Monday, August 15, 2016


A friend died on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, ending a seven month bout with cancer.  He was only 68 years old.  One of his daughters wrote a tribute to him on Facebook, published on Sunday, August 14th.  It began, "We laid my Dad to rest yesterday."  The tribute continued with special memories of her dad and the loving things he did for the family.  The tribute ended with ...
Dad was a great man of faith. He was ready to go home and be with Jesus. I, however, was not ready for him to go. Mom and my brother and sisters were not ready. The grandkids were not ready. We all love him and miss him so very, very much. I'm not really sure where to go from here, but I know that Dad would want us to keep walking forward and do something good with our lives. My personal goal is to try and become the person that my Dad already thought I was.
RIP Daddy. See you on the other side.
The last sentence, "...become the person that my Dad already thought I was," is profound, because that is a description of God the Father for us.  

First, it is obvious that all fathers would want to be like this - a model of God the Father for our wife and children.  That is what the family from out of a God-ordained marriage covenant is all about (Eph. 5:22-32). 

But, more, it describes one relationship of one human father that is everything to a one family, representing a tiny glimpse of an entire universe of fulfillment of the foreordained plan of God, made before time began and going forward into eternity.

When we choose God's plan and remain faithful, we glorify God, we are transformed into His true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), and we bear witness to the world of the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10).

God blotted out our sins (Col. 2:3-13-15) so we could be unencumbered to keep eyes on Jesus and run the race before us (Heb. 12:1-2).  Our sins from the shortcomings of the human nature, trying in the flesh to be like God, have been removed so that we can grow by the control of the spiritual nature into the fullness of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:12-16).

Like the daughter's tribute to her Dad, by the grace of God, we yield to the power of transformation so that we can become the person that God has already predestined us to be in Christ. 

Originally posted on August 14, 2016 ; revision posted on August 24, 2016

Monday, February 2, 2015



The foreordained plan of God predestined before the world began that we would grow into the image of the Creator, into the true righteousness and holiness of God.

Evolutionary processes are associated with relatively slow and progressive changes over time that result in an increase in complexity and capacity for function that is favorable for survival and future positive development.  Evolution describes only a mechanism, which Christians search beyond.  Christians believe that the developmental goal of the universe, including our goal in particular, is to be perfect and complete -- like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24).  Those who do not believe in God are left with randomness and aimless chance.

God's plan, for the creation to grow into Himself, was why the universe was made.  Evolution simply describes the process of change that God directed at the beginning.

The universe was made and set in motion (physical change with respect to time) to fulfill that plan.  These changes occur according to a preset order which we call "laws of nature."

God executes His will so that the plan has been, is being, and will be accomplished in His good pleasure and in accordance with His timing.  The changes can be described as evolutionary.  Note that evolution does not define God or His plan.  God defines evolution, because the plan of God came first.

The foreordained plan of God is His revelation to the universe.  There is nothing more important.  The plan of God is as important to us as God, Himself.  The foreordained plan is the Foundational and Unifying Law of the Universe.

Even though physical change may appear indistinguishable from a random process, it was created that way by design.  The foreordained plan of God is why the universe was created, why the physical substrate was formed, why humankind exists, why God interacted with people to the time of Christ, the coming and work of Christ, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, what we are supposed to doing, and what the single most important job of the church should be.

When the church follows the will of God as laid out in His plan (Eph. 3:10) and is growing in love and unity into the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:12-16), the church will fulfill its role for existing, will beat down the gates of Hell, and will overcome evil with good. 

The extent to which the church does not follow the will of God as laid out in His plan, the church is on the wrong path, operating out of the flesh, pursuing idolatry, and destined to suffer the consequences of entropy by the discipline of God. 

Execution of the foreordained plan of God must be the most important doctrine in the church and more important than any doctrine, interpretation, tradition, or institutional religion of human origin.  It is more important than human titles, positions, or names., buildings, measures of human physical accomplishment, cash flow, or any assurance of future earthly security.  Just verbal acknowledgement means nothing.

If we are within the will of God, our focus is only heavenward in Christ Jesus.  We only look forward, not backward.  We are becoming, not escaping from.  We are headed for, not leaving. We identify as saints headed for perfection in Christ, not sinners who are trying to do better. 

We run the race with eyes on Jesus, casting off the entanglements of sin and leaving them behind.  We help one another to realize our freedom in Christ, not reattach more rules to ourselves or others from our human interpretations.  This includes interpreted necessities of correct behavior for salvation or to maintain salvation.  This reestablishes the Old Covenant and crucifies Christ all over again, and those who do this return like a dog to its vomit.  Understand, this is very serious. 

When legalisms are imposed by the church, the church does not have eyes on Jesus for transformation into the likeness of God.

"Legalisms" include: anything that elevates what one person or group does and diminishes what another does based on a humanly contrived differentiation; anything that returns to a law of "have to" in order to avoid punishment; anything that establishes guilt and sin to set up the need for forgiveness and grace; any established protocol, steps, or rules to obtain salvation.

Grace is the freedom to become like God, not the assumed freedom to choose to sin -- as if the consequences were prevented by the grace of God. Holiness is not something to be pursued in itself -- it is Jesus Christ who is pursued, and it is we who are consequentially transformed by the Holy Spirit into the holiness of God. 

God has revealed Himself in Christ, but that revelation is incompletely known by us.  We have to continue to search, ask, seek, and knock so that we might discover the riches of Christ.  We do not stop and protect what we have discovered or copyright how our private interpretation of what has been discovered.  We do not compare between ourselves.  In unity of mind and purpose, we help one another become more like God.

The church does not preach sin, or preach against sin, or place anyone under judgment or condemnation.  It is a particular affront to use intrinsic condemnation (i.e., the doctrine of depravity) as a "straw man" to set up the need for redemption in Christ.  That doctrine results from a lack of understanding of the foreordained plan of God.  The church's job is to live and show the image of Jesus Christ so that people will also want to become like Christ. 

We must understand that Rom. 8:1 - "there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus" - applies to everyone who will accept and begin transformation into the likeness of God.  The church models what that transformation process looks like; the church does not condemn those who do not conform to church rules for salvation.  That is not the plan of God. 

Everything in scripture is first interpreted in the context of the foreordained plan of God.  Each verse and event and story must be viewed in light of how much the people understood of the plan of God at that particular point in time and where God was taking them toward their future fulfillment of that plan.  This also applies to the New Testament - the mystery of the plan was revealed and explained so that the church could progressively implement the plan in the future.  What has been accomplished in 2000 years? 

The entire book of Ephesians seems to be related to explaining the foreordained plan of God.  Eph. 2:19-22 illustrates how we are to always look ahead and not behind - not behind to the Old Testament, when the plan was still a mystery, and not behind to the New Testament, in which the plan was completely revealed, but in foundational form, for the church to continue to discover and apply the revelation of God and plan for creation.  The New Testament provides a living foundation upon which the church should grow.  It does not describe a bunch of dead rocks upon which the church should camp out, maintain itself in controlled environmental comfort, and protect itself from doctrinal contamination.

Eph. 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Since the correct interpretation of the Old Testament is not an isolated goal within itself, completely understanding its exact academic textual interpretation is immaterial as long as it points forward to fulfilling the plan of God.  That means a great number of subjects that Christians and other scholars debate about is of little real consequence to our purpose on earth and can waste time to the point of sin.  The importance of the subject of contention can become elevated by ambitious human competitiveness to an idol status.

Examples: Interpretations of Gen 1-3; creation and evolution (they are the same); origins; meaning of the Garden story, Adam and Eve being literal people; the Great Flood of Noah; Job; Jonah and the great fish, and many more.  We must understand first that it doesn't matter compared to what is really important.  The search for intellectual knowledge is not an end in itself - it must point toward a purpose.  It is a part of, but does not take the place of, becoming like God in accordance with His plan. 

Therefore, during the period before Christ, the foreordained plan of God was a mystery known only to God, until the time had fully come for the plan to go into the next phase (Gal. 4:4).  The physical substrate of the human body and brain had evolved until an overlay of social, political, and religious knowledge could evolve.  The plan of God can be recognized in the Old Testament through retrospective analysis, since after the plan was revealed, we know what to look for.  Jesus Christ provided the transition to the next phase of spiritual evolution, when the conditions of the previous phase of the plan had been met and the last age could begin.  Jesus revealed the plan by His life and through His teaching, although He had to speak in "code."  The power for the last phase of spiritual evolution came on the day of Pentecost, and the revelation of the plan was made known to the apostles.  This was the foundational teaching of the plan, revealed from God through Jesus Christ and then through His selected apostles.  The foundation of the plan was written in the New Testament, and the church is supposed to take the building process from there on into the future until Jesus comes again.

How does the church today compare to that described in Eph. 4:12-16 -- 2000 years after the foundation was completed for the fulfillment of the plan of God?  What kind of stewardship of the power of the Holy Spirit does God require of the church after 2000 years?  What kind of manager has the church been of God's resources?  Would Jesus give His church today a commendation or a reproof, based on the parables about the Kingdom of God?  

One of the messages from Gen. 1-3 is that God placed humankind as His representative in stewardship over the earth.  The creation groans for the sons of God to be revealed (Rom. 8:18-23).  The creation was subjected to frustration (Rom. 8:20), and it is likely getting inpatient for the sons of God to quit arguing among themselves about how God make the universe in order to fulfill His plan and to get busy about being revealed in the glory of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).  How is God glorified when humans argue over their imperfect opinions instead of keeping their eyes on Jesus?  Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), not of our human arguments for the correctness of our doctrine.

(Originally published on February 2, 2015; revised on February 16, 2015)

(Some previous posts on this general subject)
    Friday, September 5, 2014

YOUR INNER JESUS  - (Contrasted To "Your Inner Fish")
   Monday, April 14, 2014

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Saturday, August 31, 2013

    Tuessday, June 18, 2013

    Friday, April 5, 2013 

GOD (by Intelligent Design) CREATED (by supernatural power) THE UNIVERSE (and the earth and all life) THROUGH AN EVOLUTIONARY (so-called “natural”) MECHANISM
Thursday, April 26, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012   

Thursday, September 18, 2014


And the winds of change blew against that house;
and it could not withstand,
because it was built upon the sand;
and so it fell with a great clatter,
in a heap of words that never did matter.
(with apologies to Matthew 7:24-27)

Got milk? Got doctrine? Got milk of the doctrine?

Because the English words "doctrine" and "teaching" both come from the same Greek words (either didache or didaskalia, teaching or that which is taught), oftentimes people want to say the words mean the same thing. However, the developed connotations of doctrine and teaching are different in our common usage. Doctrine has a connotation of a teaching that has been around long enough to have become somewhat established and accepted. Teaching implies a word description of findings gleaned from a process of study. What is taught may have a range of evidence behind it, from substantial to tenuous. The credibility of what is taught often depends on who is doing the teaching. Doctrine implies a teaching that has been passed down generation to generation (of people or of knowledge) until it is essentially assumed to be unimpeachable - at least by the proponents of that way of thinking. Thus, a doctrine is a tradition - a teaching that is assumed to have been adequately vetted and thought through in the past - a teaching that is defining, bonafide, calcified, even petrified. A doctrine is a hook upon which to hang your hat of salvation. It is to be taught; it is to be perpetuated; it is to be defended. It is a part of your structure of faith. It is a hill to die on - at least for the proponents of that particular doctrine.

The problem comes when there are many different teachings that have become different doctrines that are established on many hills that many people die on. Therefore, the way we have become accustomed to using the words teaching and doctrine, they do not equate to the same thing. However, there is an association between the two, because doctrines started from teachings which started from teachers with credibility. There are many doctrines today that began as teachings from discoveries by Protestant reformers who were contrarily reacting to certain doctrines that had evolved through the Roman Catholic Church since the first century.

Got trouble?

Are our doctrinal standards flying on the summit of a mountain or a molehill?

Doctrines can be like the "warm fuzzies" that we carry with us to answer some of life's perplexing questions, such as --

how God works or doesn't work in this world, 

how or who is saved or isn't saved,
what a person (or an institution) has to believe and/or do in order to be saved,
what is means to get saved, be saved, and stay saved,
what sort of hell awaits those who don't obey all of this
(note that the above subjects are listed as elementary teachings of Christ in Heb. 6:1-2)

Doctrines are derived from hermeneutics, which are methods of scriptural interpretation. This is not a process like a scribe copying the Biblical text onto a new page as verbatim as possible. It involves human interaction with the text that is influenced by natural human preconceptions. A person may go to the scripture because of frustration with a particular currently accepted religious dogma that they know can't be true. That's a preconception, and it will be difficult to impossible to discover a new interpretation of scripture that is really balanced without overcompensating for the error in question. Such circumstances easily introduce human thinking into a derived hermeneutic, and the resulting doctrine and the proponent groups that follow it will tend to have certain characteristics -

[1] The doctrine will have embedded elements from the sinful nature

Legalism. There will be rules to be obeyed, protocols to be observed, institutional human activities deemed necessary for salvation or to maintain salvation. An institutional compliance with being a "living sacrifice" will be manifested in precisely defined liturgies, forms of architecture and dress, proper labels and names, proper humanly recognized pedigree for those who lord it over, and proper performance of duties - all of which is to be maintained in the form of a static tradition.

Pride. Doctrine is important; Jesus taught doctrine; we must also. One takes pride in their legalistically defined activities; it is part of their assurance of salvation. A doctrine of performance-based salvation is transparent to the believer until the doctrine is threatened by a successful contradiction. Then it's time to fight and argue and debate as though one's very salvation was at stake - because he thinks it is.

Selfishness, greed, ambition. Either Jesus saves through one particular doctrine and everyone else is out of luck, or else that doctrine brings the believer closer to Jesus than does any of the others. Believers maintain doctrine like they are in competition.

If, according to Calvinistic doctrine, everyone is born as a depraved sinner bound for hell, when a doctrine is conceived, could it have a sinful nature?

[2] The basis for the doctrine will have come from a reaction to the shortcomings of a previous human doctrine.

This ensures that a doctrine will be adulterated by a response to another human teaching rather than purely directed to searching for a greater understanding of the true revelation of God. This is okay if we understand that limitation and continue to search to come closer to understanding God's will. It is not okay if we deify the doctrine and put it in a trophy showcase for display.

[3] Even doctrines corrupted by humanism must still be defended against other competing or contradictory doctrines that likewise incorporate different errors.

If God has really determined in His foreordained will that certain preselected people will be part of the elect, why are there so many different opinions and interpretations and doctrines resulting in divisions within the body of Christ? It's almost like the more the Bible is made available to people, the more opinions develop about what it says resulting in more groups exercising their free will to divide the church.

Why has the increase in number of separate Christian groups been so proportional to the availability of the Bible in easy to understand English translations? The more the Bible is distributed, the more divisions are produced? Is it easier to follow Biblical teachings in unity when the institution keeps all the Bibles and just tells the people what they should believe? Does greater knowledge of the Word of God really produce division? Is this the Bible's fault or are people misapplying their knowledge by exercising their free choice to introduce human elements into doctrinal interpretations? Yes, and then having the arrogance to argue
with one another over which one is right - when none of them are.

[4] Another evidence of human elements in doctrine is if the validity of that doctrine is necessarily linked to a particular (usually "literal") interpretation of certain Biblical passages.

How long will we continue to fool ourselves that the meaning of these passages cannot change?

There are entire movements that depend on the doctrine of creation in 6x24 hour "literal" days and the doctrine of original sin by Adam. Creationism, Calvinism, and Armenianism depend on "literal" interpretation of Gen 1-3 that must be defended at all cost because, if these chapters were figurative, the domino effect on creationism, the Fall of Man, Original Sin, Depravity of Inherited Sin would be catastrophic. That's a pretty tenuous doctrinal structure when the winds of change start to blow.

There is increasing evidence that the Pentateuch was not all written by Moses and that the book of Genesis is likely a compilation of more than one document. There is growing evidence among Biblical scholars that the first three chapters of Genesis are symbolic of God's living in the temple of His creation, in a kingdom, in which mankind was appointed as the caretaker - as God's representative to the physical creation - as God's priest - as God's image bearer to the creation. Most everything in these three chapters takes on a different meaning.

There is good evidence supporting the suggestion that Genesis, including chapters 1-3, was written during the exile and that the Garden story with Adam and Eve represented Israel.

There is increasing acceptance of the overwhelming plethora of data supporting an evolutionary explanation for the formation of the universe and the origins of mankind over about 14 billion years. In fact, there is a symposium coming up to examine the doctrine of the Fall of Man in light of all this evidence that Genesis 1-3 is not "literal." ("Literal" being defined as what it means to us today in the English language and superimposing our definitions upon the Biblical Hebrew text.)

The doctrine including Original Sin and Depravity and the "Adam is the only human who had a choice" are not compatible with the increasing knowledge and evidence discovered about God's revelation in His creation (Rom. 1:20).  But this evidence will continue to mount until it cannot be ignored or just outright rejected.  

Defending these doctrines of the Garden and Original Sin will become increasingly difficult. Just denying anything contrary will give an even greater appearance of blind ignorance. People who insist on doctrines involving the extraction of Original Sin from out of verses in Genesis 1-3 will be backed into a corner of geocentricism. What's that? That refers to thinking everything revolves around you and what you can understand. By the way, that included God. It involves being in denial to maintain the status quo. It's the position the Roman Catholic Church had when they considered Galileo's notion of the earth revolving around the sun to be a heresy, because this new idea contradicted "doctrine."

The "literal" interpretation of Genesis 1-3 endorsed by creationists, Calvinists, and Armenians will become unreasonable in the face of evidence. What will happen to these doctrines when the winds of change hit this house built on the sand?

The foreordained plan of God for our sanctification and glorification will stand on the rock. Creationism and Calvinism will not. Human-derived doctrines do not comply with the will of God that predestined we should be transformed into His likeness for eternal fellowship with Him.

We are being changed from one glory to another as we are transformed into the true righteousness and holiness of the Creator as a gift of His grace.  Can't we understand that the church is not growing into the maturity of a historical Jesus in a human body.  The Jesus we serve and are being transformed into is the King; He is the victorious Lord at the right hand of God with all things under His authority.  This is the Jesus that fulfilled the will of the Father when the foreordained plan of God was enacted.  We are being transformed into the image of the Creator because we KNOW Jesus - because we have the Holy Spirit living within us carrying the spiritual DNA of God.  We are not being transformed into a description about God that passes through our finite human filters - a so-called doctrine, belief statements, vision statement, whatever.  We yield the job of transformation to the Spirit, who searches the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:10-11).  Since all my trust is in God, I don't have to get upset if something about my doctrine-based interpretations gets challenged, even with successful contradiction.  If I do get upset and defensive, could I be holding my doctrinal view as an idol?   I should be continually standardizing my own doctrines and interpretations against the Word anyway in order to grow closer to the revealed nature of God.  Knock and the door will be opened (Matt. 7:7-8).  Don't knock and do what -- sit down in my padded pew and read a tract advertising why my group's doctrine has to be right? 

[5] Idolatry.

An idol is lurking when the emphasis of one's doctrine is more on how they got here rather than on where (toward whom) they are headed. 

The idol of humanism in doctrine is exposed when a particular insistence on the "right way" to get to Jesus is functionally elevated in importance over becoming like Jesus, Himself. This mirage of what is important is formed when people do not understand that Jesus told us, and Paul explained, the mystery of the foreordained plan of God. Our single most important function is to be transformed into the image of God - into the true righteousness and holiness of the Creator. When Jesus said "I am the way....," the emphasis is on the "I am" (the name of God) and not on "the way." We try to humanly define "the way" instead of focusing on Jesus as Lord. We say that we focus on Jesus, but then we argue over who has the "approved" definition of "the way." That error in direction results in more errors (which is a characteristic of "works of the sinful nature," by the way).

The "wisdom" of the idol abandons the one who has to explain when something is inconsistent with their brand of "the way." People may explain the exceptions to their doctrine by saying "God thinks this or doesn't think that." People often admit that "God is sovereign and can do whatever He wants."  Nice.  But it seems that God is allowed to be sovereign only in the mysterious areas that can't be "explained" by the human doctrine.  In those other areas, people seem pretty confident they know exactly what God thinks.  Hearer beware. 

The idol of competition makes one feel they must explain away the success of someone else - "They may act like Jesus, but if they didn't get there in the right way, they're tricking themselves and only saying 'Lord, Lord.'"

Another result of an idolatrous doctrine is the emphasis on evangelism is more on preaching an intellectual argument to people, that Christians have developed themselves, instead of showing the fruit of transformed lives.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that doctrine without transformation is useless?

As the body without the spirit is dead, so doctrine without transformation is dead.

Dear children, let us not love with doctrine and sermons but with actions of truth and transformation.
(cf James 2:20, 26; 1 John 3:18)

An A-slop fable.

Some people were standing beside an intersection discussing how they had gotten there.

"I got here in a bus from the TULIP bus lines."

"I got here in the Batmobile."

"I got here in an airplane."

"I got here riding a bicycle."

"I walked here."

They stood around a sign that pointed an arrow in an easterly direction. The sign said, "Jesus, the way." 

Someone asked, "Where ya' going?"

"East," another replied. 

"Me too," said another.

"Yeah," said another.

Someone said, "Hey, since we're all going east, let's go together."

Then, the tone changed. "Ehhh, not so fast. You can't go - you didn't get here in the right way. You think you were specially elected by the ticket master to ride that bus, don't you? What about the people left behind - did the ticket master not like them? TULIP bus lines only go south from here, buddy."

"Yeah, well, you think you rode in the Batmobile, but it was actually a hearse! You're were born dead, but don't know it, yet. You're going nowhere."

"Well, my airplane passed all of you up; I have faster ground speed than anyone; I just zoomed past you like you're standing still. Yes, sir! Fly on the wings of eagles with the DAISY Air Lines."

"Yeah? Then why didn't you arrive before anyone else? Did you have a doctrinal problem called "delayed departure?" Something faulty about your plane or your flight plan? Was TSA searching your luggage for contraband? If your DAISY chain is so great, why don't you get to places faster?"

"My bicycle is the way of the meek and humble. I'm going to inherit the earth. In fact, I've already inherited the ground you're standing on, so get off my property!"

"Boloney! Let's see your deed for this property God gave you. Who do you think you are? Abraham?"

"Walking is the only way. You should know that walking is the only approved New Testament example. That means none of you are authorized to be here. Jesus didn't use any of your so-called modern conveniences. Jesus walked everywhere He went."

"Yeah? Once Jesus rode a donkey - did you ride a donkey? No? Well, then, you're not so scriptural after all, are you? Besides, Philip got translocated (Acts 8:39-40), so why don't you just transport yourself somewhere else!"

Hmmm. Instead of traveling on together in an easterly direction toward "Jesus the way," they all argued over how they had gotten to the intersection. It seemed to be more important to determine who had gotten to the intersection in "the right way" than to travel on "the only way" to Jesus. It's like the continued trip was invalidated by internal debates. They could have combined their spiritual strengths and traveled in unity toward the destination of Jesus; instead, they combined their human weaknesses and remained stationary, recycling their private arguments in division.

Got unity?

...until we all reach unity in the faith... (Eph. 4:13)

Unity isn't using the same method of travel. If everyone had to ride with the TULIP Bus Lines or in the DAILY airplane, that would be uniformity. Unity is being one in mind and purpose (Phil. 2:3) - it is having our focus on the same destination. It is being transformed into the true righteousness and holiness of our creator God (Eph. 4:24). One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:5-6).

Got transformation? (as predestined by the foreordained plan of God)
If I have all the TULIPs and DAISYs in the world, but if I spend all my effort and attention in the garden honoring the flowers I've grown instead of the Chief Gardener who created everything, it profits me nothing.

Whether I can raise a TULIP or a DAISY; whether I know all about their anatomy and can successfully debate the merits of one over the other, if I am not being transformed into the likeness of the Creator, it's the same as if I knew nothing.

Because I know in part, I build doctrines that are partially true. But when I keep my eyes on Jesus, I am headed for the Truth.

When I was on the milk of the word, I emphasized immature things, but as I have matured, I have put these inadequate human doctrines behind me.

Doctrines are of this world, but I am headed for being perfected in love with God.

Whether there be TULIP's, they shall die, whether there be DAISY's, they shall wither away.

But transformation into the ever increasing glory of the Lord is eternal.

Let us not build our house on the sand of human doctrine, but on the foundation rock of Jesus Christ, as we are being transformed into His likeness.

Human doctrines are among the entanglements and sins that we need to get rid of in order to run the race with eyes only on Jesus. (Heb. 12:1-2). Arguments and even protracted discussions about the validity of one human doctrine or another are a waste of time. The undue attention that is given to this sort of thing maintains division, not unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3) and is one reason the church is falling behind the advances in the world - including the advances of the darkness of evil.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Can we get so caught up in ourselves that we lose sight of Jesus?

The radio was on Sunday morning, and someone was teaching a lesson from Matthew 7. The program may have been going on awhile, but when I began listening, the speaker was on Matt. 7:15-20 .... false prophets. These were said to be those who attracted attention to themselves and spent time at one location until they were discovered, and then they moved on to somewhere else to spread their error. One can tell they are false prophets because of their fruit -- they always cause division in the body.

On to verses 21-23 - "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven." These "Lord, Lord" people were those who called on the Lord while doing all these showy things on TV - like supposedly healing people and falling down and all the other sensory overloads getting people excited and just saying, "Lord, Lord" with no substance. No one particular name was mentioned, but the description given just happened to fit a certain TV evangelico-personality pretty well. Let's not refer to a real name, but, just to have a name, we'll call him Henny Benn. So, now, we have Henny going "Lord, Lord" and supposedly driving out demons and working miracles, like the passage says, but he and those of similar ilk will hear "depart from me" from Jesus, also like the passage says.

This is a classic application of these scriptures from groups who genuinely want to interpret the scriptures in a respectful, conservative, "literal" manner. I grew up in such an environment and am still part of a group coming from that tradition. But that approach is an example of misdirected applications that come from an immature understanding of the foreordained plan of God. Up until a few years ago, I wouldn't have recognized it as such.

First of all, if we are going to be recognized by our fruit, what might that be? How about the fruit of transformation -- of fulfilling the foreordained plan of God? How about the true righteousness and holiness of God (Eph. 4:24)? How about the growth of the church into the maturity of the full knowledge of Christ (Eph. 4:12-16)? How about the love of God? Jesus said we will be known as His disciples by our love one for another. But how does growing in love and maturity include judging other people's efforts in the name of Jesus and claiming that Jesus is going to tell them to "get lost?" Is that "tough love?"

But surely we would not promote the fruit of false judgment of others and division. So, who is crying "Lord, Lord?" Could it be people who compare themselves to other people in such a way that they, themselves, look better? Is that saying, "Lord, Lord, look at me -- isn't it a good thing I am in the good fruit category and not like that Henny Benn person making such a fuss over himself?" Hmmm. Wasn't there a parable about that -- publican, Pharisee, or canusee, or something.

What would the foreordained plan of God have to say about some parts of the body of Christ calling other parts "unclean." Even if they are, that's for God to determine, not us. Even if I think God's word is being clearly applied to "them," that is according to my interpretation, which precludes the possibility that the lesson applies to me even more. I also have my sights on a human fallible standard rather than the righteousness of God. So, if I can just be better than Henny Benn, in the estimation of the wonderfulness of my very own self, does that mean Henny is saying "Lord, Lord," but I'm not?  There seems to be some self-deception going on here.

What is the approach that we are supposed to take? Let us show the results of following the foreordained plan of God. Let us show what it looks like to have eyes on Jesus and to be running the race toward Him. Show the world what the standard looks like - what it looks like to be devoted to being transformed into Jesus Christ - and the Holy Spirit can convict the world of any differences between the standard they see in the church and their own wayof doing things. Let us testify to the manifold wisdom of God, which is His plan for the church (Eph. 3:10). Otherwise, what do we have to say that has any validity?

"Well, you're just saying that Henny Benn is okay and that God is happy with him and that he represents the truth and you're verifying a false prophet and ....." No, we are saying that we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and represent the truth and grow into the maturity of Christ and the righteousness of God or else we will fall away. We need to testify to the wisdom of plan of God and nothing else and let the Holy Spirit do the identifying and convicting, or else we will be crying "Lord, Lord" ourselves. We need to be "doing the will of the Father" according to His foreordained plan, by which He laid out the predestined way we become like Him. It is God's will that we give our attention to being like Him, not different from Henny Benn.

If we claim that we know what the plan of God is about, then why do we take the lesser road that falls so short of the will of God?

It's taken me some years to understand this message, which is a reflection of how much our background reinforces our preconceptions. Years ago, I happened onto a TV channel broadcasting the show of the evangelico-performer previously referenced in an oblique manner. I was complaining to God about the outrage before my eyes, asking Him how He could allow such a poor representation of the church. In response, I sensed some words coming into my thoughts that went something like this. "I can handle ("Henny Benn"), and I can do it without your help, thank you very much! You just give your attention to the things I have told you to do!"

Let's set our eyes on Jesus and run the race (Heb. 12:1).  And by God's help, we will (Heb. 6:3)

Friday, September 5, 2014


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 - a la John Piper and N.T. Wright; 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 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.