the stains out of her dress. She suffers from OCB -- you know, always looking in the mirror of the Old Law and thinking she is still sinful and unclean.”

[1c] “What? She has no sins and no stains. These have been permanently removed, and she is washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. She has already been prepared to receive the bridegroom.”

[1d] “Well, maybe it’s those blood stains, or something that she thinks she always spilling on herself. Maybe it's that grape juice. Someone told her that some ancient bonehead named Adam permanently stained her dress, and now she has to be really compulsive about washing it herself, over and over, because she just can’t seem to get those stains out using this brand of doctrinal detergent.  She's tried them all, and none of them work.”

[1e] What part of declared sinless once for all time and imputed righteousness by faith does the bride of Christ not understand?

[2] God’s foreordained plan does not involve dragging sin past the cross into the territory God has declared a “sin-free” zone.

[2a] Smoke-free; sin-free parable. A building had been dedicated for good health, and it was declared to be a smoke free area. But the building management didn’t seem to understand “smoke-free area,” so they put out ashtrays on the tables “just in case.” People would come in and say, “I used to smoke, so I guess I still do.” Someone from management would say, “Oh, that’s okay. We’re all smokers. (Cough, cough). That’s why the owner of the building has this big air filter to continue to purify the air of its smoke.”

[2b] The church has been dedicated for good spiritual health, and the church has been declared as a “sin free zone.” But the church still preaches against sin and condemns sin, especially if it is in another group. “People come in and say, I was born in sin and I still sin.” Someone from the church leadership comes in and says, “Oh, that okay. We’re all sinners. (Confess, confess). That’s why the building deaconoids are continually trying to wash away sins to clear the air.” But the Master comes in and says, “Look, this is a sin-free area; stop dragging your sins into here as though you think they still exist. You come into this area for a different purpose – you serve the King in here, not your supposed sins.  You cannot serve two masters.”

[G] Therefore -

The foreordained plan of God is that by faith in Jesus Christ, we are declared perfect (Rom. 5:17) so that we can have Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:28), and the love of God poured into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), which was the promise of the Father (Acts 2:33) so that we can receive the spiritual genes of God that were in Jesus Christ when he was fully God but in the flesh (Acts 1:8; Luke 1:35; Col. 1:19).  By faith in God through Jesus Christ, we are renewed and transformed by the power of the Spirit into increasing glory (2 Cor. 3:18) into the image of the Creator (Col. 3:10) in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24), which is our predestined calling (Gen. 1:26, 27).  God, who is eternal, speaks the creation into existence, including our eternal status with Him, created in His image, free from sin, and perfect in His sight (Eph. 1:4).  If we were not declared sin free, we would be continuing to return to an attitude of sin containment, like under the Old Law, under which we try to become righteous by eliminating sin, which can never be done, so we will never please God by being transformed into Him (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom 12:1-2). 

Through faith in Christ, we shed the earthly human-powered elements that cannot produce true righteousness in the natural realm of the "seen," so that we can keep eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-2) in the heavenly realms (Eph. 1:20) of the "unseen" (2 Cor. 3:18), who we see by faith (Heb. 11:1), without which we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).  Faith is counted (imputed) to us as righteousness (Rom. 4:1-8; Rom. 5;17), because we have removed attention to those things in the "seen" that are useless for perfection (Heb. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:1,4; Phil. 3:8-9; Eph. 4:25ff).  By faith it is imputed to us as the righteousness of Christ for eternal life; by "sight" it is earned as self-righteousness and counts for nothing. (Heb. 11:1).

The sum (actually,the exponent) of all individuals being transformed into Christ is the church.  The church is charged with being the body of Christ, the kingdom of God on earth, the image of God, growing into the perfection of Christ, who the church has already been declared to be (Eph. 4:12-16).  Individual members make up the church, and the church corporately leads the members into the true righteousness and holiness of God.  

What happens when the church gets into the business of self-preservation by focusing on sin-elimination instead of being transformed by faith?  Call the sin exterminator to spray the church building with Sinicide (RegTm) as if that purified the body? In so doing, we forget that our sins have been forgiven and crucify Christ all over again, submitting Him to public shame because Christians who attend the "church of hypocrisy" don't demonstrate the faith that they like to preach about (Heb. 6:4ff).  The church recycles immaturity and does not grow into maturity (Heb. 6:1-3), and apostasy awaits (Heb. 6:4ff).

[H] Does someone say that the "milk of the word" involves tolerance of sin in the church, and the "meat of the work" involves vigorously and publicly pointing it out for "what it is" complete with judgment and condemnation? (Heb. 5:11-14). Do we say, "we need to hear more of that kind of preaching?"  How does that constitute the foreordained plan of God and His will for the church?  Doesn't that just promote more immaturity to recycle by focusing on what Jesus erased?

Matt. 16:21-23 (from Matt. 16:13-23) --

Jesus "built His church" on the confession that "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Matt. 16:16).  This confession was stated by Peter.  But, then, Jesus told the disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ (Matt. 16:20).  Jesus proceeded to tell them about His coming sufferings in Jerusalem, death, and resurrection 3 days later.  

"Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  'Never, Lord!' he said.  'This shall never happen to you!'"  (vs. 22).

Peter was speaking from out of the flesh, out of the "seen," the natural realm; he did not yet understand about the relationship between his confession of "the Christ" and the foreordained plan of God.  Peter was, perhaps unwittingly, telling Jesus to get out of the "unseen" realm of the will of the Father and into the realm of the "seen," which was to be conquered by the anticipated physical King of Israel.  The realm of "the seen" has been given to the prince of darkness, the evil one, for his type of operations (1 John 5:19).

Therefore, Jesus addressed the meaning of Peter's statement when He said, "Get thee behind me, Satan!"

Jesus did what He said He would do in Jerusalem, and, contrary to Peter's rebuke, fulfilled His predestined role in God's plan, permanently wiping out our sins with their guilt and condemnation so that God counts them as gone and remembers them no more.  

But the Doctrine of Peter comes to the church and says from the dark alleys of the "seen" realm, "Oh, no!  You still do things wrong; you still sin; you still eat from the tree of human knowledge of good and evil.  But (don't think about Adam's fate) you shall not surely die if you hang onto your sin.  Just repeat after me ... 'we are surely all sinners, we are surely ....'"  (Yes, go ahead and crucify Jesus over and over for your recycled sins; and, in doing so, deny that He is the Christ because of your lack of faith that He has erased your sins).  What message has the church been listening to?

Like playing "Church Family Feud," A-a-nd the Doctrinal survey says, "We're All Sinners!!" ding..ding..ding ..yay!

Instead of operating in the realm of the "seen" in the physical kingdom of the god of real estate, budgets, and sin containment and targeted condemnation and buying into this lie of the enemy, shouldn't the church be looking toward Jesus at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms and say to the distracting enemy, 

"Get yourself behind me, Satan!"

We have been created to be like God. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


When trying to describe the foreordained plan of God, with the church showing the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities of the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10), growing into the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:16-18), being transformed into ever increasing glory (2 Cor. 3:18), fulfilling its predestined role of being like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph.4:24), the response is often in the form of a question.  

"If that were to happen, what would it look like?"

In other words, give a description of the product of this activity in measurable terms.  What percentage increase would occur in attendance, contribution, involvement, etc.  The guru web sites on church growth answer this question - structure your organization this way, ask these questions, look for these answers, count these number of occurrences, compare to the preset goals and calculate efficiency, modify and correct and reshift resources as needed to improve.  You know, all the "sick sigma" stuff. (*

This is the natural realm talking -- setting goals, planing an approach, organizing for direction, performing, measuring, assessing, modifying, and doing it again.  Some say, "If it can't be measured, it's not worth doing."  This is the kind of thing that seminars, retreats, conferences, and a convention hall all full of vendors are made of.  There's also an app for that.  

Religion in the Eastern cultures may be more meditative, but in the West, particularly in the US, it is performance that counts.  You can meditate on your own time, but you are being paid to produce, and that is what is measured.  Even quality is measured by the reduction in percent of errors or mistakes while increasing volume of production.  Eventually, it comes down to money.

So, what is really being asked for behind the question, "What would that look like?"  What is desired is an answer such as, "It would look like, 1, 2, 3, 4 ...."  "Just make me a list, so I can do it, measure it, evaluate it, and compare it with the product of something else to see if it is really better."  That question, "What would it look like," presents an oxymoron, because it basically seeks to be doing something produced by human planning in the realm of the "seen" instead of being like someOne in the "unseen" (2 Cor. 3:18) realm by faith in God and in the operation of His foreordained plan.  

We operate in the physical and temporal realm of the "seen."  Jesus is at the right hand of God in the "unseen," spiritual, heavenly realms (Eph. 1:20); so, from the physical realm, we "see" Jesus, we keep eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2), we keep thoughts on Jesus (Heb. 3:1) by faith (Heb. 11:1), and righteousness comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:22).  Although we operate in the "seen," we are also "in Christ" and are sanctified (1 Cor. 1:2) and established (2 Cor. 1:21) in Him. Christ is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2), and by faith and through Christ we can draw near to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).  Even more, God raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenly realms in Christ.  Christ also lives in us, the hope of glory (Gal. 2:20).  

Jesus, said He would draw all men to himself (John 12:32).  We have been declared perfect, forgiven, sinless, sanctified, holy, and in the heavenly realms with Christ so that we can be free from the entanglements of this world to become like God - to be transformed into the image of God, Jesus Christ.  

What does that look like?  How can that be measured by human standards?  It does look like something recognizable and it can be measured, but the church does not set a human goal for itself or clock itself by human measure.  The measure comes from the world and from the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, where the real battle is taking place.  This is evangelism; this is the "great commission" -- not "going" but "showing" -- not just "preaching" but "living."   God has placed enough of His Spirit in all humankind that, at the right time of development within the plan of God, humans can recognize the power of God at work in the lives of Christians and in the church.  The church that sets up human descriptions and goals with human measurements for itself is a self-preserving human institution that will fail.  They will know we are His disciples by our love for one another (John 13:34-35).  We are conduits for displaying the love of God.

If you have to ask ..... 

Many years ago, a group was attending a scientific meeting in New Orleans, and one person walked into one of the nicer antique stores on Bourbon Street.  There were a lot of really unusual and pristine items on display, but he noticed there were no price tags on anything.  Probably noting his "casual attire" and "tourist appearance," no one "waited on" him or asked him if he needed any assistance.  He walked around and admired the displays, but curiosity finally surfaced, and he asked an employee, "How much is this?"  The response was, "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."  

The story is told of a young boy asking Mozart to tell him how to write a symphony.  Mozart  responded by telling the boy to just compose some songs.  The boy responded, "Why songs?  You were writing symphonies before my age."  Mozart replied, "Yes, but I didn't have to ask anyone how to do it."

Some years ago when Life Church was rapidly growing and building new campus sites seemingly everywhere, Greg Groeschel published a book titled, 'It."  The book was about the power of God at work in the church.  A key thought was, "If you have 'It' you know it, but if you have to ask what 'It' is, you don't have 'It'."  

Hebrews 6:1-2 lists six characteristics of elementary teachings being taught to those who are recycling the milk of the word, hearing them over and over (Heb. 5:11 through 6:3) leading to continued immaturity.  The contrast is the meat of the word, training in righteousness, which is "going on to maturity" (6:1).  There is a list of subjects that, when continually recycled, are guaranteed to keep in immaturity.  Why didn't the author give a helpful list of actions and teachings that are guaranteed to go on to maturity?  What does that look like?   The list for immaturity is a description in the "seen" realm; the road to maturity is paved by faith in the "unseen."  If there were a list for maturity, we would place human performance standards on that, too, and have to return to the milk pond and compete in the backstroke swimming event.  

The order of maturation

We become what we desire, what we think, what we want, what we set our hearts on, our focus.  It's a matter or priority - focus on Jesus - drawn to Jesus; focus on performance measures - drawn to human standards.  In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus said to not pray or present a holy appearance to be seen of men, because you will be measuring by a human standard of attention and that is all the reward you will receive.  By the measure you use, you shall likewise receive.  But seek first the kingdom of heaven, and the things of the world that you need will be given to you as well.  

Frequently, the order of growth in the church given in Acts 2:47 is quoted as a good goal, but then it is seemingly ignored.  "The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."  There was a quantitation (3000 in Acts 2:41), but the order was the Lord saves and then we count.  The Lord added first, then humans counted.  What if it were a prospective performance standard?  "Next count has to double."  Oh, no!  The next report was only 5000 (Acts 4:4).  "Look up on the website and see what we've done wrong."  Those primarily seeking after standards and performance measures are concerned with self-perpetuation of the human institution.  

Eyes on Jesus and the Spirit takes care of the results.  Being concerned and focused on results indicates faith is in human performance rather than in God and operation of the Holy Spirit.  

Matters of the Spirit are difficult to describe and hard to quantitate.  If it this were easy, it wouldn't require faith and spiritual vision into the "unseen," and the results would be something that humans could, and would, take credit for doing.  That's why the person without the Spirit of God cannot understand the knowledge that comes through spiritual discernment (1 Cor. 2:14).

The church is operating too much in the natural realm and is more concerned with keeping its established physical footprint than being in the will of the foreordained plan of God.

A characteristic of God's righteousness is perfect balance

So, is this saying we need to spend all our time meditating and thinking about being and spend no time and effort doing anything?  What about showing faith by works (James 2:28)?

Making a physical assumption about the interpretation of the parable of the talents, the master seemed to expect that his servants would do something with what he had left them.  The servant that did nothing except play it safe got busted.  There wasn't a fourth servant in the story who said, "Lord, I spent all this time praying to you in the heavenly realms for guidance on how to best use this talent.  I was on my knees so much, these other guys called me "old knobby knees."  So, we don't know what would have happened in that circumstance.

We can say, however, that it's not a matter of either/or -- it is both/and, but with the necessity of maintaining the right priority, which is an active, constant process, or else entropy takes over and things erode back to the default, which is the human nature.

The results of keeping eyes on Jesus can only be generally described within the framework of faith in the goodness, mercy, and faithfulness of the promises of our God.  God told Moses that he could not see His face - His glory - but Moses could see His back - His goodness.  The goodness of God can be described in specific detail retrospectively, because it happened; God's glory cannot be described in detail because we haven't seen it - we don't yet have the terminology or the experience or the developed spiritual knowledge.  

What would that glory look like?  I'll have to let you know when it happens - after that glory has been revealed.  

It would seem that sometimes God allows us to experience the results of our own self-made mess so we can realize the futility of human effort to reach into the "unseen" realm (like the tower of Babel, Gen. 11:1-9).  We are then more likely to look beyond ourselves and place faith in a greater source of the knowledge and power of God in the "unseen" realm.  When things work out for good (Rom. 8:28), we gain more understanding of the revelation of the mystery of the foreordained plan of God.

One day, when we see God face to face with completed knowledge (1 Cor. 13:12) and eternal perspective, He can say, "See, this is what it looks like."  

Until that time, recounting the operation of the goodness of God is called "testimony."  The apostles were told by Jesus that would be what they would soon be doing (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8).  Testimony builds faith, and there needs to be more sharing of testimonials in the church.  


The following three books are recommended:

Pure Grace:  The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace.  Clark Whitten

The Rest of the Gospel:  When the Partial Gospel Has Worn You Out.  Dan Stone and David Gregory

Transformation:  The Heart of Paul's Gospel.  David A. DeSilva and Michael F. Bird 

These books explain things much more clearly and use a less confrontational approach. 


Mystery, Revelation, and Knowledge As Related to the Foreordained Plan of God

A “mystery” is something secret, unexplained or unknown. An unanswered question may present a mystery, or something only partially answered. A mystery may stimulate interest in a search for the answer, or the incomplete information may be just accepted as the best answer we can get. The quest to solve a mystery may perk the interest of some people to search for the answer, while others with no interest in spending the time and effort. Only certain selected people may know the answer to a mystery, and it may be a total unknown to everyone else.

A mystery may be universal or only locally created. A mystery may continue because human knowledge does not exist for the answer – it has yet to be discovered, being known only in the mind of the Creator, at least up to that time. A mystery may be locally created, such as in a play when the audience knows the plot but the actors are pretending they do not. A mystery may be relatively time dependent – the final score of a football game is a mystery in actual time until the playing time expires, but the outcome of a recorded replay of the game is not a mystery, even though the plays and moves are exactly the same. A “mystery” can thus be simulated to occur over and over, and couch potatoes can get upset and yell over a particular referee’s call every time the scene is replayed, or a winning play can be equally celebrated.

Obtaining all the information regarding a mystery is made difficult, because, by definition, the question itself is hidden by the mystery. That can be a problem, because if a mystery is inadequately understood, an incorrect answer might be accepted as truth or a partial answer accepted as complete.

The answer to a mystery might be called a “revelation.” New information could be discovered, and revealed, to help solve questions that were not even previously recognized as having mysterious elements. The action of revelation, or transfer of information regarding a mystery, is categorically different between the provider of the information and the receiver of the information. The revelation may be 100% completed in the mind of the provider of the information, because the provider understands the totality of the question and, therefore, knows that all the information has been provided and that it is all correct. The receiver, however, may not yet completely understand or comprehend the total question, the mystery, or all of the information. From the receiver’s perception, the completely available revelation may arrive in pulses, depending on time, circumstances, and successful assimilation of previous knowledge transfer. This is considered to be new revelation to the mind of the receiver.

This discussion relates to the Word of God

Our human definition of revelation and mystery is not the same as that of the information source (the mind of God). We do not comprehend the full revelation of the mind of God, and we have gaps in our understanding of the mystery of God.

This information mismatch between source and receiver undermines our definitions and uses of words such as “inspired,” “inerrant,” and “literal” related to determining the meaning of scripture. In the mind of God, His Word is all of these things, but we kid ourselves if we think our understanding of the meaning is equally flawless. Why would Jesus say to ask, seek, and knock if He knew we already had all the information, all the discoveries, and all the rooms were full?

The Mystery of the foreordained plan of God has been revealed

The following questions should be answered, or at least begin to be addressed, in the passage from Ephesians 3:1-6

[01] Was there a mystery?

[02] What does the mystery have to do with for foreordained plan of God?

[03] Has the knowledge behind the mystery been completely revealed?

[04] From whom was the mystery hidden? When? Why?

[05] To whom was the mystery revealed?

[06] Was the knowledge of the mystery written down?

[07] Has, therefore, the mystery been revealed to us?

[08] Exactly, what is the revelation of the mystery?

[09] What is the revelation to us today? To the church?

[10] What should we (Christians, the church) be doing today with the revealed knowledge of this mystery?

Ephesians 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 3:1-6)
[11] Does any of the mystery remain today?

[12] If God has completely revealed the knowledge of the mystery through Christ, but the fullness of this knowledge has not yet been perceived by us (humans, Christians, the church), where is the problem and what should be done about it?

If the mystery has been revealed to the apostles, including Paul, and if the knowledge has been written down in God’s inspired, holy, and complete Word and if we understood all of the revelation in the scripture, there shouldn’t be any more mystery. If there is any mystery remaining, either we should admit that we have not received all of the revelation and should therefore keep searching and asking, or else we should recognize and admit that we are in total denial about our ignorance.

Most Christians would concede there are some Biblical passages that are poorly understood, and we just accept that, since we won’t know all things until God explains it fully when we shall see Him face to face (1 Cor. 13:12). There are some group exceptions, such as Mormons, who believe they have been given revelation through their exclusive organization of prophets and apostles that explains everything. Except for some cultic groups, mystery and uncertainty are not incorporated into doctrine that is integrated into a traditional belief system to be maintained and defended. It is difficult to subject a mystery to calcification, because of its elusive and poorly defined shape, although some liturgies have an element of mystery behind them, especially some actions pertaining to the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist, Communion, Sacrament).

Few groups want to have too much mystery in their doctrine, because that would spread insecurity and erode confidence that the group had a firm grip on the keys to the kingdom – which itself is a mystery that means exactly what?

If something were fully revealed, clearly understood, and totally implemented by the church, there would be no “mystery” about it, and the entire church would be unified on the meaning and what the church should be doing about it. So, if there are a myriad of groups separated by different doctrines and practices representing different answers to supposedly the same mystery that had been completely revealed, there would seem to be a problem with consistency. From the geo- and temporocentric perspective of one group, it can be “we are right and everyone else is wrong,” or, “we are more spiritual.” However, from a heliocentric perspective, more like the eternal perspective of God, there is no right and wrong – there is just Jesus. There are no eyes on each other – there are only eyes on Jesus. Does the church know its role in the eternal plan of God?

Either the church is deceiving itself about a self-sufficiency of its answers to the mystery of God, so that the church is therefore outside the will of God, or else God predestined the church to operate in global chaos and to undercut its own effectiveness by internal competition between fragments over affairs of the world. And, it’s also everybody else’s fault.

Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock (Matt. 7:7-8). There’s little motivation to search deeper into the revelation of God if one thinks they already have all the answers, or at least enough answers to scarcely be saved (1 Pet. 4:18) on the Day of Judgment.

(Besides, I don’t have time to dig around and look for and pray over some old spiritualized fossils; I have the “Lord’s work” to be doing (aka, “my Father’s business”). I’ve got real committee meetings to attend, contributions to count, a new building addition to plan for, and a book publisher’s deadline to meet. And that’s just for this morning! After the “Million Dollar Donors Luncheon,” I leave town for Sardis to present a speech at “The Second Great Conference on Hell.”)

If the revelation of the knowledge of the mystery has been completely given (from God) and if the revelation has genuinely been completely received (by us), the following questions would be expected to be quickly and easily answered:

[01] Explain “the heavenly realms.” The Greek words translated “heavenly realms” are used five times, all in Ephesians (1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12).

[1A] What is the battle in the heavenly realms? Is that the same battle that belongs to the Lord? What does “not against flesh and blood” mean (Eph. 6:12)?

[1B] What are the blessings in the heavenly realms (Eph. 1:3)? How does one know if they have these blessings? What does one have to believe or have to do in order to receive these blessings?

[1C] What exactly are the heavenly realms (similar in concept to the spiritual realms, the eternal, the “unseen”)? Where are they? Who is there? Is the church supposed to be in the physical realms, in the heavenly realms, or in both? If so, doing what?

[1D] What is the relation between “the mystery” and “the gospel”? Are they identical – does one definition fit both? If we don’t fully understand the mystery, do we likewise not fully understand the gospel? If that’s the case, then what are we preaching?

[1E] What does “heirs together and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus” mean to us (Christians, the church) today? What does “one body” mean (Eph. 3:6)? Could different Christian groups be “sharers in the same promise” while arguing over the definition of “promise” and who has the right methodology to get qualified? What should the words of this revealed mystery mean to us if we truly understood the revelation?

[1F] What is “the promise” that we have -- being saved, being forgiven, having Jesus, having the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God, eternity with God, escape from hell, or all of the above? Is the promise for this life or the next? Has the promise been fulfilled? When and how? Is this all part of the mystery of the foreordained plan of God?

[1G] Who are the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10)? What are they looking for that the church is supposed to provide? Who are the rulers and authorities and powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil, and how do we “struggle” against them (Eph. 6:12)?

[1H] What is the “manifold wisdom of God” and what is “His eternal purpose accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11)? If this is God’s intent for the church (vs. 10), shouldn’t we have a really firm understanding of what this is and what the church should be doing about it? What exactly are we doing about our understanding of this revealed mystery?

[02] What exactly is “the mind of Christ” and how do we have it (1 Cor. 2:16). How does the Holy Spirit reveal the deep things of the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:10-12)? To whom is this revealed? Did this die out after the First Century along with the apostles?

[03] What does it mean to keep eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-2) or to fix your thoughts on Jesus (Heb. 3:1) or to “set your hearts and minds on things that are above (Col. 3:1-2)? If Jesus is in the heavenly realms (Eph. 1:20) and we are in the physical realm, how to we see Jesus? What are the “seen” (temporal, physical) realms and the “unseen” (heavenly, spiritual) realms (2 Cor. 4:18)? How do we look into the “unseen”?

[04] Are Christians sinners or not? Do we commit sin? Are we forgiven? Has sin been wiped out by the cross, nor not? How can we be sin-free but still sin at the same time? Do we have to confess our sins before being forgiven? Is forgiveness conditional? If Jesus died once for all time, both forward and backward, why is there still sin? Does Jesus have to keep dying over and over again? Does sin condemn? Isn’t the Old Law the law of sin and death? If we have sin in our lives, how can there be no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1)?

[05] What is renewal of the mind? What is transformation? How do these happen? What changes occur and what do we have to do? What is at the end of this process? Is it perfection? How can we be declared perfect in Christ but still be changed into perfection by transformation? Are we perfect or not? How can we be forgiven and still commit sin at the same time? How can God forget our sins if we keep reminding Him? How can we be sinners and have Christ dwell in us, if God cannot be in the presence of sin? If we are sin-free and living in grace, does that mean we are released from restraint to do anything we want to do? No? Then what are we free to do?

[06] What is the church supposed to do about sin? How does the church “keep itself unspotted from the world” (Jam 1:27; also 1 Pet, 2:11-12)? Does the church have to expel the sinners from its midst in order to be within the will of God according to His foreordained plan? Is the church supposed to point out (expose) sin and condemn (judge) sin in accordance with the revealed mystery of God? How much “tolerance” is there for sin in the church?

[07] What is “salvation?” Is it something done in the past, present, future, or all of the above? If “the Lord added to their number those being saved” (Acts 2:4)7), how do we “continue to work out our own salvation” (Phil. 2:12)? Does “getting saved” occur one time or many times or only when Jesus comes again? Is salvation continual? Does salvation have to be maintained “in good standing” by keeping a doctrine? How about the “nones” – are they saved? How about a person who goes to church and gives money earned from activities that are questionable legal or ethical – is he saved? How are we saved by grace, not of works, in order to do good works” (Eph. 2:8-10)?

[08] How does all this relate to “the Great Commission” (Matt. 28:18-20)? And, exactly what is that commission? Is it to go and to preach and to teach and disciple and baptize in water for the forgiveness of sin? Is that the gospel? Is that the church’s foreordained job?

[09] Is there still some mystery about the Lord’s Supper, or do we have everything resolved? What about the “Paschal Mystery” (the passing over)?  Is that only a mystery to Catholics? Exactly what does “this is my body” mean? What body – Christ’s – on the cross, in the tomb, or after resurrection, or standing at the right hand of God? Is it the body of Christ, the church? What does “the new covenant in my blood” mean? People can make up answers, but their responses are different, depending on their doctrinal preconceptions. Is one group right and the rest wrong, or is there an interpretative mystery?

[10] Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to an immature church who had a lot of problems. Is the church today that much different? Do many, or most, or all, of the teachings in 1 Corinthians apply to situations within the church today? Paul said in chapter 5 to “expel the immoral brother!” Is that a model for situations today? Is that how we are to deal with actions defined as sin in the church? Why is 1 Corinthians still relevant today? Is it because the church is still immature? Do we need to use the ammo in 1 Corinthians and clean all sin out of the church? If immaturity still prevails, focusing on sin hasn’t worked very well this far. So, do we need to use 1 Corinthians and double down on sin? That approach hasn’t gotten rid of sin yet and has preserved immaturity in the church, so why would we want to use it even more? Why does the church recycle immaturity – is the church missing the revelation of the mystery of the ages – the foreordained plan of God?

These questions are not intended to set up the need for another million words on some blog, although that could easily happen. Any of these questions lacking clear and complete answers should indicate we still have a mystery related to our understanding of the revelation of the foreordained plan of God and how the church is to execute its predestined mission on earth.

The point of the questions is to show that we don’t have all the answers, and the open and unresolved questions are central to God plan, not peripheral or trivial. So, what has the church done about this problem across the past almost 2000 years of completed revelation? Today, one can describe a spectrum of responses among the groups of people calling themselves Christian.

[1] Ignore the questions and tend to more pressing matters at hand, such as keeping the utility bills paid.

[2] Insulate the questions with answers developed years ago and protect and maintain as tenets of the doctrine of faith. Don’t start rocking the boat – we’ve got enough trouble without starting that.

[3] All the questions have answers, and we have all the answers. If we need any more answers, we will ask our apostles or the Pope or the Denominational Council.

[4] Don’t believe any of this weak-minded superstitious garbage.

[5] Develop a hermeneutic of interpretation that is based on the scripture, all the scripture, and nothing but the scripture and claim that anyone who disagrees is not in the body of Christ. Divide the body of Christ rather than overlook disagreements with someone else over the “fundamentals.”

[6] Just do whatever you want to do, because it doesn’t make enough difference to worry about.

[7] Recognize that we must continue to be growing in our understanding of God, of His revelation, and the mystery of His foreordained plan and that we must continue to search for truth and not hold to doctrinal idols. Every better understanding brings us closer to the mind of God.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it identifies enough variety of group tactics to conclude that the church has tended to defend its preconceptions rather than to continue to search for truth in the revelation of God.

No one is going to have the complete understanding of the mystery of the foreordained plan of God, even if they claim to do so. It’s certainly not going to be displayed on this blog. But, it would at least be a start if Christians could agree that we don’t know everything, that dogmatic insistence on certain narrow private interpretations of scripture is inherently risky, that we must keep searching for truth and believing in the promise of ask, seek, and knock (Matt. 7:7-8), and that we must work together to keep eyes on Jesus instead of on one another’s human doctrines.

Instead of skeletons or zombies in the closet, we can have doctrinal idols. Traditional, handed-down, well-reinforced doctrinal practices based on interpretations of human origin can be the pacifier that lulls us into a complacent mode of thinking that repetition of the same thing over and over is a confirmation of being correct. (We did the same thing in the same way as was done last week; last week we were correct; therefore, this week we must also be correct; and, we will be correct next week as well. We’ve always done it this way, so this must be the Biblical pattern. Don’t you go and mess up that tidy little package by breaking out of the box with some modern worldly thinking.)  

We must remove the idols of doctrine from the high places, like Gideon toppled the idols of Baal, and continue to search for the truth. The foreordained plan of God, made before time began and implemented by the creation of the world, is the most important revelation in the universe. This product of predestination was announced in creation, developed through the nation of Israel and the Law of Moses, perfected and transitioned by Christ into a New Covenant, and implanted as the spiritual genes of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit, into the hearts of the elect – those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and, collectively, the one unified body of Christ, the church. The church is the Imago Dei, the image of God, on the earth.

Shouldn’t we feel compelled to continue to search the mind of God, so that we can come into closer compliance with His foreordained will?